Thursday, July 09, 2009

US agrees landmark pledge to slash emissions.

This is why it was so important for the world to have Barack Obama elected:

The world's richest nations agreed last night to cut their carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 in a dramatic attempt to secure a new global deal to combat climate change.

Leaders of the G8 group of countries also agreed to set a limit of C on global temperature rises, the first time they have imposed such a ceiling. In return, they urged developing countries including China and India to cut their emissions by 50 per cent over the same period.

President Barack Obama cleared the way for what Gordon Brown called an "historic agreement" at the G8 summit in Italy by signing the US up to a firm emissions target for the first time – a complete contrast to the intransigence of his predecessor, George Bush. The G8 move is designed to revitalise United Nations-led talks on a global "son of Kyoto" agreement, which reach a climax in Copenhagen in December.

Under the previous administration this would simply have been impossible to imagine. Not only because country's like China and India might go on polluting, but because somewhere deep down the Bush administration loathed all talk of climate change as lefty tree hugging.

Environmentalism was almost a curse word to the Bush's and the Cheney's of this world, which is why they delighted in talking of oil exploration off the Florida coast or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Before he was elected Obama spoke of restoring America's image in the world. This is a really momentous place to start. Bush's rejection of Kyoto was responsible for much of the ill feeling which was directed at his administration, long before his invasions of other nations cemented the world's hatred of this dreadful president.

The US has around 5% of the world's population and produces 25% of the world's pollution. The American image abroad cannot seriously be repaired until something is done about that.

Obama has made a good start to addressing this problem, even if 2050 seems a long way off to most of us. But, in principle, he's admitted to the problem and agreed to a solution. All of which are things which we would never have expected from the previous incumbent of that office.

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