In 1992, nearly 200 nations committed “to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. 29 years later, we are living with the costly impacts of that dangerous interference. Most nations have not yet begun the economy-wide transformation needed to avoid persistent climate emergency. The COP26 is a chance to redefine our financial and economic futures, to align investment with health, resilience, and shared prosperity, to defend the right to remain free from preventable harm. It is a test for international cooperation, but also a leadership test for every nation. We join the negotiations as citizens and stakeholders committed to a world that works for everyone.
Citizens’ Climate International—on behalf of Citizens’ Climate Education, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and other partner organizations—issues the following context note and recommendations for a new ACE work programme.
A) Why we need a Glasgow Work Programme for ACE
The COP26 should adopt a Glasgow Work Programme to facilitate implementation of Action for Climate Empowerment, under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, encompassing:
- Public Awareness
- Public Participation
- Public Access to Information
- International Cooperation
When we talk about “climate action”, we are talking about transformational change across all sectors and down to the community level. Whether the subject is energy policy, trade policy, technological innovation, finance, or resilience measures, climate action touches human experience and requires human-scale commitment and capability.
Action for Climate Empowerment is more than information, awareness, and training; it is an active, everyday measure of a society’s ability to carry out pervasive, multisector climate-smart transformation at all scales.
Assertive, coordinated, and inclusive action on all 6 elements of ACE can, and should:
- foster locally rooted active public participation in climate-related decision-making,
- ensure the flow of sound scientific information, climate action planning aligns with higher ambition,
- build capacity for communities, industries, and public agencies, to meet bold climate goals,
- and attract additional resources attuned to that enhanced ambition and capacity.
In other words, Action for Climate Empowerment is a way to ensure climate policy aligns better with human need and local capability and aspiration, and major climate-related investments line up with the most effective locally rooted sustainable development and climate resilience measures.
It is our view that all people are climate stakeholders, regardless of status or station, and that this comes with a number of fundamental rights:
- To inherit a climate undisrupted by human activity.
- To expect public officials to act in service of this universal and necessary right.
- To build lives of opportunity and prosperity, within that undisrupted climate.
- To be recognized as legitimate voices for a vision of future climate stability.
This is why we support:
- universal deployment of the Engage4Climate Toolkit for local stakeholder meetings;
- the ECOS Community of education, communication, and outreach stakeholders;
- ACE-aligned climate civics as a means of achieving and measuring science activation;
- the People’s Pavilion, a virtual climate empowerment lab at COP26.
Because climate action touches all aspects of human experience, need and aspiration, national governments’ chances of succeeding in their climate emergency response will depend on active ongoing participation of an informed public. It is vital that a new Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) work programme be adopted at the COP26 in Glasgow.
Building on our 2020 submission for the Doha Work Programme review, we recommend that the next ACE work programme:
- Honor the principle that all people are stakeholders in environmental and climate impacts and policy.
- Foster public participation in all aspects of climate-related decision-making.
- Incentivize and support decentralization of knowledge production, policy design, technological and administrative capacity, and economic incentives to work toward climate stability.
- Invite communities and decision-makers into shared meeting spaces to foster deeper-rooted, more structurally sound national policy proposals.
- Engage national and local ACE focal points both at their respective levels and also internationally.
- Provide guidance to the ACE focal points to be involved in other relevant workstreams to ensure a cross-cutting implementation of all the elements through the policies and projects implemented under the Convention.
- Gather and distribute knowledge about best practices, critical interactions between policy design priorities and rights, with national budget support.
- Include multiscale participatory reporting and future visioning processes that feed new, shared, and locally rooted knowledge into spaces for supranational decision-making.
C) Procedural Support
We further recommend that the above aims be addressed by:
- Alignment of capacity-building, technology transfer, and mainstream financial resources with ACE-enabled economic diversification;
- An ACE global platform for active sharing of best practices, strategies for overcoming challenges, resources, and reported benefits of ACE activity;
- ACE metrics to assess climate action capability at the community level, with the aim of accelerating science-informed sustainable development, including diverse and traditional knowledge;
- People-centered climate action as a shared priority, informed by year-round formal and informal programs of thematic multi-stakeholder roundtables, town hall meetings, and citizens’ assemblies, at local, national, and international levels;
- Ministerial participation in ACE roundtables at the international level, to build capacity across areas of public policy and national action.
D) Active, ongoing knowledge exchange
A critical step for any nation looking to make full use of the value-building potential of ACE is to welcome non-governmental ACE leadership, while continuing to use public authority to stimulate bold and inclusive transformational climate action.
ACE knowledge-exchange networks should be welcomed, both as formal means of implementation and as informal civil society-driven ACE support mechanisms. They can take many forms:
- They can be formalized institutions, with or without a physical headquarters.
- They can be formalized networks, where convening and information management are shared responsibilities of partner institutions.
- They can be informal networks of communities and stakeholders, of all varieties, including governments and the private sector.
- They can adaptive, collaborative innovation hubs, oriented toward localizing the human development benefits of major climate action initiatives.
Knowledge sharing is critical to a society’s ability to integrate insights grounded in the best available science into everyday experience. We call this science activation, and will be building a cooperative training program to build capacity for civic engagement as a lever for science activation.
E) Draft Decision Language
We support draft language proposed by the ECOS Community for a COP26 decision to adopt a new Glasgow Work Programme. We highlight some of the key elements of that draft language here:
- Integrating ACE into relevant workstreams of the UNFCCC
- Mainstreaming ACE across the Convention and Paris Agreement
- Finance to ensure adequate resources for the Glasgow Work Programme
- Establishment of an ACE Marketplace to match needs with resources
We further support strong and detailed ACE National Strategies, recognizing that in some cases the optimal ACE strategy will be decentralized and dependent on actions by non-Party stakeholders, including civil society, subnational jurisdictions, and communities, and coalitions.
- We encourage interagency work, within governments, and for public participation to become a normal part of climate-related policy-making at the local, agency, and integrated national levels.
- Nationally Determined Contributions should look to ACE activity as a grounding and ambition-raising mechanism—helping national policy to put down roots at the community level, secure support from the public, and optimize the delivery of climate-related development finance suited to local needs and aspirations.
- We welcome the (November 6) draft Glasgow Work Programme’s recognition of the role of communities and non-Party stakeholders in facilitating, coordinating, and sustaining ACE activity, including through training and partnerships.
- We also welcome the active encouragement for Parties to welcome public participation in the design and implementation of climate policies.
We will work with partners, and with aligned Parties and agencies, to create conditions for the Action Plan to be outlined at the mid-year negotiations in Bonn to consolidate real empowerment gains for stakeholders and communities.