Next week, world leaders will gather together for the COP23—the next round of international climate talks. With every country across the globe except Syria and the U.S.A. supporting the Paris Agreement, will our nation’s delegation, with its isolationist approach, be scorned?
The COP23 summit, scheduled to be held next week in Bonn, Germany, marks the two year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
Most global leaders are coming to the meetings to discuss the various ways that we can drawdown our global carbon emissions, with plans and pledges to implement innovative solutions in areas like renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean mobility, green building, reforestation, and smart cities.
Many are prepared to determine and agree on the implementation guidelines that will measure progress as nations work to achieve their stated climate commitments, providing the transparency framework for the execution of the Paris Agreement, as well as ongoing reporting and review requirements.
Countries participating in the Paris Agreement—which include every nation across the globe except Syria and the U.S.A.—will also engage in what is called the Talanoa Dialogue, which will guide the process by which each country will assess its progress, identify new opportunities for action, and augment climate commitments.
Fiji will be in the spotlight, as the small island nation’s government will preside over the global summit, which means that a special emphasis will be placed on protecting vulnerable, low-lying countries.
And it’s certain that a discussion about the role developed nations are willing take to mitigate climate-related loss and offset economic damage for developing nations will take center stage.
The official U.S. delegation, led by renowned climate skeptics Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, and Scott Pruitt, is expected to stonewall the climate talks, which is particularly distressing in light of the fact that the United Nations (UN) just released its eighth annual Emissions Gap Report, which affirmed that global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to far exceed previous projections, overshooting the Paris Agreement forecasts by approximately 30% (which means that the pledges made to date only address one-third of the cuts needed by 2030 in order to mitigate the dramatic impacts of our changing climate.)
In its report, the UN went as far as to state, in no uncertain terms, "Should the United States follow through with its stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the picture could become even bleaker," clearly admonishing the Trump administration for its controversial decision to withdraw from the Agreement.
Fortunately, the individuals in the official U.S. delegation will not be the only ones representing our nation at the CPO23 next week. Stakeholders from cities, states, businesses, and NGOs—many of whom have proven to be invaluable in the continued drive towards enhanced climate action—will add their voices to the chorus, emphasizing that the U.S. may be down for this round, but we’re certainly not out of the climate action fight.
As Dr. Edgar E. Gutiérrez-Espeleta, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, says, "The Paris Agreement boosted climate action, but momentum is clearly faltering. We face a stark choice: up our ambition, or suffer the consequences."
China, the European Union, India, and Japan are on track to meet their 2020 pledges. There is no reason, other than bad politics, that the U.S. can’t or shouldn’t step up to meet ours.
With or without the Trump administration, the rest of humanity seems to be on the job when it comes to reducing our collective footprint. I don’t know what will set the alarm bells ringing in Washington, but perhaps world leaders gathered at the CPO23 can bring the U.S. delegates one step closer to publicly accepting the realities of climate change before it is too late.
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