The COP23 negotiations are beginning to ramp up at the end of week one, with high profile figures such as former United States Vice President Al Gore, California Governor Jerry Brown, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley arriving at the conference on Friday and Saturday. With the climate talks in the Bula Zone intensifying, activity in the Bonn Zone and recently opened U.S. Action Climate Center continues to pick up speed.
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to speak with Julio Cusurichi Palacios, the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize winner from Madre de Dios, Peru. Cusurichi sat down to talk about his mission here at COP23 and the effect that road construction as well as illicit logging and gold mining have had on his community. He also discussed his inspirational work that led to his award.
In the afternoon, the Adaptation Fund hosted a panel of speakers working to implement the fund’s projects in Fiji, Argentina, Ecuador, Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda. The Adaptation Fund, which finances projects to aid developing nations in adapting to climate change, is slated to have a prominent role in the finance negotiations over the next several days. Participants discussed projects’ guiding principles, highlights and lessons learned for activities in their respective countries.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hosted a side event Friday morning: Strengthening Legal and Institutional Frameworks for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation, a process that helps people adapt to climate change through the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of natural ecosystems. The event featured a variety of speakers and panelists from Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador and Seychelles, who discussed strategies, impediments and lessons learned implementing ecosystem-based adaptation through a legal lens. Adrian Martinez, the President of La Ruta del Clima, was one of the featured panelists. Martinez spoke about the role of public participation in climate change governance and implementing adaptation measures in Costa Rica.
Friday’s highlight was Gore’s arrival at COP23. Gore spoke to a packed audience at the Indonesian Pavilion, thanking them for “recreating the climate of Indonesia.” Gore talked about the Climate Reality Project’s work in Indonesia and thanked the 300 Indonesians who had gone through the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training. Gore answered a question about nuclear energy development in Indonesia. While stating that he was not entirely opposed to nuclear energy development, Gore lamented the direction nuclear energy development had taken globally and expressed pessimism about nuclear energy’s economic viability.
This week also marked the opening of the U.S. Action Climate Sector, a pavilion located adjacent to the Bula Zone, where university presidents, mayors, governors, and business leaders from the United States are scheduled to convene over the next several days. At a We Are Still In Welcome Reception, the sector’s hosts reaffirmed their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
“When Donald Trump stepped out, the American people stepped in,” said Anne Kelly, Director of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) Ceres.