The United States, one of the world's largest greenhouse-gas polluters, will introduce a target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions at next month's climate conference in Copenhagen, Obama administration officials said Monday.
The development came as the European Union urged the United States and China to deliver greenhouse gas emissions targets at the long-anticipated summit, saying their delays were empeding global efforts to curb climate change.
For nearly a year the Obama administration has indicated it would eventually come up with specific targets for quick reductions in pollution that causes global warming, as part of international negotiations. Those targets will soon be made public, officials said.
The actual decision on climate legislation is hindered by some kind of inner political speculations and sort of game of cat-and-mouse between parties.
A House-passed bill would slash heat-trapping pollution by 17 % from 2005 levels by 2020. A Senate bill seeks a 20 % reduction over the next decade, but that number is likely to come down to win the votes of moderate Democrats.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is still considering attending the climate conference. His decision is expected to be announced within a few days.
The United States has historically been the world's largest greenhouse gas-polluter until China zoomed ahead in 2006.
The EU's environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said nations still had a lot of work to do in Copenhagen because they have to set new emission targets and agree on other actions to curb global warming — such as how they plan to prevent widespread deforestation.
He said the talks should also set a timetable for 2010 meetings to work toward a full, binding global treaty.
A panel of U.N. scientists has recommended that developed countries cut between 25 % and 40 % of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to avoid a catastrophic rise in sea levels, harsher storms and droughts, and climate disruptions.
The EU aims for deeper cuts than most other industrialized nations — pledging to move from a 20 % cut below 1990 levels to 30 % if others follow suit. By 2050, it wants to eliminate most emissions, with a target of up to 95 %.
The U.S. is considering a far lower cut — 17 % from 2005 levels or about 3.5 % from 1990. Japan has promised a 25 percent reduction from 1990 levels. Per head, Americans account for twice the emissions compared to Europeans and Japanese.
While the EU sees itself as a trailblazer, it has delayed promising cash to poorer nations to help them tackle global warming. EU leaders have pledged to pay their "fair share" into an annual global fund but gave no amount.
They estimated that $148 billion a year is needed and that half should come from governments. The EU's executive suggested that the 27 EU governments should give up to $22 billion a year from 2013 to 2020.
The Associated Press has contributed to the report.