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COP23 Climate Change Summit Still Strong Despite Trump
By admin November 7, 2017

On Monday, diplomats from nearly 200 countries gathered in Bonn, Germany to participate in COP23, a two-weeklong series of climate negotiations and meetings related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement signed in 2016. The United States, once a pivotal player in climate talks, will be taking a diminished, if not antagonizing role at COP23 as other countries will try to fill the void Trump left when he announced earlier this year plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Although the US cannot formally withdraw until after the 2020 presidential election, Trump’s decision has cast great anticipation over how the international community will choose to advance climate goals, including the goals of COP23.

Of additional alarm to environmentalists, the Trump administration has also announced a presentation at the talks to promote coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change. Entitled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,” it will feature speakers from Peabody Energy, a coal company, along with NuScale Power, a nuclear engineering firm, and Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas exporter. This news has prompted strong reactions from the general public and elected officials alike, most of whom have deemed it as a move to further roll back progress made in advancing climate mitigation. Yet, supporters including Barry Worthington, the executive director of the United States Energy Association, argue that it is a matter of presenting the reality of fossil fuels, which is expected to still contribute half of the global energy demand by 2050.

When Trump announced the US withdrawal in June, the UN’s chief negotiator who also delivered the Paris deal ended up thanking him, stating that it will provoke an unparalleled wave of support for the treaty and the world will show more resolve on climate action. Indeed, although the US government has taken a backseat to climate negotiations, a substantial number of states and cities that not only have remained vigilant in its vision to lower carbon emissions, but they have redoubled their efforts to lead and promote stronger environmental legislation. This coalition of US states and cities committed to acting on climate change consists of nine states and over 250 cities, and combined they would boast the third largest economy in the world today if they were a separate nation state. Although US cities, states, and businesses cannot formally participate in negotiations, several leaders including California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will attend to signal to other countries that the US will continue to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions despite the federal rollback of regulations.

Although it remains to be seen which nation or nations will champion a climate leadership role, the UN has forged ahead with clear-cut goals for COP23. The Paris Agreement in itself is a remarkable milestone for climate negotiation history as it calls for a global effort in keeping temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Agreement established the principles, but not the details of how to achieve that, including the responsibilities of each ratifying nation. Thus, the UN hopes to achieve the technical implementation measures by the end of COP23, which would include methods to measure transparency and accountability. With the top three hottest years on record occurring in the past three years, the world awaits to see what fruition COP23 will produce.

 

Further Reading:

2017 set to be one of top three hottest years on record

Trump Team to Promote Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power at Bonn Climate Talks

What Does the Trump Administration Want at the COP 23 Climate Talks%253F The World Is Watching Nervously

cop23: Testing times for Paris climate pact after Trump withdrawal

The COP23 climate change summit in Bonn and why it matters

Bonn climate talks will aim to meet goals laid out in Paris, says UN

 

 

 


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