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WRI's Jennifer Morgan Talks Climate on BBC Radio

With the Cancun climate meetings approaching, Jennifer Morgan, WRI's director of climate and energy, contributed an editorial on the BBC World Service radio program One Planet.

The piece focuses on the challenges of Cancun, and whether progress is possible.

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With the Cancun climate talks just around the corner, people are wondering if negotiations can get back on track. 'Why go ahead with the talks?' some are asking.

Well many have been hoping that Cancun can build off the elements of success from Copenhagen, for example the fact that all major economies brought forth emission reduction pledges, something that was just unthinkable two years ago. But negotiations have gotten bogged down and that agreement struck by heads of state now seems to be unravelling under the watch of those same leaders´ negotiators.

What recent developments have brought the world to this seeming cliff? Well in the U.S., climate action has become fraught. The mid-term Congressional elections did nothing to help, as many newly elected Conservatives question the validity of climate change— not to mention what we should do about it.

With the collapse of the climate bill in the Senate, a bill that would have set a binding cap on US emissions of 17% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, federal legislation is off the table for now.

Internationally, the scene is not much better. The U.S. and China, the two biggest emitters, have been bickering for months. And meanwhile, key European countries that have often been leaders in the past are now surprisingly quiet.

So, should we cancel the talks and just let the negotiators go SCUBA diving instead?

Well of course not.

Even if a major breakthrough at Cancun is unlikely, progress is still possible. Negotiators should use this time to focus on the nuts and bolts of an agreement. And they should be resolving how to formalize and strengthen emission reduction pledges by almost all major economies put forward in Copenhagen.

For his part, President Obama should re-commit to the 17% by 2020 target that he promised the world the U.S. would meet.

It’s up to world leaders, negotiators and a demanding public to make sure Cancun moves the world forward on tackling climate change.

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