Dec 18 (IPS) – This was the year that most people in the U.S. and Canada began to take climate change seriously and express hope that their governments would take action to reduce emissions — but it is unclear if they will take action themselves.
Last month, thousands of people stood outside electronics stores for three, four and more days and nights to be the first to spend 600 dollars for the latest electronic video game console, but how many would spend two hours protesting the inaction of their governments on climate change?
“There is increasing public support for action but I’m not sure there’s a willingness to do anything,” said Eileen Claussen of the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, a U.S. environmental think-tank working with business leaders and policymakers.
Public opinion polls conducted last fall show that Canadian and U.S. citizens are clearly worried about the impact of climate change on their children and grandchildren. And they know their governments aren’t doing much to reduce emissions, the polls show..
The recent film “An Inconvenient Truth” by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, in which he systematically lays out the enormous body of evidence that the world is becoming dangerously warm due to human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, is the third-highest-grossing documentary in the United States ever and has been screened around the world.
But experts caution that simply raising public awareness of the problem is not nearly enough.
“The most important action needed is to establish a national policy to reduce emissions,” Claussen told IPS. “Cities, states, industry and business all agree we need a national policy.”
For example, the U.S. retail giant Wal-mart is both insisting that its 30,000 plus suppliers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and also informing people who shop in their stores about the issue, she said.
“But there won’t be a U.S. national emission reduction policy for at least two years and more likely four,” she added — in other words, long after the George W. Bush administration has left office.
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