United Nations Climate Secretary Patricia Espinosa has opened a possible pathway for U.S. cities and states to join the Paris Agreement as full participants.
The possibility had provided a ray of hope during informal discussions at COP 22 in Marrakech, but receded in the weeks following the conference. Now Espinosa has rekindled the conversation, though the details are still far from firm.
“This is obviously important, because cities like New York and states like California that intend to pursue the same direction—of reducing emissions very ambitiously—will have a voice and will be able to sign agreements inside the international convention on climate change,” Espinosa told G7 environment ministers during their meeting in Bologna.
California Governor Jerry Brown has already moved to position himself as an alternative American climate leader on the international stage, recently signing energy and climate partnerships with China  and Germany . And on Monday, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asserted  that “we will meet the Paris standards in the United States,” despite White House hostility to the pact.
Yesterday, Fiji Prime Minister Bainimarama reinforced the point by appointing  Brown Special Envoy for States and Regions for the COP23 Presidency, and announcing that Fiji would be the first Small Island Developing State to endorse the California-led  Under2 Coalition.
But the UN climate process is always a place where the granular details make the difference, and the details behind Espinosa’s statement are not yet entirely clear. “It’s a little bit early to know what exactly is meant” by the UN diplomat’s comment, said Georgetown Climate Center Executive Director Vicki Arroyo.
In the end, “it could refer to subnational representatives, like governors, receiving credentials to attend climate talks and participate in discussions, rather than state or municipal governments literally signing on,” Grist reports.