By Alex Morales | Bloomberg
Dec. 4 — China and India, the developing nations with the highest carbon-dioxide emissions, want U.S. President- elect Barack Obama to demonstrate more commitment in tackling climate change, delegates at United Nations talks in Poland said.
Obama has pledged to bring U.S. output of greenhouse-gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. That’s still above the limit the world’s biggest economy would have been required to meet by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, a global warming treaty the U.S. never ratified. It’s also short of a European Union pledge to cut the gases 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Delegates from 190 nations have gathered in Poznan, halfway between Warsaw and Berlin, at the midpoint of a two-year negotiation that aims to produce a treaty to fight global warming in Copenhagen next December. Analysts say agreement between China and the U.S. is crucial to the success of the talks.
“The U.S. and China are the two largest emitters in the world, and they have to come together for the negotiations to work,” Alden Meyer, director of policy at the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said today in an interview in Poznan. “It’s important to have countries saying what they expect the U.S. to do, but the main consideration for Obama will be what Congress will accept.”
Obama’s position on climate change is still “something positive” compared with the stance of President George W. Bush, Su said. Bush, who never endorsed the existing climate protection treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, set a goal on April 16 for the U.S. to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
Obama may do more than he’s stated once he takes office, said J. M. Mauskar, who’s leading India’s negotiators during the first week of the UN talks.
“A candidate for a particular post, what he says and what he does, and that same candidate, what he does when he occupies the post, these are two different things,” Mauskar said late yesterday in an interview. “President Obama may change his mind and say well we can do much more. I hope so.”
Kyoto sets targets for 37 nations that expire in 2012. Countries in Poznan are discussing new targets for parties to that treaty, and also what action might be taken by the U.S. and large developing countries such as China and India in a new pact.
Under Kyoto, the U.S. would have been required to cut emissions by an average 7 percent in the 2008-2012 measurement period compared with 1990 levels. Instead, they were 14 percent above 1990 levels in 2006, according to the most recent UN data. China and India, as developing countries, weren’t set targets under Kyoto, and reject goals until the developed world first has led the way.
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