You’ve probably already been bombarded with news about the climate talks in Copenhagen this week and next. The hustle of the news cycle should not diminish the gathering’s importance, though.

This international meeting is an opportunity to take great international strides against global warming. Indeed, we have our own team of people in Copenhagen to support that cause, with our more specific goals being:

  • Ensuring that developed countries, including the US., increase their commitments for greenhouse gas reductions, and that developing countries put concrete, meaningful actions on the table. This includes, where possible, stronger commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, but also new initiatives to deal with non-CO2 greenhouse pollutants, including methane and black carbon.
  • Making significant progress toward a final deal on international climate financing that will include substantial commitments from developed countries, and immediately agree to a “prompt start” package for emissions reduction and adaptation to climate impacts in developing countries.
  • Ensuring that there is real transparency and verification for all developed country commitments and developing country actions.

And adding a great push to our efforts in Copenhagen is the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this week: that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases constitute a danger to public health and welfare and are subject to common sense regulation under the Clean Air Act.

This is a historic and significant announcement that will bring much needed regulation to the major carbon-intensive industries such as coal.

This endangerment decision, ordered by the Supreme Court in April 2007 and based upon years of scientific research and analysis, will speed the shift toward the clean energy economy.

And do not listen to the naysayers of the Clean Air Act, claiming that this ruling means small businesses, churches, schools and hospitals are subject to regulation from the proposed Big Polluters rule now. EPA has addressed that already — only those who emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon annually are subject to that proposed rule.

My focus is on the huge coal industry in the U.S., they need to clean up their dated power plants and stop blocking progress. And in looking at Copenhagen, the need to move beyond coal stretches well beyond our borders. Numerous countries rely on coal power and we must all take steps away from this dirty energy source if we are to be serious about fighting global warming.