US insists it supports EU calls for climate treaty roadmap

US official: “It is completely off base to suggest the US is proposing it will delay action to 2020”

The US has rejected accusations that it is blocking plans to deliver a global climate change treaty, insisting it supports EU proposals for a new roadmap that could see an international treaty to curb emissions agreed by 2015.

The US and India have been widely blamed for blocking the EU plan, which would see the bloc sign up to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol if other major economies commit to agreeing a binding climate deal by 2015 that would then come into force by 2020 at the latest.

However, speaking earlier today US climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters the US did support the EU plan.

“It is completely off base to suggest the US is proposing it will delay action to 2020,” he said. “The EU has called for a roadmap. We support that.”

He said the US is fully engaged with the negotiations and remains committed to delivering a binding international treaty that imposes obligations on all countries. “The kind of roadmap that countries have called for, that the EU has called for, that the US supports,” he said, although he failed to provide further details on whether the US would sign up to a formal roadmap agreement.

Stern also further fuelled hopes an agreement could be reached on the shape of the proposed $100bn a year Green Fund, confirming he remains optimistic a deal can be finalised.

Stern’s comments came ahead of British energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne’s address to the conference, during which he reiterated the EU would only extend the Kyoto Protocol if other nations agree to ambitious emissions-reduction targets.

“Together with the EU, we have clearly stated we are willing to move to a second Kyoto commitment period, maintaining ambition and environmental integrity,” he said.

“But to do that in isolation makes no sense… That would not provide the certainty investors need; it would not close the emissions gap; it would not meet the hopes of Cancun; it would not help the poor and the vulnerable.

“We need a clear roadmap to a wider agreement. If that roadmap cannot be agreed here in Durban, we will not agree a second commitment period of Kyoto.”

The US intervention suggests such a roadmap could yet be agreed, but with less than two days to go to the official close of the summit a large number of issues remain unresolved.

Most notably, the US, China and India appear unlikely to sign up to the new roadmap without further details on what an eventual treaty would look like when it is finalised in 2015.

Moreover, all the key players remain hugely divided on the crucial subject of how emissions reductions should be shared, with emerging economies continuing to argue that industrialised nations must shoulder more of the costs.

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