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government POLICY
The Political Landscape for Action Against Global Warming Heats Up

But Will Action Be Too Little, Too Late?

An alarmed world has come to accept the premise that a lack of action to stabilize and reverse the greenhouse gas emissions will lead to accelerating problems brought on by climate change, with worldwide consequences. From a geopolitical/governmental point of view, the question is what strategies and actions will best start us in the United States and others in the world in a direction of positive movement.

There are a wide variety of technological, economic and governmental interventions that can contribute to a solution—none of them are “silver bullets,” but a combination of actions will have positive effects. Early action will, it is hoped, provide a framework in which we can be relatively assured that we have at least slowed or stabilized the problem. If so, we will have time to develop even more effective solutions as we understand the problem better, recognizing that there still will be conditions created by the degree of climate change already in place that we must understand and adapt.

The United States is the most significant contributor towards the problem, but that its actions alone will not be enough to reverse global trends. In fact, looking at reality, requires approaches that will involve developing countries, especially China and India, lest their course towards stronger economies, based heavily on greater energy use in many sectors, swamps all other efforts toward greenhouse gas control. As discussed below, much more work is needed on international strategies and actions, but it is clear that the United States cannot exert global leadership if it is not taking appropriate actions at home.

With action at the national level as a goal, the search for points of leverage and relevance requires that the U.S. Government be placed in a framework that properly reflects the pressures developing both from outside the country (international scope) and those from within the country (both from governmental and non-governmental bodies.) These forces will have some positive effects on their own, but are particularly important as they develop the momentum for action at the national level. Finally, identifying prospects and leverage points for national action requires a close look at the developing national political scene and at what the desired actions might be. Based on this situational analysis, one can discuss where best to focus limited resources to spur action.

International Politics

While experience to date has shown that wide-spread international consensus about the need for action does not have the power to overcome national obstacles to U.S. actions, it still is important as it forms the basis for identification of a global problem and definition of means for international cooperation towards its solution. As discussed, the