March 2, 2009

After Bush failed to sign well-intentioned Kyoto, will Obama-led USA suddenly lead world in fighting Climate Change?

I feel like Sleeping Beauty, waking up after an eight-year coma (in which Republicans only gradually acknowledged the existence of Climate Change, and never got around to trying to fight it). Suddenly, I find myself living in a sane, well-intentioned, proactive, responsible society. 

Via the New York Times


The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, was widely viewed as badly flawed. Many countries that signed the accord lagged far behind their targets in curbing carbon dioxide emissions. The United States refused even to ratify it. And the treaty gave a pass to major emitters in the developing world like China and India.

But within weeks of taking office, President Obamahas radically shifted the global equation, placing the United States at the forefront of the international climate effort and raising hopes that an effective international accord might be possible. Mr. Obama’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, said last week that the United States would be involved in the negotiation of a new treaty — to be signed in Copenhagen in December — “in a robust way.”

That treaty, officials and climate experts involved in the negotiations say, will significantly differ from the agreement of a decade ago, reaching beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions and including financial mechanisms and making good on longstanding promises to provide money and technical assistance to help developing countries cope with climate change.

The perception that the United States is now serious has set off a flurry of diplomacy around the globe. “The lesson of Kyoto is that if the U.S. isn’t taking it seriously there is no reason for anyone else to,” said Bill McKibben, who runs the environmental organization www.350.org.

This week the United Nation’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer…for the rest, go to the NYTimes.com.

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