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Minnesotans in Bonn Say Climate Progress is Up to States

The Climate Generation delegation poses with Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith before departing for the U.N. Climate Change conference in Bonn. (Climate Generation)
The Climate Generation delegation poses with Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith before departing for the U.N. Climate Change conference in Bonn. (Climate Generation)
November 10, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Several Minnesotans are among 25,000 delegates from all over the world seeking global solutions to climate change. The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties, or COP 23, is meeting this week and next in Bonn, Germany, to compare progress on reducing carbon emissions.

President Donald Trump announced in June that the United States would opt out of the 2015 Paris accord, which set goals to reduce the rate of global warming.

Minnesota is one of 14 states to say they will meet those goals on their own, and delegates such as the University of Minnesota's executive director of the Energy Transition Lab, Ellen Anderson, say there is a reason for hope.

"We are looking to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan in the United States," she says. "There will be more of a patchwork. But the fact is that overall the United States is moving forward on reducing carbon emissions."

Anderson calls progress a patchwork because some states, such as Minnesota, will do more than others.

Anderson told the conference in a presentation that climate leadership in the United States will now come from states and cities. She says it's been helpful to compare notes with policymakers from other states and countries, and inspiring to learn what some of them are working on.

"Tomorrow I'm going to an all-day session that involves people from literally countries all over the world that are trying to figure out pathways to 100 percent renewable energy," she explains.

To date, 195 nations have signed the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and 169 have become party to it.

Most of the Minnesotans at the conference belong to a group called Climate Generation, which was started by polar explorer Will Steger.

Climate Generation's executive director, Nicole Rom, says delegates are blogging daily, as though they're on an expedition. Followers include teachers and students who want to learn more and do something about climate change.

"Now we recognize that we're all eyewitnesses," notes. "We all have a story to tell when it comes to how we're experiencing climate change and engaging in solutions."

Besides Climate Generation, Macalester College, The High School of Environmental Studies, the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota, Fresh Energy and the Science Museum have also sent delegates to Bonn. The conference wraps up November 17.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN