The chairman of the U.S. Senate’s environment committee said on Monday that it is possible that the Congress will pass a bill aimed at slowing global warming before international talks on a deal to limit climate change in Copenhagen in December.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill, said she is pushing for approval of the legislation with specific targets to limit greenhouse gases, adding that the Obama administration “is very strong on this.”
She said congressional approval of the bill is possible before nations meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, in early December to try to agree on a new global climate treaty. But she said if the bill isn’t approved by then it doesn’t mean the U.S. isn’t making progress in tackling global warming.
Boxer and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are co-sponsoring the 800-page Senate bill which calls for a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions beginning in three years, to be tightened annually so that emissions would be 20 percent lower in 2020 than they were in 2005. It would require emissions to be 83 percent lower by 2050.
The House of Representatives narrowly passed a climate-change bill in June which would require the same long-term cuts, but the Senate bill has bigger early targets, something many in U.S. industry oppose.
“I believe we will get this bill out of my committee soon,” Boxer told reporters after meeting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Certainly before Copenhagen, and we’re hoping maybe to even have it on the floor (of the Senate).”
Ban has made a new climate treaty his top priority, calling a summit on climate change on Sept. 22 to spur political support. It was attended by 101 world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.
Many U.N. officials have said they would like to see a U.S. climate change bill passed and signed by the president before Copenhagen.
“I said it is possible,” Boxer replied when asked about the chances.
“I do believe it would be the best thing if we could pass our legislation, and I’m pushing for it. But I would not say that absent that, American is not making progress,” she said. “We’re making huge progress.”
Boxer said targets “are very important” and she believes the inventors and entrepreneurs of the world will come up with new green technologies, “so I think it won’t be that hard to meet these targets.”
Janos Pasztor, director of the secretary-general’s Climate Change Support Team, told a news conference Monday that recently concluded negotiations in Bangkok on the new treaty made “much needed progress” on some issues.
“Developing countries clearly demonstrated they’re moving forward in a spirit of pragmatic cooperation,” he said.
But Pasztor said little progress was made on “core political issues” including agreement on mid-term targets for industrialized countries to reduce emissions, and deciding who will pay for measures that developing countries need to take to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the effects of climate change.
He urged all countries to adapt “a spirit of flexibility” at the final negotiating session in Barcelona, Spain, from Nov. 2-6.