U.S. Seeks ‘Robust and Transparent’ Targets For Cutting Emissions in Paris Climate Deal

By Dean Scott

May 6 — The Obama administration has stepped up its outreach efforts in the Senate in the run-up to a year-end summit where the U.S. hopes to get a global climate agreement rooted in “robust and transparent emissions reduction targets,” a State Department official said.

Staff from the State Department's Office of Global Change and its Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change “have been coming up and consulting pretty regularly in recent weeks with congressional staff on the progress of the negotiations,” Judith Garber, State acting assistant secretary for oceans, environment and science, told a congressional subcommittee May 6.

“I can tell you it is our intention to continue to do so as the negotiations proceed and as we get closer to the final agreement in Paris” when the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 talks among nearly 200 nations are to conclude with a deal, Garber told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy.

State Department officials briefed Senate Environment and Public Works Committee aides May 1 on the U.S. pledge and on the negotiations generally.

The U.S. in March submitted its formal emissions-reduction pledge to the United Nations accord, a deal Garber said should be “a meaningful agreement with robust and transparent emissions reduction targets that include all countries, including the major emerging economies” participating.

The U.S. pledge is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels.

Senate Role Broached 

The Obama administration argues that U.S. leadership is critical to get China and other rapidly developing nations to sign onto the climate deal, which, if finalized, would be the first to include actions on emissions from developed and developing countries alike.

China, the world's largest emitter, has vowed to peak its emissions by 2030, and perhaps sooner, and ratchet up its use of non-fossil fuels to 20 percent of its energy mix by 2030.

Garber largely sidestepped repeated attempts by subcommittee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to say whether the Senate should review any international climate deal agreed to by the U.S., saying the precise elements of the accord remain a work in progress.

“At this point, the question of what that agreement will look like in the end is still an open question because we are in the initial stages in the negotiations, and everything is still on the table,” Garber said.

Barrasso asked, “So, no indication of whether it [the administration] will submit to the Senate for advice and consent?”

Garber replied, “It's at the very early stage of negotiations.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dean Scott in Washington at dscott@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com