EU Leaders Travel to Washington, Pressure Obama to Act on Climate Protection

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) — EU leaders traveled to Washington to demand greater climate protection efforts from the U.S. government, little over a month before a crucial climate summit takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The EU Tuesday sent its top diplomats to Washington. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House to discuss efforts for the upcoming conference in Copenhagen.

“All of us agreed that it was imperative for us to redouble our efforts in the weeks between now and the Copenhagen meetings to ensure that we create a framework for progress in dealing with what is a potential ecologic disaster,” he said, according to the BBC.

The Europeans before the meeting had warned that at the current speed of negotiations, an agreement in Copenhagen at was out of reach. After Tuesday’s talks with Obama, they were much more optimistic.

“Regarding climate change, I want to say that I am more confident now than I was in days before,” Barroso said. “President Obama changed the climate on the climate negotiations. Because with the strong leadership of the United States we can indeed make an agreement.”

The accord to be born at Copenhagen — to feature binding emissions-reductions targets, adaptation measures and their funding — is due to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. Key to the new accord are ambitious commitments from the United States and leading developing economies such as India and China.

The leaders issued a joint statement that they had decided to jointly “work toward an agreement that will set the world on a path of low-carbon growth and development, aspires to a global goal of a 50 percent reduction of global emissions by 2050, and reflects the respective mid-term mitigation efforts of all major economies, both developed and emerging.”

But U.S. progress on the issue is delayed by Republican senators who want to delay a climate protection bill.

As China and India are not willing to move unless Washington commits to ambitious and binding emissions reductions, the negotiations are at a dead end at the moment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Copenhagen could still see an agreement if Washington joined the EU by leading on climate change.

“I am sure that if we in Europe and the U.S. are willing to commit to binding goals, then we can convince India and China as well.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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