Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Global Climate Talks Open with Tiny U.S. Delegation.  Here’s What to Watch

Climate negotiators from countries around the world are meeting in Bonn as questions swirl about where the U.S. is headed under Donald Trump.

The UN's top climate official, Patricia Espinosa, addresses the Bonn meeting. The U.S. has sent an unusually small team of just seven mostly Obama-era officials. (Credit: UNFCCC) Click to Enlarge.
A much-anticipated meeting of nearly 200 nations began in Bonn, Germany, on Monday to push forward global climate change action at a time when the United States is poised to do the opposite.

From now until May 17, climate delegates will try to thrash out the most formidable details involved in implementing the Paris climate agreement, even as a thick cloud of uncertainty hovers over the future of the historic global climate treaty.

All eyes will be on the delegation from the United States—though it is unusually small and expected to keep a low profile—while the White House decides whether to quit the treaty or stay in and break the carbon-cutting promises of the Barack Obama administration.

"We are focused on ensuring that decisions are not taken at these meetings that would prejudice our future policy, undermine the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, or hamper our broader objective of advancing U.S. economic growth and prosperity," a State Department official wrote in an email to InsideClimate News when asked about the U.S. role in Bonn.

The U.N.'s top climate official would not comment on the what-if scenarios.  "I think we should really observe and wait until a decision has been taken," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Others seemed to be preparing for a U.S. exit.  "We need to understand that this conversation about staying or not in Paris ... is a political decision.  This is a ploy that will not and should not detract attention from what should be at the heart of why we are here," Paula Caballero, global director of the climate program at the research and advocacy group World Resources Institute, said at a press conference on Monday.

"The bottom line is the U.S. withdrawing from the Paris agreement would create difficulties, but not insurmountable" ones, Caballero said.

Here's the InsideClimate News guide on the Bonn talks and what to watch for:

Read more at Global Climate Talks Open with Tiny U.S. Delegation.  Here’s What to Watch

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