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#Decarbonize: Global Youth Demand Action on Energy, Climate Change at COP21

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Waterloo Global Science Initiative is proud to support #Decarbonize – the world's largest synthesis of youth research, recommended policy & action on Climate Change. This youth-driven report on climate change is the result of facilitated dialogue among 10,000 youth through 25,000 hours of collaboration. The Whitepaper will be presented during COP21 in Paris.

#Decarbonize is led by TakingITGlobal and The Centre for Global Education and is supported by WGSI, Polar Bears International, the University of Alberta's Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, and the Canadian Wildlife Federation

Energy is one of six key areas of concern relating to transitioning to a sustainable world identified by young people around the world. The energy section of this innovative and powerful report is excerpted below. 

Read the entire report and learn how to get involved at



Moving Forward on Climate Issues: Energy

We demand that governments enact the following policies to create environmentally sustainable and efficient energy systems in an effort to reduce our contribution to climate change:

  • Transition from a dependence on fossil fuel energy to an increased use of environmentally sustainable and efficient green energy production methods. 
  • Conduct investigations to determine the most appropriate policy solutions to reduce production and consumption levels of fossil fuels and to determine viability of alternative green energy production.
  • Regulate, monitor and reduce fossil fuel production and consumption through carbon taxation.

Today’s young generation believes that energy consumption and production are critical issues that must be addressed by collaborative action. Young people around the world share a common goal of transitioning from a dependence on fossil fuel energy to use of high efficiency green energy production methods. Having said this, we acknowledge that the future of energy cannot be resolved by a one-sizefits-all solution. Our plan to create sustainable energy systems must be achieved through a network of initiatives that take into consideration regional factors such as geography, climate and availability of natural resources, and implement individualized green energy plans in each region. In order to move forward, investigations must be conducted within each region to establish the most appropriate policies and strategies regarding the production and consumption of fossil fuels and determine which forms of alternative green energy production are most viable and readily available in that region. It is also important to note that there are environmental consequences to some renewable energy sources. For example, hydroelectricity requires dams, which disrupts marine life and leave people unable to fish. Therefore, we must ensure that our alternative energy systems are environmentally sustainable.

“It is crucial to act on the local, national, and international stages when dealing with climate change.” (Ghana)

A common consensus among all youth is that change must occur at all levels of organization; from individuals to governments. Local governments have the responsibility to implement tariff systems to reduce pollution and excessive energy consumption, and to offer financial incentives for renewable energy production and research on increasing efficiency. They must also provide subsidies to individuals and industries to encourage investment and use of efficient technologies and products, such as smart grids and high efficiency electric cars. Individuals must take action in their own lives to practice living sustainably, and to pressure their governments to improve energy production systems.

“Ghana is currently experiencing an energy crisis, meaning that a shift towards green energy is crucial.” (Ghana)

Regulating and monitoring our energy resources is one of the key factors in our plan to transition to green renewable energy. We recognize that regional factors need to be considered when developing monitoring systems. However, young people from all regions agree that carbon taxation is one strategy to regulate and monitor carbon emissions. For example, high school students in South Africa suggest that carbon taxes be based on carbon footprint size. Similarly, Canada currently uses per capita emissions to set their carbon tax. Although carbon taxes may take different forms in various nations, depending on differences in legislative bodies and needs, we believe carbon taxation is an essential strategy to reduce emissions.

“Offering expertise in the form of trained engineers would be of great benefit.” (Peru)

Green energy resources are crucial to the development of a modern energy sector. However, in many developing nations green energy is not considered to be of high financial priority. This is true in Ghana, where they are facing an energy crisis. Students from Ghana believe that a financially responsible solution to the crisis would be the allocation of technologies and expertise from foreign aid agencies and governments. Implementing the solutions from other countries would allow Ghana and similar nations to develop their own green energy resources, and thus provide more sustainable growth of their nation.