In November last year, US President Trump officially moved to withdraw the United States, the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, from the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change. But that shift will only take effect on 4 November 2020, one day after the US presidential election. Every Democratic candidate running against Donald Trump has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and substantially increase US action on climate change. At the same time, voters in the Democratic primary are more concerned about climate issues than ever before, with some candidates making it the centrepiece of their campaigns. Moreover, large numbers of US cities, states and business have taken aggressive climate action independently of the federal government. How might this election reshape climate politics and policy in the United States? How might climate politics shape the election?
This panel discussions gathers experts in US and international climate policy and politics to discuss what we can expect on this critical issue in a critical election. It is being held as part of the Blavatnik School's COP26 events series, convening public discussions on climate policy in advance of the UK's hosting of the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow in November 2020.
- Brendan Guy, Manager for International Policy, Natural Resources Defence Council
- Sue Biniaz, Senior Fellow for Climate Change, UN Foundation
- Kaya Axelsson, Vice-President (Charities and Community), Oxford University Union
Moderator: Dr Thomas Hale
This event is being live-streamed on our YouTube channel.
About the speakers
Brendan Guy is the Manager of International Policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council (Brendan will be speaking in a personal capacity and the views expressed at the event do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Natural Resources Defense Council). Brendan works to enhance climate ambition from major emitters, advance nature-based solutions to climate change, and chart the international climate agenda for future US presidential administrations. He has taught international climate policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the American University’s School of International Service. Brendan holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and is based in London.
For more than 25 years, Sue Biniaz served as the lead climate lawyer for the US State Department, where she played a central role in all major international climate negotiations, including the Paris Agreement on climate change. During her tenure at the State Department as a Deputy Legal Adviser, she also supervised the Treaty Office and issues related to the law of the sea, Somali piracy, the Western Hemisphere, human rights, law enforcement and private international law. Prior to that, she led the State Department’s legal office for Oceans, Environment, and Science, as well as the legal office for European Affairs. Since leaving the State Department, Sue has been teaching courses on international environmental law and the international climate negotiations at various law schools, including Yale, Columbia and the University of Chicago.
Kaya Axelsson serves as the Vice-President for Charities and Community at the Oxford Student Union, where she is working with the university to write a new sustainability strategy. Kaya holds an MPhil in Comparative Government from the University of Oxford, earning distinction for her thesis on unlikely Renewable Energy Coalitions across US States. Kaya has over ten years of organising and advocacy experience, from nonprofits to traditional candidate campaigns, and she consults regularly for companies seeking to adopt more sustainable and inclusive systems and habits. Kaya is currently working with the Post Carbon Transition research group at the university of Oxford and helping to develop resources on defining and achieving net zero.