Tag Archives: anna collins

Yes we Cancun! (maybe)

30 Nov

Today is the first day of the UNFCCC negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. Want to follow what’s going on? Of course you do. First read this article by Kate Sheppard on Grist which gives a comprehensive analysis of what we should and shouldn’t expect over the next two weeks. Then follow these great links that will give you the lowdown as and when you want it.

Got any more good links? Leave ’em in the comments below!


Girl Swoon #9 – Guest Post

10 Oct

Well this is exciting! Girl Swoonery is spreading worldwide! My good friend Anna Collins (herself a featured Girl Swoon) has been at the UN climate talks this week in Tianjin, China. She met the new executive secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres today and immediately christened her Girl Swoon #9. This post is cross-posted from Anna’s blog over on Adopt a Negotiator, a fantastic resource for anyone wanting an easy and understandable way of following the climate negotiations. Take it away Anna…

My friend Hanna has a great blog where she talks about all things climaty, crafty and feminist. As a regular feature she interviews girls who are doing amazing things and calls it girl swoon. This post goes out to her, with credit and thanks!

On the last day of UN climate negotiations it is rare to see the team grinning, laughing and optimistic. These talks have a way of beating that out of us over the course of a week, and this week definitely hasn’t provided us with much to smile about. We have seen stalling tactics being employed by many of the big players along with  a vicious circle of blame for lack of progress. We have seen constant bickering and boring sessions, negotiations consumed by process, never getting to the substance.

However this morning anyone passing the tracker booth would have seen the team in high spirits, smiling and laughing (which to be fair even in the hardest times we normally manage to keep up). But also optimistic, optimistic that the unfccc can and will achieve something.

The reason for this optimism? My new girl swoon, Christiana Figueres, new executive secretary of the unfccc.

This morning the team had a meeting with Christiana. We went it to it with the usual set of questions: How’s it going? What can we expect? What can we do to push the process forward? And we were expecting the usual answers: Progress is slow, we can expect a balanced package, you guys need to go home and push your governments.

Instead what we were treated to was half an hour with one of the friendliest and most inspirational people I have met in this unfccc world. Christiana was frank and honest with us about the negotiations and where we are, however she was also optimistic and passionate. Most of all she spoke with feeling and emotion, something so often lacking from this process and yet something so desperately needed. Continue reading

Adopt an MP

23 Sep

This is cross-posted from Call4.org (I officially adopted Caroline Lucas tonight too! Blog on that soon!)

Since last week’s launch of the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Adopt an MP campaign, MPs have had more to worry about than just totting up their expenses accurately. For lurking around every corner (or, possibly, just turning up to their advice surgeries) will be a young person (or “adopter”) ready to question them on their commitment to creating a clean energy future.

It’s as simple as it sounds. The aim is to get 650 young people from every constituency in the UK to adopt their local MP and “track” them as they try to make climate change their top priority, whether that’s through writing letters, emails, visiting them in person or more exciting means!

It’s about building relationships

What is most appealing about this campaign is that it doesn’t dehumanise politics, or politicians. It is very much about creating personal and lasting relationships that can affect real change. As the Adopt an MP webpage says – “Like any new relationship it will take time, patience, trust and a little love”. It might sound unrealistic, idealistic or even sentimental. But this campaign takes inspiration from others that have really worked.

Take the Adopt a Negotiator campaign – a TckTckTck initiative which sends young “trackers” from across the globe to follow their countries’ lead negotiators through the UN climate change negotiations. Our UK tracker, Anna Collins, built up such a strong relationship with the lead negotiator Jan Thompson last year, that she was soon sharing coffees and emails on a level that I suspect most NGO and business lobbyists would envy.

A turning point came when Anna wrote to Jan just before the Copenhagen talks:

I want to remind you to think of me when you are negotiating. And remember that each line of text you negotiate, is not just a line of text… but a moment in my life that changes because of the decision you make. Please remember just how much you hold in your hands over the next two weeks. Please remember that beautiful, amazing future I know is possible.”

Jan replied, telling Anna that her email had made her cry (on the bus, no less) and reassuring her that the negotiating team were going to work as hard as they could. It’s easy to forget sometimes that civil servants and politicians are people. Conversely, perhaps it’s hard for them to truly keep in mind the people they serve as they go about their daily business, and that’s why projects like this, based on personal interaction, can be so effective.

Adopt an MP’s launch event, Parliament in the Park, capitalised on this fact. It was an opportunity for MPs and their trackers to sit together on the grass, share tea and cake and talk about a green future. Sounds like one of the more pleasant avenues available to combat climate change…

It’s about making an impact

However, it’s not just about nice chats and tugging at heartstrings. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition did something similar in 2007 – their Adopt-A-Politician campaign. With 2007 being a Federal Election year, AYCC developed a non-partisan campaign to put local and national pressure on politicians to make serious policy commitments on climate change. They used traditional tools such as local organisers in marginal electorates, posters, leaflets and face-to-face meetings, as well as social networks and adverts in cinemas. They got a tremendous amount of press coverage and contributed to the 2007 election being called the “first climate change election”.

As well as making a political impact, campaigns such as these can have a massive effect on the campaigners themselves, empowering them and enabling them to recognise that these seemingly insurmountable problems have ordinary people at the heart of them. Mary, the “adopter” of Pat Glass in North West Durham, wrote:

“I arrive five minutes early for Pat’s surgery to find 3 people already in the waiting room. They are sitting around looking scary and tutting under their breath every time someone says anything. And when I say these people are scary, I mean SCARYI sit down and introduce myself to Pat. I warm to her immediately, and can see that this was a part of the reason she was elected for North West Durham, not just the fact that we are a “Labour safe seat”. We talk about the Adopt an MP programme and about her wanting to get young people more involved in politics (something I am particularly passionate about) and she completely gets on my good side by talking about getting people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds into politics. I almost do my happy dance, but for the sake of my dignity I hold it back. I hope to meet with Pat again soon, ask her some questions of my own, get to know her as a person, and as a MP a little better. I’m sure we’ll get on like a house on fire, as long as I learn not to put my foot in my mouth. I’m sure I’ll get there.”

