One year ago, even 6 months ago, this would have never happened — getting global CO2 levels below 350 ppm has been raised in the official UN climate negotiations more times than I can keep track of now. We’re now on day 3 of the negotiations here in Bonn, Germany. There are some definite ups and downs so far.
Not surprisingly, yet still quite significantly, it is the largely the most vulnerable countries, AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Island States) and the LDCs (Least Developed Countries), who are leading the charge for 350. (And yes, there are more acronyms and jargon within the UN climate talks than just about anyone can handle.) In the photo I’ve attached you’ll see a banner created by the youth present at the meetings saying, “Youth Support AOSIS – 350 ppm”. For those of us of the younger generations, it’s very heartening to hear AOSIS speak out not only on 350, but also on the need for a treaty that will ensure intergenerational equity.
Much of our time spent here in Bonn is being spent doing what we can to amplify the and support the leadership of AOSIS and LDC countries. They are the countries that have the most to lose in this fight, and it’s essential that all world governments can forge an agreement this year that will get the world on track to a safe climate, below 350 ppm CO2.
But it’s not just in the main negotiations where the 350 buzz is growing. Unlike the annual UN climate talks in December called COPs (Conferences of the Parties), these Bonn meetings are much smaller and more intimate. The 350 booth (again in the attached photo) happens to be right next to the entrance of the negotiation plenary hall. Country after country of delegates are stepping right up to our table to chat about 350.
What’s most impressive to them isn’t that we have a few 350.org representatives and active youth present at the meetings (that helps though), it’s the stories we’re able to share about the growing movement calling for 350 all around the world. Many delegations are now marking October 24 on their calendars and excited to see what might take place back in their home countries.
For that reason later today we are going to construct a physical October 24 action counter on at our booth here in the negotiations (a slightly scrappier version of the counter you can see on the homepage of the website). What we need now is to have that counter continuously rising while we’re here (and all the way through October 24). So if you haven’t done so already, register your community for an action on October 24 — don’t worry, the details and logistics can come later. And don’t stop there, start emailing and calling everyone you know to start an action where they are. We want to show the negotiators not just in October, but now also, that the global climate movement is growing and uniting and calling for 350!
And in case you are wondering why this is necessary if AOSIS and LDC countris are already speakng out on 350, sadly those countries are also some of the least powerful here in the negotiating process. 350 is certainly popping up more and more in the talks, but many of the most powerful countries of the world, most notably the US and EU countries, are consistently falling short in their statements and commitments.
There is a clear and palpable excitement from having a new US negotating team here at the meetings for the first time since the election. Yet, the US delegation remains one of the primary obstacles here towards moving the talks towards what science and justice really demand. The US is with-holding strong commitments on emissions reductions target for 2020, and largely passing the torch back to US Congress to set the course for US climate policy.
Regardless of what country you are in, we need a massive wave of citizen engagement to let our governments know that we won’t stand for a weak agreement. We are already changing the course of the talks, but we have quite some ways to go before world leaders have no choice but to set us on course to 350.
Keep up the great work everyone, and let’s get those actions rolling in.