UN Climate Change News, 10 December 2019 – Countries, and non-state actors, including youth, expressed strong support and called for raising ambition and mobilizing commitments for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid.
ACE in the context of the international climate change process refers to education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation on climate change. It is Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement and enjoys broad public support.
A critical moment for the world
In his keynote address, John Kerry, Visiting Distinguished Statesman at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said “no country in the world is getting the job done” when it comes to action on climate change and urged stepped-up commitments and action.
“This is a critical moment for the world. We can’t just call it a climate crisis, or a climate emergency, and not behave like it is,” said the former Secretary of State of the United States of America, who heard four youth delegates at the event before going to the podium to deliver his remarks.
“These kids shouldn’t have to be the ones to tell us adults to get the job done, but they are,” said Mr. Kerry. “Shame on adults all around the world who are succumbing to the power of money, continuing [development] practices that we know don’t work.”
“Action for Climate Empowerment, especially awareness and public engagement, are key to win the race against climate change. I believe we can do it together,” said Mr. Kerry.
Accelerating climate action
Lorenzo Fioramonti, Minister of Education, University and Research, Italy, reaffirmed the urgency of implementing climate change education. We are losing the race against climate change and “need a major acceleration.”
A key part of Italy’s response is to “go all-out on making sustainable development an integral part of education,” said Mr. Fioramonti, pledging that Italy will lead efforts to gain support for ACE. Italy is set to become the first country to make climate change lessons compulsory in schools.
Italian Minister for Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Sergio Costa, gave the audience a heads-up on the 2020 pre-COP discussions, to be hosted in Italy in advance of Glasgow’s COP26. He announced that Italy will host a youth conference to engage the new generations in climate solutions.
“Ambition also means increase in participation, through ACE,” said Mr. Costa.
Burgenland Declaration on ACE
Maria Patek, Federal Minister for Sustainability and Tourism, Austria, spoke about efforts in Austria to create an ever-wider circle of informed individuals, to enable communities to sustain efforts on climate change and development – for example through the country’s Klimaaktiv climate protection initiative aimed at launching and promoting climate-friendly technologies and services.
She also cited the Burgenland Declaration on ACE, launched in October 2019, as an example of Austria’s commitment to ACE.
Talieh Wögerbauer, ACE Ambassador and a climate negotiator with Austria’s Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, said “we need to do more than express gratitude to youth; but, we the decision makers, we have to listen to you seriously, at the table, eye-to-eye.”
Ms. Wögerbauer invited people to sign the Burgenland Declaration on ACE and declare their determination and commitment to make ACE “fundamental in the planning and actions of our government, organization, agency, company or personal or public enterprise, and to support and encourage others to do the same, for the sake of protecting Earth’s climate for present and future generations.”