(by Charles Hurt, NYPost.com) COPENHAGEN — Leaders from more than 100 nations will begin gathering here this week for the world’s largest summit on climate change, with most, including President Obama, carrying pledges to cut global-warming gases.
“Never in the 17 years of climate regulations have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together,” Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ top climate official, said yesterday.
Hosted by the United Nations, the meeting’s goal is “to deliver a strong and long-term response to the challenge of climate change,” said de Boer. He predicted that the meeting would be a “turning point” in the fight against global warming.
Negotiators hope to set stiff new targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gasses, especially those of the leading contributors, the United States and China.
The conference also hopes to reach an agreement on how much money wealthy countries such as the United States should pay poorer countries to help deal with climate change.
Obama, who is scheduled to join the conference next week, has offered to cut US emissions by 17 percent. But that offer is expected to go up in smoke when the Senate rejects any treaty that is viewed by many as a job-killer.
As the summit approached, a poll came out yesterday showing that concern about climate change around the world has declined, especially in countries that are suffering from the economic crisis.
In North America, just 25 percent say they are “very concerned” about the human impact on climate change.
Even before the historic gathering began yesterday, climatologists were battling accusations that the science behind global warming claims has been hyped.
“For those who claim a deal in Copenhagen is impossible, they are simply wrong,” said Achim Steiner, director of the United Nations’ Environment Programs.
Also undermining efforts is the recent scandal spawned by e-mails leaked from a British university showing worried scientists plotting to silence colleagues who are skeptical about global warming.
“I think a lot of people are skeptical about this issue in any case,” de Boer told the AP yesterday. “And then when they have the feeling . . . that scientists are manipulating information in a certain direction, then of course it causes concern in a number of people to say, ‘You see, I told you so. This is not a real issue.’ “
The summit’s goal is to set a global cap of 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by 2020. Annual emissions today total about 47 billion tons, according to UN scientists.
Advanced countries such as the United States would be forced to cut emissions by as much as 40 percent of 1990 levels over 10 years while developing countries will by required to cut emissions by as much as 30 percent of 1990 levels. With Post Wire Services
Write to Charles Hurt at email@example.com.
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1. What do negotiators for countries around the world hope to achieve during climate talks in Copenhagen this month?
2. a) By how much has President Obama offered to cut U.S. carbon emissions?
b) Why will the President’s plan to cut carbon emissions probably not be passed by Congress?
3. How has world wide concern about the human impact on global warming changed recently?
4. a) Define hyped.
b) What do people think has been hyped?
5. How would setting caps on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted annually affect Americans?
6. Read the “Background” below the questions, and skim the websites linked to under “Resources.”
a) Do you think people who question the theory that catastrophic global warming will occur if humans don’t drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels have a legitimate argument?
b) Do you think the U.S. should pledge to drastically cut our greenhouse gas emissions? Explain your answer.
c) Ask a parent the same questions.
Global warming is an important issue to understand. The theory that man’s use of fossil fuels (burning coal, oil and gas for energy, which produces carbon dioxide, or CO2) is causing an imminent catastrophic change in the climate – global warming – is believed to be true by many scientists, climatologists, citizens, the mainstream media and Hollywood celebrities, and was made popular by former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” People who believe in this theory say we must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by limiting/reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use, or by purchasing offsets.
The belief that man’s activities are not causing an imminent catastrophic change in the climate is held by many other scientists [see MIT’s Professor of Meteorology Dr. Richard Lindzen’s commentary in Newsweek here]. (This view is very unpopular in the media and widely condemned by those who believe man-made global warming is fact.) Those who do not believe man is causing the global temperature to rise don’t believe it is necessary to reduce the production of CO2 by reducing our use of fossil fuels or to purchase carbon offsets.
ON GLOBAL WARMING and the KYOTO TREATY (the treaty preceding COPENHAGEN):
Global warming is a controversial issue. Scientists today have two opposing views on global warming:
Read a commentary “Global Warming Consensus” at aei.org/article/101355.
For information on a movie showing the harmful effects on humans of policies aimed at curbing “global warming” go to noteviljustwrong.com.