Op-eds

The Governance Challenge to Climate Change: Prof. William Moomaw

WBUR

Moomaw

President Barack Obama pledged in his inaugural address on Monday to respond to the threat of climate change, saying: “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But Americans cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.”

So, why is addressing climate change so ‘difficult’?

A lot of reasons. But perhaps most significantly: It requires fundamental changes to the way we live and power our lives — changes that some key global industries find threatening. It’s also not universally accepted as science. ...

... Bill Moomaw is professor of international environmental policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

In October 1992, four months after President George H. W. Bush returned from an unprecedented meeting of 154 heads of state and government at the Rio Earth Summit, where all signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United States Senate voted unanimously to ratify the treaty and commit the U.S. to join the global effort to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

In 1997, a few months before the UN meetings in Japan to adopt binding obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Senate voted 95-0 in opposition to U.S. adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. The vote marked a complete, 100 percent congressional reversal in just five years. President Clinton signed the agreement, but President George W. Bush “unsigned” the commitment, and the U.S. never joined the other 190 nations who are parties to this agreement.

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