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Nigel Sheinwald

Nigel Sheinwald

Nigel Sheinwald is the British ambassador to the United States. Prior to this he served as Foreign Policy and Defense Adviser to the Prime Minister from 2003 to 2007. ALL POSTS

Showing up is only the start

Q: As we get closer to the United Nation's conference on climate change in Copenhagen and nations begin setting their agendas, are their goals realistic? Last week, the U.S. and China each announced their emissions target goals. Are they big enough?

U.S. leadership has always been critical for success at Copenhagen.   President Obama's announcement of new emissions targets is welcome and demonstrates how far the U.S. has come over the past year.

China's approach -- a reduction in the carbon intensity of its growth -- reflects the fact that China is still developing its basic economy, but that it recognises the need to grow in a less carbon-intensive way.  Along with India's announcement of a 24 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2020 from 2005 levels, these are all important opening contributions ahead of the crucial negotiations in Copenhagen.

 These new commitments come at an important time and should help bolster our collective resolve to make the negotiations succeed.   Meaningful proposals for midterm reductions represent real progress and are a good starting point.  Copenhagen must deliver a comprehensive agreement including commitments from developed and developing countries, finance for adaptation and mitigation, and a clear road map towards a legally binding treaty. The agreement must be ambitious enough to prevent a 3.6 degrees temperature rise and we're not there yet.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged his fellow world leaders months ago to get personally involved and attend the Copenhagen Summit.  The fact that President Obama and nearly one hundred other leaders have now said they will go shows that the world is serious about this negotiation.  Governments around the world at the highest level realise that climate change, far from being just an environmental issue, directly affects our economy and security globally.  But we're not complacent - we recognise that showing up, though important, is only the start.

By Nigel Sheinwald  |  December 4, 2009; 10:51 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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