Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
January 31, 2011
World Leaders Address 2011 Climate Plans
In the U.S. last week, climate advocates reacted to President Obama’s annual State of the Union speech and several current and former members’ of Congress plans to weaken or even eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. While around the world, heads of state, business leaders and NGOs convened to talk about how to create the economic and political conditions necessary for lasting action on climate.
President Obama during the
State of The Union Address.
(Image courtesy of The White House.)
Most climate advocates welcomed the President’s emphasis on clean energy jobs and pushed for him to be more vocal about the dangers to our health posed by efforts to weaken the EPA. See the community’s response to the SOTU on our website. USCAN also keeps you up to date on attacks on the Clean Air Act and how you can help with the Clean Air Digest.
World business leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum last week heard a clear call from international leaders to more boldly embrace an energy efficient economy. Both Presidents Mexico and South Africa, hosts of the 2010 and 2011 UN climate conferences, urged the U.S. to act faster on emissions reductions. Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, and Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change noted that China is no longer the laggard on climate action, but is moving far more aggressively than the U.S. to develop clean energy technologies simply because it is good business. Ban Ki Moon refuted the idea that he is backing away from his focus on climate change, saying “To any who might argue that time and effort spent on climate change is wasted, I would respectfully beg to differ. A climate agreement among all nations is both necessary and possible. It may not be easy, but things worth doing seldom are. I will continue to engage world leaders, just as I have here in Davos, to advance climate negotiations and to make concrete progress on the ground.”
In France, President Sarkozy outlined his plans for this year’s G8 and G20 meetings, omitting any mention of climate, but pledging to work to advance innovative financing, specifically the Financial Transaction Tax, as a way to generate new sources of funds for growth and development. In a meeting with international NGOs, a French government official noted the creation of the new Green Climate Fund in Cancun would mean that the UNFCCC talks this year would need to focus on its organization this year and speculated that it may be possible for the G8/20 talks to address sources of financing to give that issue ‘a push’ in the UNFCCC.
As we gear up to fight the attacks on EPA and continue to push for climate action at home and abroad, bear in mind that real and fundamental social change is never achieved without a fight. Every movement has faced the same challenges. Despite the linear way in which great societal changes are reported in the history books, change is never linear. It is also important to realize that we are not alone. All around the world, people are struggling to get their leaders to rise above politics and short term economic concerns to prioritize justice, survival and preservation of the planet. They are counting on us to do our part.