By Ben Geman - 11/22/09 03:59 PM EST
The absence of a domestic law setting emissions reduction levels is a big problem for U.S. negotiators heading into next month’s global climate talks in Copenhagen. There's no chance that Congress will have a final bill before the meeting.
But the U.K.'s Guardian reports that State Department climate envoy Todd Stern is floating the idea of laying out a tentative U.S. target in Copenhagen.
"What we are looking at is to see whether we could put down essentially a provisional number that would be contingent on our legislation," he said in Copenhagen during a meeting there.
The Guardian reports:
Stern did not go into detail on the level of emissions cuts being considered, but it is thought likely that a provisional target would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 14-20% by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. The White House and state department have also discussed the idea of putting forward a range of targets rather than a specific figure.
The sweeping climate bill the House approved over the summer would require U.S. greenhouse gas reductions of 17 percent by 2020, relative to 2005 levels. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a 20 percent target earlier this month.
But several powerful lawmakers – including Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) – want that scaled back.
Congress and the administration will have time to fill in the blanks after Copenhagen. Heads of state have downgraded the goal of the meeting, seeking a political accord coming out of the talks while delaying a creation of a final, legally binding pact until next year.