Michael Northrop is Program Director for Sustainable Development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. David Sassoon runs SolveClimate.com, a Web site dedicated to debating and advancing solutions to global warming.
More from Michael Northrop and David Sassoon
Hampered by a slow-moving Congress, the Obama administration is offering only modest greenhouse gas reduction targets at the Copenhagen conference. But limited federal action does not mean the U.S. is standing still: More than half of the 50 states are already taking steps to reduce emissions on their own.
If crucial climate negotiations later this year in Copenhagen are to have any chance of success, the U.S. must take the lead. To do that, President Obama needs to act boldly in the coming months.
The next U.S. president should not wait for Congress to act on climate-change legislation. Instead, he should make use of the Clean Air Act to begin controlling greenhouse gas emissions and to implement a national cap-and-trade program.
With the Bush Administration and Congress failing to act, many states are devising sweeping climate and energy policies that could be a blueprint for a future national climate policy.
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