The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place later this year, in Glasgow, United Kingdom from 1-12 November 2021. COP26 is considered to be the most important inter-governmental meeting on the environment since the Paris Agreement in 2015. This is because it will serve as the first review of the commitments made by each participating country of their contribution to limit the rise of global temperature to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Ahead of CO26, Members of Parliament from 5 countries – Canada, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Pakistan – have added their names to a statement that calls for public empowerment to be a top priority at the conference. The publication of the statement follows the announcement on July 7, 2021 that the COP26 presidency programme will include a focus on public empowerment.
The statement titled ‘Why the empowerment agenda at COP26 matters for the success of the Paris Agreement’ outlines the urgent need to ensure greater participation and engagement in action to address climate change. This is in addition to the Parliamentarians underscoring the role of public empowerment in ensuring the overall success of the Paris Agreement.
The statement suggests UNFCCC parties ought to adopt a more ambitious work programme for climate empowerment at Glasgow next November, place it at the heart of their national climate planning, and count on parliaments – the institutions representing people and making decisions on climate change – as delivery partners. This will make life easier for the parties going forward. It will allow them to foster the rise in favour of climate action across societies and funnel it into the high-ambition, effective and inclusive climate policy and implementation required by the Paris Agreement. In doing so, the parties will also be providing a much-needed shot in the arm to democracy.
The statement recommends doing this by a recommitment to the role society can play in effecting climate action – which is perfectly suited for this moment due to the threats to democracy presented by responses to COVID-19. It highlights the implementation of the six components of the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) as necessary in helping to create the space governments need to scale up their climate ambitions. The 6 ACE components are education, training, public awareness, access to information, public participation, and international cooperation.
The signatories to the statement are:
- Senator Rosa Galvez, President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change, Canada
- Munaza Hassan, Chairwoman of the Climate Change Committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan
- Fadli Zon, Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Committee of the House of Representatives of Indonesia
- Japhet Miriti Kareke Mbiuki, Chairman of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee of the National Assembly of Kenya
- Maia Bitadze MP, Chair of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee, Parliament of Georgia
- Alisha Todd, ParlAmericas, Director General
- Rafael Jimenez Aybar, WFD, Environmental Democracy Adviser
In the aftermath of COP26, WFD will convene a conference on Environmental Democracy. The conference will take stock of the Glasgow Work Programme on the six components of ACE. It will also explore ways in which the international democracy assistance and climate communities need to join forces to exploit the potential of the new framework to the fullest.