Dispatch from SSC Intern Matt Logan
A number of world leaders, including Barack Obama, met in New York at a United Nations climate summit on Tuesday, paving the way for negotiations that will take place in Copenhagen this December. That meeting will have the lofty goal of reaching a global deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the current greenhouse gas limiting agreement, which expires in 2012.
There is a growing global consensus that something must be done to stem the tide of climate change. One world leader exhibiting this attitude is President Obama, who stated that if an agreement is not reached and action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, "we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe." He also cited several examples of steps that the United States has already taken since his administration took office, including investing in clean energy and passing a cap-and-trade legislation in the House. Moreover, several sources have said that on Tuesday the EPA will publish a rule implementing a registry for sources that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. Much work remains to be done, however, as the Senate irons out its version of the cap-and-trade legislation.
Other leaders, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, also recognize the need to act rapidly. He highlighted the gravity of the situation and the interconnected fates of nations in a globalized world, stating:
If we have learned anything from the economic crisis of the last year, it is that our fates are intertwined… Climate change is the pre-eminent geopolitical and economic issue of the 21st century. It will increase pressure on water, food and land, reverse years of development gains and exacerbate poverty, destabilize fragile states and topple governments.Ban Ki-Moon also noted several of the most crucial components of a successful agreement, including a consensus on the desired sharp emission reductions by 2020 for industrialized nations, billions of dollars in aid to developing countries for adaptation, and a need for emerging nations to be included in binding emission reduction targets.
Another key player at the U.N. negotiations was the German environmental expert Achim Steiner, who has worked to highlight the need to limit emissions in a manner that drives new economic growth. He has written a report called the “Global Green New Deal,” which stresses the importance of investing stimulus dollars in environmental and clean energy projects that are an economic as well as an environmental boon.
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