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|The United States pledged Thursday (28
Jan 2010) to
cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005
levels under an international climate agreement, though it made its
commitment contingent on passing legislation at home.
The Obama administration submitted its much-anticipated reduction
target to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Secretariat under the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding deal brokered
by the United States last month at the U.N.-sponsored climate talks.
Under the deal President Obama helped secure in Copenhagen, major
emitters of greenhouse gases are expected to "inscribe" their
reduction targets by Jan. 31.
The commitment states that the United States will cut its emissions
"in the range of 17 percent, in conformity with anticipated U.S.
energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target
will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted
legislation." It remains unclear if Congress will pass a
comprehensive climate bill this year.
Ned Helme, president of the D.C.-based Center for Clean Air Policy,
said as the deadline approaches, it is becoming clear that the
world's biggest carbon emitters are going to follow through on
voluntary pledges they made in the run-up to last month's talks.
"Now the smoke has cleared, people are now taking the Copenhagen
Accord more seriously," Helme said. "You're going to see all the
major players sign up."
Several key developing nations, such as China and India, have not
yet indicated what they will commit to under the agreement.
Stern, the U.S. special envoy on climate change, said in a statement
Thursday the administration expects "that all major economies will
honor their agreement in Copenhagen to submit their mitigation
targets or actions as provided in the Accord."
On the same day the United States made its pledge public, the
low-lying Marshall Islands announced it would reduce emissions 40
percent by 2020 under the accord. "If one of the smallest and most
vulnerable island states can take action, the largest countries have
no excuse not to follow our example," said Marshall Islands Foreign
Minister John Silk.