GOP: U.S. at risk from climate pact
A Republican lawmaker says U.S. participation in an international agreement on climate change would result in soaring energy prices and damage America’s economic competitiveness.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is among a group of GOP congressional critics of Democratic climate legislation who plan to travel to the climate conference in Copenhagen next week to voice opposition to the blueprint offered by President Barack Obama.
“If President Obama has his way, the Copenhagen conference will produce mandatory emissions limits that would destroy millions of American jobs and damage our economic competitiveness for decades to come,” Blackburn said in the GOP’s radio and Internet address Saturday.
Blackburn reaffirmed the position of Republican leaders in Congress that mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions would result in dramatically higher energy costs as industry was forced to shift away from fossil fuels or pay for carbon-capture technologies.
Copenhagen Tens of thousands of protesters have marched through the chilly Danish capital and nearly 1,000 were detained in a mass rally to demand an ambitious global climate pact, just as talks hit a snag over rich nations’ demands on China and other emerging economies.
The mostly peaceful demonstrations in Copenhagen on Saturday provided the centerpiece of a day of global climate activism stretching from Europe to Asia. Police assigned extra officers to watch protesters marching toward the suburban conference center to demand that leaders act now to fight climate change.
Police estimated their numbers at 40,000, while organizers said as many as 100,000 had joined the march from downtown Copenhagen. It ended with protesters holding aloft candles and torches as they swarmed by night outside the Bella Center where the 192-nation U.N. climate conference is being held.
There have been a couple of minor protests over the past week, but Saturday’s was by far the largest.
Police said they rounded up 968 people in a preventive action against a group of youth activists at the tail end of the demonstration. Officers in riot gear moved in when some of the activists, masking their faces, threw cobblestones through the windows of the former stock exchange and Foreign Ministry buildings.
A police officer received minor injuries when he was hit by a rock thrown from the group and one protester was injured by fireworks, police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch said.
Draft criticism continues
At the talks, the European Union, Japan and Australia joined the U.S. in criticizing a draft global warming pact that says major developing nations must rein in greenhouse gases, but only if they have outside financing. Rich nations want to require developing nations to limit emissions, with or without financial help.
Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, representing the 27-nation EU, told The Associated Press that “there has been a growing understanding that there must be commitments to actions by emerging economies as well.”
He said those commitments “must be binding, in the sense that states are standing behind their commitments.”
Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said his country — the world’s No. 5 greenhouse gas polluter — will not offer more than its current pledge to slow its growth rate of emissions. It has offered to cut greenhouse gases measured against production by 20 to 25 percent by 2020.
“National interest trumps everything else,” Ramesh told the AP. “Whatever I have to do, I’ve said in my Parliament. We’ll engage them (the U.S. and China). I’m not here to make new offers.”
China has made voluntary commitments to rein in its carbon emissions but doesn’t want to be bound by international law to do so. In China’s view, the U.S. and other rich countries have a heavy historical responsibility to cut emissions and any climate deal in Copenhagen should take into account a country’s level of development.
Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the AP that rich nations are trying to renegotiate the deal they reached two years ago on the island of Bali, calling on developing nations to limit emissions with financial help.
“It’s going to blow up in their faces,” he said. “The rich countries are trying to move the goal posts. And developing countries are not going to agree to that, no matter how loudly the rich countries demand it.”