US will offer emissions reduction target at Copenhagen talks

Washington, Nov 24 (DPA) The United States will offer a mid-term target for cutting its climate-damaging emissions when world governments meet for the critical UN-backed Copenhagen summit next month, US media has reported, citing a senior administration official.

To date, the United States has not offered a 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming, resisting such calls from Europe and major developing countries.

President Barack Obama has been reluctant to pre-empt climate legislation that is slowly moving through Congress. But a White House official said to expect a “meaningful submission” before Copenhagen, which runs Dec 7-18, the New York Times reported Monday.

The House of Representatives passed legislation in the spring that would cut emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Democrats in the Senate, where talks on a separate bill are not expected to finish until next year, are pushing for a 20-percent cut.

The congressional delays mean the United States could propose a range of emissions cut instead of a hard figure. The White House is unlikely to go beyond the 20-percent target offered by the Senate.

Obama will likely make a decision in the coming days about whether he will attend the Copenhagen talks, the administration official said. The summit’s goal is to hammer out a global climate treaty that would replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen is pushing for all world leaders to join.

The US legislative process, as well as a struggle to get emerging powers like India and China to commit to their own emissions targets, means most governments now acknowledge that Copenhagen will not yield a final agreement on a new treaty.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the US is still pushing for a “political agreement” on the core issues, but he also played down expectations for the summit.

“I don’t think any of us were under the illusion … that all these issues might be neatly wrapped up by December of this year,” Gibbs said Monday.