A climate change hangover?
Daybreak in Bonn/Beuel, a 20 minute streetcar and subway ride from the COP talks.
I spoke with this German forester about the spread of tree-killing bark beetles, a global symptom of a warming climate.
The Japanese Garden in Bonn was a great place to relax during the COP23 climate conference in Bonn.
I met some Chinese energy experts who helped explain their country’s astonishing transition to renewable energy.
China is going to leave the U.S. in the dust for the first half of the 21st century as the world shifts to a renewable energy, low-carbon economy.
By Bob Berwyn
When I left Paris in mid-December of 2015 after the COP21 climate summit that resulted in the Paris Agreement, I was definitely feeling pretty good about the world. For the first time ever, the majority of nation’s agreed on single goal — to limit global to well below 2 degrees Celsius. That’s the threshold scientists say we shouldn’t pass if we want to avert dangerous climate disruptions. Decades of research led to that conclusion, so there’s no reason to doubt it, unless you are willingly sticking your head in the sand.
Say what you want about the global climate deal, it’s significant just for the fact that there was agreement among so many countries with so many varied interests, and the U.S. helped lead the way to making the agreement happen.
A couple of years later and that heady Paris buzz has turned into a bit of a climate hangover, with the realization that the truly hard work of actually cutting emissions is still ahead.
In late November I attended the latest edition of the annual powwow, and it was encouraging to see that, even in the absence of U.S. leadership, the rest of the world is determined to save us from ourselves. If this process works, the U.S. will owe the rest of the world a huge debt of gratitude, because this is truly a case of pulling the bacon out of the fire.
I wrote several stories about the COP23 conference, including a story about what, exactly, the negotiators were trying to achieve in Bonn: COP23: Writing the Paris accord rule book.
Germany is supposed to be one of the new global leaders on climate policy, but is that really the case? Here’s what I found out: How Germany Can Lead on Climate, Despite Setbacks.
Then the was the fossil fuel sideshow put on by the White House: America’s Mortifying Performance at the Bonn Climate Talks.
The issue of climate financing (who pays for the damage that’s already been caused; who helps pay to help poorer, developing countries cope with impacts that rich countries for the most part caused?) was on the table, and it’s a question of how to make sure the money is getting to where it’s needed.
It looks like one of the most promising avenues for climate action is in the courts, as lawsuits will force energy companies and governments to accept liability for failing to avoid actions that hard harmful consequences. The message from environmental attorneys is that, if climate policies fail, “We’ll see you in court.”
And in the end, the U.S. negotiators actually didn’t try to disrupt the negotiations at all, and didn’t try to impede global progress toward the Paris Agreement. In some areas, they actually helped make progress, according to European experts.