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How Can the U.S. Prove Its Commitment to Reducing GHGs in Cancun?

The Washington Post reports on the difficult situation the United States is in going into United Nations climate change talks in Cancun at the end of the month.

The atmosphere is very different from a year ago, when U.S. negotiators headed to Copenhagen touting the recent success of a House-passed climate bill. Now that legislation has died in the Senate, and with candidates poised to win this week who are more likely to focus on immediate economic concerns than on long-term environmental and energy ones, these constraints are shaping U.S. climate diplomacy.

Given the minimal chances that a climate bill can pass the Senate anytime soon, the Obama administration must convince negotiators at the conference that it will address greenhouse gas emissions through regulation, rather than legislation. Expect U.S. negotiators to enumerate the climate-related regulations it has passed in recent months, including new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

At the same time, the administration is set to release new ozone standards before the talks and is preparing new greenhouse gas emission limits on stationary sources. The message U.S. negotiators will bring to Cancun is this: The lack of progress in the Senate on climate change is not going to keep us from reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to exercising our regulatory authority now and passing a strong climate when possible.

Whether that will be enough is another question. Other countries are wary about the U.S. commitment to addressing climate change. And this certainly isn’t going to help.

From the Post story:

Administration officials might not be able to deliver on all the climate assistance they have promised to give poor countries by 2012 and have questioned some financing proposals linked to longer-term foreign aid. They are considering whether to challenge China’s renewable energy subsidies as violating international trade rules, and have objected to Europe’s plan to force airlines operating there to pay for their carbon emissions.

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