China, India, Brazil and South Africa were among the major developing nations at the Copenhagen summit. Since then, China has become the world’s largest consumer of energy, to add to its earlier position of being the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter.
Another point of contention, Pershing said, was an agreement in Copenhagen for wealthy countries to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to climate change. Now poor nations say that is not enough.
Williams, the Granada delegate, confirmed the $100 billion figure was likely to be challenged.
“It sounds very large,” she said. “For the donor countries it is a lot to ask taxpayers to pay. But you must weigh that against the need” of countries that may be devastated by the effects of global warming.
Williams said one of the reasons for the setback in the talks was the recent failure of the U.S. Congress to pass a climate bill.
Some countries argued for a slowdown in the talks because the lack of legislation cast doubt on Washington’s international commitment.
“That has been taken as a signal by some that nothing can occur,” Williams said.
Pershing assured the negotiators, in public and in private talks, that Obama remained committed to reducing U.S. carbon emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and he had not given up on passing a sweeping climate and energy bill.
In the meantime, “we have multiple tools at our disposal. We will use all of those tools,” he told reporters.
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