Al Gore:

… we should demand that the United States join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth.

We should aim to complete this global treaty by the end of 2009 — and not wait until 2012 as currently planned.

A new treaty will still have differentiated commitments, of course; countries will be asked to meet different requirements based upon their historical share or contribution to the problem and their relative ability to carry the burden of change. This precedent is well established in international law, and there is no other way to do it.

There are some who will try to pervert this precedent and use xenophobia or nativist arguments to say that every country should be held to the same standard. But should countries with one-fifth our gross domestic product — countries that contributed almost nothing in the past to the creation of this crisis — really carry the same load as the United States? Are we so scared of this challenge that we cannot lead?