US to return centre stage on climate change

The United States next year will spring back into the world arena for tackling climate
change, where it will lead by example by setting caps on its carbon emissions, Senator
John Kerry said at UN talks Thursday.

Kerry — asked to report back to President-elect Barack Obama on the UN negotiations
in Poznan — enumerated Obama pledges to reverse policies that have left the United
States sidelined for years on global warming.

“The United States under President Obama’s leadership is determined to rejoin the
world community in its efforts to deal with this issue,” Kerry told reporters.

“It is determined to lead in that effort, and it will lead not just rhetorically but by
example in the policies that we adopt at home.”

Kerry said he met on Thursday with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
and ministers from China and Sweden.

Ban gave him a message to take back to Obama, said Kerry, who refused to give
details, saying disclosure was a matter for the UN chief or Obama himself.

The effort to craft a new global treaty for tackling change has been hamstrung
in part by President George W. Bush’s rejection of mandatory caps on emissions
by rich countries unless developing giants also sign up to these curbs.

“I said this to the Chinese delegation, I said it to the secretary general: the United
States is prepared, and will under the leadership of President Obama, do its part,”
said Kerry.

“The United States will assume responsibilities, I am confident, for mandatory
reductions. The president-elect has already said this.”

Obama has set the goal of returning US emissions of greenhouse gases to their
1990 level by 2020. At present, they are 16 percent above that threshold, and
reducing this margin will incur costs in improving energy efficiency or switching
to clean renewable sources.

The Poznan conference under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) wraps up on Friday after a 12-day effort to move forward with
negotiations for braking the growth in greenhouse-gas emissions that are stoking
dangerous climate change.

Less than a year is left for the pact to be concluded, in the Danish capital of
Copenhagen in December 2009, and Kerry spoke out forcefully for this deadline
to be met.

“We believe it is vital to keep the Copenhagen date on target and that talk of
not meeting it, or of somehow not being able to, is entirely premature and
inappropriate,” Kerry said.

“The way to meet the goal in Copenhagen is to have heads of state pick up
this challenge and attempt to meet it. I am confident that President-elect
Obama intends to do that.”

But Kerry warned no treaty would be ratified by the US Senate, where he
chairs the foreign relations committee, if big emerging economies failed to
make commitments of their own.

He did not say what these should be, but said the effort should be in proportion
to their abilities.

“We will not pass a treaty unless it is a global solution,” said Kerry.

“All countries need to be on notice. China has surpassed the United States
as an emitter, Japan and India follow quickly behind the United States.

“You can’t have 50 percent of the world’s emissions coming from five
countries… and leave 50 percent of them out of the solution, it just doesn’t
work, there is no way for us to get from here to there in solving this crisis of
global climate change.”

He added: “There is plenty of ways to give credit to other countries for what
they’re already doing.

“China for instance is engaged in many different, very positive steps to deal with
its energy consumption and demand as well as begin to deal with global climate


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