Restoring America’s Leadership in International Global Warming Negotiations


We now have a new leader in the US that understands global warming and recognizes that it requires leadership both at home and abroad. Addressing this challenge (and opportunity) will be a key task of both President-elect Barack Obama (and his Administration) and Congress. And, they'll have to get their act together fast as the world agreed in Bali to establish a post-2012 international global warming pact by the end of 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Before I go into some details, I want to remind you that as a non-partisan organization, NRDC does not endorse candidates. But now that Barack Obama has been declared the winner, we can begin to look at the environmental implications of the voters' decisions. So I want to highlight the repercussions for efforts to get an international post-2012 agreement to address global warming.

The task is tough...solving the greatest challenge of this century won't be easy. It will require true leadership, active engagement (and advocacy) from the American public, and a strong push from the President and Members of Congress. We will need to roll up our sleeves at home and restore America's leadership in international global warming negotiations. And, that task begins from day one (in fact it begins now).

So let's get started...

While not technically a part of his time in office, there is an important "check-point" in the international global warming negotiations -- Poland in December 2008 -- where the President-elect can convey a new message that: he will work to "restore America's leadership" on global warming. Essentially saying, the US will no longer be laggards, as the current Administration has been, and we will actively work to get an effective and equitable international global warming agreement.

And, he might just send that signal to the world before or at the meeting in Poland as he has now hinted in a YouTube Video where he said:

"We will definitely have a representative there."

And a few minutes later he went on to say:

"I may not go personally. I may send a representative, but we'll be represented."

He (and his representatives) likely won't provide any specific details on what exactly the US will do to address global warming as he'll need to work with Members of Congress to shape that approach. But, I'm sure a lot of people will be whispering in his ear (and his advisors) to make a clear statement to the world that "the US is back". A welcome relief from the past 7 years (and how many seconds?) of no leadership from the US. Continued...

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