COP 23: “We Are Still In”

by Timothy Molnar
Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado Boulder

The 23rd annual session of the Conference of Parties (COP 23) to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) took place in Bonn, Germany from November 6-17. As a Ph.D. student in CU’s environmental studies program, I had a chance to observe. COP meetings provide countries a formal opportunity to convene and discuss progress and challenges in dealing with global climate change. For American environmentalists, COP23 was a particularly interesting affair. For while the U.S. remains a member to the UNFCCC, President Trump’s June, 2017 announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has tainted the country’s reputation within the international climate community. Despite this setback, however, American environmentalists were out in force at last week’s Bonn climate meeting. Corporate leaders, public officials, and climate champions ranging from Al Gore to Michael Bloomberg to Senator Ed Markey gathered in the U.S. Climate Action Center – an inflatable pavilion stationed directly adjacent to the COP negotiations – to advocate on behalf of America’s continued commitment to fight climate change. Drawing on countless commitments from subnational actors and corporations, their message was clear: “We Are Still In”. It remains to be seen whether these bottom up pledges can meet the U.S.’s nationally determined contributions, set forth in the Paris Agreement; nevertheless, it’s an inspiring start.

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