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expert reaction to Obama announcement on US targets to cut emissions

The Obama administration has announced that President Obama will attend the climate summit in Copenhagen, where he will pledge to reduce US emissions over the coming decades.

Lord Stern of Brentford, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics, said:

“The statement of intent by President Obama to “put on the table” for the Copenhagen negotiations a 17 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the United States by 2020 relative to 2005 levels is consistent with the climate change bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in June.

“It is important that President Obama and all the leaders of the major nations attend the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen next month. Only leaders can take the decisions on the broad range of issues, such as finance, technology and trade, that are necessary to reach a strong framework agreement on climate change. Strong action and inspirational leadership will be required in Copenhagen.”

Dr Chris Huntingford from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), said:

“Compelling scientific evidence suggests that to stabilise climate at a level that is safe requires emissions to peak in the very near future. This then needs to be followed by major global decarbonisation of our energy use. These changes must all occur within the next few decades. The US stance is exactly what is required towards preventing dangerous climate change. If similar emissions cuts can be applied globally, that is not just by the US, then there is much hope that the worse impacts of climate change will be averted.”

Prof Andy Gouldson, Professor of Sustainability Research & Director of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics & Policy, said:

“My immediate reaction is that these match the level of ambition shown by the EU and the UK – in fact they may be slightly more ambitious as they are based on 2005 numbers rather than 1990 levels. The key thing is whether he could get these approved domestically and what reaction they would trigger from China. But this seems like a big step forward.”

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