After years of denial, delay, distraction and distortion, climate change is changing the political climate. Australia’s John Howard recently became the first national leader voted out of office in large measure because of his failure to respond to citizens’ concerns about global warming. Newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made global warming his first priority in office. Australia’s awakening is not an isolated example. Eighty-three percent of Chinese support action on climate change. Between 2006 and 2010 China plans to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent. The dialogue in the United States is also shifting, albeit too slowly. Fifty-nine percent of Americans now endorse taking major steps soon to combat global warming, and 33 percent more think we need modest steps. Unfortunately this 92 percent of the American public is still looking to President Bush for action on this key issue.
Just last week representatives of more than 180 nations met in Bali to chart a course toward a new global agreement to control climate change that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Together – in spite of American obstruction – they produced a roadmap for the new climate negotiations that set a target date of 2009 for the next treaty. How do we avoid the missteps that plagued the Kyoto Treaty? How do we create a framework that includes industrialized nations as well as the developing world? Sen. Kerry – who attended the Bali conference and lead the U.S. Senate delegation – will lay out a strategy to follow the Bali roadmap and expand the existing emissions trading market, promote an efficient and effective technology development and implementation program, launch an aggressive effort to protect the world’s remaining forests, and embrace technology transfer. This will require innovative financing and investment – and, if properly implemented, will create major new opportunities for American industry to create the jobs of the future.