U.S. must lead way
SHYAM SARAN: I think this is -- this is an extremely positive announcement, because there is no doubt that, without a very active and I would say even an enthusiastic role by the United States of America, these negotiations will not yield the kind of results that we are looking for. True, we would have hoped that the United States of America would have been more ambitious than what it has indicated.
JUDY WOODRUFF: India is also one of the world's largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, but is a relative newcomer to an industrialized economy. Saran says the country has concerns that a climate agreement could stifle economic development.
SHYAM SARAN: For us, climate change is not just a separate issue. It is intermixed with our -- our developmental, you know, issues itself. So, how we balance, you know, the problem of climate change with the other stresses and strains that the country is going through in this process of social and economic transformation, we would hope that there is some understanding of -- of that challenge that we face.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meantime, a series of studies released today in the British medical journal The Lancet could give another boost to advocates of addressing climate change. The studies found that cutting carbon emissions could save millions of lives, mostly by reducing the number of deaths from heart and lung diseases.
LINDA BIRNBAUM, director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Climate change is not only about economics, and it is not only about the environment. It is about your health.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Linda Birnbaum is director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at NIH, which helped finance the studies.
LINDA BIRNBAUM: If we avoid increases in ozone, we avoid more hospital visits, we avoid more doctors visits, and we actually avoid death.
We know that, for example, that black carbon, which settles out very quickly, and we can have immediate benefit, affects people's health. We know that things like methane, which are produced from a variety of sources, have major impacts on our health and our well-being. And, again, by preventing them, we can prevent cardiovascular disease, we can prevent respiratory disease, we can prevent certain cancers, we can prevent certain obesity.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Despite such reports, a new poll found the percentage of Americans who believe in global warming fell over the past year, from 80 percent to 72 percent. That could make passing a climate bill and reaching a global agreement all the more difficult.