European Commission Sets Climate Change Goals, US Criticized

August 8, 2012

The European Commission announces climate change goals while United States criticized for backing outThe European Commission is known for representing the interest of the European Union, along with proposing new legislation. Most recently, the group released a statement regarding the importance of limiting climate change.

The group’s goal is to limit climate change and rising temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), in order to avoid dangerous changes in Earth’s climate, Reuters reported.

“World leaders pledged in Copenhagen to stay below the 2C temperature increase. What leaders promised must now be delivered,” Commission spokesman Isaac Valero-Ladron said of a 2009 climate summit in the Danish capital.

Almost 200 nations, including the United States, backed this goal.

According to Todd Stern, the U.S. climate change envoy, he revealed on Aug. 2 that Washington was looking for a more flexible approach to a new U.N. agreement, due to be adopted in 2015, so that it could be modified over time such as to take account of new technologies.

The European Commission announces climate change goals while United States criticized for backing out

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Todd Stern.

“This kind of flexible, evolving legal agreement cannot guarantee that we meet a 2 degree goal, but insisting on a structure that would guarantee such a goal will only lead to deadlock,” he said.

This particular comment and the term “deadlock” caused controversy and even criticism towards the U.S. Some are even saying Washington is backing out.

However, Stern quickly clarified his remarks by saying “my view is that a more flexible approach will give us a better chance to actually conclude an effective new agreement and meet the goal we all share.”

He also added, “The U.S. continues to support this goal. We have not changed our policy.”

The global average temperature has already risen to by 0.8 C, as a result of increasing greenhouse gases, mainly formed by the burning of fossil fuels.

President Barack Obama also agreed to the 2 C goal in 2009 at the G8 Summit. The 2 C maximum is slipping away quickly, as the greenhouse gas emission rose to a record high of 3.1 percent in 2011.

The U.S., China, the European Union, India and Russia are the main countries that emit greenhouse gases.

-Allyson Koerner

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Uwe Hermann, Wikimedia Commons/Michael Gross