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Climate Action Starts Now

OneWorld US, News Feature, Jeffrey Allen Posted: Sep 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Well, for many, the action has already started. But a powerful new movie and a one-day UN summit next week promise to launch a frenzy of activity leading up to December's much anticipated global conference on climate change.

What's the Story?

Island countries have begun to prepare for increasingly likely nightmare scenarios, climate-induced hunger is growing, and intense storms, droughts, floods and fires have killed countless innocent people and caused immeasurable damage worldwide. Scientists say our best hope of avoiding runaway climate change scenarios is to keep the temperature rise below 2C (from pre-industrial levels). And temperatures are already up about 0.8C, with further increases guaranteed. That's the bad news.

But regular people across the planet are increasingly doing what they can to shrink their carbon footprints, and many corporations large and small are taking action too.

Yet most agree that only coordinated action among the governments of the world can protect the future of millions of people worldwide. (Click here to see why Norwegians are the least vulnerable to climate change and Somalis and Haitians are the most vulnerable.)

Activists and analysts alike have long been pointing to December 2009 as the moment when governments will -- or won't -- negotiate a strong agreement in Copenhagen to cut future emissions and help vulnerable countries adapt to inevitable consequences.

There's been a great deal of talk in recent weeks about what the Copenhagen outcomes might be, but little direct information so far about what tack the key countries will take. Many believe the coming weeks will be crucial in determining the direction of the discussions and, by extension, the strength of the agreement forged.

The Age of Stupid?

A new film about the expected consequences of climate change is premiering worldwide on Monday (in the United States) and Tuesday (in 62 other countries), and it may have the power to impact the course of negotiations.

The Guardian newspaper called The Age of Stupid "the first successful dramatization of climate change to reach the big screen," and the U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, said: "The Age of Stupid [is] an incredibly powerful account of the effects of climate change, the urgency of climate change, and the reasons we must act as quickly as possible."

The activities from Monday's New York City green carpet event -- including an address by Kofi Annan, live music from Radiohead's Thom Yorke, satellite hook-ups with scientists working in Indonesia and the Himalayas, and the arrival of VIPs by bike, rickshaw, electric car, and sail boat -- will be simulcast live to over 400 theaters across the country. The subsequent film screening might break world records for the largest simultaneous screening in history. And due to the film's unique distribution plan, it may be the only night to see the film in theaters.

Initial indications of how the United States and other key countries may act in Copenhagen are expected next Tuesday -- the day after the major U.S. premiere of The Age of Stupid as Barack Obama and other world leaders meet for a one-day preliminary climate summit at the United Nations.

But what happens behind closed doors between that day and December 18 -- when the Copenhagen summit wraps up -- could well mean the difference between life and death for millions of people worldwide.

Jeffrey Allen is the managing editor of the non-profit, OneWorld US.

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