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Expert Advisory: Expert Available on Climate Change, World Opinion and Foreign Policy, Heading into COP15

On December 7-18, officials from almost 200 countries will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to work on a global climate change agreement that would begin when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao both support a political agreement at Copenhagen.

Dr. Richard Worthington, professor of politics at Pomona College and U.S. coordinator of World Wide Views on Global Warming, is available for comment on the following:

  • international environmental politics prior to COP15;
  • chances of COP15 producing a far-reaching political agreement;
  • World Wide Views (WWViews), the global discussion of 4000 ordinary citizens in 44 sites in 38 nations on climate change issues and foreign policy;
  • surprising results of WWViews;
  • process of informing national leaders about the results of WWViews; and
  • impact World Wide Views may have on the international discussion;

Worthington will be attending COP15 representing Pomona College, observing as a research, non-governmental organization. He says, “The joint statement between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao that encourages a Copenhagen agreement to include emission reduction targets of developed countries has raised dramatically hopes for COP15 by revealing a degree of commitment to act where many observers had previously feared a stalemate.”

The United States is the only developed country that has yet to announce a carbon target, and the recent joint statement indicated they might endorse that in an international agreement, although President Obama was careful not to step on toes of the U.S. Senate’s often reluctant members.

During World Wide Views meetings, which included an average of 90 people, reflecting their national or regional demographics, participants worldwide received the same balanced expert information on climate change translated in the local language. The day-long deliberations addressed the same questions that will be negotiated at COP15.

“The results were surprising and should prove very informative to world leaders,” says Worthington. “People from diverse backgrounds in the United States and worldwide overwhelmingly wanted faster action, deeper GHG emissions cuts and stronger enforcement than either U.S. climate legislation proposals or Copenhagen treaty conference preparations are currently contemplating.”

Findings showed that 90 percent of U. S. participants said it is urgent to reach a tough, new agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December and not punt to subsequent meetings. Eighty-nine percent said by 2020, emissions should be cut 25-40 percent below 1990 levels. “The Kerry Boxer Senate bill would cut U.S. emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels,” notes Worthington.

Other findings included:

  • Globally 74% (U.S. 69%) said fossil fuel prices should increase in developed countries.
  • Worldwide 66% (in the U.S. 64%, China 73%, India & Brazil 67%) said prices should increase in both developed & fast-growing nations.
  • China's citizens were the least inclined to introduce 2020 targets for fast-growing economies, yet even so, 45% voted for it and 52 percent favored limiting emissions growth.
  • 71 percent of participants want nations that fail to meet their obligations under a new agreement to be penalized severely or significantly.

On November 23, the results of WWViews were presented to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality. Throughout the world other national coordinators of the conference are also presenting the information to their country’s leaders.

“Our project means that voices of people worldwide in this deliberation now are more relevant,” says Worthington.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Dr. Richard “Rick” Worthington is available for in-person or phone interviews (with access to Pomona College’s ISDN phone line) until Dec. 5 when he leaves the U.S. to attend COP15. He can be reached by phone (909) 607-3529 or email Richard.Worthington@pomona.edu. After Dec. 5, use his email address only or contact Cynthia Peters, director of media relations, at (909) 621-8515 or Cynthia.Peters@pomona.edu.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
A detailed report with further analysis of results from the 38 nations was delivered to government policymakers on November 19, 2009. Journalists can e-mail JM@tekno.dk for information. For photos and videos from the participating countries go to http://teknologiraad.surfoffice.eu; login at the bottom of the page with username: WWVpress, password: 269pressDown.