A Massachusetts delegation, organized by CABA, is attending the COP23 UN Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany. The following piece is the second in our series on the climate conference.
Updates from COP23 Pt. 4: Keep It In The Ground
Week two of the COP23 negotiations began rather intensely, in what surprised some as a contentious day of meetings and panels. As delegates prepared for the high-level closing summit, most expected the beginning of week two to revolve around showcases of domestic and multilateral climate action: presentations of green cities, reflections on the progress made since Paris. For some, however, the discussions in week one were not enough, and ministers and executives were made well aware of those sentiments throughout Monday and Tuesday.
The highly anticipated sole-United States event, hosted by White House Special Assistant for International Energy and Environment David Banks, included Francis Brooke from the Office of the Vice President, Holly Krutka, Vice President of Coal Energy at Peabody Energy, Amos Hochstein, Senior Vice President at Tellurian, Inc., and Lenka Kollar, Business Director for NuScale Power.
The line to enter the panel stretched across the pavilion space, with some waiting up to two hours in advance for a chance to observe the comments of the United States at a conference where the government has left a vacuum. As the door opened, many rushed in, leaving those who were left out to begin a sit down outside the meeting room, delaying the start by 7 minutes and amassing a crowd of delegates eager to see the commotion.
Once inside, the event did not last long before a group of delegates inside stood up in unison and began chanting altered lyrics to “God Bless the U.S.A”, shaming the speakers for running a panel at COP23 promoting the use of coal.
Politicians weighed in on the controversy, with Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee interrupting the event to say “the world has rejected Donald Trump’s denial of climate science.” Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, tweeted “promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit”.
The United States, while highly criticized for the pro-fossil fuel panel, was not the only nation receiving scorn this week.
German Federal Minister for Environment Barbara Hendricks attended several events on Tuesday, amid the host nation’s criticisms for increasing emissions in 2017 and potentially missing the 2020 targets. 25,000 demonstrators protested Germany’s coal use leading up to the conference. A week later, the country was again highlighted, being awarded the infamous “Fossil of the Day Award” which was livestreamed throughout the whole conference, joining Australia, the United States, Canada, Poland, Japan and Norway, among others.
Developed nations continuously argue that progress is being made and that the Paris Agreement, if followed, would be a huge step for nations. While that may make some sense, the statements and moves of major nations with respect to climate mitigation, coupled with the continued unanswered outcry of Small Island and Developing States, leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth of this year’s delegates.
If there is one thing that is certain: COP24 will have a lot at stake.
The Climate Action Business Association will be providing updates daily during COP23 in Bonn, Germany. This year’s delegation is spearheaded by Executive Director, Michael Green and consists of policy makers from the Massachusetts State House. Representative Jim Cantwell, Representative Josh Cutler, Representative Jen Benson and Senator Michael Barrett will be joining Mr. Green at the climate talks. The delegation is supported by staff from Northeastern University. Follow CABA News and social media for the latest news and updates.