By Judy Koren
November 6 leading into November 17 saw almost 200 nations gathered in Bonn, Germany for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. The main point on the agenda for those eleven days will be solidifying the fine print of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The Paris Climate Agreement was developed at the 2015 United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) and has since been signed by 195 nations. The only nations abstaining were Nicaragua, Syria, and the United States.
According to the New York Times, “filling in the details of those Paris pledges” is of the utmost importance, as they are “voluntary, vague, and not easily verifiable.” In order to make progress much easier and clearer, diplomats from around the globe are hoping to confirm nations’ commitment to the Paris Agreement.
As world leaders gathered in Bonn, Germany, activists occupied the local coal plant near the summit. CBS says “campaigners took over a brown coal-fired power plant and called for a strong signal from rich countries on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.” The activists were hoping German Chancellor Angela Merkel could announce Germany’s decision to make a firm deadline stating their commitment to “phase out the use of coal by 2030.” Activists caused disruption to the power plant as they “occupied conveyor belts and other equipment” reports CBS.
As the climate talks took place, the Washington Post reported that just an hour’s drive away is Immerath, a town that faced “demolition, making way for the expansion of mega mines that will produce billions of tons of carbon emissions in the coming decades.” This town proves the struggle Germany has to “break its heavy addiction to brown coal,” thus questioning Germany’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, reports the Washington Post. In the past Merkel criticized President Trump for pulling out of the agreement and encouraging the reopening of coal mines throughout the United States.
France is joining them in the call for greater efforts to curb climate change. The Financial Times says, “The leaders of Germany and France have urged more action against climate.” This is mainly due to the signs that the commitments made by the rest of the world “will not be enough to meet the emission reduction target.” The FT reported that French President Emmanuel Macron is “committed to phasing out coal power by 2021, in line with previous promises,” along with Merkel who believes global warming is the “central challenge for mankind.” Merkel claims it is crucial to see that as of right now, the nations who signed the agreement are not on track to meet the goals.
As nations abroad are gathering at the annual UNFCC, the United States was not formally taking part in negotiations, although some U.S. politicians were present. According to the DW, at the conference the banner “America’s Pledge: We Are Still In” has released a report delineating their commitment to accomplish the goals set out under Paris Climate Agreement.
Although President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement, big name politicians like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown are determined to stay at the table by spearheading the America’s Pledge initiative in order to influence other governors and mayors all across the U.S. to stay committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. Seen by the COP23 community, the DW says they have “welcomed the pledge.”