UN Climate Change
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This article is part two of a three-part series detailing teen climate ambassadors Inka Vogt and Fabian Beveridge’s trip to Bonn, Germany. Inka and Fabian are currently cycling 10,000 km across Europe to raise awareness about climate change and the need for climate action. In Bonn, they visited the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat’s headquarters, the Sustainable Development Goals Action Studio, the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
In each major city they visit during their climate neutral journey cycling across Europe, our young climate ambassadors Inka Vogt and Fabian Beveridge (19 and 18 years old respectively, and both from New Zealand) have spoken with businesses, schools, governments and individuals to learn about the climate actions they are taking.
On their epic tour through Europe, the two cyclists have cycled through a number of large cities, including Madrid, Paris and Brussels, and smaller ones such as Bonn.
In Bonn, Inka and Fabian met with representatives from the city, and from Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) to learn more about the growing number of cities and regions taking climate action, and about Bonn’s plans to address climate change.
The cyclists found out that 70% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated in cities. This is especially concerning given that by 2050, about 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas world-wide. This means that cities have a special responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient.
“It’s the cities that cause problems but also at the same time provide solutions and innovations. It has to start from there,” the city of Bonn’s representative, Stefan Wagner, told Inka and Fabian during their meeting.
Fortunately, cities have a real capacity – and will – to do so. Acting both locally and collaboratively, an increasing number of cities are coming together in networks to develop ambitious plans to meet the climate challenge.
For instance, ICLEI, a network of cities and regions committed to sustainability and climate action, now has a membership of over 1,500 local and regional governments, representing one quarter of the total world population.
Inka and Fabian spoke with ICLEI’s Claudio Magliulo, who told them about ICLEI’s ‘carbonn Climate Registry’, a platform for cities, towns and regions to register their climate change pledges, which includes over 600 cities and regions reporting, many of which have commitments more ambitious than the nations they belong to.
“One thing that we’ve learned in the last two years since the Paris Agreement was approved is that if we want to achieve what we set ourselves to, we need to build broad coalitions. It’s not just up to nations themselves,” Claudio said.
Inka and Fabian also learned about the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a network of over 90 megacities committed to tackling climate change, representing more than 650 million people and one quarter of the global GDP.
C40 is working to empower cities to take the lead on climate action around the world, amplifying their call to national governments for greater support and autonomy in creating a more sustainable future.
Inka and Fabian have been impressed by the local climate actions they have learned about during their trip. They were particularly amazed by the good cycling infrastructure and wind turbines in Barcelona, the dense railway networks in Brussels, and Paris’ plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Climate Action in Bonn
The cyclists were happy to learn that the city of Bonn is also taking important steps to reduce its climate footprint.
Bonn is working hard to reduce its emissions – the city has almost reached its 2020 target to reduce its emissions by 20%, and plans to reach 95% emissions reductions by 2050. Bonn is working to enhance its share of electric busses, and encouraging private companies to run 100% carbon neutral.
Inka and Fabian were eager to find out what Bonn is doing to encourage its citizens to cycle.
Stefan explained that Bonn is aiming to double its level of bicycle traffic by 2020, and to achieve this goal, the city is increasing the number of local bike lanes, and working to implement a bike sharing system. Bonn also promotes cycling through ‘Bike Week’ competitions where local businesses compete for the title of most employees cycling to work.
Inka and Fabian will be back in Bonn in the autumn to attend the annual UN Climate Change Conference COP23 (6-17 November).
They are looking forward to meeting up with ICLEI again, as ICLEI is the official focal point for local governments at COP23, and will be hosting a special event at the conference to represent the voices of cities and regions at the international level.
Local and regional governments will have a large presence at the conference, and the cyclists will have the opportunity to meet with mayors and learn more about how cities and regions are planning to build climate change resilience.