The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted and ratified by the UN in the early 1990s. The framework sets non-binding, unenforced limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual member countries with a single goal in mind: "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
Between late April and early May, UN representatives met in Bonn Germany with the UNFCCC framework in mind, using the treaty to guide what have become regular meetings focused on the search for a transition in global energy consumption. The next annual climate conference will be held in Katowice, Poland in December. Here are a few of the key highlights of the recent meeting.
Urgency remains a focus, specifically for Pacific Island nations. The Bonn meeting provided the backdrop for the Talana Dialogue, led by the Prime Minister and representatives from Fiji. This dialogue centers around the personal stores shared by 250 Fiji participants. These stories collectively inspire a necessary sense of speed and expediency in the search for climate solutions. Read more here.
Gender equality plays an important role in the success and forward motion of climate change mitigation. The Gender Action Plan (https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/cp23_auv_gender.pdf) acknowledges that many of the known impacts of climate change will have a disproportionate effect on women, and climate policy should be gender-responsive and involve balanced representation during planning and implementation stages. This plan urges the advancement of women’s participation in ongoing talks and Read more here.
Talks in Bonn also focused on the green economy and job development over the next several decades as renewable and sustainable resource options come to the foreground for policy makers. According to research conducted by the International Labor Organization, the right policy moves can pave the way for 24 million new positions created globally by 2030. According to ILO Deputy Director-General Deborah Greenfield, an emerging green economy can help millions of people around the world overcome a life of poverty and improve financial opportunity for this and future generations. The report accounts for the possibility that some regions (those that depend heavily on petroleum mining and extraction) may experience job declines during the transition, and that higher outdoor temperatures will cause some forms of labor to become more difficult and dangerous. Read more about this priority here.
Dialogue, speakers and panel discussions throughout the two-week event emphasized a critical point: that without actionable policy change, these positive predictions would not materialize. The political decision making process will need to be bold, decisive, and inclusive of voices from across the labor spectrum to generate timely change.