Our President has a new term four-year term to acheive his stated goals, one of which is addressing climate change. I FAX’ed the following letter to President Obama today. (Links are added for readers of this blog)
Dear Mr. President:
Congratulations on your election victory! As you noted in your election night address, we as a nation face a number of challenges—“reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil.” You also affirmed our moral obligation to future generations—“We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt; that isn’t weakened by inequality; that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Our warming planet creates a civilization challenging issue; one which requires U.S. leadership and a global solution.
I ask you to pick up the climate change torch-of-action you carried to Copenhagen during the first year of your presidency in December 2009 for the 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For the sake of your children Sasha & Malia, my grandchildren Ally, Sam, Zady, Colton, Finley, Olivia, & Aubrey, and all the children of the world, I ask that you reignite your climate change leadership role and carry your torch to the December 2012 high-level segment of the COP 18 UN climate conference in Doha, Qatar.
We need to reengage the climate change discourse. All nations are looking for the United States to take a leadership role if we expect to negotiate a meaningful global climate change treaty.
You stated in your election night speech that you look “forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.” I believe you, I believe in you, and I believe that a majority of our legislators are now willing to put the good of our country and the world ahead of their own personal ideologies.
In 2009, you drew support from across the aisle when you traveled to Copenhagen to forge an international climate change agreement. As you know, Copenhagen had been dubbed “Hopenhagen” in the fervent hope that the COP 15 UN climate conference would produce a global agreement—one which would promise a better future for our planet and a more sustainable way of life. Senators Kerry (a democrat), Lieberman (an independent), and Graham (a republican) supported you with a nonpartisan climate framework.
I was in “Hopenhagen’s” Bella Center in December 2009. I was filled with pride as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, congressional legislators Kerry, Waxman, Markey, and others preceded you with press briefings and speeches. Like everyone else who strolled the halls trying to glean any bits of information about the closed-door negotiations among you and other Heads-of-State or just sat around drinking coffee and waiting, we were will filled with hope.
In spite of all your efforts, the outcome of COP 15 was a weak, non-binding “Copenhagen Accord”. And, the UNFCCC parties did not formally adopt it. The parties ultimately could only agree to “take note” of the Copenhagen Accord. To date, we do not have a binding international agreement. The torch you carried to Copenhagen has dimmed to a mere flickering pilot-light.
U.S. Presidents have long recognized the need to address climate change. Reflecting back to 1988, presidential candidate George H. W. Bush stumped, “Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the ‘greenhouse gas effect’ are forgetting the ‘White House effect’. As President, I intend to do something about it.” However, the “White House effect” had little impact on limiting emissions during his presidency. And, there has been no meaningful “White House effect” in limiting the “greenhouse gas effect” since then.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was created at the 1992 “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. The ultimate aim of the UNFCCC is “preventing dangerous human interference with the climate system”. It was signed by more than 150 nations including the U.S.
Here we are two decades later buried giga-tons deeper in excess greenhouse emissions. As a consequence, our planet is experiencing unprecedented warming. We are already seeing the adverse extreme-weather outcomes with significant human and economic costs.
You assumed the full weight of the presidency during a particularly harrowing time. In your January 20, 2009 Inauguration Day speech, you enumerated the many challenges we faced. From the podium on the Capitol steps on that frigid day under clear blue skies, you stated, “[our challenges] will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.” Among those challenges you promised to “roll back the specter of a warming planet.”
The time to roll back the specter of a warming planet is now. Your science advisors will tell you that we must peak growth of our global greenhouse gas emissions during the term of your presidency. It is no longer a distant concern. We must begin our reduction in emissions by 2015 if we have any hope to hold the temperature increase of our planet to +2 degrees C over the pre-industrial average. This is a planetary emergency. Failing to act is failing our children.
Climate change is the most pressing economic, ecological, moral issue of our time. We have borrowed this planet from our children. Our planet is facing ecological foreclosure. It is now time to pay our mortgage in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Reignite the torch you carried to “Hopenhagen”. Carry our American fire, warmth, and light to Doha. Let us turn the “No we couldn’t” three-year period since COP 15 in Copenhagen into a one-month “Yes we can!” period leading up to COP 18. With your leadership, we can forge a binding global climate change agreement.
Thank you Mr. President. I look forward to seeing you in Doha next month.