Barack Obama is in favor of regulating fossil fuel emissions and international treaties needed to do so; however, he refused to support the Kyoto Protocol because of the inequalities between developed and developing countries. In this sense he is in accord with Mitt Romney, as both supported new forms of regulation separate from the Kyoto Protocol.
The deal on a future treaty renews the Kyoto Protocol, the fraying 1997 emissions agreement that sets different terms for advanced and developing countries, for several more years. But it also begins a process for replacing the Kyoto agreement with something that treats all countries — including the economic powerhouses China, India and Brazil — equally.
...The United States never ratified the Kyoto treaty because of objections to its division between developed and developing countries. Todd D. Stern, the chief American climate negotiator, said he was hopeful that talks in coming years would produce a more equitable arrangement.
President Barack Obama's chief climate change negotiator has issued a warning over the future of the Kyoto protocol, casting doubt on a key plank of international climate talks this December in South Africa...
Kyoto is the only treaty which binds nearly all of the world's industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions but Stern cast doubt on its future.
"Of the major players in the Kyoto protocol, my sense is that the EU is the only one still considering signing up in some fashion to a second commitment period. Japan is clearly not, Russia is not, Canada is not and Australia appears unlikely."
At the federal level, even as the Obama administration has backed away from pushing carbon cap and trade, it has supported a movement towards clean energy.
So why doesn't the US put its money where its mouth is on a global platform and join Kyoto? Because despite the President's own beliefs about climate change, Silverman says, the Senate would never agree to ratify Obama's signature to the treaty, especially after rejecting it in 1997 and watching President Bush pull away even tacit support for its terms in 2001.
Countries meeting in Cancún for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) want the United States to commit to do anything about climate change. But President Obama didn't attend the conference -- wisely, probably --since the political climate in the US would block any binding commitment to curb greenhouse gasses.
The UNFCC is a follow-up conference to the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which outlined greenhouse gas emission goals for 37 countries. The agreement expires in 2012.
Disagreements about the Kyoto treaty have created global deadlock on a climate deal.
The United States never ratified the agreement because it doesn't require any action from the developing world, including China, the world's largest emitter. The Bush administration considered that a fatal flaw. And so does the Obama White House.
With health care reform now sucking all the political oxygen out of the U.S. Senate, and with countries still bickering over fundamental issues, completing a new treaty within three months is looking more and more improbable.
Key leaders are starting to say it out loud, and are putting the best face on what some are calling "Plan B."
"The mission is to get the most ambitious, most far-reaching accord that we can in Copenhagen, and to the extent that there's some things that need to be completed after that, then that will happen," U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters yesterday.
The Guardian understands that key differences have emerged between the US and Europe over the structure of a new worldwide treaty on global warming. Sources on the European side say the US approach could undermine the new treaty and weaken the world's ability to cut carbon emissions.
Europe has been pushing to retain structures and systems set up under the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on climate change. US negotiators have told European counterparts that the Obama administration intends to sweep away almost all of the Kyoto architecture and replace it with a system of its own design.
...within weeks of taking office, President Obama has radically shifted the global equation, placing the United States at the forefront of the international climate effort and raising hopes that an effective international accord might be possible. Mr. Obama’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, said last week that the United States would be involved in the negotiation of a new treaty — to be signed in Copenhagen in December — “in a robust way.”
That treaty, officials and climate experts involved in the negotiations say, will significantly differ from the agreement of a decade ago, reaching beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions and including financial mechanisms and making good on longstanding promises to provide money and technical assistance to help developing countries cope with climate change.
"Once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global co-operation on climate change," he said. And he went on to make the key pledge that the US would once again accept targets to reduce its own emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, which – alongside China's – are the highest in the world.
In May 1998, at the urging of the state's coal industry, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill condemning the Kyoto global warming treaty and forbidding state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
Barack Obama voted "aye."
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee now calls climate change "one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation," and proposes cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050.