Washington - When President Obama attends the U.N. climate change talks in Copenhagen, he will propose a plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 17 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, the White House says.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington — When President Obama attends the U.N. climate change talks in Copenhagen, he will propose a plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 17 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, the White House says.
His long-term goal is to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 83 percent by 2050.
“President Obama will travel to Copenhagen on December 9 to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he is eager to work with the international community to drive progress toward a comprehensive and operational Copenhagen accord,” the White House said in a prepared statement.
Obama has worked for a positive outcome in Copenhagen since coming into office, though most experts believe this conference is a steppingstone to a full accord later in 2010.
“The president’s decision to go is a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change, and lay the foundation for a new, sustainable and prosperous clean energy future,” the White House said.
Obama travels to Oslo on December 10 to receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC ), which will include representatives from 192 nations, is being held December 7–18 in Copenhagen. A Copenhagen climate accord is designed to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5 percent by 2012.
At the heart of the international climate talks are specific pledges from advanced economies like the United States and Japan and emerging economies like China and India to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely regarded as a significant contributor to global warming, according to Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
“The president is prepared to put on the table a U.S. emissions reduction target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020 and ultimately in line with final U.S. energy and climate legislation,” the White House statement says. “In light of the president’s goal to reduce emissions 83 percent by 2050, the expected pathway set forth in this pending legislation would entail a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42 percent reduction below 2005 [levels] in 2030.”
“This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long,” the statement adds.
A bill passed by the House of Representatives sets a 17 percent reduction target for emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels, and a Senate version is seeking a 20 percent reduction. Before announcing these emissions goals, the White House consulted closely with Congress.
At a press briefing in Beijing November 17 with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Obama said that “we also agreed to work toward a successful outcome in Copenhagen.”
“Our aim there, in support of what Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark is trying to achieve, is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect,” Obama said.
“This kind of comprehensive agreement would be an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge. And we agreed that each of us would take significant mitigation actions and stand behind these commitments,” he added.
In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Rasmussen also said the conference is seeking to provide funding for less developed nations to assist them in curbing the harmful effects of global warming.
The U.N.-sponsored conference in Copenhagen, with the right blend of practical approaches and principles, can become the steppingstone toward a full and binding climate agreement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says.
“The United States has taken dramatic steps in the past year to change the way we use energy at home, and we have taken our seat at the table in international climate negotiations,” Clinton said November 11 at a press conference during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore. And the United States is fully prepared to assume its share of responsibility in these negotiations, she added.
“If we all exert maximum effort and embrace the right blend of pragmatism and principle, I believe we can secure a strong outcome at Copenhagen, and that would be a steppingstone toward full agreement,” Clinton said.
Any agreement has to involve immediate global action on climate change, and all nations must meet their share of the responsibilities, she said. And the agreement must also cover all of the major issues, including adaptation, financing, technology cooperation, sharing of technology, and forest preservation, she said. Any agreement must also provide for funding facilities to assist developing nations, which are often the least able to implement complex agreements, she added.
“Funding through the new global climate fund and a technology mechanism will help developing countries identify what they need, where to get it, and how to finance, operate, and maintain it,” she said.
Clinton stressed that the Copenhagen conference is not the end of the process, which many in the media and some environmental groups have suggested. She said it is part of a larger collective commitment to accountability, to a transition to a low-carbon global economy, and to a cleaner and greener planet.
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