Article 6 of the UNFCCC is all about ‘Education, Training and Public Awareness’ regarding climate change. It’s a crucial aspect of preventing catastrophic climate change; only by educating everyone can we hope that people will take the steps needed to make a difference.
Article 6 is really important for the youth constituency at the UN – YOUNGO – in fact it creates the educational foundation where many activists find their inspiration. And we think, this is the reason why states are eager to hear young people’s perspectives on it.
The states expressed their enthusiasm and optimism for the following two weeks. On the very first day, the representative from the Dominican Republic- on behalf of the G77- asked us to write out a brief policy position representing the views of YOUNGO. Excitingly, this document provided the foundations for negotiations throughout the two weeks!
The early optimism soon started to fall, however, as states began manoeuvring in order to get the best possible agreement for their interests. Suddenly, what had been hinted at as possible just hours before suddenly became unworkable.
‘Lowest Common Denominator’:
Over the next few meetings, ‘lowest common denominator’ politics dominated and it soon appeared that we may run out of time to agree anything at all.
On the other hand though, we were able to meet with representatives from each of the key states or state groups, to lobby them towards the preferences of YOUNGO. While these were always welcomed positively- and with generous amounts of time- sometimes our proposals didn’t quite reach the negotiating table.
Some funding difficulties
The primary issues related to how Article 6 should be funded. The Green Climate Fund was highlighted as a possible funding mechanism by the G77 and AOSIS (who often stuck together), while the USA and Canada opposed such a move. The EU was often flexible and could be persuaded either way on most issues, making it a crucial player for gauging what would need to be traded for an agreement.
Semantic (aka wordy) difficulties
Another semantic but key issue was whether Article 6 should be ‘permanent’ or ‘continuous’- this possibly shows how detailed some of the debates can become!
Relief and a little surprise
With two days to go negotiations suddenly picked up again! Extra meetings were organised and while the final agreement was weaker than we’d hoped for, at least it was an improvement on how it had been looking a few days earlier!
So what next? Doha looks to be a key moment for deciding the long-term framework for education and climate. We must keep education and climate change high on the agenda.
To get involved take a look at this video, together we are always stronger.
Camilla and Paul