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U.S. Faces Rising Pressure to Act on Climate Change

Not long after President Barack Obama pledged to tackle climate change, the pressure has risen for him to take meaningful action ahead of the climate-change talks scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

Stavros Dimas, the E.U. environment commissioner, published an open letter challenging the U.S. to be a powerful leader in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, reports the New York Times.

The EU already has a working cap-and-trade policy, mandatory emissions reductions targets, and policies to promote energy efficiency and reduce deforestation, said Dimas – making it clear that the US has both the ability and the responsibility to take decisive action.

Todd Stern, Obama’s newly appointed Climate Envoy, has said “The time for denial, delay and dispute is over.” But he’s frustrated by the glacial pace of United Nation negotiations, according to the Wall Street Journal, and prefers working out new climate accords with the E-8, a group of eight developed and developing countries that together account for 70 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

So it is unclear if the U.S. can meaningfully forge ahead or if it must bring China and India on board first. Both China and the U.S. want to fit climate policy within the context of economic recovery, instead of pitting them against each other.

In an interview with the Wall St. Journal, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry called the economic stimulus package “an incredible opportunity” to invest in low-carbon technology, and cited Obama’s directive to the EPA to reconsider state requests to regulate their own auto emissions standards as a sign that the new administration is making progress.

But while admitting that the US is “behind the curve” on emissions reductions, Kerry doesn’t believe it’s critical for the US to start regulating power-plant emissions to gain credibility in advance of the Copenhagen talks.

For now, Kerry has only said he will brief Senate Democrats on new scientific evidence that global greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing at four times the rate they were in the 1990s. They will also hear testimony from Al Gore on the status of United Nations-led global-warming talks.

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2 thoughts on “U.S. Faces Rising Pressure to Act on Climate Change

  1. Todd Stern did not say that “…the debate is over…the science is settled..” How could he. His marching orders require proceeding despite the absence of these two little factoids. Considering it would cost $trillions to transform the American way of life from fossil fuels to something else, how would the American people feel about proceeding in the absence of open debate on the subject, and discovering for themselves that GW science relies upon computer simulations using questionable programming and data inputs. And I would like to know who has validated these computer models, whether or not they are kept secret and unvailable for testing and evaluation by other scientists, and what confidence interval may be assigned to their output.

    Finally, how can President Obama ram this down the throat of the American people without involving them in a fair and open debate (remember, he promised change)?

  2. Let us review the evidence that CO2 is responsible for increasing temperatures. We are ignoring all result from unverified mathematical models (as any engineer can tell you, models are useless until verified). We are also ignoring all uses of the post-hoc fallacy, argument to authority, and all other logical falacies.

    That concludes the evidence that CO2 is responsible for climate change.

    In all seriousness. We need hard evidence that there is a problem AND that CO2 is responsible before we commit trillions to fixing it.

    “Alternative Energy” sources are notoriously bad for the environment, using large swaths of land, killing huge numbers of birds, and producing very little energy in return. Efficiency increases will happen with or without government mandate, and the majority of offsets have been shown to be little short of fraud. Therefore, there is no silver lining if CO2 turns out to not be the major driver of climate.

    In short, the IPCC has yet to convince the scientific community at large that CO2 reductions are necessary.

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