Saturday, September 03, 2016

Serious About the Real World

"The United States and China, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have announced they will formally ratify the Paris climate change agreement in a move campaigners immediately hailed as a significant advance in the battle against global warming" writes the Guardian today.

Earlier China had announced it would formally ratify the Paris accord with President Xi vowing to “unwaveringly pursue sustainable development”. “Our response to climate change bears on the future of our people and the well-being of mankind,” Xi said, according to the Associated Press. Obama said the joint announcement showed how the world’s two largest economies were capable of coming together to fight climate change."

The UK Telegraph has an extensive story along with video of some of President Obama's remarks.

President Obama's current travels began in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  As described by ABC: Standing beneath the forest-green peaks of the Sierra Nevada, President Barack Obama drew a connection Wednesday between conservation efforts and stopping global warming, describing the two environmental challenges as inseparably linked.

Obama used the first stop on a two-day conservation tour to try to showcase how federal and local governments can effectively team up to address a local environmental concern like iconic Lake Tahoe, which straddles California and Nevada. Obama told a sunbaked crowd of several thousand in a small lakeside town that "our conservation effort is more critical, more urgent than ever."

"When we protect our lands, it helps us protect the climate of the future," Obama said, joined by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Obama's brief stop along the Nevada-California border came at the start of an 11-day international tour that will take the president to Asia for his final time as president. Throughout the trip, Obama is hoping to elevate issues of climate change and conservation...

In Hawaii, President Obama announced a program that will devote $40 million to help vulnerable communities, especially small islands, cope with the climate crisis.
President Obama at Midway Atoll, threatned by rising
climate crisis seas.  He gave a video interview to the NYTimes.

From the smallest nations and victims, to China, one of the largest emitters and victims, President Obama brought action as well as vision.  Ratification of the Paris treaty by the two nations who together emit 40% of all greenhouse pollution was not expected so soon.

Here are excerpts from President Obama's remarks in China:

"We are here together because we believe that for all the challenges that we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge.

One of the reasons I ran for this office was to make sure that America does its part to protect this planet for future generations. Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve transformed the United States into a global leader in the fight against climate change. But this is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone. That’s why last December’s Paris Agreement was so important. Nearly 200 nations came together as — a strong, enduring framework to set the world on a course to a low-carbon future.

And someday we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet."

photo: President Obama at Yosemite in June
"We have a saying in America — that you need to put your money where your mouth is. And when it comes to combatting climate change, that’s what we’re doing, both the United States and China. We’re leading by example. As the world’s two largest economies and two largest emitters, our entrance into this agreement continues the momentum of Paris, and should give the rest of the world confidence –- whether developed or developing countries -– that a low-carbon future is where the world is heading.

Of course, the Paris Agreement alone won’t solve the climate crisis. But it does establish an enduring framework that enables countries to ratchet down their carbon emissions over time, and to set more ambitious targets as technology advances. That means full implementation of this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change, and pave the way for more progress in the coming years.

This is the single-best chance that we have to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet in a way that makes it very difficult for us to deal with all the other challenges that we may face.

Yes, diplomacy can be difficult, and progress on the world stage can be slow. But together, we’re proving that it is possible.

And I was reflecting before we came in here with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the meeting that we had in Copenhagen in my first year of my presidency, which was quite chaotic. And I think it is fair to say that if you had looked at the outcome of that meeting, the prospects of us being here today, the prospects of a Paris Agreement seemed very far away. And yet, here we are, which indicates that where there’s a will and there’s a vision, and where countries like China and the United States are prepared to show leadership and to lead by example, it is possible for us to create a world that is more secure, more prosperous, and more free than the one that was left for us."

No comments: