Marching Off the Cliff

From In These Times:

The world wants UN climate talks in Durban to succeed, but U.S. intransigence blocks the way forward.

BY Noam Chomsky
December 6, 2011

A task of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, now under way in Durban, South Africa, is to extend earlier policy decisions that were limited in scope and only partially implemented.

These decisions trace back to the U.N. Convention of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which the U.S. refused to join. The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012. A fairly general pre-conference mood was captured by a New York Times headline: “Urgent Issues but Low Expectations.”

As the delegates meet in Durban, a report on newly updated digests of polls by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes reveals that “publics around the world and in the United States say their government should give global warming a higher priority and strongly support multilateral action to address it.”

Most U.S. citizens agree, though PIPA clarifies that the percentage “has been declining over the last few years, so that American concern is significantly lower than the global average–70 percent as compared to 84 percent.”

“Americans do not perceive that there is a scientific consensus on the need for urgent action on climate change–a large majority think that they will be personally affected by climate change eventually, but only a minority thinks that they are being affected now, contrary to views in most other countries. Americans tend to underestimate the level of concern among other Americans.”

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