BERLIN, March 30 (AFP) Mar 30, 2009
The United States must step up its efforts to combat climate change, Germany's environment minister said Monday, accusing the Obama administration of lacking ambition in its environmental goals.
"Even under Barack Obama, the US has insufficient climate protection goals, at least as far as the international community is concerned," Sigmar Gabriel told Berlin radio station RBB.
Gabriel called on Obama to commit to "significantly more ambitious targets than has so far been the case."
Washington's top climate negotiator Todd Stern said Sunday the Obama administration was "powerfully and fervently engaged" in UN talks to forge a global climate treaty.
But the United States cannot "ride in on a white horse and make it all work," Stern told delegates at the 11-day United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) technical meeting in Bonn.
The entry of the new US team into the negotiations -- which involve more than 190 states -- has generated huge expectations, sharpened by the change in tone from Obama compared to his predecessor.
George W. Bush had rejected the Kyoto Protocol, whose provisions expire in 2012, and nearly torpedoed the 2007 "Bali Roadmap" agreement that set a December 2009 deadline for a new deal.
However, Obama has said the United States will aim to slash emissions by 80 percent by 2050, matching a goal set by the European Union.
Nevertheless, he has offered a more modest ambition for 2020, pledging to return the US to 1990 level emissions, whereas the EU has committed to a 20 percent cut and is aiming for 30 percent.
Gabriel said he had the impression the financial crisis was not affecting the talks.
"At the moment, we have astounding progress because many, many people are interested as before in the subject and understand, above all, that climate protection creates jobs," he said.
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