As I write this letter, the climate negotiations in Copenhagen have come to a close. The resulting Copenhagen Accord—produced after excruciating round-the-clock negotiations—is an important step on the road to an international agreement. Its emissions reductions are clearly inadequate and important details have yet to be completed. But never before have both developed and developing countries made such clear and tangible commitments to addressing climate change.
WRI’s climate team was heavily engaged “on the ground” throughout COP-15, on issues ranging from avoided deforestation and adaptation to the arcane details of accounting and verification. Many of the final documents—including the Copenhagen Accord—reflect WRI’s work and expertise.
But our work is far from over; in fact, the most difficult work is likely ahead. No generation before ours fully understood the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. No generation after ours will have a better opportunity to chart a course that avoids a global environmental catastrophe. We have the opportunity and the capacity to act, both through strong U.S. legislation and an international agreement. But the window of opportunity—environmentally, economically, and politically—is closing fast. We are the generation faced with this task, and we must respond.
But we need your support to respond with the urgency demanded by this challenge.
- WRI has become the go-to resource on international climate data, especially as it relates to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
- We are helping design the tools that will be used to verify country-level reduction commitments—something developed nations insist must be part of a deal.
- Our climate team is playing a major role in creating the finance mechanisms that will help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change—a critical component of an agreement for most developing nations.
- WRI has also been an influential voice in ensuring that climate policies address emissions from deforestation in a way that is measurable and permanent, without sacrificing the livelihoods of indigenous communities that depend on forest resources.
But no international agreement will be complete or effective without a U.S. commitment that is backed by domestic legislation. And once we have legislation, a global agreement will assure others act as well. With your generous support, we are continuing to engage legislators in Congress to help them better understand international climate change efforts—including the vital role of China and other major developing countries—and the implications for U.S. policy.
We have come far in the past twenty-five years. Today we stand on the verge of a de-carbonized world that can have both economic vitality and environmental health. We have the tools and the technologies. What we need is the will. The choices we make today will determine what urgent issues like climate change will mean for people and nature tomorrow.
Together, we can protect the environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. Thank you for your support.