U.S. Affirms 17% Climate Target; Envoys Cite Progress on `Green Fund'
The U.S. failure to pass cap-and- trade legislation won’t change its target for 2020 to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by roughly 17 percent, climate negotiator Todd Stern said today.
The House approved a bill last year to set limits on carbon dioxide linked to global warming and create a market in pollution allowances. The bill, supported by President Barack Obama, stalled in the Senate. Without new cap-and-trade legislation, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency plans to use existing laws to regulate some sources of carbon pollution.
“I think EPA will be an important piece of the total equation, and there will be legislative progress also, though I cannot tell you when it’s going to be,” Stern told a news conference in Geneva today following two days of climate talks. “I’m in no sense whatsoever writing off legislation over time, and I’m quite sure the president isn’t either.”
The EPA regulation planned for next year will set the U.S.’s first nationwide limits on greenhouse-gas pollution in the effort to curb global warming. Obama said last year the U.S. should aim for an emissions cut in the range of 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.
“The EPA has done a lot,” Stern said. “They put in place a very significant vehicle regulation. They’re extending it to additional mobile sources. They also put in place foundation steps necessary to regulate stationary sources,” Stern said. “All that is going on and I have every reason to think that EPA will continue pushing forward.”
The U.S., the world’s largest economy and second-biggest emitter after China, is aiming for a “meaningful outcome” at the next global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico. It is scheduled to start toward the end of November.
Environment ministers and officials from 46 nations meeting in Geneva for informal talks have moved forward on establishing tools to finance the fight against global warming, United Nations Chief Negotiator Christiana Figueres said today.
They are nearing a consensus on the need to establish a fund to channel new money to poorer countries, creating a new oversight body and engaging the private sector, she said.
Negotiators failed at last year’s meeting in Copenhagen to bring China and the U.S. into the 1997 Kyoto treaty that obliges most developed nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Still, richer countries agreed on a non-binding accord to provide $100 billion a year of help by 2020 for poorer nations. They also pledged $30 billion between 2010 and 2012 in the so- called fast-start financing.
“There’s a genuine convergence around the issue that there should be such fund,” Stern said. “The biggest issue is this has to be part of a package. We’re not going to move on green fund and the $100 billion if issues central to the Copenhagen accord, including mitigation and transparency, don’t also move.”
Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said she is “encouraged by the level of convergence” this week in Geneva on the green fund.
While envoys are concerned about the lack of time before the climate summit in Cancun, that meeting is likely to advance the green fund, she said.
“It’s possible that we will not be able to finalize 100 percent of all details before Cancun,” Espinosa said. “But we think it’s possible to reaffirm, consolidate and establish the fund and guidelines for the fund. It’s encouraging that at this stage there’s political will that the fund has to be established.”