Obama to Act Quickly on Global Warming in 2009, Adviser Says

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama will act quickly on climate change upon taking office in January, his environment adviser said, and may also continue with some of the policies initiated by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama can borrow from policies and programs in place in Europe and some U.S. states that aim to control heat-trapping emissions blamed for global warming, Jason Grumet said today in Washington. Obama also may work further on a Bush initiative that brought major carbon-dioxide emitters such as China and India into talks on a global climate-change accord.

The worst banking crisis in almost a century has raised speculation Obama will delay environmental measures that increase energy costs until the economy improves. Grumet offered no such qualifications in his remarks at a climate change conference.

“We will have the opportunity to move quickly because there has been a profound amount of knowledge generated,” Grumet said. “My suggestion to all of you is to enjoy the holiday season, spend some time with your family and friends and rest up because I think it’s going to be a very, very busy 2009.”

Delegates from more than 190 nations will meet for UN- sponsored talks in Poznan, Poland, next month to continue negotiations on a global climate-protection deal. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate accord that expires in 2012.

Bush rejected Kyoto because it didn’t require developing nations such as China and India to take on mandatory emissions cuts from their coal-fired plants. An Obama administration raises “a good possibility” that large pollutors such as the U.S. and China can come to terms, said Janos Pasztor, director of UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon‘s Climate Change Support Team.

Per Capita Emissions

“While it is also true of the new Obama administration that they will want some kind of concrete action by the key developing countries, there may be a possibility to find a formulation of these commitments or actions to be taken by developing countries that will satisfy both sides,” Pasztor said in an interview. “Their per capita emissions are way, way below those of this country in particular and also of the world average so it has to be understood that way.”

In an October interview, Grumet said the Kyoto process was flawed because it didn’t require binding commitments from countries such as China. It’s “not very likely” that Obama would push the U.S. Congress to ratify the agreement, Pasztor said.

Instead, Obama “has expressed an interest” in parallel negotiations initiated by Bush that target binding commitments from all large emitters, Grumet said in October. The process targets different levels of emission cuts from different countries.

`Engage’ China, India

“He strongly believes that China, India and Brazil are going to have to be engaged in the next round of global reductions and make mandatory commitments on their own, albeit differentiated from what we expect the developed world to make,” Grumet said. “The major emitters process is helpful there.”

The first international forum where Obama can offer “a different kind of leadership in global negotiations” is a July meeting of the G-8 group of nations, the adviser said.

“Obama has said that he believes that the United States has to lead but believes that China and India can’t be far behind,” Grumet said. “What we have supported to date is language that would have the United States take a step but that will basically provide incentives for developing countries to move forward.”

Read on here.

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