Coal in your shoes

"It will be the young and the poor and developing countries that will suffer earliest and hardest. We cannot allow this to happen."Nicholas Stern - author of reports on economic implications of climate change.

In Poland, as well as in other northern European countries, traditional celebrations of Saint Nicholas Day include presents left in children's shoes.

Every year, on December 6, the bearded Saint carries a big book with all the children's names in it, which states whether they have been naughty or nice in the past year. Good children receive candies and cookies, while naughty ones receive lumps of ...coal!

This morning, on behalf of the children of the world, a group of Polish school children sang Christmas songs and asked UN climate negotiators to demonstrate wisdom. The official delegates would do well to listen to them. Not only because the choral performance was great but also because, as several surveys show, climate change is young people's biggest concern for the world's future. Much of the direct impact of climate change will be felt by the next generation, especially children in the developing world.  A failure to address climate change would be a failure to protect children.

Listen to the children singing

Download MP3 file

Children are willing and can make a difference. They are not asking for the moon. They simply want to be considered as partners and it would be unfair not to integrate their views and needs in the discussions at Poznan and in the build-up to the Copenhagen climate change conference next year.

Tomorrow, people, including youth movements, will be joining demonstrations all around the world to demand urgent action on climate change from world governments at the UN Climate Talks. You will of course be able to follow Oxfam at the Global Day of Action March in Poznan.

Fighting climate change involves a partnership across the generations. If negotiators fail to listen to the world's children, they might wake up tomorrow morning and find a piece of coal in their shoes.


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