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Acing Mid-Terms: Why Concerned Countries Need to Step Up

09/22/09

By: Jake Bonifield

President Obama’s distinct and overt tone set a positive and optimistic tenor for the discussions being held at the UN climate change summit.  His recognition of climate change as a legitimate–not speculative– scientific fact and imminent global threat was a refreshing change from the previous administration’s non-commital rhetoric and inaction.

And yet no matter how soothing the tones of progress may sound, until we eschew the status quo in which polluters are given sway in discourse on how to prevent pollution, we cannot make substantive change.  There must be a meeting of philosophical goals and pragmatic means.  The planet would be better off if no speeches were given, no flags were waived, and no cameras were shuttered.  With only a few swipes of a pen the assembled nations could commit to tangible, enforceable mid-term goals of reducing emissions by 2020.

This target is more important than its alternative which occurs some 3 decades later in 2050. It portends the willingness of would-be reducers to truly begin the arduous but crucial process of reducing, and requires they do it now.  If countries are unwilling to change tomorrow, what hope do we have for next month?

Leaders need to seize the momentum that shifts in tone can provide, and they need to use this occasion to commit to real change.

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