United States sets official strategy for Paris climate talks

Reuters News
|
Posted: Mar 31, 2015 10:45 AM

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Tuesday published plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, part of a strategy to generate momentum for a global agreement later this year on combating climate change.

The formal submission to the United Nations fleshes out domestic measures to be taken and the White House said the U.S. target "will roughly double the pace of carbon pollution reduction in the United States."

The U.S. plan cited existing measures such as standards for vehicle fuel economy and improved appliance efficiency to help meet the target, and proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants and methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Many of those policy steps have run into hostility from Republicans who control both houses of Congress and threats of lawsuits from industry groups and some states challenging the administration's legal authority to impose those regulations.

Seeking to take a leadership role ahead of U.N. talks from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris, U.S. officials highlighted that countries producing 60 percent of global greenhouse gases have now pledged to cut or slow the pace of those emissions. The U.S. plan relies on a host of executive actions to hit the upper end of the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

"What is significant about where we are today is ... that the countries that have made commitments span the spectrum of countries, including emerging economies," said Brian Deese, the senior environmental advisor to Obama, a Democrat.

China announced its plan to cap its emissions around 2030 in a joint announcement with the U.S. last November. Mexico on Friday announced a goal to cap its emissions in 2026.

The European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Russia have also submitted plans to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, meeting the U.N.'s informal deadline of March 31.

But major carbon emitters from India to Brazil and Canada to Japan have yet to produce their plans, which may hinder the process of reaching agreement before the Paris talks, according to some environment policy observers.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Susan Heavey and Grant McCool)