Beginning this week, world leaders are meeting in Bonn, Germany for the annual U.N. conference on climate change. The nations are all parties in the Paris Agreement, which President Donald Trump has announced the United States is withdrawing from. But that's not stopping many from Massachusetts from showing up in Bonn to declare their support.

Robert Stavins of the Harvard Kennedy School, who will be in Bonn, says there's a lot of important business to attend to.

“What needs to happen now is to continue the process of putting meat on the bones of the Paris climate agreement, which itself is a very brief outline,” he said. “So there are a whole set of issues on which rules have to be written.”

He'll be at the conference trying to help those rules get written in a way that allows countries to work together more effectively to meet goals of reducing carbon emissions.

Stavins says things don't seem to be as bad for the international process as many who are involved in this were worried they might be after the president announced the U.S. is pulling out of the agreement.

“The worst possible outcome, or the outcome we feared of the U.S. withdrawal, would be that other key countries, in particular the large, emerging economies — China, India, Brazil, Korea, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia — that they might backtrack. They might change their announced contributions," Stavins said.

But Stavins assures they’re not doing that. He says China is happy to go from being a co-leader of the process to a solo leader. And countries like India, Brazil and others have said they’re still in.

Stavins pointed out the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement won’t begin until three years after it was announced, and won't be finalized until two days after the next general election.

In the meantime, though, the U.S. won’t be taking steps to meet the goals it initially promised. The country committed to reducing emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025, relative to 2005. Stavins says we're not going to meet that, but not because of dropping out of the Paris Agreement. He says it's because of reversals of Obama-era policies like the Clean Power Plan that sought to limit emissions.

A group of state lawmakers will be attending the conference, including state Rep. Jennifer Benson.

"We can go and show the world that yes, we are still engaged. We're still in this fight. We believe this is an issue. And even if we have to do it on a state-by-state basis, we're still going to continue to work,” Benson said.

The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill last week that puts the state on record as supporting the Paris Agreement.

There's also a partnership called “We Are Still In,"which is comprised of about 2,500 cities, state houses, colleges, businesses and others in the U.S., including many parties here in Massachusetts. They have signed on to a declaration pledging to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

Our businesses want people to know in the global community that the Trump administration doesn't speak for them,” Michael Green of the Boston-based Climate Action Business Association said. “That there [are] American businesses and American state leaders that want to see action on climate change. They want to see a price on carbon, and they really want America to continue to be a leader on this issue.” 

Green is planning to attend the Bonn conference, and his group is bringing Rep. Benson and other lawmakers along. 

A bill putting a price on carbon was introduced in the state House of Representatives by Rep. Benson. In the Senate, the champion of this idea is Sen. Michael Barrett. He explains that while we do have a price on carbon with energy generation in the form of the so-called Regional Greenhouse Gas Inititative, we don't have anything for other carbon sources — especially transportation. His bill would charge an up-front fee related to the carbon footprint of gas, and he's hoping that would cause people to cut back.

That's what we're looking for here, is some New England frugality to address climate change and get us below our current emissions profile,” Barrett said.

That money would be returned to consumers in a rebate later, or some of it could go to efficiency programs. It often takes years for something like this to actually get voted on in both the House and Senate, but Barrett was pretty positive about the bill's future.

I'm actually cautiously optimistic that we're going to see the Senate take affirmative action putting a price on carbon,” Barrett said. “And then we all eyes will turn toward the House.”