Pamhagen, Austria, 17 October 2019 – A gathering of climate influencers, including representatives of national, regional and local governments, diplomats, youth, NGOs and CEOs from the public and private sector has declared their commitment to broad-based, informed engagement to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries spelled out, in an entire Article and a supporting decision, the need for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) – education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international and regional cooperation.
With these in place, “now is the time for action,” said Astrid Eisenkopf, Minister of the Regional Government of Burgenland, in introducing the Burgenland Declaration on ACE, “for the sake of protecting Earth’s climate for present and future generations.”
Countries have been slow to respond to their commitments under ACE, with most yet to name an ACE focal point or draw up an ACE strategy as pledged.
“We have seen a global movement of citizens and youth demanding climate action. We must respond to this call for action with meaningful, fact-based and goal-oriented engagement,” said Talieh Wögerbauer, a climate negotiator with Austria’s Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism and Action for Climate Empowerment Ambassador.
“It is heartening to see the increased awareness and the strenuous calls for action. [However] we cannot leave this responsibility on the shoulders of the young,” said Ms. Wögerbauer, organizer of the Burgenland symposium, who spoke at the symposium’s high-level event about the “fundamental importance of multilateralism”, the private sector as a climate ally, and the responsibility of adults. “It is not on our children to save the world. All of us have to take Climate Action, and a positive dialogue amongst generations is essential and absolutely needed.”
ACE Ambassador Wögerbauer will seek support for ACE at all levels and will carry the Burgenland Declaration to the United Nations Climate Conference (COP25) in Chile in December, and to Scotland for COP26.
“The Burgenland Declaration is the kick-off of a global initiative for catalyzing wider engagement in, and support to, the implementation of Article 12 of the Paris Agreement and the ACE Agenda,” she said.
The ACE agenda with its six key elements started in 1992 under Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and adopted as Article 12 of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015, and operationalized in a decision at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland, in 2018.
“Empowering people is crucial for the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement,” said Martin Frick, Senior Director, UN Climate Change, about the necessity of educating the public on climate change.
“We need international cooperation, vertical integration that brings the climate agenda to the countries, regions, cities, communities and citizens, as well as mobilizing funding and bringing together all stakeholders to support and enhance the implementation of ACE,” he said.
A representative of the upcoming COP25 in Chile, Johanna Arriagada, said her country “is committed to moving the ACE agenda forward” with two days dedicated to showcase education and youth climate action.
She reported that Chile will host an ACE workshop for Latin American countries, and in 2020 Chile will develop its ACE national strategy.
At COP 25 Parties are expected to adopt terms of reference for the review of the Doha work programme on Article 6 of the Convention, with the objective of taking stock of ACE implementation and identifying further actions for ACE, to be adopted at COP26 in Glasgow.
The representative of the Embassy of Italy in Austria, Giuseppe Abignente, announced in Pamhagen that Italy will host a youth event in the run-up to COP26 “to stress the importance of youth and ACE priority areas."
To build bridges from talking to action and implement effectively the principles contained in Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, Italy is vigorously supporting climate change and environmental education at national level and is fully committed to support ACE within the UNFCCC process,” said Mr. Abignente.
Message from Austrian Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein:
The Burgenland Declaration
The High-level Event mobilized global decision-makers who committed to climate action in their areas of influence by signing the Burgenland Declaration on Action for Climate Empowerment.
Signatories to the Burgenland Declaration declared their determination and commitment to make Action for Climate Empowerment “fundamental in the planning and actions of our government, organization, agency, company or personal or public enterprise, and to support and encourage others to do the same, for the sake of protecting Earth’s climate for present and future generations.”
At COP 25 in Chile, the Burgenland Declaration will be presented at the High-level event on ACE to engage further supporters.
The ACE symposium in Pamhagen brought together ACE national focal points, representatives from governments, the private sector, local and regional authorities, youth who discussed how to catalyse wider engagement in, and support to, implementation of the ACE agenda. Among other things, the event highlighted the need to mobilize funding at the local, national and international levels to support the ACE agenda.
The Symposium and High-level Event was organized by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, in cooperation with the UN Climate Change secretariat and in collaboration with the state of Burgenland and the Austrian-German Friendship Association.
The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and strive for a safer 1.5-degree target. Last December, at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, countries adopted a near-complete package of decisions to implement the agreement, the first of which was a decision on ACE.
From left, (holding the Declaration) Jürgen Schneider, Director General, Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism; Minister Astrid Eisenkopf, local Minister of Burgenland; Talieh Wögerbauer, Secretary General of the bilateral Austrian-German Friendship Association; and Martin Frick, Senior Director, UN Climate Change.