This Sunday, I’ll be marching in the People’s Climate March in New York City with hundreds of thousands of other Americans and people from around the world.
Our message is simple: For the sake of our children and grandchildren, our leaders must take bold action now to curb the carbon pollution that is driving dangerous climate change. We cannot leave the next generations a world turned upside down by climate-changing pollution. Climate disasters are already upon us. Our leaders must act now.
Well over 100 top world leaders will be in New York next week for the United Nations Climate Summit. Sunday’s hundreds of thousands of marchers are just the tip of iceberg of citizens of all nations looking to their leaders for concrete action to start cutting climate pollution dramatically. They are demanding their leaders cooperate over the next year to reach an ambitious international climate pact in Paris in December 2015.
Forging that pact is going to require leaders of the world’s largest economies – who have the most impact on global pollution – to replace the vicious circle of finger-pointing with the virtuous circle of handshakes and cooperation.
Many nations are already starting to act. Many are carrying out domestic clean energy and pollution clean-up programs of unprecedented scale. And many are signaling their willingness to do more.
But each big emitter needs to know that the others are equally in the game. Each one can commit to do more at home if it knows the others are prepared to do likewise.
In the last few years, President Obama has done much to persuade other leaders that the U.S., after years of falling short, is now acting to curb our contribution to the world’s carbon pollution. The President’s Climate Action Plan includes real measures to cut carbon pollution under our nation’s air pollution and energy laws.
Already “in the bank” are the clean air and fuel economy standards set in the President’s first term. By 2025, they will cut new cars’ and trucks’ carbon pollution by half, while doubling their miles per gallon and saving consumers billions of dollars at the pump.
The President has also proposed the Clean Power Plan – clean air standards for the nation’s 1500 fossil-fuel power plants – the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. As proposed in June, these standards will cut that pollution 26 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030. Polls show that 70 percent of Americans support these new standards (including a majority of Republicans). But well-heeled and lavishly funded lobbies for the coal industry and its allies are trying to take them down. We have to raise our voices in order to make those standards stick, and make them stronger. (The time for public input is now, so make sure you click on the “take action” button above and voice your support.)
The President is delivering in other areas as well. EPA is phasing out super-potent, heat-trapping chemicals called HFCs in uses like car air conditioning, where much safer coolants are available. And the administration is promising action this fall to curb the leakage of methane – another highly potent climate pollutant – by the oil and gas industry.
These concrete actions have gone a long way to restore the U.S.’s credibility. So when President Obama speaks to other leaders at the Climate Summit next week, he can say with credibility that the U.S. is acting, and is prepared to do more if the other big emitters step up to the plate.
And we have strong signs that other big emitters are prepared to step up. China, for example, is publicly airing proposals to limit and reduce its total consumption of coal.
The hundreds of thousands marching this Sunday will demand that world leaders strengthen this virtuous circle of climate cooperation.
We’ve no more time for old-school finger-pointing and delay. Climate scientists tell us that we must start cutting carbon pollution now to avoid staggering climate impacts in the years ahead. They will fall heavily on our children and grandchildren, and most heavily on the next generations in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries. No more excuses. Action now. I hope I’ll see you on Sunday, at the march.
(NRDC’s members and supporters will be lining up on Central Park West, between 75th and 77th streets, beginning at 9:30 a.m.; the march kicks off at 11:30.)