It’s about using what we have

Young people are arguably the only people who could run a campaign such as this – they who have time, technological skills and passion. A great example of this across the pond is the Canadian Citizen Factory site, launched by the youth-led organisation Apathy is Boring, which basically allows people to stalk their MPs. Liz McDowell (Canadian Director of the youth-led Otesha UK) looked up her MP recently in Langley, British Columbia:

“I found all his basic info plus a news feed listing all the times he’s been in the news, voted in parliament, spoken in parliament, joined a committee or tweeted in the past month. Giving this page a quick skim over, I learned that Mark Warawa has recently tweeted about census forms and climate bills, petitioned for more employment insurance and less access to abortion, and been in the news for coming 4th place in a local fast-draw shooting competition (apparently his worst placement in years). This feed is a gold mine.”

Mark Warawa, you have a new stalker. Better watch your back.

File those adoption papers

Want to get involved? Get adopting! You can register to track your MP and download an adoption pack here:http://adoptanmp.ukycc.org/.

It’s not about criticism or praise, but remembering that MPs are humans and supporting them to make a stand and fight to make a difference. In today’s government, they need all the support they can get.

Girl Swoon #3

31 Aug

This week I am proud to present my good friend and present flatmate (although, not for much longer… sob) Anna Collins as Girl Swoon #3! I’ve known Anna for a couple of years now through youth climatey stuff, but it’s been so great to get to know her better over the past 8 months and create our very own Flat Irresistible (that’s our house)! This year has been a pretty crazy, transitional time for both of us, and I am just so grateful to have had her in my life these past few months. So thank you Anna! Apart from all that smushy stuff, she also has the time and energy to be a complete badass in the UN. Read on.

Name: Anna Collins

Age: 25

Website: I blog about the UN climate talks here but apart from that I’m homeless on the great old world wide web. This is an example of something I’m working with a couple of people on though.

1) What do you do and why?

I dedicate my life to the climate movement. Because I like to climb mountains, when you get to the top the view is worth it. I follow the UN climate talks around. Because I don’t want to leave my future in others hands. I listen to music. Because without music life is meaningless. I make music. To let my soul out. I paint. To express what I can’t say with words. I write. To express what I can say. I go dancing. To feel free. I cycle. To escape. I work for the Green Belt Movement (for 2 more weeks). Because I like trees and this book changed my life. I live with Hanna. Cause she has stuff and I don’t…

I roam. Because I can’t seem not to.

I guess the most interesting of these to elaborate on is following the UN climate talks around. I am the UK tracker for the Adopt a Negotiator project. I just kind of fell into this last year through stuff I was doing with the UK Youth Climate Coalition and international youth climate movement. The Adopt a Negotiator project consists of young people from all over the world. We follow the UN climate talks around, following the policy and meeting with our delegations. We blog and use social media to try and make the talks understandable to the outside world. In the process we hope to open them up, make them more transparent and ultimately a two way process.

Each of the team take a very different approach to how we do this and what we write about. For me the UN is a soul destroying grey place and it is this that I try to first explain to people, and then change. I think these negotiations are really important,  if we want to solve climate change they are a vital piece of the jigsaw puzzle. But when they happen in grey places and are conducted by men in grey suits is it any wonder we are not making progress. The UN is an emotional place but no one is willing to accept that or let it influence the talks. I don’t understand that. Policy is important, but when the policy people forget why they are doing it then the policy they create serves no purpose. One of the things I like to dwell on a lot is the role of art, music, dancing – the things that make life worth living – and how they can help to make the negotiations a more constructive place where we can move towards a more constructive outcome. I hope through this we can start creating the amazing and beautiful future I know is possible.

2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?

Each day I wake up and  interpret the world through female eyes.

The UN is a very male dominated world, everyone whether male of female is also working in a very white male way. Seeing it through female eyes I think gives me the opportunity to reassess this way of working and be more creative within it.

On the downside in life I often have to think about whether a situation I get into is safe because of the fact I’m a female. This pisses me off.

3) Are you a feminist?

No (insert late night flatmate debates with Hanna here!)

As women we get a shit deal in many situations, and we need to expose and end discrimination and violence against women but I don’t identify with the label and would never call myself a feminist.

For example when I read feminist books (I live with Hanna so there’s a fair few lying around) I keep getting told I should be pissed off that I don’t earn the same as men. But I question why should I value earning the same as a man? Shouldn’t we all be fighting to not be defined by what we earn, to be allowed not to care how much we earn once we have enough to keep mind body and soul together? To me forced equality is no better than inequality when it doesn’t respect what the individual soul values and desires

I’m a personist.

Every person regardless of gender has the right to value and be valued for what they want. Treated respectfully and equal to all others and not feel threatened for being that person.

4) What are your future plans?


Helping create a better, more beautiful world.

Doing it in time to get some sleep eventually

In the short term that means hitting the roaming life again,  first stop UN climate talks in China then on to Mexico, hopefully incorporating some overland travel…

5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:

A movement is built on people and we need them all, from those willing to lobby their MP to those willing to go to jail. But it also most importantly needs people who can help us see the new world we’re trying to build.

The role of the revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistible!

(With thanks to Bill McKibben and Toni Cade Bambara!)