Reducing global warming and building on gains in renewable energy represent a unique opportunity to engage our partners in the Americas.
ANDRES LEIGHTON/AP; WINDMILL: REMIE GEOFFROI; MARK WILSON/GETTY
December. The road from Copenhagen, however, runs
through Latin America—where the next round of negotiations will most likely be held in December 2010 in
Mexico. The U. S. should work with our partners to put
Latin America on track to become an example of what
climate diplomacy can accomplish.
The challenge we face is enormous.
Since 1750, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are
up 38 percent, from 280 to 385 parts carbon dioxide for
every million particles in the atmosphere. Scientists
have drawn a red line at 450 parts per million (ppm)—
which represents a warming of two degrees Celsius—
a target that the G8 leaders embraced this year at their
meeting in L’Aquila, Italy. Anything above that results
in an unacceptable risk of catastrophic climate change.
But unless we take dramatic action now, we are actually headed to 1,000 ppm by century’s end.
Latin America, along with the rest the world, must
embrace clean energy solutions such as solar and wind
electricity and biofuels to move beyond fossil fuels and
create a truly sustainable form of development.
However, the region has an additional opportunity
to contribute to the climate equation by conserving its
forests and jungles—which play a vital role in stabilizing our climate.
What is needed is a U.S.-supported, two-pronged
effort to reduce deforestation and shift to clean energy.
That will give Latin America an opportunity to reduce
emissions substantially and emerge as a leader on the
international climate stage.