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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Climate War

What do Brazil, Mexico, China, India, and South Africa have in common? They're all developing countries meeting in Pittsburgh this week that have plans for addressing their emissions and dealing with Climate Change.

Brazil's President Lula has committed to reducing deforestation by 80% and reduce carbon emissions by 4.8 billion tons by 2020. Considering that deforestation contributes to more than 70% of Brazil's emissions and they are the 4th largest contributor to the 20% of greenhouse gas emissions globally caused by deforestation, this would be a major coup for reducing Greenhouse gases globally. They could also lead the way for countries like Indonesia.

In June, "Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon announced that Mexico will voluntarily cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tons a year by 2012 through the use of more efficient cars and power plants as well as reductions in gas leaks and flaring by the oil industry, reports Reuters. The cut represents approximately 8 percent of the country’s emissions, according to the environment ministry." Mexico is also taking a leadership position in the global effort. The country is a member of the "Environmental Integrity Group." The county has also brought forth proposals such as a "Green Fund" to help developing nations in a measurable fashion.

Earlier this week, Chinese President Hu Jintao committed to reducing its carbon emissions by a "notable margin" by 2020. Unfortunately, the President stopped short of giving hard measurable numbers. As the largest emitter of carbon emissions (immediately followed by yours truly), any commitment is crucial.

India is the country at the summit with the highest poverty level. Yet even they are moving forward on voluntary emissions reduction. They are adamant in their insistence that the more developed countries also commit to reducing emissions by 2020.

South Africa
"President Jacob Zuma said the world needs to act now to ensure there is a global agreement on the critical challenge." They, like many other developing countries, are directly feeling the effects of Climate Change and are realizing that if we do not act soon globally, the ramifications will be much further reaching than the temperature. Climate Change indirectly affects agricultural supplies, housing, and more through increased rate of natural disasters and more extreme weather patterns.

In July of this year, President Obama requested the G20 finance ministers to come up with a plan for helping to support the developing countries of the world in addressing the issue of Climate Change. If the ministers can come up with an agreed-upon plan to, then in December in Copenhagen, we may have grounds to come up with an true international plan.

And hopefully the United States will continue to step up in the meantime. The recurring theme here is one of getting and maintaining energy for real climate progress. Let's enter a "Climate War" with China where we're each fighting to generate less carbon emissions. That would be a war everyone wins.

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