New Political Climate

Over the past few years, political will to tackle the climate problem has grown in many countries around the world. The European Union has committed to reducing its emissions to 20 percent below the 1990 level in 2020—and to reaching 30 percent if other industrial countries join them in a strong international agreement. And the political will for change is building, thanks to the strong base in science and widening public awareness of climate change and its risks. In late 2007, Australians voted out a conservative government in part out of impatience with the Prime Minister's unwillingness to support the Kyoto Protocol; the new Prime Minister promptly secured its ratification. His first trip outside Australia was to a climate negotiation in Bali, and his government has been working to build a national climate plan ever since.15

In the United States, climate policy is raging like a prairie fire at the state level. By late 2008, some 27 states had adopted climate plans, and groups of eastern and western states are developing their own regional emissions cap and trade systems. In April 2008, the governors of 18 states gathered at Yale University to proclaim: "Today, we recommit ourselves to the effort to stop global warming, and we call on congressional leaders and the presidential candidates to work with us— in partnership—to establish a comprehensive national climate policy." And the U.S.

The Perfect Storm business community is responding as well: 27 major corporations, including Alcoa, Dow Chemical, General Motors, and Xerox, have announced their support for caps on national greenhouse gas emissions.16

Developing countries are joining in too. In June 2008, the prime minister of India released the much-anticipated National Action Plan on Climate Change. It focuses on eight areas intended to deliver maximum benefits in terms of domestic climate change mitigation and adaptation: solar energy, energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, green India, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable knowledge for climate change. China announced a new climate plan in 2007, and during the course of 2008 continued to strengthen its energy efficiency programs, including a new incentive system that ties promotion of local officials to their success in saving energy.17 These advances are welcome. But the world needs to change course much faster. To concentrate the attention of policymakers, a mass global movement is needed in support of a new climate treaty that picks up where the Kyoto Protocol leaves off in 2012. It is everyone's planet, after all, and everyone's climate. There are signs that such a public movement is now growing in industrial as well as developing countries, but it is not yet sufficiently strong or pervasive to counter the vested interests that stand on the other side.

One reason is that climate negotiations are numbingly hard to follow. Outside of a hard-working community of government negotiators, nongovernmental organizations, and academics, most people have little sense of what is happening. In a modest effort to help demystify the process, this book eschews terms of art and uses everyday language as much as possible. (See the Climate Change Guide following Chapter 6 for a glossary of terms used in the climate debate.)

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

Always wanted to get a better deal but didn't have the needed negotiation skills? Here are some of the best negotiation theories. The ability to negotiate is a skill which everyone should have. With the ability to negotiate you can take charge of your life, your finances and your destiny. If you feel that others are simply born with the skill to negotiate, you should know that everyone can learn this wonderful skill.

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