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Obama's Climate Policy Insufficient with Hurdles from Congress

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More needed to do

The United States should do more in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and providing financial and technological support to developing countries, said Kim Carstensen, director of WWF's Global Climate Initiative.

"That (US greenhouse gases emission reduction) target is too small and needs to be increased," said Carstensen in an interview with Xinhua.

Carstensen noted that "we do not want empty promises," saying that such promises have been seen when the United States signed the Kyoto Protocol.

"We cannot have these empty promises again," he said. "We need to be sure that the US promise delivers."

However, Julian L. Wong, senior policy analyst of American Progress Center was optimistic, noting that "what had happened to the Kyoto Protocol doesn't likely happen to a new international climate change agreement."

However, he stressed that Obama might need to show the world what he could do to contain US greenhouse gases emissions if the Senate fails to pass the climate legislation next year.

The US Congress will enter midterm elections in November 2010. By then, Democrats will have held the House and Senate for four years. Since voters often get used to blaming the majority party for its continuing woes, a possible midterm losses for Democrats would mean bleaker prospect for climate legislation in the Senate.

On December 7, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. The announcement will allow the agency to regulate greenhouse gases even without legislation in the US Congress.

But if the EPA prefers to act alone it also would likely face a slew of legal challenges, including from business groups who say the action would overstep the administration's authority as well as from environmentalists who seek stronger steps.

Yet, there is also good news for Obama. A McClatchy-Ipsos poll released last week showed that a majority of Americans are willing to pay for a solution if it creates "green" jobs in the country.

Meanwhile, among the participants of the poll, 69 percent support the advent of the "cap-and-trade" legislation, pending in Congress, even if it costs them US$10 a month as long as it can create a "significant" number of jobs.

More than a year ago, when Obama said of climate change, he claimed that "delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response." Now, after nearly one year in office, he still needs to contribute more to show the world the US sincerity to tackle the greenhouse gas problem.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2009)



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