Paris: United Nations climate conference

November 23, 2015
Contact: Greta Guest


World leaders gather for the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris next week. They expect to finalize a binding agreement on climate change among the world’s nations after 20 years of negotiation.

The two-day forum also brings together government, finance and business participants for a forum on the emerging green economy. The conference starts Nov. 30. University of Michigan experts are available to comment:

Andrew Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment, and education director of the Graham Sustainability Institute.

“Leading up to Paris, what I look at is who are the constituents stepping forward to urge action on climate change,” he said. “The standard three are environmentalists, Democratic politicians and scientists. Religious leaders are now saying that we need to do something, starting with the Pope. Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist leaders also are stepping forward.

“I also see more corporations stepping forward. The scientific evidence of climate change is just overwhelming. The growing number of constituents that matter to the conservative side of the aisle—conservative bloggers, GOP presidential candidates—are saying ‘the longer we don’t acknowledge climate change is happening, the longer we are out of the debate over what to do about it.'”

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Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He also holds appointments at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Program in the Environment. He surveys Americans on issues related to climate change in the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

“The Paris climate meetings will test whether recent signs of momentum in addressing climate change can be translated into significant national and international commitments,” he said. “In particular, it represents both opportunities and challenges for the Obama Administration in perhaps its final major act on the climate stage and also for Canada’s new Trudeau Administration as it attempts to shift course from the prior decade of policy.”

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Joe Arvai is the director of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and Ross School of Business. His expertise is in the area of decision-making, corporate sustainability, and the triple-bottom-line.

“Like all of the COP meetings, COP21 in Paris presents an important opportunity to set the international tone on domestic policies and international agreements aimed at the mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change. Equally important is COP21’s Sustainable Innovation Forum. Even though it can be easily lost in the anticipation about international treaties, the forum provides a much-needed opportunity for the corporate community to share insights on how to bring innovative and meaningful green-business strategies to scale.”

Contact: 734-647-3891 (office), 734-834-2075 (cell),, @DecisionLab