As President Obama flies to Paris for the latest international negotiation on climate change, diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic appear confused about what his position will be. Will he champion legally binding commitments by all nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? Or will he agree only to deal with no legal force?
History's chroniclers will conclude that nation that held itself up as humanity's greatest hope turned out to be humanity's greatest disappointment. The United States Congress succumbed to greed -- the greed of politicians for power and the greed of energy barons to profit as much and as long as possible before the era of fossil fuels came to its inevitable end.
If the U.S. team negotiating an international climate treaty is looking for guidance, it needn't look far. Over the years, scores of organizations ranging from oil companies to green groups and think tanks have offered their ideas on the principles that should guide an international climate agreement.
Ideally, the world's collective response to global warming would be as rapid and muscular as the threat of growing climate disruption requires. With each year that passes without such a response, we are learning the hard way that what we once considered an ideal international response is now merely pragmatic.
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