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Obama offers 17% cut in U.S. emissions by 2020

President Obama is prepared to put on the table a U.S. emissions reduction target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, the White House said in a statement today.

The White House also announced today that Obama will travel to Copenhagen on December 9 to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, “where he is eager to work with the international community to drive progress toward a comprehensive and operational Copenhagen accord.”

The President has worked steadily on behalf of a positive outcome in Copenhagen throughout the year, the White House said. “Based on the President’s work on climate change over the past 10 months–in the Major Economies Forum, the G20, bilateral discussions and multilateral consultations–and based on progress made in recent, constructive discussions with China and India’s Leaders, the President believes it is possible to reach a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen.

“The President’s decision to go is a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change, and to lay the foundation for a new, sustainable and prosperous clean energy future.”

The offer of a 17 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 202o was made “in the context of an overall deal in Copenhagen that includes robust mitigation contributions from China and the other emerging economies,” the White House statement said.

“In light of the President’s goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050, the expected pathway set forth in this pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42% reduction below 2005 in 2030. This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long.”

With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, it is essential that the countries of the world, led by the major economies, do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty, the White House added. “The President is working closely with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation as soon as possible.”