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WWF Statement on Needed U.S. Leadership at the UN Climate Conference in Doha

Today, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Keya Chatterjee, Director of International Climate Policy, on the need for United States leadership during the final days of negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18) in Doha, Qatar.

“For President Obama, climate change is going to be a legacy issue in his second term in office. The 2015 global climate agreement being hashed out in Doha will happen on his watch.

“The Doha climate talks follow a record setting year of weather-related impacts in the US, including Superstorm Sandy, droughts, and massive loss of Arctic Sea ice. This is the perfect opportunity for the president to reset the US’ approach to the international climate change negotiations – and a change in tone doesn’t need Congressional approval.

“While US emissions have decreased – both as a result of the Administration's policies on renewable energy and vehicle fuel economy standards and because of sharply lower natural gas prices that have reduced coal use – it still is unlikely that without additional regulation or legislation that the US will meet its modest 2020 emissions reduction target.

“A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that 2/3 of known fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground if we are to tackle climate change. The same report noted that the US could become the world’s largest oil exporter if it chose to go that route. President Obama needs to lead us on a different path, a path where the US uses and exports renewable energy rather than relying on fuels of the past.

“President Obama’s leadership on climate change will determine whether the US is able to exceed the target the president himself articulated in 2009 in Copenhagen, and it will also determine the success of efforts to craft a 2015 agreement on climate change. This week in Doha would be a great place for the US to show that leadership.

“We have started a race to a 2015 agreement on climate change, and the US is slowing it down. That has to change in the next few days as the negotiations come to a close.”

WWF’s asks for President Obama on climate change:

  • Bring the Country Together Around a Common Plan: Convene a high level summit within the first 100 days to bring together city leaders, businesses, civil society, Republicans and Democrats to build support for a clear U.S. plan to prepare for climate change.
  • Use Presidential Power to Take Action Now: Elevate climate change to a top tier issue within the administration and proactively use this pulpit and existing authority, including regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.
  • Show International Leadership: Constructively negotiate for a climate change treaty by 2015, and announce and increase funding for a renewed Global Climate Change Initiative so the U.S. supports the global effort to prepare for climate change.
  • Advance New Solutions in Congress: Ensure that responding to climate change is a guiding force in upcoming budget negotiations (by removing fossil fuel subsidies and pricing carbon pollution while protecting clean energy incentives and international foreign assistance) and champion new legislation to sharply increase U.S. clean energy.