Day Five – The US Climate Action Center & The Private Sector

It’s day 5 in Bonn and day 3 of COP23! After two days full of meetings, networking, and events, we did a variety of things today. Over the past few days, I have been focusing on researching private sector solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and particularly emerging business opportunities in low-carbon markets. Some of the most insightful side events I have attended have been panels of sustainability executives from large corporations as well as talks by “ecopreneurs” who operate small business that benefit the environment. This morning I went to a fascinating event on the effects of the Paris Agreement for the fashion industry and their supply chains. I learned that the fashion industry is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, second only to the oil industry. The directors of sustainability of H&M and VF Corp. (The North Face, Timberland, Vans, etc.) spoke about their commitments to becoming “climate positive” in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I was also able to hear from some interesting eco-friendly fashion-focused entrepreneurs who operate businesses with innovative models that reduce waste and recycle materials. I look forward to attending many other business-related side events to learn about how the private sector is leading the fight against climate change, and how environmentally-friendly business practices can be profitable.

I look forward to volunteering at the U.S. Climate Action Zone Center. As Kelly explained in her blog post, since the US has a weak presence at the conference, a group of American people decided to come together to tell the world that #WeAreStillIn. Many countries set up pavilions which serve as hubs to communicate their successes and challenges in climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as hosting events, speakers, and cultural exhibitions. Think Epcot for climate change advocacy. Since the US didn’t get a pavilion, the US Climate Action Zone serves a similar purpose. Representatives from local governments, prominent businesses, universities, faith-based organizations and other sectors are hosting a variety of events this week in a purpose-built structure located just feet away from conference area.

For the first time since we arrived in Germany, we have a full-class debrief session at the end of the day today. It was nice to take a moment to relax, reflect, and hear about the wide variety of experiences our peers are having at the Conference. Everyone explained their favorite places to get free food, coolest side events they had attended, and unexpected encounters with low-key famous people. Katherine made it on Moroccan television and I have an interview tomorrow with the Costa Rican radio! We’re all exploring different perspectives at COP, and we’re excited to keep pursuing new opportunities and topics! Only one week left!

-Cole Simon ’20

A presentation on the future of sustainable agriculture and its integration into urban living.
The back entrance to the Bonn Zone, complete with lots of free bikes.
Volunteering at the U.S. Climate Action Center