The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2017
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to more than 600 million people representing one quarter of the

global economy.

Civil Society Initiatives

A prodigious array of civil society organizations, from aca-

demic consortia and think tanks to activist NGOs, engages on

climate issues. For many, climate is a primary or exclusive focus,

while for others it is part of a broader environmental, develop-

ment or faith-based agenda. Such groups also vary considerably

in their geographic scope: some are active locally, others at the

provincial/state level, still others nationally or globally.

Most are involved in formal or informal coalitions, or are them-

selves coalitions of groups, such as

WeMean Business


of business-facing NGOs that work directly with companies and

investors), the

Climate Action Network

(an umbrella group of

more than 1,000 environmental NGOs from around the globe, with

formal regional networks inmultiple locations) and


the Groundswell of Climate Actions

(a convener of dialogues

among various cohorts of non-state actors, including academics,

businesses, cities and non-governmental groups).

These initiatives also vary widely in resources, from shoestring

operations to well-established organizations with multimillion-

dollar annual operating budgets. Increasingly, organizations

founded in developed countries have launched branches or

sister organizations in developing nations, particularly those with

substantial emissions.

What’s Next on Climate Change?

The world is moving forward on climate change, with or with-

out U.S. government involvement. Given the realities of a warming

climate, the United States will not be able to avoid the issue for

long. Even prolonged inaction is not going to change what the

rest of the world does. Indeed, the U.S. announcement is already

stimulating action by our own businesses, cities and states. But it

will leave the federal government without a seat at a very big table.

Rather than leading, the United States will be scrambling to

catch up from a withdrawal decision that ignored the Paris Agree-

ment’s actual terms and that has demonstrably undermined U.S.

credibility internationally, as the world proceeds without us to

create the low-carbon economy of the 21st century.