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Copenhagen 2009—Share the Vision

12/02/09

-Keelin Kelly, Castle Rock, CO

It is now clear, Copenhagen will not produce the results many initially assumed it would. It is highly unlikely an internationally binding treaty to reduce CO2 emissions will be the result of this COP. However, a very important agreement can come out of Copenhagen—a shared vision. In other words, a clear goal for emissions reductions.

This accomplishment may appear trivial, but it is actually quite crucial. In part, nations realized creating a full text in Copenhagen would be impossible because of a lack of shared goals in emissions reductions among the parties. Globally, scientists and many countries recognize the importance of stabilizing levels around 350ppm and using 1990 as a baseline target for reductions.

However, major players have objected to these targets, notably the U.S. Proposed American domestic legislation to reduce carbon uses 2005 as a baseline and many in the U.S. advocate stabilizing CO2 levels around 450ppm. This is curious because it is not at all what most experts see as necessary to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change. However, in the U.S. it is seen as a compromise between business interests and science. Normally, compromise is imperative to reach ideal solutions. Although, in this situation, the prospect of such a serious compromise is frightening—how can a nation do this when so many lives are at stake?

It is therefore crucial the U.S. share the vision with the rest of the world and agree to a1990 as a baseline and recognize the imperative of stabilizing levels around 350ppm. The U.S. is averse to doing this because of how much it will “hurt” the economy. However, what will really hurt the markets is not doing much now only to have to make substantial, more expensive changes later. Really, the bar now is set fairly low, but it will get higher and higher every year making it increasingly difficult to jump over. The U.S. might as well jump now before it cannot.

Furthermore, people do not recognize how U.S. markets are literally bloated with carbon. It is not as if we use the idea amount of carbon now making it impossible to cut any of it out of the status quo. Efficiency alone can effectively help the nation make huge cuts. People are beginning to realize this, but the push must be stronger. In addition, renewable energy markets hold massive promise. We must not tarry in making our energy development more sustainable. It is possible and we must pursue aggressive policies to move us away from finite energy resources.

Therefore, American must realize the imperative of “sharing the vision.” It is probably situated better than most nations to chart the course to sustainable development because of its progressive technological sector. Once the U.S. gets on board with a goal, creating a viable treaty will be much easier. Once all parties agree on what the goals are, finding ways to achieve it will not be so difficult.

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