Position Statement – 2015
Mitigate Climate Change and Support International Clean Energy Cooperation
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) urges President Obama and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to implement enhanced national efforts, and support international efforts, to mitigate climate change and decrease global greenhouse gas emissions. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the average global temperature must not rise more than about 3.6°F (2°C) above the pre-industrial average. Without additional mitigation measures beyond those in place today, warming will more likely than not exceed 4°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The risks associated with a 4°C rise include substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases.
WBASNY’s 2013 Position Statement on Actions to Mitigate Climate Change and Eliminate Pollution from Energy Sources sought meaningful action at the New York State level. WBASNY is now urging our national officials to act as leaders on this issue.
WBASNY has a special interest in this issue because women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, which include drought, floods, extreme weather events and reduced food and water security. The poor are the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change, and 70% of the world’s poor are women. One of the purposes of the recent 65th Annual Conference organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information and non-governmental organizations (including WBASNY) was to seek ways to move climate justice into the mainstream discourse.
The United States must be a leader in the months leading up to and at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris at the end of this year. The United States and China together account for over one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The November 2014 joint announcement by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China of their respective new greenhouse gas emission targets and development of clean energy sources is a move in the right direction. The January 2015 announcement by the United States and India about their climate and clean energy cooperation, with India announcing a greatly increased goal for solar installations over the next seven years, is also a positive move.
In advance of the Paris conference, countries are submitting their own national goals and plans for greenhouse gas reductions. The European Union member states have submitted their goals and plans, and the United States and China will submit theirs consistent with their 2014 joint announcement. But even if China, the United States, and the European Union fully implement their plans, these efforts will be insufficient to limit the rise to below 2°C, with the global temperature rise projected at about 3°C by 2100.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted by global leaders at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, espouses “Women and the Environment” as one of twelve focal points critical to the advancement of women. 2015 marks the twentieth year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and a renewed commitment by governments to concretely incorporate the perspectives of women and girls into their national strategies on the environment and sustainable development. At this juncture, the United States shares the immense opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate its renewed commitment in this regard.
WBASNY urges our national leaders to seek and implement solutions that will enable the United States to meet and exceed its reduction goals on an accelerated basis. WBASNY also urges President Obama to build on his successes with China and India by continuing to seek bilateral agreements with other countries that are large sources of emissions. This issue is urgent, and there is no time to waste.