Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama Buoys Hopes for a Climate Change Deal

President Obama will attend COP15 in Copenhagen where he will promise the most ambitious targets America has ever proposed to reduce climate change causing greenhouse gases.

The White House has announced 17 percent emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2020, 30 percent by 2025, 42 percent five years later and 83 percent by 2050.

The lack of progress at final negotiations in Barcelona, lowered expectations for COP15, however the White House's announcements have buoyed hopes for a deal in Copenhagen.

The proposed 17 percent US emissions reductions by 2020 is consistent with a climate bill that passed in the House in June and is pending in the Senate. However, it is far below what many climate scientists and political leaders agree is needed from the US to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Developing nations have also indicated their willingness to engage domestic targets. As prime minister Manmohan Singh said in Washington after talks with the President on November 24, "Both President Obama and I have agreed on the need for a substantive and comprehensive outcome, which would cover mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology."

In fact, White House officials said that the President's discussions with the leaders of India and China inspired the US announcements. The President is reportedly optimistic that his presence in Copenhagen could seal a meaningful deal even if it is not legally binding.

Reciprocal cycles of pressure are being exerted on the US and the developing world to get into line with efforts underway in Europe and Japan. The White House's announcement returns the onus to a world that was waiting for US action on climate change before taking steps of their own. Carol Browner, Obama's assistant for energy and climate, said the administration hopes the announcements will lead other nations "to put forth ambitious actions of their own."

Obama will address negotiators December 9, shortly after the opening of the two-week summit. half a dozen other Cabinet-level officials, including interior secretary Ken Salazar and energy secretary Steven Chu, also will attend the talks. Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief, called Obama's attendance and US reduction targets "critical" to the talks. "The stakes are too high for any country to be focusing on national agendas... There is no Plan B for failure at Copenhagen only Plan A, and A stands for action," De Boer said at a press conference,

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), the main author of the climate bill the House passed in June, welcomed the White House announcements, saying, "U.S.leadership has been the missing piece in international efforts to stop global warming. Now the rest of the pieces will start falling into place internationally and in Congress."

India and China are showing signs of cooperation ahead of Copenhagen, but President Obama's announcements breathe new life into hopes for a global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

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1 comment:

Kirthi said...

Go Obama! You have a wonderful blog that supports an important cause. :)