UN climate chief seeks Obama input in December talks
The UN climate chief said Wednesday he was "very encouraged" by Barack Obama's stance on global warming, and said he hoped the US president-elect would join in key talks in December before taking office.
"It is impossible to advance on this important topic without the full engagement of the United States," Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told AFP by phone.
"I am very encouraged by the stated commitment of Senator Obama to the issue of climate change, and I really hope that he or his representatives can come to the climate change conference in Poznan (in western Poland) and speak to his vision of the way forward," he said.
Within months of taking office in 2001, George W. Bush walked out on the Kyoto Protocol, dealing a near-lethal blow to UN efforts to reach a follow-on agreement on how best to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
Obama has vowed to jettison much of Bush's climate policy, a move that could help smooth the way for an expanded accord including commitments from giants such as China and India exempted from Kyoto, which runs out in 2012.
The world's nations have set a deadline of December 2009 for striking a new deal, and will gather in Poznan next month hammer out a draft agreement.
De Boer said that members of the Obama team told him before Tuesday's election that the Illinois senator was under "an awful lot of pressure with many priorities," and might not be able to attend himself.
"But they said what might be feasible is to have a bi-partisan delegation," he said.
"It would be interesting to hear from them as to whether they think this is still relevant."
The Bush administration's chief climate change negotiator, Paula Dobriansky, had said before the presidential vote that she "will be liaising very closely with the team of the incoming president," de Boer added.
Obama has set a goal of reducing US emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050, using a cap-and-trade system and a 10-year programme worth 150 billion dollars in renewable energy research and deployment.
He has said he would not wait for China and India to act, but insist they must not be far behind making their own binding commitments.
The UN climate change negotiations in Poznan will run from December 1 to 12.