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The Center In China: Tianjin Climate Change Conference

Center attorneys are in Tianjin, China, this week as world leaders gather to address the global climate crisis. The talks in China will set the stage for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Cancún later this year. The Center will be there, too, pushing for a binding international agreement on science-based emission reduction targets.

The Center and 350.org also released a new report this week discussing the importance of reducing the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions to 350 parts per million — and how world leaders can make that happen. We published an op-ed with the same focus in the Bay-Citizen.

The Tianjin talks open against a troubling backdrop. This year is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record, and global warming’s impacts are amassing:

  • In Russia, heat and drought destroyed a fifth of the nation's wheat crop; fires raged, sometimes consuming entire villages; and hundreds of people drowned trying to find respite from the oppressive heat in lakes and rivers. Drought in Canada is similarly projected to reduce the wheat crop by 20 percent.
  • In early August, Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century — a 100-square-mile floating ice island. Scientists predict that the entire ice mass of Greenland could disappear if temperatures rise by just 2º C. The result: eventual global sea-level rise of as much as 23 feet, which would inundate low-lying cities like New Orleans.
  • Pakistan marked a sad new benchmark in climate-related disasters with flooding that affected an area about the size of England, killed about 1,600 people and displaced 15 million to 20 million people.
  • China, where this week’s historic talks take place, endured flooding and mudslides that killed 1,200 people.

But there’s still hope. Millions of people around the world are working harder than ever for strong, immediate action to curb global warming. The Appalachia Rising gathering brought thousands of people to Washington, DC, to protest mountaintop-removal coal mining, where more than 100 were arrested in civil disobedience. Australian activists recently closed down the world's largest coal port. And on Oct. 10, 2010, the planet is getting to work on climate change with more than 2,800 events in 150 countries (and counting), organized by the Center’s allies at 350.org.

The Center will be busy in China, releasing the report with 350.org, organizing a side event with Chinese allies and pushing our world leaders to act quickly and boldly. Check back on this page for new information and click here for video updates.

Photo of Cadillac Ranch © Jeanne Miller, courtesy of 350.org