UN climate conference produces an underwhelming outcome

published 23 November 2017 updated 24 November 2017

Education International joins the international trade union movement in deeply lamenting the fact that the 23rd United Nations climate change conference did not keep its promises despite the urgent climate emergency.

At the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (COP23) held in Bonn from 6-17 November, representatives from almost 200 countries were finally unable to make concrete progress on the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement against Global Warming.

No agreement was reached on the follow-up of the actions to be taken by the countries, nor on the financial aid promised by the rich countries, all of which are commitments that are intended to be implemented from 2020 onwards. There was nevertheless agreement to hold a dialogue that will run throughout 2018 for the purpose of drawing up an overview of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, as no substantive progress was made, the crucial decisions were postponed to the COP24 which will take place in Katowice, in Poland, in December 2018.

The unions' idea of a fair transition is gaining support

The COP23 was nevertheless an opportunity for the trade union movement to continue its advocacy for "fair transition" policies, which are gaining increasing support from the stakeholders. The recognition of the importance of a social pact promoting the transition to low-carbon economies foster, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (CSI), great optimism for the future of millions of workers and their communities.

This is why the CSI is already calling for a "Katowice" action plan for a fair transition. For Education International (EI), the adoption of such an action plan is an excellent opportunity for highlighting education's crucial role in combating climate change.

The Education Day: strengthening our partnerships on climate change education

For several years now, the Conference's organisers have had the bright idea of organising a thematic day devoted to education, giving rise to a host of activities dealing with climate change education (CCE), including conferences, seminars, performances and exhibitions.

This year, EI was able to speak as a guest organisation at the “Dreaming big in Climate Education” event organised by various United Nations agencies. The event addressed partnerships aimed at initiating the necessary changes in attitudes and actions to be taken in the face of the risks arising from climate change.

At the event, EI representative Dennis Sinyolo argued that, faced with the low level of penetration of CCE in the curricula of the various countries, the EI member organisations must absolutely join forces in order to compel governments to observe their commitments under the Paris Agreement. Teachers must also have access to all the necessary support and training order to become engaged and effective stakeholders in combating climate change. For its part, EI will mobilise its affiliates around this crucial issue for our collective future.