Turning up the heat

Turning up the heat

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Ignoring activist's pleas for greater action to slow global warming, leaders went home empty-handed from last year's UN Climate Change Conference.
Ignoring activist's pleas for greater action to slow global warming, leaders went home empty-handed from last year's UN Climate Change Conference.
Photo: EPA
World leaders have met twice in the past year to discuss climate change, but failed to make progress to deal with the problem.

Each of us can make a difference when it comes to protecting the environment and slowing climate change. But we need our leaders to work towards common goals, under one agreement. Even though we're not sitting in the meetings, it is still important to understand the progress of such high-level discussions.

Last year, thousands of people marched outside the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, demanding that leaders make laws to protect the environment. But our leaders failed, and everyone flew home without making any tough decisions.

In August leaders met again in Bonn, Germany. And again, no agreement was reached. Leaders need to create international laws that force countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But, they see such rules as bad for business, as it would raise the cost of manufacturing and transport.

The United States, the second main greenhouse gas emitter behind China, is the only major industrialised nation with no law to cut emissions. And its leaders have all but abandoned plans to put new laws in place this year.

The next meeting will be in Cancun, Mexico in November, but already politicians are warning they are unlikely to produce the agreement that is needed.

Much of the problem is that poor countries say they need help from rich countries to make the changes needed to protect the environment. They want rich companies to help pay for the changes. Rich countries do not want to do this. With the two sides refusing to budge, there's no deal to limit our damage to the environment.

It's discouraging to watch our leaders back away from the tough decisions we pay them to make on our behalf. But it's important we stay interested and keep putting pressure on them to make the right choices.

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