At UN Climate Change Conference, US And China Promise Carbon Emission Reductions

United Nations Climate Conference

Hu Jintao addressing the UN during Tuesday's Climate ConferenceDoug Mills, via The New York Times

Today, heads of state from around the globe met at the United Nations to face a problem that affects all of their constituencies: climate change. In a day-long conference on global warming, President Obama lamented that the United States was slow to recognize and respond to the problem of global warming, and vowed to move swiftly to counter it. President Hu Jintao of China echoed those statements, listing a four-point plan to combat carbon emissions.

Together, China and the US account for 40 percent of carbon emissions, far more than any other single countries. However, that doesn't mean other industrialized nations didn't contribute. Japan, which produces four percent of carbon emissions, promised money and technical support to poorer nations looking to reduce emissions, but which lack the know-how and economic ability to do so. India, also a major carbon emitting nation, vowed to slash emissions as well.

Today's conference was not a referendum on UN action, but rather a moment to get all the heads of state on the same page before the December meeting in Copenhagen. At that meeting, representatives will attempt to hammer out a new treaty largely seen as the successor to the Kyoto treaty.

So far, the concord needed for success in Copenhagen seems present amongst the different delegations. Both President Obama and President Hu called climate change a threat to our survival, and noted that only rapid, decisive action could staunch the rising temperature. However, whether or not that agreement will continue through the assuredly contentious negotiations in December remains to be seen.