We have an urgent environmental crisis, but the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of Parties that ends now in Durban, South Africa has remained stuck on deliberations on vague and false solutions to the climate problem.
We lament the fact that the talks have moved away from the overarching principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” where developed countries, in view of their historical emissions, take the lead and responsibility for mitigation and provide financial resources, promote transfer of and access to environmentally sound technologies, as well as meeting costs of adaptation.
Climate justice requires that developed countries fulfill their obligation to foot the cost of much needed adaptation in developing countries, which much of Asia and the Pacific embraces. While mitigation of emissions is a global concern, developing countries require allowance of emissions or a degree of climate space in order to fulfill their respective paths towards sustainable development to cope with. Alas, no firm commitments and agreements have been made along these lines.
In this context, CLIMATE Asia Pacific calls on governments, non government organizations, people’s organizations and movements across the globe to step up efforts on education on climate change—a key instrument in raising awareness, mindsets, values and skills on the grave climate crisis to mobilize people towards thorough-going solutions.
The clamor for wider climate change education, highlighting a scientific and people-oriented education on climate change comes at a time of great danger for the peoples of Asia Pacific and other vulnerable nations and communities—flooding and alarming sea level rise in coastal communities, prolonged droughts, looming food insecurity and critical shortage of water sources. The people, especially in the developing world have the right to be sufficiently informed of the dangers they confront, its causes and effects, as well as solutions they can strive for.
Studies on the ground have shown the stark irony of how people burdened with the harsh impacts of climate change are not even aware what climate change is, much less about how to deal with it for their families and communities to survive.
We urge the international community to revitalize its program on climate change education to equip communities with the knowledge to act on the climate challenges that they face.
Education on climate change, a concern that even warranted a separate Article in the UNFCCC, Article 6 on Education, Training and Awareness, was conspicuously missing in the main agenda of the Durban talks. This omission is a cause for alarm, for education on climate change is not merely concerned with mitigation, adaptation and technologies. It involves education that enhances people’s understanding of the root of the climate crisis so that the world will never have to tread on the same mistakes ever again and bring about genuinely sustainable societies.
Education is a potent tool in pushing for genuine solutions to the climate crisis, for it is vital in empowering the people most affected by climate change. Our call for an invigorated education for sustainable development reflects our core belief: true representation of the people means empowering people to articulate their demands and come up with genuine solutions to this global problem. ###
CLIMATE Asia Pacific
December 9, 2010