A day spent in Davos would make you think that we are the verge of policy and political breakthroughs in climate change. And we are. But don't underestimate how tough it will be to get the strongest bill possible out of the U.S. Congress in time for the international climate summit in Copenhagen this November.
Clearly we are off to a better start thanks to President Obama's strong commitment to curbing global warming. Yesterday was punctuated by Obama Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett's keynote address. She focused on the administration's approach to the economic crisis, but she also declared Obama's intention to act on climate change.
I also attended a reception for Al Gore in which he emphasized the urgent need to confront global warming as an international community right now. "We are running out of time," he reminded everyone. "What we most need out of Copenhagen is a clear, shared vision of where the world is going in the future. The assumption that we can continue on this path is the assumption that we are collapsing."
But to get agreement in Copenhagen, we need agreement in Washington first, and that is where the hard work comes in. Everyone here is talking about the US stimulus package, and its green energy investments. That is forward progress. But reaching agreement on a U.S. cap and invest law will be the heaviest lift of the year.
To get it done, we will need the strength of citizen action. We will need people from all walks of life--green-collar workers, clean tech investors, public health professionals, citizens of coal-heavy states, Western water managers, heartland farmers, and wildlife biologists to name just a few--to raise up their voices in favor of a forward-looking climate law.
It will take a tremendous, sweeping, unified effort to save our planet's atmosphere and our health and well being. Join us in getting the job done. Add you voice to the call. Tell your lawmakers that you expect them to pass climate legislation in 2009.