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Ellie’s Bonn Report: CA Climate Policy Innovations Panel at UN Climate Conference and More

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by Ellie Cohen, Bonn, Germany November 9 2017

I was honored to participate today on a panel about California’s climate leadership organized by The Nature Conservancy and held at the US Climate Action Center as part of the UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany.  I presented on recent CA policies that support improved land and soil management practices for carbon sequestration and other benefits as part of the climate change solutions tool box (see pdf here).

This is the 23rd “conference of the parties” or COP23 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992.  The goal of the UNFCCC is to “prevent “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.”  COP23 is the first of these global meetings that does not include an official US government pavilion (see more on this here).

COP23 TNC CA Innovations Panel Ellie speaking Nov9 2017From left to right: Louis Blumberg/TNC, Jonathan Parfrey/Climate Resolve, Nicolas Muller/UNFCCC,  Ricardo Lara/CA State Senator and Ellie Cohen/Point Blue.

The US Climate Action Center, the first of its kind at an UNFCCC meeting, was organized by a group of mayors, business and US NGOs to show the world “we are still in!” despite contrary actions in Washington, DC.  You can see a video of our panel and other presentations along with additional information about this alternative or in UNFCCC speak- “subnational”- US presence here (you can also live stream events over the next week if you are up in the middle of the night California time!).

Today I explored more of the huge venues that are housing COP23.  There are two main zones– the Bula Zone with its plenary halls and meeting rooms of the UNFCCC where the country delegates gather and negotiate, and the Bonn Zone where organizations, businesses and governments from all over the world highlight climate action with side events and exhibits. This conference of the parties is officially hosted by the country of Fiji. Per the UNFCCC website, “The word Bula originates from the Fijian culture and means hello as well as a blessing of health and happiness.” As an UN Observer Organization representative, I have access to both zones.  The zones are situated in a beautiful park along the Rhine River about one mile apart (with electric cars and free bicycles available to shuttle people back and forth).  More information can be found here.

I also attended other side events (there are many going on simultaneously) including one on a new certification for city planners to raise the qualifications and status of those who assess urban greenhouse gas emissions, develop climate action plans and guide their implementation.  Presenters from the World Bank, World Resources Institute and ICLEI Sustainable Cities talked about many of the same issues we seek to address in the natural climate solutions arena– from the need to implement an adaptive management approach for testing, learning and improving efforts, to exploring approaches for scaling up, achieving broad adoption and catalyzing more action globally.

There are some 23,000 people officially registered for this year’s COP23 in Bonn, a testament to the growing urgency of the climate crisis as well as the growing number of people actively working to solve it.  It is inspiring and hopeful to meet people from across the world who have similar aspirations of securing a healthy, equitable future for us all.  And it is fantastic to be able to help represent the great work of Point Blue and our California-based conservation community!

PS You can follow me for photos and brief (!) observations on my twitter account: @ecohenpointblue.

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