In Copenhagen It’s Dog Eat Dog

  • Date: 07/12/09

The Times: The European Union today rejected the new carbon emission targets tabled by the United States and China and said they were much too weak to prevent catastrophic climate change. The dispute between the three main players at the Copenhagen climate change summit overshadowed the first day of negotiations and dashed hopes that a deal on emissions was imminent.

The EU called on President Obama to announce a more ambitious target next week, when he arrives in Copenhagen for the last day of the conference on December 18.

But the US insisted that the provisional offer made 10 days ago by Mr Obama was “remarkable” and in line with what scientists had recommended.

Mr Obama has proposed to cut its emissions by 4 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, although he has said this is subject to getting the approval of Congress. The EU has made a legally binding commitment to cut its emissions by 20 per cent over the same period. It has also said it would increase the cut to 30 per cent if other countries committed to “comparable action”.

Washington tonight attempted to demonstrate it was serious about tackling climate change by announcing new federal powers to regulate greenhouse gases on the grounds that they were endangering the health of Americans. This technically allows Mr Obama to override Congress and impose carbon cuts but, in practice, he is more likely to use the new powers as a bargaining chip to persuade enough senators to pass a bill enforcing the 4 per cent target.

Andreas Carlgren, Sweden’s environment minister and the EU’s main negotiator under the rotating presidency, said the targets proposed by the US and China were too low to qualify as comparable action and therefore the EU would not strengthen its 20 per cent target.

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