Posted by: The Global Ripple | September 21, 2009

UN climate chief says China poised to lead

Go China! Now we need “Go USA!”

Peace out – Martin Fox with the Center for Global Leadership

UN climate chief says China poised to lead

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS – As the United States lags on climate legislation, the U.N. climate chief says China is poised to join the European Union in claiming “front-runner” status among nations battling climate change.

Yvo de Boer said in an Associated Press interview Monday that China is leaping ahead of the United States with domestic plans for more energy efficiency, renewable sources of power, cuts in vehicle pollution and closures of dirty plants.

“China and India have announced very ambitious national climate change plans. In the case of China, so ambitious that it could well become the front-runner in the fight to address climate change,” de Boer said. “The big question mark is the U.S.”

He spoke on the eve of a U.N. summit of 100 world leaders intended to rally momentum for crafting a new global climate pact at Copenhagen, Denmark in December. Bush had rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting global emissions of warming gases based on its exclusion of major developing nations like China and India.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will announce new plans to fight global warming at a U.N. summit on climate change on Tuesday. China already has said it is seeking to use 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

China and the U.S. together account for about 40 percent of all the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other industrial warming gases.

De Boer said he also was encouraged by Japan’s new goal of a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.

President Barack Obama has been trying to build momentum for a new climate pact to succeed the Kyoto accord that required mandatory cuts in atmospheric warming gases expires but expires at the end of 2012. His administration has announced a target of returning to 1990 levels of greenhouse emissions by 2020.

But with Congress moving slowly on a measure to curb emissions, the United States could soon find itself with little influence when 120 countries convene in Copenhagen.

The U.N. summit on climate change Tuesday and the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh at the end of this week are intended to add pressure the United States and other rich nations to commit to cuts and cough up billions of dollars to help developing nations install new technologies and take other actions to adapt to climate change.

The House passed a bill this year that would set the United States’ first federal mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. Factories, power plants and other sources would be required to cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by mid-century.

The EU is urging other rich countries to match its pledge to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and has said it would cut up to 30 percent if other rich countries follow suit.

A new climate report released Monday by a climate initiative led by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says 10 million jobs could be created by 2020, if developing nations agree to big cuts in greenhouse gases.

The initiative by Blair and London-based nonprofit advocacy group said it hoped the new research would help break the “deadlock” in global climate talks.

The report is based on computer modeling by Cambridge University economists. It also shows a global climate agreement could increase the world’s GDP by 0.8 percent by 2020, as compared with the projected gross domestic product with no climate action.

“In economic terms, certainly in the medium and long-term, it’s hugely to our economic benefit to get a global agreement,” he told reporters at a New York hotel Sunday.

Blair acknowledged the pain of short-term investment, particularly during a global financial crisis, but called the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations “the moment when we move from a campaign to a policy program.”

Blair also said climate change was one key area where his ideas diverged from those of Bush, whose administration claimed for years the Kyoto accord would have cost the U.S. economy 5 million jobs if Bush had not rejected it.

“I can’t say I ever investigated that particular claim in detail,” said Blair, who was Bush’s closest ally on the Iraq war — a stance that ultimately contributed to Blair’s decline in popularity at home and his stepping down as both Labor Party leader and prime minister.

“But all I can tell you from our perspective in the U.K. — and if you look at the rest of Europe — we have not been losing jobs as a result of taking action on climate change. If anything, we’ve been gaining jobs.”

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