Thursday, December 17, 2009

US is dragging its feet in Copenhagen

Environmentalists and poorer nations say richer countries should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent or more by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, to avoid serious climate damage. The EU has pledged 20 percent, and possibly 30 percent. The U.S. has offered only a 3 percent to 4 percent cut.

Much of the uncertainty in the Copenhagen talks stems from how slowly the first U.S. legislation to cap carbon dioxide emissions is moving through Congress. Passage of a U.S. climate change bill is expected no earlier than next spring.

SHOOT: What did you expect?
clipped from
COP15 president Hedegaard attends a news conference during the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen

In those talks, the American delegation apparently objected to a proposed text it felt might bind the United States prematurely to reducing greenhouse gas emissions before Congress acts on the required legislation. U.S. envoys insisted, for example, on replacing the word "shall" with the conditional "should."

Later, faced with complaints from developing nations about such changes, the Danish leaders of the talks crafted what they hoped would be a compromise text. Even before that was circulated, however, the unhappy nations — the Group of 77 and China — met separately to decide on a position.

"They are unhappy about these texts being handed to them from above," an African delegate said outside the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The latest dispute highlighted the undercurrent of distrust developing nations have for the richer countries in the long-running climate talks.
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