The talks open as President Obama’s second-term climate agenda remains a question mark. Earlier in November, Obama vowed to focus on the issue but didn’t lay out a clear agenda.
Proposals for a carbon tax – which the White House says won’t come from them – or emissions-capping bill remain extremely unlikely to gain traction on Capitol Hill.
However, Reuters reports that Pershing said extreme weather including Superstorm Sandy and widespread U.S. drought is “certainly changing the minds of Americans” who have been skeptical about the need for action in climate.
He also acknowledged that more action is needed by the U.S. and other nations alike, according to the AP.
“It doesn't mean enough is being done,” Pershing said. “It's clear the global community, and that includes us, has to do more if we are going to succeed at avoiding the damages projected in a warming world.”
China's top negotiator at the U.N. talks expects more attention to climate in Obama's second term, China Daily reports.
A major goal of the U.N. talks is to agree to a new global pact by 2015 (which would take effect in 2020) that includes big developing nations like China and India.
Several recent reports warn that global emissions are on pace to push temperatures well beyond 22 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the ceiling that's the target of the U.N. effort.
A major World Bank report last week warned that a “devastating” rise of 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) could occur by 2100 absent tougher policies, while a new United Nations Environment Programme report warned of a 3-5 degrees C rise this century.