Climate talks between international negotiators, representatives of civil society, and youth in Bonn, Germany ended today. The discussions were held to explore how the Paris Climate Change Agreement could boost education, awareness, engagement, and cooperation in the fight against climate change. The conference was held from 30 April to 10 May.
Bonn’s climate talks were attended by 150 participants from 70 countries, gathered in the former German federal government chamber hall, challenging one another to come up with action items that negotiators might agree on at the next UN Climate Conference, to be held in Katowice, Poland in December.
The participants suggested including climate issues in school curricula, bridging environment and other ministries with education ministries, and building education and public participation concerns more solidly into the planning and reporting requirements of governments cooperating on the international response to climate change.
Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries recognised the critical importance of education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation to succeed in tackling climate change. All of those principles combined are called the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). The youth constituency is a central part of it.
Emmanuel Dlamini, chair of the subsidiary body for implementation, a key body holding negotiations in Bonn, said, “Action for Climate Empowerment is about transforming values and behaviours; enhancing public participation in climate change decision-making and action; fostering access to information, empowering new generations,” according to a statement from the UNFCCC.
The negotiations focused mostly on reaching a work programme to implement the Paris Agreement, and allow countries to meet their commitment to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and to work towards the safer target of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The work programme is expected to be adopted in Katowice and include means of enhancing the ACE.
“To reach success at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), it is essential that nations begin working towards draft negotiating texts at the May meeting. This will provide a solid foundation for work in the second half of 2018 and help them to deliver a strong result,” said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary at UN Climate Change.
Espinosa added, “2017 witnessed many extreme weather events and disasters that caused suffering for millions of people around the world. The consequences of climate change impacts are already being felt, particularly by the most vulnerable communities.”
At the COP23 that was held last November under the leadership of Fiji, nations agreed to accelerate and complete their work to put in place the guidelines that were officially termed the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) at COP24 in Poland in December.
Moreover, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that records for extreme weather events are being broken at an unprecedented rate, and that there is a real risk for the world to lose its capacity to sustain human life if the Earth’s climate is further altered by adding ever more heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Whilst presenting new data at the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, WHO officials warned that nine out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants and that around 7 million people every year die from exposure to fine particles in polluted air.
The figure could be far surpassed by deaths caused by rising global temperatures and extreme weather if emissions, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, are allowed to rise at their present rate.
According to the WHO report, the main cause of deaths is indoor cooking using inefficient stoves. The report highlighted that about 3 billion people—more than 40% of the world’s population—still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution. It added that cooking with wood and coal is also main driver of deforestation, which in turn negatively affects the world’s climate.
Each year, about 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with dirty solid fuels and kerosene, emissions from which add to the growing climate challenge. The second main cause of the 7 million annual deaths mentioned in the report is the burning of fossil fuels for power, heating, and transport which leads to outdoor air pollution.