Dispatch from Bonn – Day One

Posted by on November 7, 2017

Greetings from Bonn, Germany. I’m attending my first United Nations climate conference. (Our friends at The Nature Conservancy and Climate Action Reserve are rolling their eyes. For them, these mega-climate events are old-hat.)

Not for me. I’m a kid in a candy store. There are so many talks, dozens taking place at a time, that the UNFCCC app, Negotiator, takes about 10 minutes to load. It takes 30 minutes to walk zone to zone. COP23 is big.

This is the first COP since President Donald Trump removed the United States from the Paris Treaty. Nonetheless, the United States is still party to the agreement (for another two years) and is also party to the overall UN climate convention.

Frankly, my desire to attend the Bonn conference was borne of a desire to show there’re Americans of conscience who are “still in.”

Thanks to the Climate Registry, I have access to the Bula Zone where negotiators meet and treaty discussions take place.

A mile away is the Bonn Zone – where nations and NGOs hold talks and press events. For example, I attended a talk at the Malaysian pavilion by the group, Crops for the Future. Their focus on food supply in a hotter denser world yields solutions that we must re-discover lost food crops and reintegrate in our diets.

I also attended a talk at the Japanese Pavilion on how that nation is preparing for climate impacts. Joshua Busby’s paper on how climate impacts leads to security concerns in Asia was especially informative.

As you may know, Climate Resolve’s approach is “focus on the local,” creating climate solutions that people can feel. It’s great to connect with NGOs, located in other parts of the globe, which also share a local focus. 

So it was quite moving to hear about EcoVillages in Latin America and Africa that are strengthening rural communities.

Best of all – the ad hoc conversations in the interstitial moments.

I caught-up with a fellow Californian, Michael Paparian. Mike is a former Waste Board member – back in the 1990s, he and I helped stop a radioactive waste dump. We caught up on a variety of things, including green bonds. (“Bond, Green Bond.”)  Green bonds seek to become a standard by which the investment is vetted for its climate impact. In other words, if a project is financed as a green bond, the project cannot be maladapted to climate change nor can it contribute additional greenhouse gases.

Paparian also schooled me on the distinction between funding and financing. When there’s a payback on an investment – like cool roofs that save money on your utility bill – that falls under “financing.” Cool streets that don’t yield a payback for a specific building may just require plain old funding, as in the expenditure of tax dollars.

I also spoke with Haldane Dodd of the Geneva-based Air Transport Action Group. We had plenty of time, slowly lurching on the regional train from Bonn to Cologne. Amazing to hear about the real progress in building lighter more-efficient planes as well as alternative fuels, even in Los Angeles with Fulcrum BioEnergy Company.  I bragged about LACI’s own Ampaire Company that’s preparing to fly electric planes.