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For Immediate Release, November 29, 2010

Contact: Kassie Siegel,, (951) 768-8301 (U.S. cell in Cancún)

As Climate Talks Open in Cancún, World Leaders Must Seek Steep Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Pollution

CANCÚN, Mexico— World leaders begin meeting today in Cancún, Mexico, to address the global climate crisis against an ominous, but still hopeful, backdrop. This year will likely be the hottest on record. The rapid warming of the Arctic threatens the polar bear with extinction and the rest of the world with sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet; the global climate crisis puts many of the world’s other plants and animals at risk as well, including corals, birds, amphibians and mammals.

“The United States needs to join the world in seeking a path to set the planet back on course toward a healthier, sustainable climate,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute and one of several Center staffers in Cancún for the climate talks. “It’s time for the United States to heed the warning from scientists who say global greenhouse gas pollution must peak within the next five years — and decline steeply after that — if the world is to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

The United States has already taken some significant steps, including the use of the Clean Air Act, one of the country’s most successful environmental laws, to curb carbon pollution. Still, much more needs to be done both domestically and abroad. First and foremost, world leaders must agree to commit to reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to 350 parts per million or less — the level scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effect of climate change. (Current CO2 concentrations are around 387 ppm.)

“Tens of thousands of people from across the globe are gathering in Cancún to demand action so the world can avert a climate disaster. Solutions are within our reach, and there’s still time for President Obama’s government to contribute to an agreement that will preserve a livable planet,” Siegel said. “We call on the Obama administration to join in a binding, science-based agreement among countries around the world that will immediately begin addressing this unprecedented global crisis.”

For more information, visit the Center’s website about the Cancún climate talks.

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