United Nations Climate Conference that started today in Cancun begins with only hopes for minor changes.
One of the big issues remaining from Copenhagen is a replacement for the Kyoto Protocal a thirteen year old document that the United States never signed. The agreement expires in 2012 and there is little expectation that a new one will emerge in Cancun.
This New York Times article summarizes the major issues faced by delegates from the 190 nations represented at the talks. Chief among these are problems between the world's two largest emitters China and the U.S., the pace of slowing emissions, and how countries will be held accountable for goals that are established. The world economy and finding the money to support developing countries in their efforts to cut emissions are also issues that will be difficult to overcome.
Coincidentally today, Energy Secretary Hu made an address where he cited the work of China and other industrialized nations to develop clean energy sources as a "Sputnik Moment" for our country. In case you are not old enough to remember the first "Sputnik Moment", it occurred when the Soviet Union beat us into space. That event launched a national effort that changed public schools and resulted in our country surpassing the Soviet Union in the space race.
I agree with him on the need for our country to wake up and enter with commitment this new race to create and lead the world in identifying new, cleaner, and sustainable energy sources. Failing to do so will impact our future and that of future generations as the winners will be positioned for economic success. Somehow I don't see President Obama and the recently elected House and Senate as having the capacity to make this a priority issue let alone reaching agreement on how to accomplish the need to reduce emissions and to enter this new race by unleashing our creative capacity with government support as do the Chinese and other leading nations.