President Obama goes to the Copenhagen conference on climate change this month in a weak position, unable to point to any significant U.S. plan for cutting carbon emissions. Though the U.S. has the highest per capita emissions in the world, it has yet to commit itself to cutting the volume of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming. The issue remains on the political back burner.
Last summer the House of Representatives passed a bill that aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 83 percent by 2050. But the Senate has not addressed its version of the bill, and many experts believe that the U.S. and other industrial nations will have to act faster than either bill envisions if they want to stop the globe from overheating. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, sponsored by the United Nations, calls on nations like the U.S. to cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.