Environmentalists urge Obama to do more about climate change

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 7, 2009

The Obama administration's opening bid in the climate talks beginning Monday in Copenhagen is not impressing some key constituencies.

Kevin Conrad, executive director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and a special envoy for Papua New Guinea, said in an interview that while Obama has improved the rhetoric, "when you look at what they're proposing, it's absolutely unimpressive."

The United States has pledged to reduce its greenhouse emissions "in the range of 17 percent" compared with 2005 levels -- equivalent to a 3.4 percent cut from 1990 levels, the baseline most of the world uses.

"Their position in my view is a deal killer if you're focused, as small island developing states are, on a robust agreement that is consistent with the IPCC recommendations," Conrad said. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's called for developed nations to cut their emissions by between 25 and 40 percent by 2020.

The Obama administration has said it cannot go beyond what Congress will support in climate legislation. But IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri told the Associated Press that "there is scope for going above what is going to be legislated."

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