I spent last semester living in Berlin, Germany and taking classes at the Free University of Berlin. One of my professors had a full time job working for an environmental think tank and much of his class was in discussion of the Paris agreement and what is meant for Europe and the US. AJ, the professor was Polish and frequently disgusted with his own country’s views on climate change. Without denying it’s existence they simply chose to continue burning coal, letting the other countries handle the dire climate change situation, much like the US. I knew AJ led a group from Germany to the recent conference in Marrakesh CoP22, so last week I sent him an email asking for his thoughts on the new President and conference. With prior permission to use our “interview” here is his reply.
1. What were the major issues discussed?
COP 22 was mainly about specifiying some of the details referring to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, with financing for low carbon development and the way the facilitative dialoge in 2018 will look like. It was a much more technical COP as compared to the very political one last year.
2. How important was it compared to Paris last year?
COP 21 was decisive. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement and its very swift ratification (so far it has been ratified by 113 countries representing almost 80% of the global emissions) the main priority is to make sure that the contributions of the parties are enough to not exceed the temperature limit agreed upon in Article 2 of the agreement.
3. Does Paris seem to have improved things in the last year?
Yes, especially its early entry in force on 4 November 2016.
4. What is the global/European prospective opinion on president elect Donald Trump in your opinion?
The USA was the decisive player in facilitating global negotiations and the successful COP21 in Paris last year. Under Trump this role will change. Keeping in mind the lack of consistency in what Trump was saying on the issue of climate change it is not really clear what can be expected. But as we could see during the events organized by states and cities, climate action will continue even faster than before. No one wants to be associated with this guy and block action against the major environmental challenge of our times.