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The Green Life: Climate-Change Extravaganzas Underway

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November 20, 2008

Climate-Change Extravaganzas Underway

Global_warming Just weeks after CNN beamed ridiculous holograms from across the country into their studios on election night, Barack Obama is taking a page from their playbook in the form of the now-antiquated pre-taped  video statement. It's not the Grammys, it's the Governor's Global Summit. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is flexing his environmental muscles along with governors from four other states to host more than 800 attendees at the Beverly Hills Hilton. And it'll open with a video in which Barack Obama states that recent economic turmoil won't take greenhouse-gas issues off his agenda.

The summit's broadly stated collaborative goals are reflected in the spectacular list of attendees: elected officials, representatives from foreign governments, academics, and green-business advocates. Discussions will center around regional emissions reductions regulations like those passed in several U.S. states. Of course, all of the summit’s carbon emissions will be offset.

The summit isn't the only high-profile climate-change news this week. Just as officials in Poznan, Poland are preparing to roll out the red carpet for the UN Climate Change Conference (December 1 to 12), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met in Bonn, Germany to release their findings detailing the world’s progress at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

According to the UNFCCC (PDF), 40 industrialized nations have met the Kyoto Protocol’s goal of reducing carbon emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. This reduction is mostly the result of the decline during the 1990s of eastern and central European economies. The council points out that greenhouse-gas emissions are actually on the rise, and and that many countries are not meeting their targets. From 2000 to 2006, emissions from industrialized nations increased by 2.6 percent. During this same period, the “economies in transition” responsible for the '90s decline in world emissions rose 7.6 percent.

Officials hope that next month's Climate Change Conference in Poznan will set the stage for an international climate-change deal at next year’s conference in Copenhagen – a goal outlined in the 2007 Bali roadmap as essential to ratifying a new agreement before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Watch the events in Poznan in a few weeks; they may determine the future of emissions reductions for the next several decades. Significantly, China, India, the United States, some of the world's biggest greenhouse-gas offenders, have agreed to sit down and negotiate in hopes of striking a deal. George W. Bush refused to agree to the Kyoto Protocol's emissions reductions.

For his part, Schwarzenegger, who governs over the world's fifth-biggest economy, is proving to be a real environmental leader by signing an executive order to cut California's emissions 33 percent by 2020.

-- Mario Aguilar

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