Obama’s UN Climate Summit has Some Sustainability Proponents Worried


Several world leaders met in New York Tuesday for a UN climate summit in New York. While many of the leaders indicated that they would continue to work together on an international climate pact, others expressed visions for climate change that have some analysts concerned. One of these was President Obama.

According to a Washington Post report, Obama emphasized steps the U.S. has already taken to reduce its carbon footprint, including investing in clean energy, setting new fuel economy standards, and *cough* (Obama’s) pressing the House for passage of a cap-and-trade emissions regulation system.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, too, promised to make trimming carbon emissions a national priority by implementing a number of domestic measures.

While these measures would be better than nothing, some would argue that Obama’s and Jintao’s speeches signaled a divergence from the ideal climate solution: a pact in which nations would cut greenhouse gas emissions, in compliance with an international legal treaty. Now, it appears some nations are taking a team-of-one approach, with which some in attendance expressed concern. For example, Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama stipulated that Japan would trim emissions on the condition that other industrial powers make CO2-trimming commitments. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on industrial leaders to strike a deal by the UN Climate Change Conference in December. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged governments to look beyond their own national interests and make uncomfortable compromises to guarantee a climate deal by the end of 2009.

What do you think – should we be concerned about some nations’ apparent movement toward an individualistic approach to global climate change?

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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