December 23, 2009

Climate: US starts to flex muscle at India

Lalit K. Jha


Dec. 21: Even though the Copenhagen accord is not legally binding, the United States would not only "review" its implementation by India and China, but also would "challenge" them if they do not meet the goals set by the agreement, the White House said.

"Now, China, India have set goals. We are going to be able to review what they are doing. We are going to be able to challenge them if they do not meet those goals," senior White House adviser David Axelrod told CNN Sunday.

The White House adviser, who is full of appreciation for the last-minute non-binding Copenhagen climate accord, called it a "a great step forward".
"Nobody says that this is the end of the road. The end of the road would have been the complete collapse of those talks. This is a great step forward," Mr Axelrod said. "Because this was noted and accepted by the entire conference, the UN now has the ability to move forward on these things and to implement them," he added.

Meanwhile, environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh said the accord was "a good deal" for India. The Prime Minister’s climate envoy, Mr Shyam Saran, has said India did not have to compromise on any of its fundamental stands on the issue.
Approved after marathon negotiations last week between the US, China India, Brazil and South Africa, the accord says greenhouse gases and other emissions by all nations must be reduced enough to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than 2ยบ Celsius. But the Copenhagen accord did not specify standards for achieving the climate goal.

Giving credit to US President Barack Obama for the Copenhagen accord, Mr Axelrod said: "Now the Chinese, the Indians, and the other major economies are coming along, and this is the result of his strong leadership." "When the President arrived, the talks were collapsing, and there was a very real prospect of no progress out of Copenhagen. We’ve been trying to get some sort of accord for 10 years," he said.

"Now the President of the United States arrives, and he pulls the leaders of the major economies together, and they arrive at an accord that says we are going to set domestic standards," he added.

Mr Axelrod said the US would pursue its domestic goals on this issue. "We have a goal for 2050 that comports with science, in terms of lowering climate change, and we are going to pursue domestic goals, and they have to be verifiable, and the international community is going to analyse those results."

"We’re going to pursue this anyway, because the President understands that our future lies with a clean energy economy," he said. "... There’s going to be aid to developing... we’re going to raise money for developing nations to do that," he said. "We’ve doubled renewables this year. There are millions of jobs to be there, more energy security, so we are going to pursue this. But we don’t want to put our country at a competitive disadvantage in other ways," the White House official said. —PTI

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