iOS app Android app More

France To Obama: "Yes You Can... Do A Lot More" On Environment

ANGELA CHARLTON   05/26/09 04:20 PM ET   AP

Obama

PARIS — The world's biggest polluters made progress on a global deal to finance efforts to fight global warming and help poor countries cope with it, the French hosts of climate talks said Tuesday.

However, the environment ministers and top climate officials from 17 nations gathered in Paris appeared to make little headway toward agreement on how deeply to cut their emissions of gases that contribute to climate change.

The top U.S. negotiator on climate change, Todd Stern, defended the Obama administration's commitment to what he called a "seismic change" in the country's carbon emissions and attitude toward fighting global warming. Earlier Tuesday, France and Germany had said the United States wasn't going far enough in its emissions targets.

Despite such differences, French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said glimmers of progress emerged at the end of two days of closed-door talks.

The countries present moved forward "in an extremely significant way" in talks on how to pay for technology and new energy sources to help poor countries limit pollution and adapt to climate change, Borloo said. He said everyone came together behind a Mexican financing proposal that includes a formula to calculate who pays and how much.

Borloo said details were still being worked out. Negotiators have estimated helping poor countries cope with rising sea levels, harsher storms droughts and other global warming-related shifts would cost about $100 billion a year.

Getting poor countries on board is crucial to efforts toward a global climate pact meant to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. The talks of the Major Economies Forum on Monday and Tuesday were among several this year ahead of a U.N. meeting in Copenhagen in December on the climate pact.

Stern said the United States doesn't "have any objections" to the Mexican proposal and welcomed ideas emerging at this week's talks.

"We advanced the ball, though we have a long way to go to get to Copenhagen," Stern said.

The United States never signed on to Kyoto, citing the costs to the economy and the lack of participation by developing countries such as China. Developing countries, meanwhile, have said rich countries are not being aggressive enough in cutting their own emissions even as they ask poor countries to make costly commitments.

The Obama administration had suggested a 14 percent to 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, and legislation before Congress would reduce such emissions by 17 percent by 2020.

Stern said the overall U.S. targets were on a par with what Europe is proposing though are calculated differently.

"I don't think they are going to match. I don't think they need to match," he said.

The EU has promised to cut emissions by 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2020.

Borloo said the next meeting of the Major Economies Forum is in Mexico June 22-23.

___

Associated Press writer Tobias Schmidt contributed to this report.

(This version corrects US target to 17 percent, not 20 percent)

FOLLOW HUFFPOST GREEN

Filed by Dave Burdick  |