Tuesday’s focus on state actions

Today (Tuesday) was fast-paced, and I will describe a few highlights. It seems attending press briefings and reading summaries from organizations are some of the best ways to find out the conference’s progress on the issues that are being negotiated. The Climate Action Network reports that there is progress on defining rules for national reporting of progress on the National Defined Contributions (NDCs). But, some of the other issues that are being negotiated between developed and less-developed countries are suffering from a lack of trust between the two blocks. These negotiations are large and held in arenas that are difficult to follow, so I have to utilize second-hand reporting.

There is plenty of action in the side meetings, which are open to everyone. I went to two sessions where U.S. governors and their staff discussed the actions that states are taking. At this conference, there are four governors and high-ranking staff from seven other states. One of the events was sponsored by the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is rallying city, state, and local efforts toward fighting the effects of climate change.

At that session, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon highlighted the actions their state is taking. They will be phasing out coal generation of electricity by in the next couple decades, much earlier than previously planned. They are working with other states and a province on the Pacific coast to boost the use of electric vehicles. She is taking a page from Obama’s playbook by taking executive action to improve sustainable practices in building construction. The recent forest fires in Oregon have heightened the public’s awareness of the need for protection of natural resources.

In the follow-up panel discussion, Stephanie Zawistowski from Governor Dayton’s office continued the theme of intrastate collaborations and highlighted Minnesota’s work with Colorado, which is also serviced by Xcel Energy. This joint effort has greatly increased the use of wind power and made Minnesota one of the leaders in renewable energy.

The U.S. Climate Alliance, chaired by former NY Governor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown, published a report on the great potential of city and state actions, which was released at the conference last week. It is available at www.wearestillin.org. On Wednesday at 9 a.m. CST, that organization is hosting a presentation on the accomplishments that Minnesota has made. It will feature several Minnesota leaders and will be live streamed at https://www.wearestillin.com/COP23

In the evening, I participated in a webinar hosted by CLEAN (Climate Literacy Education) with Adri, an 8th grade student from SPA school in St. Paul, who is attending the COP. It was a fun conversation as we shared our pictures and impressions of the conference. There are many youth at COP, including students from the School for Environmental Studies. Their presence reminds participants that it is important to listen to the voices of the next generation who will inherit the world that is being altered. The recording of the webinar will be available via the Climate Generation website.

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