Today a US Envoy on Climate Change, Todd Stern,  gave a press briefing at COP-15. The following is a selected summary of his initial introduction.

We have demonstrated a strong commitment to this issue from day one. President Obama came into office focused foremost on economic stimulus package. In that package  included the highest vehicle emissions standards we’ve ever had. The EPA has moved to start regulating stationary sources of CO2. We have  comprehensive legislation that moved through House and pending in Senate. The US commitment is strong. We have articulated a US target within the last few weeks. That ramps up, or is part of an overall legislative package. To give you an example, by 2025, the reduction will be 30% below 2005. Also, President Obama is attending the conference. Action by the US or by the entire developed group is not nearly enough. A core part of this negotiation will be to have significant action by major developing countries. There is no question that we have, that the US has, the largest historical greenhouse gas emission. It is also true, that most of greenhouse gases come from developing countries. There is simply no way to solve this problem without support of major developing countries. “it is essential that they step forward and make implementation of actions transparent. The object is to get the best agreement we can to set the world on the path to success.”

During the question and answer session one journalist asked a question regarding the US’ stance on the Kyoto Protocol.  He asked,  “The US has said that it won’t sign an agreement based on the Kyoto Protocol, if things head in that direction (of Kyoto), would the US agree to such an agreement?” The US official answered by saying that the US is seriously not going to become part of the Kyoto Protocol. “That isn’t on the table. If you mean that taking the Kyoto Protocol and putting a new title, we won’t do that either. There may be elements of Kyoto that are similar to what is being discussed. I wouldn’t rule that out. We won’t do Kyoto.”

Later he was asked if he felt that the US has “climate debt.” He acknowledged that the US has a “historical role,” but “categorically rejects” guilt or the idea of reparations. Instead he said, “There are real needs all over the world that need to be met. We shouldn’t be looking at this agreement simply to cap emissions but we should be looking at this as a development, a sustainable development opportunity…”

It is telling that 12 years after the US chose not to sign Kyoto, there has not been a significant shift in the types of policies it deems acceptable. Is that acceptable?


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