Read more about the youth climate movement at It’s Getting Hot in Here – dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement or an expanded essay at Celsias.
The United States has been the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and the largest obstacle to the creation of a binding international agreement to limit emissions to scientifically based levels. However, this year we might see a change in both of those positions. Various agencies and analysts state that China has become the largest emitter of carbon emissions or will by the end of next year. The United States will be neither the largest emitter or even even in the top 5 largest per-capita emitters. (That dubious honor rests with the people of Australia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, Source ).
Simultaneously, a sea-change is happening in the United States. Three events this weekend are going to bust through the glass ceiling of what is politically possible in the United States. Mass public involvement in Step It Up 2, the Power Shift 2007 national youth summit on global warming solutions, and the 1 Sky campaign by grassroots groups around the country are going to shock political observers who thought they had the issue all mapped out. It is the country’s future leaders, people of faith, people of color, and parents who want to build a prosperous, safe, and sustainable future for their children.
Will the turning point happen at Bali and the world see a United States ready to take on the challenge of global warming as a leader, not an obstacle? The United States is a proud nation and hopes to be exceptional, number one. It will be the biggest obstacle or the biggest leader…but chafes at anything in-between. The UN climate conference in Bali is shaping up to be the most consequential climate conference since the creation of the Kyoto Protocol. Youth leaders, like the US youth delegation to Bali, and the organizers of Step It Up are coming to show that the next generation of Americans get it and are acting now, already, in their campuses, their cities, and their states.
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