June 16, 2010

U.S. climate bill to shape U.N. talks

Worldwide hopes for a comprehensive climate protection treaty hinge on whether U.S. President Barack Obama can push through an ambitious U.S. climate bill.  At least that's what observers to the U.N. climate negotiations say.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, a former Danish climate minister and chairwoman of the Copenhagen climate summit, last month said it was key that the United States legally commits itself to greenhouse gas emissions caps.

"The United States needs to bring in the law," she said of the climate and clean energy bill currently stalling in the Senate. Quickly growing economies like India and China are waiting on Washington to live up to its rhetoric before they are willing to take their own steps, Hedegaard added.  The U.N. climate negotiations are still deadlocked after a U.N. summit in Copenhagen last year ended in acrimony.

Developing nations have resisted a legally binding treaty because they claim rich nations that have benefited from emitting during the past decades should shoulder more of the burden. Industrialized countries argue the developing nations need to commit to concrete reduction targets to enable a global effort.

The European Commission recently backtracked on a plan to unilaterally boost the bloc's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target from 20 percent to 30 percent -- likely also because other nations, including China and the United States, haven't committed to similarly ambitious targets.  European officials hope that the U.S. Senate passes the U.S. climate bill before the next crucial U.N. summit in Cancun, Mexico in December.

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