President Obama’s determination to reduce US power plant emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 sends a message to world leaders that the UN climate talks in Paris could – just – succeed.
Past talks have foundered on a range of political excuses, but now that the world’s two largest polluters, China and the US, have committed to far-reaching changes in their energy production to keep the world below the dangerous threshold of a 2C temperature increase, the door is open for all the rest to follow.
The stumbling block to US action so far has been the refusal of die-hard members of the Republican Party to accept that climate change is happening, and the well-funded fossil fuel lobby’s legal and political campaign to block any legislation.
But Barack Obama’s use of an existing law − the Clean Air Act of 1970 − has allowed him tobypass Republican opposition simply by issuing new regulations.
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In the central Sahel, states are mobilising to combat the impact of climate change as way of reducing conflict. But to respond suitably to growing insecurity, it is important to look beyond a simplistic equation linking global warming and resource scarcity to outbreaks of violence.
Between food losses and critical shortages, COVID-19 and climate change are testing a food system that critics say has lost its resilience to crises.
How might a single threat, even one deemed unlikely, spiral into an evolving global crisis which challenges the foundations of global security, economic stability and democratic governance, all in the matter of a few weeks?
The former lead climate negotiator for the UK and the EU, Peter Betts, welcomes the decision to move COP26 to 2021 and discusses what is needed from the postponed climate summit.