Despite the initial intimidation I’ve felt navigating the convention on, I find myself filled with a greater sense of confidence and inspiration for the international agenda. Today the United States Climate Action Center opened in Bonn at COP23 for a week of presentations and panel discussions to promote the grassroots movement #We Are Still In. The movement showcases the efforts state representatives, non-governmental organizations, private sector corporations, universities, and faith organizations are taking to pursue the climate change mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement. The opening ceremony highlighted the success some U.S representatives have found in pursuit of emissions reductions, sustainability initiatives, and environmental justice. The narrative was met with high spirits by a crowd of international constituents and gave me optimism that the U.S may actually take the necessary steps to address climate change in the coming years. That being said, my skepticism remains that a considerable portion of state and private sector commitments may not be upheld unless domestic climate action culminates in enforceable policy, or at the very least encourages and leads to greater transparency from actors in the process.
Here is a picture of the kickoff panel discussion:
After listening to the U.S climate action center kickoff I went to a REDD+ Side Event that discussed where the program stands and what is needed moving forward. One of the speakers, Arild Angelsen left us with a sentiment that I believe parallels what I hope to see come out of the U.S climate action movement. Arild prompted the audience to consider that although projects win battles, policies win the war. The war in this context is a matter of action vs. inaction, and I hope the #wearestillin movement will not only lead to successful localized projects, but also will inform the implementation of effective domestic policy that positively contributes to the international climate regime.