John Kerry: US targets depend on Copenhagen

IF international climate change talks falter this week, chances for the United States approving its own carbon pollution-reduction plan will seriously erode, US Senator John Kerry warned yesterday.

“With a successful deal here in Copenhagen, next year the United States Congress — House and Senate — will pass comprehensive energy/climate legislation that will reduce America’s emissions,” Kerry predicted.

In a speech that sought to encourage the negotiators in Copenhagen and assure them the United States had finally joined their efforts, Kerry added that a failure to address core global issues here will make it “exceedingly difficult” for elected officials to back legislation.

Kerry, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, is leading efforts to write a compromise climate change bill in the Senate, where legislation has been stalled for months.

The failure of the US Congress to pass legislation before this meeting of 193 nations in the Danish capital has complicated efforts for a global deal. Many developing countries are suspicious the US, the largest carbon polluter in the developed world, has not yet committed to binding targets for reducing emissions.

Kerry tried to ease those concerns in a speech to a UN group by reviewing carbon control steps already taken this year and assuring, “The United States is back and President Barack Obama is coming to Copenhagen to put America on the right side of history.”

Obama joins more than 120 leaders here tomorrow in hopes that he can help seal a political deal on key goals for attacking climate change problems. The idea is with another six or 12 months of negotiating, a final pact can be reached in 2010. But the Copenhagen talks, after nine days of haggling, had not yet produced tangible progress.

Kerry warned concerns will have to be quelled in the Senate before legislation can pass between March and June. He noted difficult economic times that complicate debate of a climate change bill.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry has argued a national security benefit toward developing alternative energy sources and reducing reliance on foreign oil.

He was backed up yesterday by a group of US military veterans who travelled to Copenhagen. “Dirty fuels, and the climate change they create, are making the world a more dangerous place,” said Jonathan Powers, a former US Army captain who served in Iraq and heads the Truman National Security Project.


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