`US not in position to take lead on climate change`

“The leadership role that US could have played on climate change is not forthcoming,” says Ramesh.

New York: The US is not in a position to play the "leadership role" on climate change as the political and economic situation in the country is not in the most stable condition, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has said.

The United States is going through a difficult financial time. The economy is not doing well, the politics is uncertain, there is no legislation in sight, executive action has not been forthcoming," said Ramesh, following a Major Economies Forum (MEF) meeting in New York.

"So the leadership role that the US could have played and should have played is not forthcoming," he said.

Energy and business interests have beefed up spending by tens of millions of dollars while campaigning for the mid-term elections in November, hoping to halt climate change legislation promised by President Barack Obama but stalled in the Senate, the a leading English daily reported on Tuesday.

On the other hand, environmentalists were stepping back from providing funds. At a private meeting of congressional Democrats last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi reportedly asked environmental leaders, "Where are you guys?"

The passage of the legislation defining the US carbon emission cuts is critical to the overall international climate change efforts. The negotiations at Copenhagen were weakened due to the absence of domestic legislation from the US.

The countries attending the two-day MEF meeting are Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and the US.

The first day of the MEF revolved around analyzing what would be the likely outcomes of the climate change conference at Cancun, Mexico, according to Ramesh, who pointed out that the discussions tended to be "circuitous".

The Europeans will not do anything until the Americans do something, the Americans will not do anything until the Chinese do something and we go round the `merry-go-round` he said.

The intense disagreements between different countries at the climate conference in Copenhagen, last year, led to a non-binding "Copenhagen Accord".

At this stage, it seems unlikely that Cancun will produce a legally binding treaty to combat climate change, and it`s unclear how long it will take governments to reach an agreement.

"This top-down approach seems to have serious problems but ultimately we may be forced into a situation where nations make commitments and they stand behind those commitments and there must be a way of reflecting domestic commitments in an international agreement," Ramesh said.

As part of its National Action Plan on Climate Change, New Delhi is pursuing unilateral voluntary mitigation actions, which include the decision to reduce carbon intensity by 20 to 25 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.


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