Student part of global climate discussion

By Annalise Klingbeil

At the end of this month, 110 Canadians from all walks of life will gather in Calgary for a nation-wide public consultation on climate change.

While Canadians discuss climate change Sept. 26, similar consultations will take place in approximately 40 other countries around the globe.

Decisions reached by the randomly selected citizens at each forum will influence global climate policy.

The discussions are part of a Danish-led initiative titled World Wide Views on Global Warming, a one of a kind global project being held in preparation for the next United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The participants will discuss and vote on issues surrounding climate change, and the results will be presented to delegates from their respective countries.

Delegates will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark in December for COP15, the UNCCC, where decisions will be made that have the power to shape climate change policies.

“This is the first ever process where citizen voices are going to be heard by those who are going to [Copenhagen],” said Edna Einsiedel, a University of Calgary professor and project director of WWViews Canada.

Tenchoe Dorjee is one of the 110 Canadians who will discuss climate change in Calgary. The 17-year-old U of C student is looking forward to having her say when it comes to climate issues and knowing that delegates will listen.

“I think it’s important that these delegates know how citizens feel about particular issues,” she said.

“A lot of time citizens don’t have the same opinions as the government.”

The first-year student admits she didn’t know a lot about global warming before she received an e-mail saying she had been selected to participate in the WWViews consultation.

She completed an application and was pleased to find out she’d been accepted.

The process of finding ordinary citizens who could share their voice involved distributing 3,000 letters and finding a sample of willing Canadians that reflected the country’s demographics.

“We wanted a random sample that was representative of the Canadian population,” explained Einsiedel.

The majority of countries will have 100 citizens participate in their forum.

Canada, however, will have 110 participants with 10 aboriginal citizens representing the three main aboriginal groups in Canada — First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

Each country’s team had to raise its own funds for the project, with the majority of cash spent on flying participants to this month’s consultation.

While already being in Calgary means she doesn’t get the chance to fly across the country, Dorjee said she will be staying at the same hotel as participants and taking the opportunity to meet other Canadians.

“I’m excited just to get more information and talk to other Canadians about what they think. I want to hear their opinions and see how everyone is reacting to global warming,” said Dorjee.

If you’re also interested in what other Canadians think about climate change issues and weren’t one of the 110 selected, there is still a range of ways to get involved.

Einsiedel recommends presenting ideas on the website, and exploring other online options.

“There are a lot of online channels that are devoted to climate change.”

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