U.S. says rich nations likely to miss carbon targets

OSLO Fri May 29, 2009 1:27pm EDT

OSLO (Reuters) - Rich nations as a group are unlikely to reach the deep 2020 cuts in greenhouse gas emissions urged by developing nations as part of a new U.N. climate treaty, the top U.S. climate envoy said on Friday.

China, India and other developing nations say the rich must do most to fight global warming to encourage developing countries to sign up for more action as part of a new U.N. climate pact due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

"We...have been engaged in conversations with our European friends about how you might express an aggregate kind of goal," U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said in a telephone briefing before a round of U.N. talks in Bonn from June 1-12.

"I don't think you are going to see a 25-to-40 percent aggregate number" for cuts by rich nations below 1990 levels by 2020, he said, adding: "It's possible when you add everything up that you won't be that far away from it."

In 2007, the U.N.'s Climate Panel outlined cuts by developed nations of between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as a scenario to avoid the worst of climate changes such as floods, droughts, more powerful storms and rising ocean levels.

France suggested this week that developed nations as a group should work out a way to guarantee overall cuts of 25-40 percent. Washington says such a goal is out of reach for its domestic emissions.

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

But China, India and others say the rich have benefited from use of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution and should cut by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. They say the poor still need to use more energy to end poverty.

A key U.S. Congressional panel last week approved a plan that would cut U.S. emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050.

U.S. emissions have risen sharply in recent years so the 2020 goal works out as only a 4 percent cut relative to 1990. This week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States to do more.

The European Union has promised to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 30 percent if others rich nations follow suit.

EU emissions have fallen since 1990 so, expressed as cuts from 2005, the EU's 2020 goals work out as reductions of 14 and 24 percent respectively. Stern said that made the EU's planned effort comparable to that of the United States

He also said China, which has overtaken the United States as top emitter in recent years, and other developing antions would have to step up actions. "They are going to need to do more," he said.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

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