Obama rejects scientific advice

President Obama has rejected the advice of his own science adviser by pushing back a decision on measures to stop rising emissions.

The papers this morning report US attempts to push back decisions on measures to stop rising emissions. Left Foot Forward can reveal that in lobbying for a delay in global climate talks, President Obama has rejected the advice of his own science adviser John Holdren.

Holdren said in August:

“What the science is telling us is that if we want a good chance of avoiding the worst possible outcomes from climate change, we need the global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants to level off by about 2020 and be declining sharply after that …

“We really have to have in place across the industrialized world the agreements and the measures that are going to enable us to peak no later than 2015 and start to decline. We need those things in place no later than about 2012.

“And if you want those things to be in place no later than 2012, we really should get it done in Copenhagen. That’s the schedule.”

This reflects what the UN’s top climate scientist, the Nobel laureate, Rajendra Pachauri said in November 2007:

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”

However, reacting to the news, the web’s most influential climate blogger, Joe Romm, is the lone voice among climate campaigners in welcoming Obama’s move – but Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace described the new approach from the US and Denmark as “a ‘face-saving’ plan”.

Writing in The Times, Ben Webster highlights another little noticed retrograde move by the US at the APEC summit. He says:

“A draft version of the Apec communiqué said that ‘global emissions will need … to be reduced to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050’. But the subsequent version was non-committal.”

We eagerly await reaction from China, India and the other 130-plus countries who still want an ambitious and legally binding outcome from Copenhagen.

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