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Last Chance To Avert Climate Change


Todd Stern speaks in Doha, Qatar, on the UN climate conference after the announcement for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol Agreement to journalists.

Global climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and a top priority of the Administration of President Barack Obama.

Global climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and a top priority of the Administration of President Barack Obama.

The President’s top climate negotiator, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, spoke to the complexities of tackling the herculean issue of climate change in remarks delivered at the annual World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in mid January.

Among other multilateral means of addressing the climate problem, Mr. Stern highlighted the need to implement the Durban Platform, an agreement negotiated in November 2011 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC; wherein countries resolved to establish an international agreement to address global warming by 2015. This new agreement is to take effect in 2020.

Special Envoy Stern’s speech also noted the importance of putting climate change in its proper context: “We won’t get where we need to go if countries see climate change as an afterthought,” he said, and emphasized that the world must move beyond the outdated, bifurcated mindset established in 1992 during the formation of the UNFCCC.

“Developing countries now account for about 55 percent of greenhouse gas emission and are projected to account for some 65 percent by 2030. We simply cannot address climate change on the theory that all commitments must come from developed countries,” he explained.

Recognizing that different countries may favor different approaches to the problem, Mr. Stern acknowledged the need for a flexible approach, and encouraged his counterparts to engage in creative thinking that fosters an innovative, “race to the top” dynamic.

“The Durban Platform negotiation may be the last best chance for the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] to create a regime that can alter the course of climate change,” said Mr. Stern. “Let us be guided at every step and in every decision by our shared commitment to conquer this challenge, to serve our respective nations and all nations, and to make our children proud.”
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