Obama calls for climate deal, U.S. target under fire

December 11, 2009 at 2:45 PM Leave a comment

In a move that could boost Obama’s position when world leaders join the U.N. talks next week, three U.S. senators outlined a compromise climate bill on Thursday that aims to win the votes needed for passage next year.

Accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in neighbouring Norway, Obama warned of dire consequences if the world did nothing to curb rising carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation which scientists say are heating up the atmosphere.

“The world must come together to confront climate change,” Obama said in his acceptance speech. “There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades,” he added.

Obama will propose cuts in U.S. emissions in Copenhagen but has yet to get the backing of Congress. While a climate bill passed narrowly in the House of Representatives in June, the Senate has yet to approve legislation.

In Washington the senators did not offer details of their compromise but said a target to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 was “achievable and reasonable.

The December 7-18 Copenhagen talks are meant to agree on the outlines of a tougher climate pact to expand or replace the existing Kyoto Protocol from 2013. But they have become bogged down over who should curb their emissions, who is most responsible and who should pay.

The talks are expected to deliver agreement on an initial fund of around $10 billion a year until 2012 to help poor nations to fight climate change and make their economies greener. But developing countries believe emissions cuts promised by rich nations, especially the United States, are far too low.

Tiny Tuvalu, a cluster of low-lying Pacific islands, brought part of the talks to a standstill on Thursday. The main plenary sessions were suspended for consultations, although delegates continued holding side-meetings.

RISING SEAS

Tuvalu, which fears being washed off the map by rising seas, insisted the conference must consider its proposal for a legally binding treaty on far deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than the United States and other rich nations are offering,

Tuvalu’s stance exposed rifts between developing nations, many of which would be required to do much more under its proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Nations including India and China spoke out against Tuvalu’s plan.

Most other nations reckon Copenhagen can agree only a political text with legal texts to be worked out next year.

Rich nations’ emissions cuts targets remain a major sticking point in the talks. Poorer nations blame industrialised countries for most of the greenhouse gas pollution in the air and say they must make deep cuts.

The United States has offered a provisional target of 17 percent below 2005 levels — equal to a 3 percent cut from 1990 levels while the European Union has pledged a cut of 20 percent below 1990 levels that could be raised to 30 percent if others also act.

China, Brazil and small island states all say the pledge is far too modest.

The U.N.’s top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, said developed countries would have to deepen planned emission cuts to a range of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels, as outlined by a U.N. climate panel.

“That for me is the goal,” de Boer told Reuters. Offers so far from rich nations total about 14 to 18 percent below 1990 levels.

“Many countries have come here with initial offers for targets indicating there is flexibility in the numbers,” he said. “Whether that is achieved or not depends first of all on a discussion within the group of major developed countries.”

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Entry filed under: Climate Bill, Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, National News, US. Tags: , , , , .

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