This December, all eyes are on the leaders of the world, as in the coming weeks they will meet together in Copenhagen for one of the world’s largest conferences on greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to global climate change.
Those who believe that climate change is a serious problem, exacerbated by the activities of humans over the last few centuries, have been disappointed by the inability of the United States, one of the biggest contributors to carbon pollution, to agree on any sort of agressive regulation of its own industries.
However, thanks to a recent announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency, it looks like Obama might not have to show up in Copenhagen empty handed.
In a much anticipated press conference held just Monday morning, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that the agency had finalized its finding that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, pose a threat to human health and welfare (TIME).
This finding has been almost three years in the making, as it was April of 2007 when the Supreme Court ruled that if emissions of greenhouse gases can be shown to be hazardous to human health, they could indeed be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act.
TIME magazine reported that “under former President George W. Bush, the EPA largely punted on the question, even burying analysis from its own scientists in the waning months of his administration. When President Barack Obama took office, he directed the new EPA to kick-start the regulation process — nearly 11 months and 380,000 public comments later, the agency is now poised to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.”
Of course, large industry groups and well-known climate change deniers, like big agriculture, coal mining companies and the US Chamber of Commerce are staunchly opposed to this decision, as it has yet to be determined how the impending regulations on this toxic substance will effect the pocketbooks of the biggest emitters.
Even as politicians and lobbyists try to find new ways to stall the proposed Climate Bill and climate deniers have fun blowing the “Climategate” emails out of proportion, this ruling by the EPA gives credibility to those that argue that global climate change is a dangerous threat to people all over the world.
Armed with this finding, Obama is able to demonstrate to the Copenhagen delagates that the United States is in fact serious about regulating its own excessive carbon outputs and would be a major supporter of an international treaty on climate change. Whether the other countries involved will be satisfied with this long-overdue announcement remains to be seen, however.
The news has already had a positive effect on Danish minister Connie Hedegaard, who is presiding over the Copenhagen summit. “Every positive announcement will improve our chances of staying below the 2°C target,” she told TIME, “but we all know only too well, we are not there yet.”
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