Senator Boxer Sees no US Accord in Time for Copenhagen Conference

By | November 18, 2009

Senator Barbara Boxer Tuesday predicted that the United States will not reach a consensus on carbon emission reduction goals for 2020 in time for December’s international global warming summit in Copenhagen.

Boxer, who chairs a Senate environmental panel, cited disagreements within the Congress over the level of carbon reductions. But she said U.S. negotiators in Copenhagen could offer a range that sets a goal for U.S. pollution reduction by 2020.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any consensus on that before Copenhagen,” Boxer said, responding to a question from a reporter on whether U.S. negotiators will go to the Danish capital for the Dec. 7-18 summit with a specific target for U.S. reductions of smokestack carbon emissions by 2020.

Many in the environmental community fear that the inability of the United States to settle on such a target — or broad legislation tackling global warming — will hurt chances for success at the international meeting.

The House of Representatives in June narrowly passed a bill requiring a 17 percent cut in carbon pollution by domestic utilities, oil refineries and factories by 2020, from 2005 levels.

The full Senate is not expected to debate a climate change bill until sometime next year. But in recent weeks, Boxer’s environment committee approved a bill with a 20 percent goal.

Given the lack of consensus in Washington, Boxer said that U.S. negotiators in Copenhagen might offer a range for U.S. carbon reductions by 2020, “maybe somewhere between 17 (percent) and 25 (percent) …. I don’t know.”

More moderate senators have set their sights lower, which would put less burden on industries.

“Fourteen percent is what President Obama called for. I could live with that,” Senator John Rockefeller from the coal-producing state of West Virginia, told reporters.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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