The Buzz Before Copenhagen

Stephen Smith | November 18, 2009 | Climate Change

587px-the_earth_seen_from_apollo_17I wanted to share some interesting posts from other blogs about events leading up to the international climate talks in Copenhagen, which are less than four weeks away.  First, here is a good overview of the meeting between the U.S. and China on global warming from NRDC’s blog, “Switchboard.”

There’s lots of chatter about the possible failure of the summit in Copenhagen — before the meetings have even begun! See…”Binding Climate Treaty May Slip Far into 2010” and “ANALYSIS-Climate treaty delay opens Doha-style risks.” My friend Jeremy Symons at National Wildlife Federation is putting it this way:

“If there were ever any doubts about the global significance of congressional action to enact a clean energy and climate plan for America, the run-up to Copenhagen should erase them.  The eyes of the world are on the United States, which has the greatest capacity to lead the green economy renaissance that will lower pollution levels and safeguard our children’s future.  Copenhagen remains a critical moment to engage all nations in a more ambitious global effort that keeps pace with the latest climate science.

With Senate action on clean energy legislation now delayed, a successful outcome at Copenhagen would be akin to a successful visit to a tailor to buy a new suit.  You pick the fabric and style, take measurements and agree on a date to make the final adjustments and close the deal.  Similarly, the nations of the world should come out of Copenhagen with an agreement on the architecture and timeline that will shape the final deal.  The extended timeline should be months, not years.  It should give Congress the time needed to get a strong clean energy and climate bill to President Obama for his signature in early 2010, but also recognize that delay increases the cost of the climate response and the risk of climate disasters.

President Obama needs to provide the leadership to take full advantage of Copenhagen and ensure a successful outcome.  And the Senate needs to recognize that prompt action on a U.S. climate bill will not only repowerAmerica’s economy with clean energy, but also galvanize global cooperation on climate change.”

David Turnbull shares his take in this piece, “Rumors of Copenhagen’s demise have been greatly exaggerated,” from Grist.

In my opinion — the ability to get an international deal has been negatively impacted by the failure of the U.S. Senate to take action on a climate bill and, as a result, U.S. domestic politics are spilling over onto the world stage at a critical time. Of course, this is not the first time this has happened, but the stakes have never been higher.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has 30 years of experience effecting change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as its executive…
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