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Here's the good news, via tomorrow's The Age, Australia: Obama quietly plans to revive climate action: "President Barack Obama is putting in place the building blocks for a climate treaty requiring the first fossil-fuel emissions cuts from both the US and China." Some experts estimate that Environmental Protection Agency regulations, along with cheap natural gas and (unspecified) state actions, can reduce United States greenhouse gas emissions 16.3% by 2020, or close to the 17% by 2020 promised at Copenhagen.

He expects the US to meet its goal of cutting emissions 17 per cent. While that's less than the 40 per cent scientists say is needed. European Union's pledge to reduce pollutants 20 per cent by 2020 and says it will go to 30 per cent if others follow.

“The interesting thing is that for the past three UN climate conferences, the US delegation has never talked about this,” Stavins said in an interview. “They haven't been interested in taking credit internationally for what's already in place. When I mention this to other parts of the world, people are shocked.”

For those inclined to interview Mary Todd Lincoln about her reactions to the play, this isn't the end of the story. Obama's planned EPA actions are simply nibbling around the edges of the climate problem. Meanwhile, scientific studies keep getting bleaker. The world is on track to increase temperatures nine degrees Fahrenheit, concludes a new study. Of the ten largest emitters, only the United States and Germany have decreased their emissions by two and four percent, respectively, while China has increased its carbon emissions by ten percent from the 1990 baseline. (For more on the Nature Climate Change report sparking these dim headlines, see FishOutOfWater's diary.)

The Age, again:

“The US is in a much stronger position going into the Doha talks despite failure of Congress to pass comprehensive climate legislation,” said Trevor Houser, a former US climate negotiator who served during the Copenhagen meeting. “For countries like China that were able to hide behind a perception of US inaction, the fact that US emissions are falling helps increase pressure. It takes away the excuse that action is stalled because of the US”
Good luck, President Obama and Todd Stern, in convincing the Chinese that the EPA actions are sufficient to keep China from buying cheap Powder River Basin coal.  You're negotiating with the Chinese, but you need to acknowledge the large white object in the room. And glaciers don't negotiate.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS and DK GreenRoots.

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