How Citizens can Catalyze Climate Action

On June 5—World Environment Day—we held a press conference to announce CCL’s effort, through the Pathway to Paris project, in collaboration with the World We Want, to build a worldwide always-active Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network. The press conference was conducted in association with the Climate Matters video interview series, as well as COY11, CliMates, IAAI GloCha, Context News, and the Association Actions Vitales pour le Developpement Durable.

The participants in this briefing were:

The question under discussion was: Can citizens catalyze climate action? 

Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change calls for facilitating participation by citizens, but does not lay out a specific process for that engagement. As a result, the governments who are Parties to the UNFCCC have left the focus of Article 6 more on education and information, sometimes making an effort to provide training and support to constituencies that can benefit from participating in climate solutions.

During the first week of the Bonn climate negotiations, the Article 6 dialogues called for a significant intensification of:

  1. Climate education, at all levels, especially among youth
  2. Training and support for vulnerable communities
  3. Technical training for businesses and local officials
  4. Direct citizen participation in climate policy and in the global process

The question, for many, remains: what can citizens do, while stepping up their engagement, to help achieve the other goals of the Convention, such as especially: avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system?

The answer might actually be relatively simple: everyone everywhere can join local meetings, get to work on policy priorities and recommended outcomes, brainstorm ways to anchor global policy in local, lived experience, and catalyze a more ambitious global program of improvements to our relationship with Earth’s climate. The Pathway to Paris project is designed to facilitate this, as follows:

  1. Share a toolkit for local working sessions with all UN Country Offices
  2. Facilitate hosting of working sessions around the world
  3. Gather detailed reports from all working sessions
  4. Build these reports into the World We Want platform
  5. Allow integration of other projects’ local meetings: COY, Worldwide Views, etc.
  6. Establish issue-focused Workstreams that bring people into the UN process
  7. Maintain and support an always-active global network for direct participation
  8. In 2016, begin facilitating meetings within the process, where possible

Part of this briefing was to highlight the work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and this project, but it was also about our partners. Soscha de la Fuente spoke about her experience as a youth delegate for the official Dutch country team. It was clear that for her, the opportunity for youth to play this role is an opportunity to prepare for significant leadership roles in the future. Many diplomats enter the negotiating process with a steep learning curve, but Soscha has already begun to see the subtleties of the landscape of the negotiating process, and develop an ability to bring outside voices eloquently and concisely into the room.

Laughlin Artz explained the mission of Context News: to empower people by providing not only information but an understanding of the context of what is happening and how to take action within and beyond that context. Laughlin’s goal is to create media that empowers those who access it, and motivates constructive action. He came to the climate issue, because it was clear that too many people knew only that this was big and complex, not how to approach the topic or interact with solutions.

He created the Paris Pledge, in order to advocate for three outcomes from the COP21 in Paris:

  1. Full decarbonization by 2050
  2. Economically efficient carbon pricing as a leading driver of change
  3. The creation of the Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network

Maxime Woringer spoke for CliMates and the COY11—the 11th Conference of Youth. The COY is a pre-COP gathering of youth advocates from around the world, which happens every year before the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. This year, Maxime and the other organizers are aiming to achieve a new level of global youth engagement: they want to hold Local COY events around the world, so young citizen leaders who cannot travel to Paris are not left out. The COY itself will allow them to conference in as well, so there will be a globally networked locally sourced gathering of youth voices, preparing to influence the outcome of the global climate negotiations.

On each of these fronts, citizens are taking the lead and working to establish a substantive role in the official process. This participation can greatly increase the flow of information, the energy going into coordination, and the transparency of the process. By engaging with actual constituents, decision-makers can also learn more than they could by any other means about the true landscape of political will outside the halls of power.

This is why the Pathway to Paris project is working with all of these partners, and will be integrating the findings from citizen deliberations that happened on Saturday, June 6, in 80 countries, through the World Wide Views on Climate and Energy consultation, into the Pathway to Paris space on the World We Want.

To view the recorded webcast, click here

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