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EU Urges U.S., China to Help Speed Up Talks on Cutting Pollution

The European Union urged the U.S. and China to step up their efforts on cutting greenhouse gases and to accelerate talks about a new global climate treaty as this year’s round of discussions entered its final week.

“It’s very important to see a strong U.S. involvement in these negotiations,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told reporters in Doha. “Since 1990, emissions in the EU decreased by 18 percent, while in the U.S. increased by 10.8 percent. There’s this challenge for all of us to do even more.”

U.S. State Department envoy Todd Stern joined ministers arriving from industrialized and developing nations in Doha today for a United Nations conference on global warming. This week, delegates from more than 190 nations will strive to agree on an action plan for a treaty in 2015 that would cut greenhouse gases.

Current pledges by governments are not enough to limit the rise of temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenhait) from pre-industrial times, the United Nations Environment Program said today. Further warming may lead to cataclysmic changes, international organizations have said.

In the U.S., where President Obama failed to deliver on his promise to start a cap-and-trade program in his first term, the administration is now working on policies that may help cut greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020.

“We are making good progress, and I think we are on track,” Stern told reporters today in Doha when asked if the U.S. can meet its goal even if Congress doesn’t pass climate legislation this decade.

International climate negotiations so far have been marred by divisions -- largely between industrialized nations and emerging economies such as China and India -- over issues including the level of ambition in setting pollution-reduction targets and financial aid for poor countries.

“What we expect from China, as well as from all other countries, is that now we move together forward,” Hedegaard said. “ The latest statistics we have seen show that emissions are growing even more than the GDP.”

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