November 24, 2009 / 1:05 PM / 10 years ago

EU welcomes U.S. pledge to set emissions target

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The European Union said on Tuesday a U.S. pledge to propose an emissions target at U.N climate change talks in Copenhagen in December could improve the chances of success at the meeting.

But the 27-country bloc’s senior environment official also said there could be delays in putting the pledge into law and cautioned that the Copenhagen talks would be a failure if there was no agreement on funding.

A senior U.S. official said on Monday U.S. negotiators would propose an emissions reduction target in Copenhagen that took into account a pending climate bill in the U.S. Senate.

Slow progress on the bill has hampered Washington’s position for the talks, and uncertainty over what the United States will be able to offer is one of reasons why most nations have lost hope of agreement in Copenhagen on a binding legal treaty.

“It does seem that a position is likely to be set out soon by the United States,” European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said during a debate in the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg.

“A positive stance from the United States would have spillover effects on other countries in terms of improving the prospects of success at Copenhagen.”

He said the proposal would be subject to the adoption of U.S. legislation, adding: “So this obviously will have a caveat attached to it.”

Dimas said an agreement was also needed on financing to help developing countries cope with climate change.

“Copenhagen will be a failure if we do not mobilize the necessary funding,” he said.

The Copenhagen talks are meant to help forge a deal to fight global warming after the Kyoto Protocol — a pact that binds countries around the world to cut emissions — runs out in 2012.

The United States is the world’s biggest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases. Big emitters such as China, the world’s top carbon polluter, are watching Washington for its position.

The senior U.S. official declined on Monday to say whether the proposal would be a range or a single figure.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that sets a 17 percent reduction target for emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels. A Senate version aims for a 20 percent cut.

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