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The Climate Threat We Can Beat

What It Is and How to Deal With It

The remnants of a roller coaster sits in the surf three days after Hurricane Sandy came ashore in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, November 1, 2012. Steve Nesius / Retuers

For more than two decades, diplomats have struggled to slow global warming. They have negotiated two major treaties to achieve that goal, the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. And last year, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, they agreed to start talking about yet another treaty. A small group of countries, including Japan and the members of the European Union, now regulate their emissions in accord with the existing agreements. But most states, including the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States, have failed to make much progress. As a result, total emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading long-term cause of global warming, have risen by more than 50 percent since the 1980s and are poised to rise by more than 30 percent in the next two to three decades. 

The ever-increasing quantity of emissions could render moot the aim

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