COP 23 Talks Kick off in Bonn, Germany with Host Island Nation Fiji

This week the global climate talks known as COP 23 kick off in Bonn. Two days ago, Syria — SYRIA, PEOPLE — announced that it would sign on to the international climate agreement known as the Paris Accords, leaving the U.S. the only holdout.

Actually, make that attempted holdout. While U.S. President Donald Trump made a big announcement about his intention to leave the agreement, there’s no actual way to formally leave until 2020.

The talks are hosted by Fiji. This is the first time an island nation on the front lines of the climate change battle has hosted. Given the logistical challenges and costs of hosting the 23,000 expected attendees, Bonn is the physical host. But Fiji has made its presence known in other ways, with a traditional welcoming dance (see above), a decree that the talks embody the spirit of “Talanoa” – a Fijian concept of open discussion, and even a VR booth to showcase the impacts of climate change on the islands.

The plan for this year’s climate talks is to focus on implementation — how to measure carbon and how countries will report on their progress meeting their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions INDCs.

While the U.S. is still in, at least until 2020, the Trump administration can impede progress in subtle ways, for example by sending a smaller, less powerful, delegation and hosting events that promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy.

Despite these drawbacks, the larger global effort to address climate change continues full steam ahead. WRI research confirms that almost 50 countries have already reached “peak carbon.” 1200+ companies, states, cities and universities have told the world “We are still in.” And companies continue to set and reach assertive climate goals.

In fact, the uncertainty around the U.S. participation left a leadership vacuum which is quickly being filled. California Governor Jerry Brown is on the ground in Bonn to discuss linking the California and EU carbon markets, and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged a $15 million dollar donation from his foundation to bridge the funding gap that may occur due to the U.S. withdrawal.

Let’s call this one a glass half full of melted icebergs.

Image credit: UNFCCC Instagram

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

One response

  1. With regards to the USA, a major decision must be made by POTUS before the end of this year, and that is the Chinese-owned Suniva and German-owned SolarWorld tariff case. I am hopeful that President Trump makes the right decision; since his mantra is Jobs, jobs, jobs, I do not see how he could not “see” the difference between 250k solar service sector and 20k solar manufacturing jobs.

    On another note, the tax reform package looks like it will be kind to solar and wind; the 30% Fed ITC will not be sacrificed, but not that $7.5k one for EV’s. I hope government doesn’t foul it up.

    I have been quasi-energy-independent since 2013, and with NEM, I am grandfathered in. I make money each year from my co-op member-owned utility. I wish more Americans had the same opportunity with their utility fiefdoms that I enjoy. For those considering solar, make sure you go with a microinverter solution and not an optimized-string. The microinverters offer a 100% reliable, decentralized power solution whereas the optimized-string does not. I know. I have 80 Enphase microinverters, and even if one fails, which it hasn’t, 99% of my solar solution will continue to work. That’s reliability. With an optimized string, a defective central string inverter will cause your entire solar PV solution to become disabled and who knows for how long. Optimized-string solutions are great for the service guys.

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