Last 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.
Here’s a link to my final story of COP21 in Paris, a story that literally fell into my lap and came together quickly shortly after the final draft of the Paris Agreement was released but before it was unanimously ratified. Rosalind Reeve, the main source, came into the Bloomberg/BNA office where I was working to rave about the forest inclusion for the first time. Dean Scott was only marginally interested. But I knew it was a mongabay.com story and she was only too happy to talk and talk. A few more sources later, and I had what I needed. Internet connections were so jammed I bolted back to my apartment in the city to write.
Working for mongabay.com is such a pleasure. I have this great editor in Vermont, Glenn Scherer. He knows the issues cold. He make a good sentence great. He finds amazing photos to run with my stories. This is my last pre-COP21 story. The next one will be from Paris. Here’s Glenn’s summary:
Each nation participating in COP21 has made its own, self-determined commitment to the amount of carbon emissions it can trim from its economy.
Unfortunately, the total carbon commitments by all nations falls roughly 50% short of the cuts needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.
REDD+, a policy that allows industrial nations to keep burning fossil fuels while paying developing countries to preserve forests, may be part of the solution, though some argue it lacks the monitoring mechanisms needed to prevent cheating.
Tropical forests, like this one in Manu National Park in southern Peru, harbor most of the world’s biodiversity and provide an array of vital ecological services. (Photograph by Justin Catanoso)
I wrote this story for National Geographic NewsWatch following the UN climate change negotiations in Warsaw, Poland, which took place in December 2013. Chris Meyer, a policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., proved an excellent source. The story focuses on the slow-moving, much-criticized policy called REDD — “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” — and my best explanation of how it could work (and also why it’s not working yet).
Excerpt: “I think we’re hitting a tipping point with REDD,” Chris Meyer told me. “A lot of countries are committing millions of dollars a year to REDD — the U.K, the United States, Germany, Norway. To invest all this money and then not link it to something bigger in the future, where an international climate structure is built, is very unlikely.”