Buoyed by his talks with India and China on climate change, President Barack Obama will attend crucial negotiations in Copenhagen where he will promise sizable reductions in US carbon emissions, giving new hope for a global deal on reducing greenhouse gases.
The United States will reduce its emissions “in the range of” 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 per cent by 2050, Obama administration officials said, giving the world the clearest blueprint yet of US strategies to cut back heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Other countries were awaiting action by the US, one of the world’s largest carbon emitter, before taking steps of their own.
White House officials said that the decisions stemmed in part from recent discussions between Mr. Obama and the leaders of India and China, two developing nations whose participation is seen as crucial to any successful negotiation.
Those discussions left the president optimistic that his presence in Copenhagen could seal a meaningful -- though not legally binding -- climate deal, meeting the standard that Obama previously set for his attendance at the summit, the Los Angles Times quoted Administration officials as saying.
“Both President Obama and I have agreed on the need for a substantive and comprehensive outcome, which would cover mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in Washington after talks with the US President on Nov 24.
On his part, Mr. Obama said that it’s essential that all countries do what is necessary to reach a strong operational agreement that will confront the threat of climate change while serving as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty.
“We’ve made progress in confronting climate change. I commended the prime minister for India’s leadership in areas like green buildings and energy efficiency,” Mr. Obama had said.
Mr. Obama will address negotiators December 9, shortly after the opening of the two-week summit, on his way to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in nearby Oslo.
The 17 per cent reduction range is in line with a climate bill that passed the House in June and is pending in the Senate.
But it is still well below what many scientists, along with political leaders in Europe and developing countries, say is needed from the United States to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change worldwide.
Carol Browner, Obama’s assistant for energy and climate, said that the administration hoped that the announcements would lead other nations “to put forth ambitious actions of their own.”
Browner and half a dozen other Cabinet-level officials, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, also will attend the talks, the White House said yesterday.
The Copenhagen meeting originally was intended to produce a new climate deal to succeed the landmark Kyoto Protocol, which is in force until 2012.