Youth Video Shifts the Debate about Coal at Warsaw Climate Talks

On the first day of the U.N. Climate Meetings in Warsaw, young people from around the world joined with the newly formed Polish Youth Climate Network to release a climate video mocking the coal industry and promoting a clean energy future.

The title of the video, “Race for Energy Independence,” is a play on the Race for Independence, a running race that takes place on November 11 in Warsaw every year to commemorate Polish independence. 
 
In the video, young people compete in a race for the future against the coal industry, who trip up the athletes, make them cough with pollution, and fight amongst themselves. In contrast, the young people work together to move forward, even extending a helping hand to their coal industry counterparts. 
 
The yearly UN climate negotiations are known as the Conference of the Parties—this is COP19—and young people and activists have already labeled this year’s meetings the “Coal COP” because of the Polish government’s decision to co-host with the World Coal Association a major international coal summit alongside the climate conference. 
 
Last weekend, youth sent a letter to UN Climate Secretary Christiana Figueres requesting her to cancel her keynote address at the international coal summit. Secretary Figueres declined the youth request, but committed to confront the coal industry about their carbon emissions. 
 
Coal fired power stations are the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling the climate crisis. Recent reports have concluded that 60-80% of fossil fuel reserves, including coal, must stay underground if governments are going to meet their target of limiting global warming below 2°C. 
 
Over the next 24 hours, and throughout the coming week, young people will be sharing the “Race for Energy Independence” video online, and tweeting it directly at participants in the UN Climate Talks and key climate figures.