COPENHAGEN - Climate talks host Denmark said on Tuesday it expected Washington to pledge deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to help rescue a deal at a December summit even though a full U.N. treaty is out of reach.
Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's promise after a U.S.-China summit in Beijing that a Copenhagen deal would be one that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect.
Rasmussen won backing from Obama and other leaders at an Asia Pacific summit on Sunday after he outlined his proposal to agree core issues such as cuts in emissions and cash to help poor nations in Copenhagen while delaying a binding legal text.
The American president endorsed our approach, implying that all developed countries will need to bring strong reduction targets to the negotiating table in Copenhagen, he told about 40 environment ministers meeting in the Danish capital.
Rasmussen mentioned only Obama and the United States by name. Unlike almost all other industrialized nations, Washington has not yet clearly pledged cuts at U.N. climate talks.
Rasmussen also told reporters on the sidelines of the November 16-17 environment ministers' meeting, the last such major talks before the December 7-18 summit, that his plan is not a strategy where we are watering down ambitions, quite the opposite.
The United States, the number two emitter behind China and the only industrialized nation outside the existing Kyoto Protocol, has been reluctant to promise firm emissions cuts to 2020 since carbon-capping legislation is stalled in the Senate.
U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is leading Senate negotiations on a compromise U.S. measure, said on Monday he and other Democrats were trying to see if we can get this to the (Senate) floor sometime in the early spring, as early as possible.
Delegates at the closed-door Copenhagen talks quoted one frustrated developing nation representative as bluntly telling ministers after a string of meetings in the past two years: We are all here again, just waiting for the United States.
And Rasmussen said in his speech Copenhagen should not be a stopover nor a tiny stepping stone as some proclaim. He did not mention any names.
Environmentalists criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for trivializing Copenhagen by saying on November 11 in Singapore that Copenhagen should be a strong outcome...that would be a stepping stone toward full legal agreement.
The Senate bill, if approved, would cut U.S. emissions back to about 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Developing nations led by China and India want developed nations to cut emissions an average of at least 40 percent by 2020.
Few developed nations have come up with offers of cash to help developing nations, partly because recession has strained government finances. For the U.S., the money could be more difficult than the emission target, said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Many developing nations are still insisting on a full legal text in Copenhagen, saying their citizens are most at risk from more floods, heatwaves, more powerful cyclones, droughts and rising sea levels and need action now.
Rasmussen said he was very hopeful that developing nations would come round to support his strategy.
(Editing by Charles Dick)