Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human existence as we know it. The science behind climate change and global warming is well developed. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has done a remarkable job of assimilating a massive body of research on climate change into concise reports for policymakers.
The United States has historically been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide from the consumption of fossil fuels. Furthermore, American politicians' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol has been one of the biggest obstacles to stemming world-wide carbon dioxide emissions. It's time to send a message to our members of Congress that we support drastically reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, and we want to make this a national priority.
We also recognize the inherent international nature of climate change, and the importance of developing nations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, we also ask that US lawmakers push for initiatives to assist developing countries to reduce their CO2 emissions while promoting economic development.
We believe it is time for the United States to use its position as a world power and leader to change the world’s direction in climate change through these concrete goals:
1. Enact a concrete plan for the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to environmentally sustainable levels, which we define as the amount that can be sequestered by the Earth naturally every year. A reasonable estimate is to reduce global emissions to the levels of the mid-1980’s: approximately 19,000 million metric tons per year. Given that current emissions are nearly 30,000 million metric tons per year, the United States should set a goal to cut its emissions by at least 33% within the next 25 years.
2. Initiate a conference to produce a new international treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol as it expires. This treaty should have a similar goal as listed above, to reduce worldwide CO2 emissions to naturally sustainable levels.
3. Promote concessions and aid to developing countries to assist them in lowering their CO2 emissions while maintaining economic development. We recommend that this be done through the United Nations, with US leadership.