Schwarzenegger wants an ambitious climate deal

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copenhagen - Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to throw his weight behind a call for US President Barack Obama to commit to ambitious targets that will reduce that country's carbon footprint.

Schwarzenegger, who is regarded to be among America's most popular politicians, told reporters at the UN Climate Change talks on Tuesday that while governments were forced to make bold steps to rescue the world from the catastrophic climate change impacts, ordinary people also needed to rally behind the clean earth campaign.

"All of us, not only federal governments, us ordinary folks can make a deal, a successful deal," Schwarzenegger said, adding that he did not understand the reluctance by the developed nations to invest money to curb the devastating effects of climate change. "I believe it will cost us five times more down the line if we don't spend the money now," Schwarzenegger said.

Dressed in a grey suit, Schwarzenegger smiled at reporters as he entered the hall before making his short but concise address.

Developing nations are not happy with Obama's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emission in the US from 17 percent by 2020.

Obama is also not planning to be at the conference for the crucial last days when delegates including other world leaders are hoping to pull together a legally binding deal.

Schwarzenegger could not say whether he had personally spoken to Obama about the matter opting to say he was in Copenhagen to strengthen the case of regional governments.

Earlier, South Africa's Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said any deal the world leaders arrive at on Friday should not leave the US off the hook.

It is for that reason that Sonjica and other ministers from the G77 put up a bitter fight on Monday to have the Kyoto Protocol on top of the agenda at the discussions. Kyoto binds almost 40 industrialised nations to cut emission, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

While the US is not part of the treaty, Sonjica said that delegates at the conference can work out a new deal that will also commit the world supper power, to sign for ambitious and legally binding emission reduction.

With only three days left before the conference wraps up, negotiators, especially developing nations, are expected to pull all the stops to ensure that the current targets of between 12 and 23 percent that have been pledged by some developed countries are pushed to the 25 and 40 percent required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.