Even as a new study, published by the journal Science, indicates that human activity-generated emissions have reversed an Arctic cooling trend, leading to global warming unmatched for 2,000 years, world leaders are negotiating an action framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. This international agreement, aimed at stabilizing the greenhouse gas emissions which accelerate global warming, will expire in 2012.
“We have reached a pivotal moment in the climate challenge, and what we decide to do now will have a profound and lasting impact on our nation and our planet,” writes U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern in his introductory article.
In this eJournalUSA, experts from key nations around the world ponder the conditions that climate change and global warming present in their regions. They discuss what is being done within their countries to address climate change mitigation and adaptation and how they envision mutually beneficial international partnerships. These issues will be considered in-depth at the December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 15th Conference of Parties (COP15). The goal is a viable agreement that satisfies the nearly 200 countries concerned.
All of the countries profiled in this publication — Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Russia, and the United States -- already feel the impact of global warming. India is vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events, writes Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chairman R. K. Pachauri, who discusses India’s national action plan. IPCC adviser Jiahua Pan describes the ambitious measures China is taking to ameliorate the very serious effects of climate change there.
Rainforest conservation is critical to the health of the planet, since forest degradation is a major source of damaging “greenhouse gas” emissions, as biologist Liana Anderson explains in her assessment of climate change impact in Brazil. IPCC Vice chairman Richard Odingo examines the situation in Kenya. Harry Surjadi is concerned with the plight of the Indonesian poor. Scientist A. Anthony Chen addresses problems specific to Caribbean island nations. Alexey Kokorin writes that the imminent danger of climate change has yet to be fully understood in Russia, yet the government has taken important steps to meet the challenge.
Young people will inherit a world that climate change increasingly compromises. Some of them have organized to demand more aggressive action. “Climate change is among the issues that galvanize young people simply because our government’s actions don’t make sense to us,” writes Canadian environmental activist Zoë Caron. American Richard Graves says, “Young people in the United States have made clear that they want bold environmental leadership.”
Will the United Nations be able to cope with climate change pressures? That is the question considered by Swedish diplomat Bo Kjellén.
One thing our contributors agree upon is summed up by Todd Stern: “The status quo is unsustainable.”
— The Editors