US criticizes lack of progress in developing clean technologies

December 4th, 2008 - 8:45 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 4 (DPA) The world must step up its efforts to develop the kind of clean technologies needed to drastically cut emissions blamed for global warming, the outgoing US administration warned Wednesday.Members of the US delegation travelling to the UN climate talks this month in Poznan, Poland, said they would press one last time for a stronger commitment to financing clean energy alternatives, before handing the baton to the incoming team of president-elect Barack Obama.

President George W. Bush’s administration, which has been criticized by environmental groups for failing to take the threat of climate change seriously, has long placed technology development at the core of its efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming.

“To really effectively address climate change, we really do need nothing less than a clean technology revolution,” Paula Dobriansky, the State Department’s chief envoy to the Poznan talks, said in a conference call with reporters.

Some 190 countries are meeting in Poznan to pave the way for a global deal next year to curb emissions, but the presidential transition in the US has made the talks something of a non-starter as other countries wait for the Obama administration to take office in January.

Environmental groups have said an agreement by next year is unlikely, despite Obama’s pledge to revamp US domestic action on climate change.

Obama’s promise to introduce binding limits on emissions and create a nationwide pollution permit system - forcing dirtier industries to pay - may not be enacted by Congress until 2010.

But Jim Connaughton, the White House’s chief climate advisor, said he remained “optimistic” that a global deal could be worked out by the UN summit set for December 2009 in Copenhagen. Poznan was meant to create a “working plan” leading up to that final meeting.

Connaughton and Dobriansky both expected to brief Obama’s transition team after the Poznan summit. A congressional delegation led by Democratic Senator John Kerry will share Obama’s views at the talks.

In the meantime Connaughton urged other countries to take steps to boost research in new technologies - moves like increasing financing and cutting trade barriers - that could be implemented well before any global agreement on cutting emissions is reached.

“That’s something that could occur very rapidly if there’s political will. That kind of political will has been lacking by many other countries,” Connaughton said.

Connaughton warned it would take 10-15 years to develop the kind of grand-scale energy alternatives that could make significant inroads into climate-damaging emissions around the world.

Bush has committed 2 billion dollars over three years to a new clean technology fund to be managed by the World Bank.

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