Across from the State Department is a huge building site with an even bigger crane, really it would have been rude not to!
Climate change will be on the agenda at this meeting, billed as
the Major Economies Forum (MEF), and we wanted to remind them to
put the planet before profits.
The MEF is President Obama's remodelled version of Bush's Major
Emitters Meeting. The Bush version was designed as a distraction to
real progress, a venue for big economies to look busy while doing
nothing. This week we will find out if Obama's approach is going to
be more productive.
The climate negotiations could certainly do with a positive
shove. The latest UN climate meeting in Bonn ended with no
progress, and no sign of the leadership needed to get things back
on track. Obama's MEF meeting might be able to add some momentum to
get the negotiations back on track.
The UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen at the end of this year is
the best chance we have to take positive action and avoid
catastrophic climate change. If the summit is to be a success it
needs to deliver three things:
- Emission cuts of at least 40 percent by 2020.
- The funding to achieve them, including USD 40 billion a year to
- A deal which is legally binding, not just aspirational.
How can the MEF help do this?
It could be a forum for constructive proposals to be put on the
table and for new ideas to be worked out. It could be a place where
countries can share details about just how much they're prepared to
do - injecting some much needed confidence into the talks. The Bali
action plan committed rich developed countries to providing funding
to help less developed countries make the transition to clean
economies, deal with the impacts of climate change and end
deforestation. More than a year later the rich nations haven't said
how much they're prepared to spend. We're hoping that the MEF will
be a place for that to change.
Of course, what's really needed is a change in attitude right at
the top. During the last round of UN negotiations the Wilkins Ice
Shelf collapsed, providing yet more undeniable evidence of the
looming catastrophe. But the negotiators, obsessed with political
maneuvering and short term national interest, were unmoved.
Coincidentally the area has been cordoned off, with President
Obama due to address the National Academy of Sciences (next door)
while Secretary Clinton opened the MEF meeting.
We hope he got the message, it's not the first we have directed
at the US President in recent weeks.
President Obama and all heads of state need to take personal
responsibility and get involved in the UN climate negotiations.
Only they can offer the leadership needed to bring the world's
nations into line on behalf of the billions of people whose lives
will be disrupted or destroyed by runaway climate change if we
continue to do nothing.
Let them know that you want them to lead from the front by
asking them to attend the Copenhagen Climate Summit in person.
Let world leaders know that you want them to lead from the front by asking them to attend the Copenhagen Climate Summit in person.
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