U.S. leadership addressing global warming seriously undermined
As you look down it, remember that the Republicans made very large gains in Congress in the November 2nd election this year and took control of one of the chambers of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives.
Now you have the context for understanding how the U.S. delegation to Cancun this week will be approaching the negotiations!
The Obama Administration does not have sufficient support in Congress to make any major commitments in Cancun. It can only offer what the Administration can deliver without Congressional approval:
- A pledge to reduce U.S. emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020,
- Help in mobilizing $100 million a year for the poorest nations to deal with the effects of climate change,
- A call for major developing nations to cut their emissions and agree to having their cuts monitored and verified.
Todd Stern, the special U.S. climate change envoy to the talks, added this week that the U.S. would not endorse any agreement in Cancun that did not embody the Copenhagen Accord that emerged from negotiations among the U.S., China, India, Brazil and South Africa and was imposed upon the rest of the UN nation-state delegates last year. If those nations resist this time, threats are beginning to appear in the form of suggestions that perhaps these global problems will need to be dealt with in other international settings – such as the G-20 or through a series of bi-lateral agreements.
Faith-based NGOs in the U.S. are continuing to educate their constituencies and are pressing the Obama Administration to show greater leadership and flexibility in the Cancun negotiations. But most people across the country are not paying attention to Cancun. They are more focused on the impact of the recession, their deeply felt economic insecurity, and the need for jobs, jobs, jobs.
At this point, the possibility of leadership from the U.S. in addressing global warming is being seriously undermined by the chill of the political climate change gripping the country.
James E. Hug, S.J.
Center of Concern