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Barak Obama Fails Climate Test

TODAY – The White House released a proposal for U.S. action on climate change that it will bring to the table at the UN climate negotiations for a global agreement this December in Paris.

The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), as the formal submission is known, includes a cut in U.S. emissions of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, (or 14-16% on 1990 levels) but little else.

Responding to the announcement, observers of UN talks expressed concern over the lack of climate action in the US proposal.

Weak 2025 Target

“The US proposal to the UN climate talks sends a dangerous signal that the world is drastically off track to confront the climate crisis. No credible scientific assessment can say that the US proposal sets us on a path to avoid the gravest risks that climate change poses to our food systems. It completely ignores its huge historical responsibility for causing the climate crisis. This is a proposal for more drought, more devastated fish stocks, and more wars over water. The US proposal is an ingredient in a recipe for disaster.” Meena Raman, Negotiations Expert at Third World Network said.

No finance and technology specifics

“The fact that the US proposal includes nothing on finance or technology transfer is a deafening silence. How can poor countries confront this huge threat if the richest economy in the world won’t indicate how much is on the table to let them plan for really delivering renewable energy or preparing for climate impacts in vulnerable and marginalised communities?” Brandon Wu, Senior Policy Analyst at ActionAid International said.

No detail on pre-2020 action

“The science is clear that this is the critical decade for climate action. People are clear that they want to see clear specific actions today, like the vetoing of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the banning of fracking. President Obama has missed an opportunity here. The Paris agreement will be judged on what it does for climate action immediately and with nothing here on tackling dirty energy today, or on scaling up finance for the transformation globally, this does not bode well.”
Janet Redman, Director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies said.

The announcement follows those by the EU, Norway, Switzerland and Mexico which together suggest the world is far off track from meeting the UN’s agreed goal of limiting global warming to 2C or having a chance of sticking to a 1.5C limit, which many scientist warn is a more important goal.

It was also joined by a proposal by Russia to reduce emissions by 70-75% on 1990 levels by 2030, which much more closely tracks with scientific expectations and demands of ‘fair’ action from each country based on historical responsibility for climate pollution.

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