The United States has historically contributed more to climate change than any other nation, and over the past eight years it’s done the least to curb the dangerous trends toward global warming. In fact, the Bush Administration has actively tried to block progress on a global climate deal.

This new video by 350.org sets the stage:
(350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide–measured in “Parts Per Million” in our atmosphere. It’s the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change and it thus stands for “a kind of safety, a kind of possibility, a kind of future.”)

As the video explains, whoever takes office as US President next year has a lot of work to get the US back in the game — and the president’s very first test on climate change will come even before either Obama or McCain takes office. That test will be the next UN Climate meeting coming up in December in Poznan, Poland.

Taking place annually, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was started over a decade ago when most countries in the world joined an international treaty — the UNFCCC — to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. More recently, a number of nations — but not the United States — approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful (and legally binding) measures.

For seven years now the US delegation at the UNFCCC meetings has been an obstructionist force stalling and blocking progress while most of the rest of the world has attempted to tackle the climate crisis. If the next US President took the initiative to re-engage with the international community on this most pressing issue, it could unleash a new wave of energy and dramatically alter the course of the negotiations.

As Mark Hertsgaard wrote last summer in The Nation, “in contrast to Bush, both McCain and Obama have long said that climate change is a top-priority threat that requires real action now.” So there’s hope. But the President-elect nonetheless needs to be pushed to attend. That’s where the new campaign from 350.org comes in. It’s crucial that citizens from around the globe put pressure on Obama and McCain to ensure they attend the meeting, and play their part in getting the US to be a leader on global warming. Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, has requested the attendance of the next US President or Vice President. Let’s make sure that the President-elect — looking increasingly, knock-on-wood, like it’ll be Obama — accepts the invitation.

At the final Presidential debate tonight in Hempstead, NY, May Boeve reports on the 350 blog that supporters of the campaign will gather outside the debate hall, dressed as pilots and flight attendants, carrying a giant ticket to Poland for the next US President. Please join more than 21,000 other concerned citizens and send your personal invitation to Poland to McCain and Obama today.