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U.S. Officially Pledges to Cut GHG Emissions by 17%

emissions-7Bolstering the global warming deal made at the Copenhagen talks in December, the Obama administration officially pledged that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, reports the Baltimore Sun.

President Barack Obama said at the Copenhagen talks that the U.S. would stick with its previously announced reduction targets of cutting GHG emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

In a letter to United Nations climate officials, the administration formally associated itself with the Copenhagen Accord by submitting an emissions-reduction pledge, reports Baltimore Sun. The Administration will provide more details once Congress passes a climate bill, according to the article.

The Copenhagen deal gives countries a Jan. 31 deadline to provide emissions targets; however, the Accord is a non-legally binding treaty and was not officially adopted by the 193 countries at the Copenhagen climate talks, reports the Baltimore Sun.

According to a draft EU letter to top U.N. official, it is expected that the European Union will also agree to its current offer in U.N. talks to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 but will raise it if other countries follow suit.

The State of the Union address buoyed the hopes of carbon traders and clean-energy companies as President Obama urged Congress to pass energy and climate change legislation, reports the New York Times.

Obama thanked the House for passing a bill in June, which includes a cap-and-trade scheme that cuts industrial carbon dioxide emissions over time through pollution permits distributed to electric utilities and factories, according to the article.

However, support by the Senate for the cap-and-trade program is less likely due to concerns over its economic impact and creation of an international commodity market for carbon allowances and offset contracts, reports the New York Times.

In the meantime, Senators are working on a compromise climate bill. Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is working on the bill with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joe Lieberman, said Senate negotiations were “making headway,” as he tries to win Republican and moderate Democratic votes by adding incentives for nuclear power, offshore oil drilling and clean technology jobs, reports Reuters.

Graham said in the article that a carbon tax has no support in Congress, while a cap-and-dividend program, which would mandate carbon emission reductions and limit the trading of pollution permits, is under review along with other options, reports Reuters.

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