Climate Change…Washington Needs To Work Overtime
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It’s simply not acceptable to assume that the American government cannot pass meaningful and responsible climate change legislation in time for the December United Nations Copenhagen conference on global warming. We need to be active participants, setting the example, not passive reluctants who fail to show we are ready to act. Yet, despite years of urgent debate and scientific study, Washington may not have legislation ready to prove to the rest of the world that it means business.
Congress, if you have to, work overtime. Reduce your vacation time. Labor night and day. Get the job done. Give the new American Chief Executive, and our nation, momentum on this singularly crucial challenge. Congress can multi-task and deal with more than just health care reform. There is no reason to wait until early December to take up this issue, a concern which was reported in the New York Times on October 16.
American leadership and creativity is needed on the “five tracks” of the Copenhagen conference as identified by Michael A. Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations in his recent article, “Copenhagen’s Inconvenient Truth.” (Foreign Affairs, September/October, 2009). The blueprint includes: Mitigation (“near-term commitments to cutting emissions”), Adaptation (“Efforts to deal with unavoidable climate change”), Finance (“Schemes to pay for emission cuts”), Technology (“Frameworks for advancing and distributing low-carbon technology”) and Creating A Vision For Long-Term Cooperative Action. Capitol Hill should not cede leadership to other nations by embracing paralysis and indecision on this issue.
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And one more thing…President Obama needs to be head the American presence to Copenhagen, to showcase our committment to deal effectively, and urgently, with global warming issues. But as of the date of this post, his presence is not assured. If this President is truly concerned about our changing natural environment, his absence from the UN conference will be an overwhelming distraction and side track progress.
On October 19, the BBC reported it is not at all certain that President Obama will attend the critical international meeting on climate change. According to the report, “Many observers believe that Barack Obama is the leader whose presence would do most to hasten a deal, but Mr Stern, the US administration’s chief negotiator, said the president’s attendance was not decided.”
We can do better. We must. Now.