Yale at COP23: On the Ground in Bonn

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

Forty members of the Yale community, including faculty, alumni, and 35 students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), will be in Bonn, Germany this month as global leaders gather for the 23rd “conference of the parties” (COP23) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
During an event, held on Nov. 10, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), along with the China Center for Climate Change Communication, released the results of a new survey showing that a majority of the public in both the U.S. and China support the Paris Agreement and the clean energy transition.
During a panel event on Nov. 14, Casey Pickett ’11 M.E.M./M.B.A., director of the Yale Carbon Charge initiative, will discuss the first-of-its-kind carbon pricing scheme recently introduced campus wide. Angel Hsu ’13 Ph.D., assistant professor at F&ES and Yale-NUS and director of Yale Data-Driven Environmental Solutions Group (Data-Driven Yale), will be speaking at side events and is organizing a workshop.
And throughout the conference students from F&ES will fill a variety of roles for national governments, global NGOs, international coalitions, church groups, student organizations, and Yale-based programs.
Below, some of the F&ES students describe their projects and what they hope comes from their work.
yale catherine martini
“Transparency is the backbone of the Paris Agreement. Negotiators in Bonn will be working to finalize the ‘Paris Rule Book’ in preparation for COP24 in Poland. How countries measure, report and verify their emission reduction targets and greenhouse gas inventories is critical for effective implementation of the Paris climate accord since it is a ‘soft agreement’.

“I will be working with Greenhouse Gas Management Institute & Tropical Forest Group on transparency as well as capacity building for carbon accounting. In order for countries meet their NDC targets, and report on progress accurately, a global cohort of skilled carbon accountants are needed. I will also be working with ParisAgreement.org tracking the negotiations, and managing their #BringParisHome campaign. Before during and after COP23, ParisAgreement.org seeks to drive sub-national action and support the implementation of the Paris Agreement locally via its campaign to encourage everyone to bring the Paris Agreement home.

“Creating a sustainable future takes action from all of us — starting at home.”
yale parfait gasana
“I am attending COP23 as a delegate of the Republic of Rwanda (the "Country of a Thousand Hills”) where I will be supporting an incredible team led by the Honorable Minister for the Environment Dr. Vincent Biruta who heads the Rwandan delegation.

“Given that Rwanda is a member of the vulnerable countries, a successful COP23 means so much in closing the gap between aspirations and real results that Rwanda and other countries need to reverse the negative effects of climate change.

“My hope is that at COP23 in Bonn, more countries will commit to ratifying the Kigali Amendment sending a strong signal to the world that we intend to safeguard our future and preserve our planet for the next generation. I will be helping the Rwandan Delegation in negotiations to achieve these goals and I will especially be keeping in mind the country’s 2030 agenda.”
nathan empsall
“I am part of the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop’s representative delegation. Our team is highlighting the moral imperatives of acting for climate justice, offering a spiritual presence at COP23 through daily interfaith services, and encouraging active churchwide participation by Episcopalians through virtual participation and social media. My own role is as communications coordinator. I’m drawing on skills I learned on President Obama and the Sierra Club’s digital teams to help encourage the rest of the delegation to maintain active online presences, in order to encourage our church's 2 million members to become more active on climate issues. The church also participated in the past two COPs, advocating for a global agreement that aligns with our own forceful policies and resolutions related to climate change, and raising awareness about the Paris Agreement and the “Were Still In” movement among Episcopalians.
“As a future Episcopal priest and a joint student at F&ES and the Divinity school, my own research focuses on identifying the challenges to engaging in environmental ministries at the parish level. Those challenges include a lack of awareness surrounding the spiritual and justice dimensions of climate change, something I am hoping the church’s presence at COP23 can help shift. Addressing climate change will require the participation of every sector of society, especially religion given the impact it has in the lives of a majority of people across the globe. Faith traditions are also uniquely positioned to offer a moral voice on the harms caused by climate change and the importance of living within our limits and in right relationship with the rest of the earth, honoring our proper role and place within the created order. I am excited to be a part of that work at COP23.”
yale courtney durham
“I will be working with the World Resources Institute and the NDC Partnership. The NDC Partnership, housed at WRI, is a coalition of countries and institutions working to mobilize support and achieve ambitious climate goals while enhancing sustainable development.
“I’m most eager to see progress on the Global Stock Take and the Facilitative (Talanoa) Dialogue. These moments are crucial to encourage dialogue, best practices, and enhanced ambition for countries’ future climate plans under the Paris Agreement. I’m also keen to see the adoption of the Gender Action Plan at COP23, a step in the right direction towards improving gender parity in participation at COPs, the disaggregation of climate data by gender, and improved climate planning and policy making with gender considerations in mind.
“I will be helping to track negotiations with WRI’s International Climate program, where I was working for the past 3 years. WRI plays a unique role at the COPs, convening negotiators around possible areas of convergence as a neutral, trusted stakeholder in the process. Furthermore, I will support the NDC Partnership in convening partners for a High-Level Dialogue and annual Forum.
“I’m hoping to see the constructive, collaborative spirit of Paris manifest in the form of a ‘rule book,’ or guide for implementation, of the Paris Agreement. While countries agreed to support the Paris Agreement as an overall framework of action, the time has come to pin down the nitty-gritty details of how to fulfill its mandate.”
yale franz h twitter
“I will be blogging for the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications (YPCCC), representing YPCCC and the Data-Driven Yale Environmental Solutions Group, and helping out with America’s Pledge and the U.S. People's Delegation.
“I am most excited about seeing and working with former colleagues and friends from the process that I've worked with on the negotiations for the last three COPs during my time as a Special Assistant and Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State under the Obama administration.
“My efforts will focus on conveying to the international community that we, the American people, are still in the Paris Agreement. The vast majority of American citizens, and a massive movement of states, cities, counties, companies, investors, universities and citizens across the country are deeply committed to ambitious action on climate change that delivers on the objective of the Paris Agreement, even despite the Trump administration indicating an intent to walk back from the Paris Agreement at the federal level.
“I am hopeful that by conveying the strong sense of solidarity that the majority of the American public shares with the global community on this issue, we will engender continued confidence and trust in the multilateral climate regime set up by the Paris Agreement. The vast majority of the American people are committed to delivering on the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and acting ambitiously at home and abroad to address the global challenge that climate change poses to every sector of the economy and in every region of the world. Showcasing this movement and sharing that sentiment with delegations from across the world will hopefully advance the international process by highlighting the irriversable momentum and pace of the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society, and the collective need to accelerate that transition together. This especially salient in the context of the upcoming Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 which is set to take place at COP24 next year.”

About COP23

COP23 - An Introduction from Yale F&ES on Vimeo.