Climate Conference of Madrid, Spain
As with most issues, there are differing views and responses regarding climate change throughout the world. These differences between nations will likely play a great role in how COP23 carries out. For our purposes, we will be exploring three nations: Fiji, Germany, and the United States.
Fiji is a small island nation in the Pacific and is the president of COP23. Fiji has placed the emphasis of COP23 on vulnerable nations. Climate change threatens the very livelihoods of the Fijian people. Ocean acidification negatively impacts marine ecosystems and rising sea levels combined with increased storm patterns increase coastal flooding, harming agricultural land, and increase susceptibility to foo- and water-borne illness. As a small island nation, Fiji is one of the smallest producers of carbon emissions but suffers some of the greatest effects. Already, Fijians are relocating their communities and moving to higher grounds to escape rising waters. Fiji is very actively involved in developing policy for sustainable development, and has pledged to move to completely renewable resources by 2030. Additionally, Fiji strongly advocates international efforts in combatting the effects of climate change.
"Unless our world acts decisively to begin addressing the greatest challenge of our age, then the Pacific, as we know it, is doomed" -Frank Bainimarama, Fijian Prime Minister & COP23 President
Germany is known for its innovation. Germany is working very closely with Fiji to serve as the geographic host of COP23. This is not the German government's first time hosting the COP (COP1 was held in Berlin). The city of Bonn, the home of COP23, serves as a UN hub for sustainability, housing 19 UN agencies that all deal with global issues related to the climate with an additional 150 international organizations in the area. Additionally, North Rhine Westphalia, the state in which Bonn is located, is the most populous state and a hub for protection. The state is transitioning into a green economy, and plans to showcase these developments in a series of excursions throughout the time of the conference. Germany as a whole has greatly incorporated renewables into its energy scheme and continues to further this by expanding on renewables and replacing nuclear energy with other renewable resources.
"...climate change is accelerating. It threatens our well-being, our security, and our economic development. It will lead to uncontrollable risks and dramatic damage if we do not take resolute countermeasures" - Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
The United States is in a unique situation at this Conference of Parties. We are one of just two countries that are not signers of the Paris Agreement. When it comes to climate change, the United States are very much divided. We are the only country with significant denial of climate change and the government of Florida, the state most susceptible to the impacts of climate change, has placed bans on the terms "climate change", "global warming", and "sustainability". In the midst of these waves of such strong climate denial, there is a push to get the US to COP23 in alternative ways. The ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is working to sponsor 7 delegates from throughout the United States to attend COP23, turning to crowdsourced funding to assist in travel costs. The current situation in the US can easily be described as confusing and disheartening, and the world will surely be looking out to see how the US participates in the COP.
Climate change denier in contrast to climate change march participants. (sources: legal-planet.org and slate.com)
"Think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -all challenges that know no borders- the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them" -John F. Kerry, former US Secretary of State
"Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American Democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. The debate is far from settled" - Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Jessica was partially supported by NSF award number 1259896