Fiji, the first truly vulnerable nation to host a COP, had hoped the motto of COP23 would be true. What it and other similar nations got was: wait til next year. Again. Photo by Justin Catanoso
My first commentary for Mongabay, written with the encouragement of reporter/editor Mike Gaworecki. I greatly appreciated the opportunity. An excerpt:
How many hurricanes the ferocity of Harvey, Irma, and Maria must be experienced in the US alone to stoke a greater sense of urgency? How many climate refugees need to be pushed from sub-Saharan Africa and Syria because of unrelenting drought? How much more Arctic ice needs to melt? How much sea-level rise can be tolerated in low-lying island nations — and Miami Beach, for goodness sake — before COP participants stop delaying greater ambitions prior to 2020, when a stronger Paris Agreement is to take effect?
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
Protesters gather before the Trump panel discussion on fossil fuels at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Justin Catanoso
Here’s the link to my live interview from Bonn and the venue of COP23 with host Frank Stasio of WUNC’s The State of Things, broadcast from Durham, North Carolina. This is the third time the program has had me on regarding my coverage of these UN climate summits — live from Paris in 2015, just before leaving for Marrakesh in 2016 and live from Bonn in 2017.
The tech folks in the media center found the only land line in the entire area, pulled it out of a broadcast studio and set it up on an empty room between two busy newsrooms. At 6:05 pm German time (12:05 pm back in North Carolina), Frank welcomed me to the program. We talked for just under 12 minutes. From what others tell me, it turned out pretty well. Special shout out to my friend Jill Drzewiecki, who listened to the live feed on her phone while commuting home after work in Rome, Italy.
Mongabay founder Rhett Butler interviews primate legend Jane Goodall for the site’s podcast. I am included as well, offering insights from COP23 in a conversation with editor Mike Gaworecki from Bonn, Germany.
Mongabay reporter and editor Mike Gaworecki also handles the twice-monthly podcast for the news organization that began about a year ago. I made by third podcast appearance on November 15 from Bonn, Germany and the 23rd Climate Summit. By shear luck and good fortune, the podcast also includes a fascinating interview by Mongabay founder Rhett Butler with primate legend Jane Goodall (who is on the Mongabay board). Pretty good company to be in all around. The link to the podcast is here.
These spirited young people disrupted the on Trump event at COP23 — a surreal panel discussion that promoted the use of coal and gas as a part of the long-term solution, not to climate change, but to energy security and economic prosperity. To hell with the earth, let’s reward investors and make money while we can! Photo by Justin Catanoso
Here’s the link to my story about one of the most widely covered events at COP23. There is a YouTube video in my story that shows the protesters in action.
This was one of the weirdest, most bizarre and completely out-of-touch panel discussions I’ve ever covered or attended. It may have been the strangest in COP history. It was a circus of the surreal, from the two West Coast governors who denounced Trump in the room right before the president’s panelists took their seats, to the young people who stopped the event cold for seven long minutes with a song they revised, to the panel’s not once uttering the word global warming in an event that stretched nearly two hours, to the hostile questions and lack of answers during the brief Q&A. Oh yeah, there were hundreds of protesters chanting outside the room the entire time, denouncing the US president for making the US the only nation on earth to announce its intention to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement.
The panelists representing the Trump Administration view that fossil fuels really don’t need to phased out any time soon and that there is such a thing as clean coal. Of the three men on the left, their collective duplicity was breathtaking. To the others, it was clear they were not comfortable being a part of this charade. Photo by Justin Catanoso
I arrived in Bonn, Germany in a sleep-deprived fog on Friday Nov. 10, 2017 to prepare to cover my fourth consecutive UN climate summit, this one hosted by the Pacific Island nation of Fiji.
While that Friday was spent learning my way around the sprawling site — I walked five miles that never and never left the venue — Saturday was consumed with the rise of the US subnationals, a coalition of 15 states, 455 cities, 350 universities and 1700+ businesses.
Their central message: There is the United States and there is the Trump Administration. The latter does not speak for the former. Gov. Jerry Brown of California and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others, stressed #WeAreStillIn — meaning, the equal to nearly half the US economy is still in the Paris Agreement, no matter what Trump says he intends to do. It was a stunning, blunt and blistering rebuke of a sitting president.
The US Climate Action Center, not paid for by the Trump Administration, but rather private interests. Photo by Justin Catanoso
Outside the entrance of the UN Climate Summit talks in Paris. Photo by Eric J. Lyman
Intro as read by State of Things host Frank Stasio: “”Ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising and coral reefs are dying. The way things are going, some scientists say the world could be unfit for human habitation by the end of century. All eyes are on Paris right now as world leaders are negotiating an agreement to slow the effects of climate change. A deal is expected by tomorrow, but there are still big issues to resolve between the industrialized and developing nations.
This Monday afternoon, Dec. 7, 2016, on the first day of the final week of the 21st UN climate summit, I slipped into a press conference just as Ban Ki-moon, the UN general secretary, was answering a question of great interest to me — the intersection of faith and climate change. Here’s what he said:
“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for his clear moral leadership on this issue with the document he released in June (the papal encyclical Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home). I have spoken with him about this and greatly appreciate his efforts in support of the environment.
“It’s important to realize that climate change has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with humanity. We have to show some wisdom. Not just wisdom, but common sense. We have to live harmoniously with nature. Nature does not negotiate with human beings. We have to adjust to nature. That’s our only choice.
“We have to do what science tells us. Climate change is caused by human behavior. It only follows that humans have to change their behavior. As you know, we don’t hear many skeptics any longer. Even so, faith leaders have a role to play in convincing the remaining skeptics that climate change is real, and with faith leaders, we must all act and work as one.
“We have only one planet. There is no Plan B because there is no planet B.”
On the eve of the 21st United Nations climate summit in Paris, France — a city in which I will arrive on Friday morning, Dec. 4, the News & Observer of Raleigh runs on its Sunday front page a story of mine regarding what’s at stake for the talks and what obstacles lie ahead to meet carbon emissions target to slow the rate of global warming.
The story also appeared in theCharlotte Observer, and likely other McClatchy newspapers in the chain. John Knox, a Wake Forest law professor and special UN representative on climate change and human rights, was a key source.
I was a staff writer for the News & Record of Greensboro from April 1987 to April 1998 — 11 years. When I decided to take the job as executive editor of a new weekly newspaper in town, The Business Journal, I was asked to leave the paper immediately, even though I was prepared to give at least four weeks notice. Today, Nov. 29, 2015, I have my first byline in my old daily newspaper in 17 years. It’s a commentary on the UN climate summit in Paris, France, which I will cover for mongabay.com.