UNITED STATES: President Elect Barak Obama Is Key to Global Climate Agreement, Danish Official Says

Negotiators are ``on track'' to reach an international agreement next year on global warming, Denmark's chief climate negotiator said.

The key to success when delegates from more than 190 nations meet in Copenhagen in December 2009 will be U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's leadership, Thomas Becker said today at a conference in Washington. The U.S. is the only industrialized country to reject the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions-limiting accord that expires in 2012.

``The process in 2009 is of course very much dependent on the new U.S. administration deciding to show early leadership and ambition in the negotiations,'' said Becker, head of the international department of Denmark's environment ministry. ``I see no way of having a new climate-change agreement without that leadership from the new administration.''

Obama supports a domestic program to set mandatory limits on heat-trapping emissions and has promised to invest heavily in renewable energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide. Borrowing from programs in place in Europe and some U.S. states, climate change will be a priority when Obama takes office in January, his environment adviser said yesterday.

Becker rejected suggestions that the banking crisis will delay U.S. environmental measures that increase energy costs until the economy improves. U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico, said yesterday that action in Congress will not be ``driven by the international expectation about what we should do.''

``The financial crisis does not remove the need for energy independence and security from dangerous climate change,' Becker said. ``It's more clever to invest in national clean energy than to borrow money from China in order to pay for Middle Eastern oil.''

Source BLOOMBERG by Jim Efstathiou Jr.

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