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Climate talks eye stronger U.S. role


February 19. 2013 6:52PM
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DOHA, Qatar ?? During a year with a monster storm and scorching heat waves, Americans have experienced the kind of freakish weather that many scientists say will occur more often on a warming planet.


And as a re-elected president talks about global warming again, climate activists are cautiously optimistic that the U.S. will be more than a disinterested bystander when the U.N. climate talks resume Monday with a two-week conference in Qatar.


??I think there will be expectations from countries to hear a new voice from the United States,? said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute in Washington.


The climate officials and environment ministers meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha will not come up with an answer to the global temperature rise that is already melting Arctic sea ice and permafrost, raising and acidifying the seas, and shifting rainfall patterns, which has an impact on floods and droughts.


They will focus on side issues, like extending the Kyoto protocol ?? an expiring emissions pact with a dwindling number of members ?? and ramping up climate financing for poor nations.


They will also try to structure the talks for a new global climate deal that is supposed to be adopted in 2015, a process in which American leadership is considered crucial.


Many were disappointed that Obama didn??t put more emphasis on climate change during his first term. He took some steps to rein in emissions of heat-trapping gases, such as sharply increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. But a climate bill that would have capped U.S. emissions stalled in the Senate.


??We need the U.S. to engage even more,? European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told The Associated Press. ??Because that can change the dynamic of the talks.?


The world tried to move forward without the U.S. after the Bush Administration abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 pact limiting greenhouse emissions from industrialized nations. As that agreement expires this year, the climate curves are still pointing in the wrong direction.


Delegates in Doha will also try to finalize the rules of the Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to raise $100 billion a year by 2020.




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