Diverse Perspectives on Climate Change Actions

From the Archive—In case you missed's a look back at the October 2013 issue of EM, which included a range of perspectives on what needs to be accomplished in the years ahead to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how.

by Miriam Lev-On and John Kinsman

In a recent op-ed column published in The New York Times, four past U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators made the case for climate action: “… the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.”

As the latest round of climate talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) moves ahead in search of options toward a 2015 global climate agreement, the discussion in the United States centers on state-level climate programs and using federal environmental and energy laws to develop new regulations. UN delegates will discuss options for the architecture of the 2015 agreement, including whether and how market-based approaches such as emissions trading are included, and how to accelerate the deployment of clean fossil and renewable energies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the debate in the United States, for now, is focusing on President Obama's June 2013 Climate Action Plan, which is based on three pillars: cut domestic carbon emissions; prepare the United States for climate change impacts; and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

The United States has led the world on several environmental issues such as when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. The acid rain program pioneered a U.S. marketbased emissions trading system more than two decades ago that serves as a prototype to most—if not all—emission trading systems around the world. The air we breathe is vastly improved and new environmental protection technologies and approaches are widespread.

This issue of EM provides a range of perspectives from regulators, industry, and nongovernmental organizations on what needs to be accomplished in
the years ahead to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how. The topics discussed in these articles are going to be with us for a while as international and national agendas evolve.

Read the full October 2013 issue of EM.