Is Time Running Out?

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COP 22 hourglass display representing the limited time left to avoid irreversible climate change before the year 2100.

Referencing the response to climate change at today’s COP 22, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the issue in terms of time.   He stated, “The question is not whether we will transition to a clean energy economy. The question is whether we will have the will power to make the transition in time.  Time is not on our side.”  He was speaking to a group in Marrakech, but his question was really to the world.

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Secretary of State John Kerry in Marrakech, Morocco for the COP 22 Climate negotiations.

 

 

 

 

Sec. Kerry confirmed that the global community is more united than ever and taking real action this year, as evidenced in such historic global agreements as the Paris Agreement, the ICAO Agreement and the Kigali Agreement. Sec. Kerry reassured his listeners that despite the uncertainty that is coming from recent election results, climate change is not a partisan issue.  The majority of Americans, scientists, military leaders, intelligence community, state and city leaders, business leaders, advocacy groups and community organizers are committed to fighting against the problems that contribute to climate change. The Secretary emphasized that although he would not speculate on the incoming administration’s policies regarding the Paris Agreement, he took heart because “issues look very different on the campaign trail than when you are actually in office.”  In fact, the U.S. is on its way to meet its Paris Agreement goals based on market forces and state regulations already in place. Investing in clean energy makes good market sense because as the Secretary said, “you can do good and do well at the same time.”


The Sun has Set on Copenhagen and the COP-15

Actually, the sun set here in Copenhagen several hours ago, but it seems to have also set for the COP.  A new accord appears to have been reached this evening, but it falls short of most expectations.  This morning, President Obama flew in to deliver a disappointing speech in front of the UN and then ducked through a closed-door to spend the rest of the afternoon in private talks with a handful of world leaders.  Shortly after, accusations flew from other countries that these secret talks violated the democratic process necessary for the UN to function.

After a long day of waiting on the edge of our seats, Obama held another brief press conference to say that his meetings had been “successful.”  However, he had little substantive points to offer.  Needless to say, our team feels let down that Copenhagen failed to be the shining moment in history when the world united to focus on our common future.  Most of us leave here tomorrow feeling disappointed and exhausted, but we have a renewed sense of commitment to gain ground on the domestic front.

Even if the United States was unable to be the leader during these talks, the long road ahead of us is clear.   We hope that our readers have enjoyed our thoughts and observations during our time at the COP-15.  Even in disappointment, we each feel privileged to have been here to witness this historical process.


Thoughts on expectations

A reporter from the Rutland Herald called me yesterday to talk about the conference.  He didn’t have any specific questions for me at first but rather just wanted me to talk.  I started with a basic breakdown of what the conference was about, who would be there, what would be going on daily and other generic, overview-type information.  After rambling for a bit, he asked me a few simple questions and then concluded by asking, is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like to tell people?  Ah, little did he know that he opened a can of worms on that one!   Continue reading


11 Days and Counting …

It’s hard to believe the climate conference is about to begin. For the past several months, we’ve been studying the issues, making our travel plans, coordinating with colleagues, and making connections with other like-minded groups and individuals. Indeed, the email traffic has been fast and furious, with articles, reports, commentaries, predictions, and speculations flying about like mad. Who knows what our world leaders will do? They could dazzle us with their brilliant negotiating skills or disappoint us with their flimsy proposals. Either way, this event has already put a fire in the belly of huge numbers of people, and it has cemented bonds between members of a global community fiercely devoted to moving the ball forward on climate change. More than anything else, this is what gives me hope that we will actually respond to this crisis in time to stave off the unthinkable. World leaders and negotiating teams, the ball is in your court, but the rest of us will be watching!