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This article is part one 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).

Inka Vogt and Fabian Beveridge from Wellington, New Zealand, have so far cycled over 4,000 km to reach Germany from Porto, Portugal on their way to Greece, after which they will return to Bonn in time for the annual UN Climate Change Conference COP23 (6-17 November).

Inka, who is 19, and Fabian, who is 18, hope that their adventure will encourage others to cycle instead of using emissions-intensive forms of transportation.

“It should become more mainstream to travel by bicycle, because it’s really cheap,” Inka said. “If more people started doing cycle tours as their trips, it would be better for the environment, better for their health, and would encourage more cycle ways to be built, encouraging even more people to join in,” Fabian added.

Global bicycle use is on the rise: there are already more than two billion bikes in use around the world, with this number predicted to rise to five billion by 2050.

UNFCCC Spokesperson Nick Nuttall met with the cyclists during their time in Bonn, and himself bikes to work each day.

“We want to tell governments that you must factor the bicycle into your national climate action plans. As a part of a whole range of things you need to do, don’t forget the bicycle,” he said.

Fabian said, “For younger people out there, make cycling, walking and low-carbon travel a habit. What we want to show is that if we can cycle 10,000 km, then you can cycle 10 km to work or school. That’s the first step.”

“If everyone did a small thing, it would end up being a massive thing,” Inka added.

Ambassadors for the UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now Initiative

Inka and Fabian’s entire journey is carbon neutral, and they are ambassadors for the UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now initiative, a program which encourages countries, cities, organizations and individuals to become carbon neutral through three steps: measure, reduce, and offset.

“We are a working examples of Carbon Neutral Now,” Inka said. “We estimated what our carbon footprint would be, then we reduced what we could, by cycling instead of taking trains, planes and cars across Europe. So far we’ve cycled about 4,000 km. That’s 4,000 km that we would have done on trains, cars or busses, but instead we reduced. What we could not reduce was our plane flight here, so we offset the flight on the Climate Neutral Now website.”

Participants of Climate Neutral Now offset their emissions by supporting sustainable development projects in developing countries, and can choose which projects to support, ranging from wind turbines in Korea to solar water heaters in India, to methane capture in Chile. Inka and Fabian chose to offset their flight from Wellington to Portugal by supporting a project in Thailand.

Climate Neutral Now is presently scoping engagement with fashion and sports companies to help them achieve carbon neutrality. As climate ambassadors, Inka and Fabian are trying to meet these companies throughout their trip to share their message and bring them on board.

The cyclists have been visiting several Climate Neutral Now participants along their route, as well as Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities. These are practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change. Momentum for Change is an initiative spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat.

Visit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Studio

The climate ambassadors also spent some time visiting the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign, a special UN initiative to create awareness about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Global Goals.

There, Inka and Fabian spoke with communications coordinator Marta Rojas and learned about Global Goal #13, Climate Action.

They were also invited to participate in SDG Action’s Humans of MY World campaign, a Facebook page sharing photo-testimonies and personal stories of individuals around the world who stand up for the 17 SDGs. Inka and Fabian plan to contribute to the campaign with photos of inspiring individuals they meet throughout their travels.

The pair also got the chance to try out the SDG Action Campaign’s virtual reality studio, in which they stepped into the shoes of a 12-year old girl living in The Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, to get a unique understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis.

The cyclists are presently on their way to Munich, Germany, after which they will cycle through Italy to reach Greece.

Follow Inka and Fabian’s climate neutral journey on Instagram, Facebook, or visit their blog. They are using the hashtag #Bike4Climate

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