By executive action, the Obama administration can boost the U.S. target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond levels envisioned in legislation working its way through Congress, the head of the UN climate science network has said.
“There is scope for going above what is going to be legislated,” Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told The Associated Press on the eve of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.
Senate and House bills capping carbon dioxide emissions would reduce them by 17 to 20 per cent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. Compared with 1990 levels, the standard UN benchmark, that’s only a 3-4 per cent reduction, experts calculate, a contribution far short of what scientists say is needed among industrial countries to avoid dangerous climate change.
Environmentalists have long urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on its own, without Congress, to rein in carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that greenhouse gases were pollutants under the Clean Air Act, enabling the EPA to take action, but the administration of President George W. Bush opposed using the act to address climate change.