US Says Greenhouse Gas Emissions Must Peak by 2020

greenhouse gas emissions photo

Photo via NeeDigest

What's this? The US issuing a semi-bold, almost-binding international directive on climate change? Doth my eyes deceive me? Nope--the US has just joined the other G-8 industrialized nations in pledging to halt the increase of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and to keep the worldwide temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.Of course, the committment is still in draft form, no plans on how exactly the goals would be accomplished have surfaced, and nothing has been finalized yet. But still. It's a good sign, at least.

The draft was drawn up by government officials from the G-8 nations, which will be meeting in Italy next week. And one hot item on the agenda: discussing the replacement for the Kyoto Protocol in anticipation of the massive climate conference in Copenhagen this December, where the fate of such a treaty will be decided.

So why is the US, which was unwilling to sign the Kyoto Protocol, willing to join the likes of the UK, Italy, and France in vowing to keep emissions from growing after 2020? Perhaps Obama got the memo drafted by a slew of climate science groups urging him to set a goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C. Scientists have long considered a rise of more than 2 degrees C to be the tipping point where climate change would become devastating and unpredictable.

And even though Obama hasn't formally committed to the targets yet, the intention sends a powerful message to other nations. From Bloomberg:

Obama, who will be chairman of the climate meeting, will be watched by other leaders for signals on where the U.S. stands on issues such as emissions-reduction targets and how much rich nations should do to help poorer countries deal with the impacts of climate change.
And here we are, slowly entering the climate discussion on the world stage--with the recently passed climate bill (which Europeans were a bit disappointed in), being a more frequent, more cooperative presence at international climate meetings, and more attention to environmental matters at home, perhaps the US can muster the guts to be a leading voice on confronting global warming after all. Perhaps.

More on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
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