Mitigating the Impact of Climate Change: Can the United States Still Lead the World?

During most of this week and last week, world leaders have gathered at a United Nations conference in Bonn Germany to discuss the looming threat of a warming planet, and while this meeting provides members of the global community with an opportunity to present ideas, share successes, express concerns, and discuss progress on climate change and related issues, the event also presents another opportunity, one that can influence the position of all players in the world community during the years and decades ahead: an opportunity to establish leadership in an arena that will have serious impact on international relationships and economies for years to come.


The United States, once a prominent leader and respected force on the world stage, has seen its stature diminished by its dithering on climate change. In fact, the only official US representation at this conference involved a forum on Monday on the future of fossil fuels, and the US panel was staffed primarily by fossil fuel executives who took a firm position in defense of the coal and oil industries.

But as it happens, the official federal position on climate change isn’t the dominant position the US, and the meeting was also well attended by representatives from state capitols and city halls. Most Americans—including individuals, cities, and state governments—remain committed to the Paris Climate Agreement which was signed in 2015 and later rejected by the current administration. Polls show strong support for climate protection and transition to reliance on sustainable energy sources, despite the actions of the federal government to undermine these efforts. So which position will come out ahead, and will nations around the world, including the 200 in attendance at the conference, continue to respect the US and follow our lead?

After a three-year plateau, fossil fuel emissions are once again on the rise, and the urgency surrounding the global temperature increase has been paralleled by the efforts of several nations (including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) to search for sustainable energy options as their economies swell and poverty declines within their borders. The conference will conclude later this week, and we’ll monitor international reactions as the event winds down. Contact our office to learn more.

Also, if you’re in the Easton, Pennsylvania area this Thursday, get in touch with us to learn about our Executive Director’s talk at Lafayette College!