U.S. to Unveil Climate Targets Ahead of Copehagen

U.S. to Unveil Climate Targets Ahead of Copehagen

Image CC licensed by Flickr user James Jordan

The U.S. will reportedly offer a near-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal ahead of the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen next month in a bid to reach an international agreement.

Senior administration officials briefed reporters Monday on President Barack Obama's intention to offer an emissions target that is in line with what is being proposed in Congress -- a reduction in emissions of between 17 percent and 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

A climate change bill in the House was passed in June, while the Senate's version has cleared the Environment and Public Works Committee but faces further scrutiny and mark-up before additional committees.

The administration is still undecided as to when and if Obama will attend the high-stakes negotiations aimed at drafting a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Some 65 world leaders are confirmed to be attending the talks running Dec. 7-18.

The news comes as the World Meteorological Organization warned that global concentrations of greenhouse gases have reached record levels since pre-industrial times. Concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 385 parts per million (ppm) in 2008, compared to pre-industrial times when levels were near constant at around 280 parts per million.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recommended that CO2 concentrations must remain below 450 ppm to keep temperatures form rising more than 2 degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophic climate change, although some are warning concentrations must be reduced to below 350 ppm in order to keep Earth "similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted," climate scientist James Hansen wrote in a 2008 paper.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user James Jordan.