UN Foundation President Senator Tim Wirth and Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta argue that participants in the UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico ought to focus on modest, achievable objectives. From HuffPo:
As international climate change negotiators confer in Cancún over the next ten days, a sweeping new global agreement won’t be on the table. The groundwork has not been laid for that. Instead they may start to pivot toward a new strategy of gradualism, and that would be a step in the right direction.
Participants in the UN talks, just as in the U.S. Congress, have shied away from comprehensive action on climate change, and the recent elections have left the Obama administration with little ability to advocate for a bolder approach. And yet national and state governments are steadily showing the way forward — with steps toward a clean energy economy that will cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Embracing such a “building block” strategy — with steps that make sense in their own right and reduce the rate at which the world is pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere — can build confidence in the efficacy and attractiveness of action while increasing the momentum behind a greener energy economy.
For better or worse, this is a game in which the United States is now a laggard, not a leader. Most notably, China is setting the pace on energy efficiency — with a 20 percent improvement over the past five years and a commitment to continue those gains — and on renewable energy, in which it reportedly plans to invest $738 billion over the next 10 years to establish clear global leadership in the field.