US won't speed up emissions cuts

May 25, 2009 by Marlowe Hood
Steam billows from the cooling towers at Exelon's nuclear power generating station in Byron, Illinois, in 2006. Washington's top climate negotiator said that domestic politics will not allow the United States to deepen it commitment for cutting carbon pollution over the next decade despite growing international pressure.

Domestic politics will not allow the United States to deepen it commitment for cutting carbon pollution over the next decade despite growing international pressure, Washington's top climate negotiator said Sunday.

"We are jumping as high as the political system will tolerate," Todd Stern said, rejecting China's call this week for rich nations to slash greenhouse gases by 40 percent before 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

"The 40 percent the Chinese have talked about is not realistic," the US Special Envoy for Change told AFP on the eve of a two-day climate meeting, beginning Monday, of ministers from the world's most powerful economies.

A summit of Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) members -- which together account for 80 percent of global CO2 emissions -- is scheduled for July in Italy, probably on the heels of a G8 summit there, Stern said.

US President has proposed reducing by 14 percent by 2020, compared to their 2005 level, roughly equivalent to a three percent cut off the 1990 benchmark. He has also called for an 80 percent cut by 2050.

Climate legislation wending its way through US Congress would meet both these goals, and perhaps more, if unchanged.

But in the run up to UN talks in Copenhagen in December charged with delivering a new global climate deal, such as China and India have said that this is not enough.

Their position has been echoed by many climate experts as well as the European Union, which has committed to a 20 percent reduction by 2020, 30 percent of others follow suit.

"It is clear that the United States is going to have to do more," France's environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, told journalists ahead of the MEF meeting.

Stern, however, cautioned that pushing for deeper cuts in the could backfire.

"We completely agree it is vital that developed countries get a path that is ambitious and consistent with what science is telling us to do," he told AFP in an interview.

"But perfect is the enemy of good -- you can insist on that, say you really need to have it, and you can end up with nothing."

Even in rejecting China's position, though, Stern said Beijing and Washington had opened a wide range of bilateral channels on climate change.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in China on Sunday, and is scheduled to join Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry at a clean energy forum in Beijing later in the week.

Several top Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have also beat a path to China with climate issues high on the agenda. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is set to go in June.

Stern himself will take part in a three-day "interagency" trip next month, when he will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua and other officials.

"We mean to have very in-depth conversations with respect to climate change per se, and our hope and intention of developing a very, very robust, high-octane clean energy partnership with the Chinese," he said.

Doing so, he added, was critical for the UN process: "It is extremely important that the US and China be working together -- and be seen working together. That is absolutely pivotal for Copenhagen."

The MEF meetings -- initiated by Obama -- group the G8 nations, emerging economies China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, along with Indonesia, South Korea and Australia.

The Paris gathering -- the second this year -- will also include the European Union, a representative from the United Nations, and Denmark, which will host the UN negotiations at year's end.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 14

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JerryPark
3.7 / 5 (6) May 25, 2009
Such hypocrisy. China already exceeds the U.S. in pollution and its pollution is increasing -- not decreasing.

Yet the U.S. is supposed to drastically cut our output of CO2 to please China?
frajo
2.4 / 5 (5) May 25, 2009
Such hypocrisy. China already exceeds the U.S. in pollution and its pollution is increasing -- not decreasing.
Yet the U.S. is supposed to drastically cut our output of CO2 to please China?


Why should the Chinese (or anyone else) be content with a standard of living below that of other peoples?
KBK
1.8 / 5 (5) May 25, 2009
It's like arguing that the other guy was allowed to shoot the dying person 10 times and you were only granted nine shots.

Both positions are totally and utterly ridiculous.
JerryPark
4.3 / 5 (6) May 25, 2009
frajo,
"Why should the Chinese (or anyone else) be content with a standard of living below that of other peoples?"

Indeed. And why should the U.S.?
Velanarris
4 / 5 (8) May 25, 2009
I fear that statements and articles such as the above abstract show will attempt to convince the people of the US to give up more freedoms in exchange for some sort of pseudo-environmental security.

Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither.
Baxterz
2.5 / 5 (6) May 25, 2009
I fear that articles and statements such as the above will convince people that someone wants to take away their right to fill the skies with toxic clouds of poisonous gasses.

Those who would trade their childrens' health for an outdated energy plan deserve what they get.
JerryPark
3.4 / 5 (5) May 25, 2009
Baxterz ,

You should know that CO2 is an essential component of our atmosphere without which we would soon die. It is not something to fear for ourselves or our children.
Polymathes
4.2 / 5 (5) May 25, 2009
There are some including those here in America who won't be happy until we are all living in earthen huts watering our vegetable gardens with recycled urine. Science should be working to increase prosperty to all instead of finding ways to make everybody poor.
GrayMouser
3 / 5 (6) May 25, 2009
There are some including those here in America who won't be happy until we are all living in earthen huts watering our vegetable gardens with recycled urine. Science should be working to increase prosperty to all instead of finding ways to make everybody poor.

Don't confuse science with politics. This is all politics under a thin veneer of pseudoscience.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (3) May 25, 2009
I fear that articles and statements such as the above will convince people that someone wants to take away their right to fill the skies with toxic clouds of poisonous gasses.



Those who would trade their childrens' health for an outdated energy plan deserve what they get.


At what point in time did I say anything about not changing our energy infrastructure? Yet another exercise in the English language.
rubberman
1 / 5 (2) May 26, 2009
What is really hilarious...is the massive level of ignorance and hipocracy at all levels of our society. Talking about a throw away society finding cleaner ways to manufacture "garbage" so as to not disrupt the enviroment, or talking about urinating on our vegetable gardens like it's totally absurd when people in other countries actually have to resort to doing it. Our race has the ability to build a car that runs on renewable resources and is manufactured from components that will last for decades. And we (the human race) could do this with almost EVERYTHING, but if we did the result would be economic collapse. (no repeat business)

TO anyone who doubts the above i have two words, Mars Rovers. They have been cruising around in an extremely hostile environment for YEARS without any replacement parts or re-fuelling. Maybe one of them will come across the martian "plastic vortex"....




mikiwud
1 / 5 (3) May 26, 2009
TO anyone who doubts the above i have two words, Mars Rovers. They have been cruising around in an extremely hostile environment for YEARS without any replacement parts or re-fuelling. Maybe one of them will come across the martian "plastic vortex"....




OK if you want to travel at
mikiwud
1 / 5 (3) May 26, 2009
Sorry for cut off. It should be
OK if you want to travel at
mikiwud
1 / 5 (3) May 26, 2009
This site is throwing a wobbler, I give in for now.

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