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Editorial: Summit shows depth of climate change challenge

It’s a global NIMBY moment.

While many nations agree there’s an urgent need to address climate change, not all are willing to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Pledges made last week at the United Nations Climate Summit likely won’t do much. Because they are just that – non-binding pledges.

President Obama called on other countries to join the United States in reducing carbon emissions. He said no country should get a pass. But then the United States decided not to join 73 countries in supporting a price on carbon.

The world leader in CO2 emissions, China – to which the U.S. is in debt to the tune of more than a trillion dollars – says it should be considered a developing nation and shouldn’t be regulated as tightly as highly developed nations.

Brazil declined to sign a pledge to halt deforestation of the Amazon.

According to the Global Carbon Project, in 2013, China was responsible for 28 percent of global CO2 emissions, followed by the U.S. at 14 percent, the European Union’s 28-member states at 10 percent and India at 7 percent.

Meanwhile, overall emissions increased by 2.3 percent for the world, the highest in human history, the project says. A similar increase is predicted this year, giving urgency to the need for nations to commit to slowing CO2 emissions and deforestation.

The issue is gaining worldwide traction as a cause. And just prior to the U.N. summit, hundreds of thousands of people marched for action.

But the reluctance shown at the latest Climate Summit to actually do anything demonstrates the difficulties that lie ahead.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.