Tag Archives: China

Environment  Mongabay: Leaders make bold climate pledges, but is it “all just smoke and mirrors?’: Critics

U.S. President Joe Biden at the Leaders Summit on Climate. Image courtesy of the White House.

Having covered six United Nations climate summits, dating back to Lima, Peru, in 2014, I am all too familiar with the ambitious promises of climate action and the unified chorus of environmental-protection support from world leaders (until Trump). And then, of course, as my previous story out of British Columbia illustrates, nothing — a near-total lack of political will to prioritize nature, forests and biodiversity over anything resembling sacrifice or pushback against polluting industries and forestry interests.

President Joe Biden appears to be trying to change that. He has sent constant signals that he and his entire government intend to act on climate change in a broad and coordinated way not only to reassert US leadership after the reckless and embarrassing Trump years, but because of the science: we have less than 10 years to dramatically decarbonize G-20 economies to stave off the climate crisis that worsens every day, according to multiple reports from the International Panel on Climate Change.

In my first breaking news story since COP25 in Madrid in December 2019, I cover Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate and address the gap between climate-action promises made by the US, China, the UK, EU and others, and what still stands in the way of desperately needed real action. The Eurasia Review republished my story.

As Dave McGlinchey of the Woodwell Climate Research Center told me: “This summit could be a critical turning point in our fight against climate change, but we have seen ambitious goals before and we have seen them fall flat. Today’s commitments must be followed with effective implementation, and with transparent reporting and accurate carbon accounting.”

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to increase his country’s carbon-reduction goals. But, as the leader of the British Columbia Green Party told me: “I know there is this perception of Canada and BC as progressive on climate and the environment, but we are not. We are massively subsidizing the oil and gas industry at the federal and provincial level…”

UN Climate Summits  Mongabay: @COP23 — Alliance pledges an end to coal; other key summit goals unmet

A protester outside the the entrance to COP23 in Bonn, Germany, holding up a simple, irrefutable truth. Photo by Justin Catanoso

A protester outside the the entrance to COP23 in Bonn, Germany, holding up a simple, irrefutable truth. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Late Thursday morning, November 16, 2017, at a packed announcement in the European Union meeting room at COP23, environmental ministers from Canada and the UK offered perhaps the most promising news to come out of the 23rd UN climate summit. They announced a coalition of 19 countries and two US states pledging to phase out all coal burning by 2030. My editor Glenn Scherer agreed that it was a good idea to close out my coverage from COP23 with a more upbeat story. That’s what this is (link here). The story closes with a wrap-up of the work left undone.

Environmental ministers Claire Perry from the UK (left) and Catherine McKenna from Canada, discussing the Coalition to Power Past Coal. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Environmental ministers Claire Perry from the UK (left) and Catherine McKenna from Canada, discussing the Coalition to Power Past Coal. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Environment  Mongabay: China flexes its new climate action muscles in Bonn; Trump administration blinks

Top officials celebrate after the Paris Agreement was signed in December. But critics see no acceleration.

Top officials celebrate after the Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015. Trump’s threats to withdraw from the agreement has touched off a hostile global response, especially from China. Photo by Justin Catanoso in 2016.

A good source with World Resources Institute in Bonn, Germany, tipped me off to this story about China’s disgusted reaction to Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. After a conversation with Mongabay editor Mike Gaworecki, we agreed to a quick follow up given that the mainstream media has not reported the news yet. They will. We just have it early.

Environment  Mongabay: Trump failure to lead on climate doesn’t faze UN policymakers in Bonn

Press coveringLast year (May 2016), I was fortunate to cover the first week on the UN mid-year climate conference in Bonn, Germany. This year, under the specter of a US president threatening to pull out of the historic Paris Agreement, I produced a story for Mongabay from my home office in North Carolina. The story is here. Thanks to editor Glenn Scherer for his quick and thorough work. The story quickly hit Mongabay’s Best Read list at No. 5.

In my reporting:

  • Bonn negotiators remain unfazed by Trump’s climate change denialism or his threat to withdraw from Paris. Every signatory nation is going forward with meeting voluntary carbon reduction pledges. Some policymakers do worry how the parties to the Paris Agreement will make up the loss of billions of dollars in U.S. climate aid promised under Obama, but now denied by Trump.

EnvironmentRadio  Wake Forest Prof: Climate Change Summit Could Be A Game Changer

COP20 logo

On Dec. 5, I leave for Lima, Peru, with videographer Michael Frierson to report on the UN climate negotiations. Our reporting is being underwritten by a grant from the Wake Forest Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES).

WFDD News Director Emily McCord interviewed me this week about the negotiations, what’s expected to come out of them and issues related to the politics of climate change and global warming. The audio story is here.

Excerpt: “We all depend on what’s coming out of Lima,” says Catanoso. “Climate change and global warming can seem huge but it affects us here locally. We just have to look at our coasts in North Carolina and see that sea level rises that are driven by climate change are going to have a dramatic impact on the Carolina coast, really now, and going forward.”

Beach erosion at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Michael and I plan to produce stories from Lima for WFDD, National Geographic NewsWatch, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and BusinessInsider.com.