Emerging countries to discuss US climate offer at Beijing

New Delhi, Nov 26 (Inditop.com) Ten days before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit, the offer by President Barack Obama to cut US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be discussed by ministers and officials from India, China, Brazil and South Africa who meet in Beijing Friday.

The US move left many members of the Indian government’s negotiating team at the Copenhagen talks dissatisfied.

“The offer has nothing new. It allows the US to increase its emissions compared to 1990 levels while other developed countries are obliged to reduce emissions,” a senior member of the team told Inditop here Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Others echoed him.

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the president would go to Copenhagen Dec 9 and that the US was prepared to commit to reducing GHG emissions by 2020 “in the range” of 17 percent below 2005 levels.

The overall goal of the US is to reduce emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

GHG emissions — mostly carbon dioxide released due to industrial activities and transport use — are already changing the climate, leading to reduced farm productivity as well as more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms. The sea level is also rising.

Despite the initial reaction of many Indian negotiators to the US offer, it will be discussed in detail at the Beijing meet, which will be attended by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, an official of the ministry said.

The meeting had been called earlier, with two purposes.

One aim is to finalise a common negotiating position for the G77 plus China group at the Copenhagen talks. China also has to announce its GHG emission control plan for 2020. The US offer has now been added to the agenda.

China is the world’s largest GHG emitter, followed by the US.

The Washington offer was, however, welcomed by most politicians and NGOs in the US.

“For the first time, an American administration has proposed an emissions reduction target. When Obama lands in Copenhagen, it will emphasise that the US is in it to win it,” said Senator John Kerry, a Democrat of Massachusetts and a leading advocate of climate action on Capitol Hill. “This announcement matches words with action.”

Keith Schneider of the US Climate Action Network pointed out that the White House had not announced any financial commitments to help developing nations adapt to climate change and shift to a low-carbon economy.

“That number has been anxiously awaited by the European Union, and many of the developing nations.”

International NGO Greenpeace was critical of the US offer.

“The announcement proposes the same inadequate emissions targets that were included in the House-passed climate legislation,” said Kyle Ash, Greenpeace USA climate policy adviser. “By taking his cues from a Congress heavily influenced by the fossil fuel industry, Obama continues to shirk domestic and international leadership on climate policy.”

However, US-based NGOs such as the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Resources Institute hailed the US announcement.