After harsh criticism from the European Union and small island states, the United States has reaffirmed its support for a U.N. goal to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
“The U.S. continues to support this goal,” said U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern in a statement. “We have not changed our policy.”
Nearly 200 nations have agreed to work toward keeping temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid drastic and dangerous changes such as more droughts, rising sea levels, and severe floods. Temperatures have already risen by 0.8 degree Celsius.
With concern that Washington was withdrawing its support, the EU Commission, small island states, and groups of environmental activists urged countries around the globe to stick to the target.
After previous failures, Stern mentioned in a statement the value of a more flexible approach to a new U.N. agreement to be adopted in 2015, which could be easily modified to account for new technologies and available resources. He says a flexible approach will provide a chance to come up with an “effective new agreement and meet the goal we all share.”
According to U.N. reports, world CO2 emissions have reached a record high with a 3.1% rise in 2011, and 2000-2010 made the record as the warmest decade since record-keeping began.
To make it worse, many scientists believe the 2 degree target is almost out of our grasp due to excessive burning of fossil fuels.
Between the hottest temperatures on record and unusual weather patterns, it’s crucial that the U.S., one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, stays in the game to reach this goal. Let’s hope our politicians start to understand this isn’t a political issue and is crucial to the future of the planet and humanity.
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