Elio Delgado Legon

Barack Obama observing climate change issues. Photo: voanews.com

HAVANA TIMES — Barack Obama has become the first US president to have shown a degree of concern over the present and future effects of climate change and has advanced a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which has promoted numerous reactions at home and abroad.

Internally, several Republican politicians are saying Obama’s plan is impossible to implement and are announcing they will vote against it in Congress. These are the kinds of backward stances that have till now prevented the United States from assuming a responsible position on the matter, as would befit the largest economy in the world and the country that is polluting the atmosphere the most. They have also prevented the United States from signing the Kyoto protocol and from committing to any of the measures proposed at summits on climate change organized by the UN.

Obama will go down in history as the first US president to have attempted to do something regarding carbon dioxide emissions. However, Obama has only 17 months left as president, such that, even if the plan were to be approved, it would need to be implemented by subsequent administrations. In the more than six and a half years since taking office, he has done nothing in connection with the issue. That is to say, he has wasted far too much time, at a time when the impact of climate change is rapidly growing.

On the other hand, the plan proposed by Obama calls for a gradual 32 percent reduction of CO2 emissions until 2030, but with respect to emissions in 2005. Why does it not suggest a reduction with respect to current emissions? The explanation is very simple: in 2005, the economic crisis still hadn’t reared its ugly head and CO2 emissions were 17 percent higher than they are today, as a result of the crisis. That is to say, over the next 15 years, emissions will be reduced by a mere 15 percent with respect to current levels.

Supposing it is approved by Congress and US administrations over the next 14 years can actually implement it, Obama’s plan still comes a little too late. Climate change is no longer something awaiting us in the near future, it is here and, as of now, we will begin to feel its effects more intensely every year.

When the Kyoto Protocol was signed 18 years ago, we still had time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the chief culprits behind climate change. The United States, however, refused to sign it.

Then Cuban President Fidel Castro warned of the dangers facing the human species if we didn’t take timely action. In June of 1992, during the UN Conference on the Environment and Development, he stated: “An important biological species is at risk of disappearing as a result of the rapid and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity.”

At the time, some may have thought the Cuban president was exaggerating and they didn’t heed his warnings, as they should have, for Fidel Castro has never said anything without prior thought. When he speaks of such a critical scenario, it is because he has studied it previously, reading the opinions of numerous scientists from around the world, who have been warning us about the problem for many years.

It’s been more than 20 years since Fidel Castro issued that warning, and nothing has been done to reduce the risks since. The risks have in fact grown and it is now too late to launch the shy greenhouse emission reduction plans now proposed. Either we undertake an ambitious, general and worldwide plan controlled by the UN that is binding, or the generations to come will have the sad experience of seeing how life on the planet comes to an end.


Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

10 thoughts on “Barack Obama and Climate Change

  • OK, time to move on. I continue to assert that Fidel was not the first to speak out on this subject, not even on the floor of the UN Assembly. Quite a few Presidents endorsed the establishment of the IPCC four years before Fidel drones on about it in 1992.

  • Moses, sit down please; I don’t want you falling over with emotion here: I admit I oversold my point on the size of the coral reefs in Cuba, you were right and the Meso American is the largest but the Cuban is the clean one, pristine in fact for lack of pollution and overfishing which was the point of the argument.
    No, you do not pull semantics or interpretive meaning to try to trip me up, one old man to another. You “jumped the gun” when you said my misstatements had been exposed. Nowhere did I limit pollution to the territorial confines of the USA in my initial statement but to the USA, and that’s in fact what it is; no USA money, no chemical plant in Paraguay.
    This was my original statement 6 days ago: “Also, your country may not be territorially the #1 polluter in quantity, but all emissions from the USA Capitalist Ventures around the world, such as Union Carbide of Bhopal fame, plus those emissions from the territorial USA combined top the charts.” It is there to make perfectly clear what I mean when I say the USA is the world’s # 1 polluter, which is correct.

    “Take the lead” can be interpreted in a literal (yours) or a figurative
    manner (mine) quite correctly. Yours assumes that “take the lead”
    means “take away from” as in “The #3 horse took the lead in final
    sprint.”, here a former leader is implied.
    But mine puts no such restrictions on “take the lead” as in “the #3 horse took the lead right away”. Here the meaning is simply to be the first. No other “World Leader” before Fidel stood up in front of the whole UN Assembly and spoke up for the environment, no misstatement here either.
    In Summary: I made one half of a misstatement on the length of Cuban Reef System and give you credit for correcting the size but nothing on the issue of the cleanest condition which is the very point I was making about the lack of pollution in Cuba. Everything else I said has been upheld against your High School debating society twists, turns, maneuvers, strategies, tactics, embellishments and all.
    Have a good day!

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