COP26 events series: Climate change and the US presidential election

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG
Open to the public
This event is free - register below to attend
March 2020

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
  • Further speakers tbc

Moderator: Dr Thomas Hale

About the speakers

Brendan Guy is Manager for International Policy at the Natural Resources Defence Council. He works to encourage cities, regions and companies to make commitments to action on climate change and sustainable development. Guy serves as an advisory board member to Sustainia100, which honours innovative solutions for sustainability, and as a curator of the Global Solution Networks’ hub on Climate and Planet Stewardship. He holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources conservation from the University of British Columbia and a master’s in environmental management from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is based in Washington, DC.

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.