On an icy day in January, a new President in the United States took the oath of office with soaring words of hope, idealism and courage. At a time of the worst global recession in living memory and a multitude of challenges, he did not shrink from reality but embraced the capacity to change it. Those who heard him were lifted.
Speaking to the millions in America, but heard by billions around the world, President Barack Obama said:
“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”
Obama spoke of America, but he could have been speaking of the world. We are everywhere in need of renewal and hope. None more so than on the climate challenge where we need fresh vision and a politics that looks forwards not backwards. The stakes are so high that anything less than an audacious, global effort to reconcile our differences and make peace with the planet will fail humanity. We will not regret it in our parochial nationalisms as Indians or Americans, but as humans – as a species that failed itself, and condemned the rest.
This is why 2009 matters and why this year’s UN Conference on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen in December must not fail.