Justice doesn’t make for good news. Watch the UNFCCC from a distance and you’d be forgiven for thinking that there must be a better way of doing this. With the first week of Bonn dominated by discussions of the negotiating agenda can we really expect this process to keep the world bellow 1.5 or even 2C?
There is only one answer to this question: yes! No other process is capable of putting the world on a pathway to a secure future. When countries fail to make a fair contribution to emissions reductions they can halt progress towards a fair and binding deal. It is individual countries rather than the process that stand in the way of a secure future.
The news media, looking for a story about the success or failure of Cancun, Bangkok or Bonn find it difficult to explain this important detail. The UNFCCC does not photograph well – poorly lit conference centres full of overtired negotiators make inspiring images difficult. But it makes for even worse news. Explaining climate change is easy compared to explaining the process and the structure of the UNFCCC.
This is just one of the reasons why thousands of campaigners attend UNFCCC negotiations every year. It is essential that countries are held accountable for their role in making or breaking a fair and binding deal. The more light we can shine on the actions of individual countries the easier it becomes to ensure they are held accountable. During the first week of the Bonn intercessional youth delegates from the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) have been working hard to ensure that individual countries actions are made public.
As part of a coalition of over 600 environmental groups they’ve named and shamed countries that have done their ‘best’ to block progress, presenting them with “Fossil of that Day” awards. Whilst, as members of the youth constituency, they have made interventions during the negotiations to remind negotiators why they are there. These actions along with their blogs and tweets are intended to make the negotiators more accountable to those they represent.
Climate change means there’s no standing still. The global economy must become a green economy and it must do so in time to hold warming below 1.5C. The role of environmental campaigners in Bonn is to hold negotiators accountable to this target. The successes and failures in Bonn won’t make headlines but they will change the world. To find out how take a look at our own blog.
Tom Lafford is a member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition 2011 delegation to the UNFCCC