An unofficial delegation, representing U.S. political and corporate leaders and calling themselves “We Are Still In,” will attend next week’s climate summit in Germany, COP23, setting up their own pavilion and taking a very different approach to the official U.S. delegation.
The official delegation, according to the New York Times, will promote the Trump administration’s policy of supporting coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change.
The 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as COP23, starts next week on 13 November, 2017 in Bonn, Germany. It will last for two weeks, and is expected to draw over 25,000 participants from all over the world. The conference will focus on how to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accords, in which 195 countries agreed to work together to contain global warming. The accords set a specific goal: to limit global temperatures rising by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with an even more ideal goal of keeping that increase below 1.5°C.
The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Accords created a flurry of concern that other nations might use the U.S. position to justify their own withdrawal, but that has not occurred. Instead, a groundswell of support for the accords has risen from within the U.S. from business leaders, legislators, and other government officials – even Republicans, like Mayor Jim Brainerd of Carmel, Indiana. The city of Carmel, though voting for Trump by 56% in the 2016 presidential election, has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Brainerd will travel with an organized but unofficial delegation of Americans calling themselves the “We Are Still In” Coalition. The group represents 2,500 mayors, governors, legislators, corporate leaders, university presidents, and other civic leaders who are committed to the Paris agreement, and is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Hewlett Foundation and NextGen America. Representing a broad swath of American interests and ideologies, the coalition intends to reassure world leaders that there is broad, bipartisan, multi-industry support for the Paris Accords in the United States, and a strong commitment to address global warming in a meaningful way.
Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, and California’s Governor Jerry Brown are founding members of the We Are Still In coalition. The organization includes nine states, 252 cities and counties, and corporations including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Nestlé SA, Apple Inc., and Google. Bloomberg will act as Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, while Brown is working on a new America’s Pledge report describing climate-focused efforts being made in states, cities, and businesses in the U.S. to help ensure the country will meet its Paris Agreement carbon reduction goals.
Pundits and observers are noting that Trump’s opposition to the climate agreements, rather than weakening U.S. efforts, have served to strength the resolve within the country to meet these goals, leading to advances in the use of solar and wind power. States like California are emulating the work China and India are doing in creating timetables to ban internal combustion vehicles while GM and Ford are using recent advances in battery technology to create better, more practical electric vehicles.
The group is even prepared to participate in discussions about the fact that the goals need to be made even more aggressive and ambitious in order to minimize the rise in global temperatures.
As Mayor Brainerd said before leaving for Germany, “When 99 per cent of the world’s scientists say we have a problem, wouldn’t you think the conservative approach would be to assume that they’re right and not recklessly go off and disregard all their findings?”