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Copenhagen Climate Conference

US pledge breathes hope on day two, Britain lobbies EU

Article published on the 2009-12-08 Latest update 2009-12-08 13:34 TU

A depiction of carbon dioxide tracers in the atmosphere (Photo: Forrest Hoffman and Jamison Daniel of Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

A depiction of carbon dioxide tracers in the atmosphere
(Photo: Forrest Hoffman and Jamison Daniel of Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

Hopes of a breakthrough deal as Copenhagen enters its second day were lifted after the US said it will regulate carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown then took up the baton, urging a 30 percent cut to greenhouse gas emissions across Europe.

While the US announcement provided welcome momentum, delegates said the coming days would see different countries lay out their positions at the 12-day event to draw up a global pact to tackle climate change.

The US move sidesteps a divided Congress and was greeted with outrage by Republicans and some US business leaders.  But the ruling, by the Environmental Protection Agency, gives President Barack Obama powerful new leverage to meet

US pledges on emissions - even if his critics in Congress derail legislation.

“This means that we arrive at the climate talks in Copenhagen with a clear demonstration of our commitment to facing this global challenge", Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

Jackson signed orders declaring six greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, including carbon dioxide, to be pollutants that are subject to government regulation.

European nations meanwhile are divided over hardening their own emissions targets. The bloc of 27 has already agreed to cut emissions 20 percent by 2020 and is mulling raising the cuts to 30 percent if the rest of the world makes ambitious enough pledges in Copenhagen.

Poland, which relies on heavily polluting coal-fired power stations, said other countries had failed to come up with the goods. But France, Britain and others argue there have already been sufficient pledges to warrant the switch to a 30 percent target.

"We've got to make (European) countries recognise that they have to be as ambitious as they say they want to be," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday.

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