As the U.N. climate talks in Bangkok wound down today, the chief U.S. negotiator acknowledged that the United States may not agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a treaty this year until Congress passes its climate legislation.
"It will be extraordinarily difficult for the U.S. to commit to a specific number in the absence of action from Congress," State Department deputy climate envoy Jonathan Pershing said. "The question is open as to how much we can do. It's not really possible to answer."
Some progress was made in Bangkok, said Kim Carstensen, leader of the global climate initiative at WWF. But "on issues that require political breakthroughs, they've not made any real progress," she said. "That means targets, finance, institutions and the legal form of the outcome in Copenhagen."
The U.N. talks have previously been split in two tracks: one to set new targets past 2012 for developed countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and another to lay out what steps the United States and developing nations will take.
The European Union proposed unifying the two tracks this week, borrowing parts of the Kyoto Protocol to produce a single treaty in Copenhagen. The proposal drew complaints from developing nations that the bloc was trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol, a charge it denied (Kate/Morales, Bloomberg, Oct. 9). -- PV
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