Obama's Copenhagen visit boost for global deal Media Release

Nov 26, 2009 - 12:30pm

The announcement overnight that President Obama has increased the US’s ambition on targets and that he will travel to the UN Climate talks in Copenhagen raises the prospects for an important ‘foundational’ international agreement to be achieved, The Climate Institute said today.

Erwin Jackson, The Climate Institute’s Director of Policy and research said Obama’s commitment to a 17% reduction on 2005 levels – an increase from his 14% election pledge -  was a welcome move but fell short of what was needed.

“An agreement in Copenhagen that lays the foundations for an effective, fair and binding climate regime can’t be achieved without the US putting international targets on the table,” said Mr Jackson. “While international momentum is building, the US and overall the industrialised world commitments to action remain insufficient to put the world on a low risk pathway to avoid dangerous climate change.

“A major injection of personal and political commitment from the US President, the Australian Prime Minister and other world leaders is needed at Copenhagen to jumpstart the negotiations.

“In Copenhagen, it is essential that President Obama communicates his personal commitment to ensuring Congress passes climate and energy legislation in early 2010 as without this it will be challenging to reach a binding agreement early next year.”

The US target to reduce its emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, is in line with the climate and energy bill passed by the US House of Representatives earlier this year. 

The Climate Institute’s estimates suggest that this implies – based on other pledges from industrialised countries – an overall reduction in developed country emissions of 14 to 22 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. 

“However, current pledges from both developed and developing countries imply that the Australian Government’s conditions for its 15 percent target are likely to be met,” said Mr Jackson. 

“It’s time for the Senate to pass the amended CPRS and for Australia to use it as a springboard to help build a framework agreement at Copenhagen and an ambitious treaty in 2010.

“The key to unlocking greater levels of ambition is, for Australia and other wealthy major emitters to come forward with a credible package to unlock public and private sector financing in clean energy growth and adaption in developing countries.

“Without serious money on the table, developing countries will not commit to further ambitious action. This in turn reduces the level of ambition that developed countries will take. Finance is a key to strong ambition and it is time Australia opened the door.”

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