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EU says delayed US climate action increases risks

A US proposal to cut greenhouse emissions slowly at first before making deeper cuts later will increase the risks of irreversible climate damage, a European Union report says.

"The USA is stating that it is feasible to do less before 2020 and more after," said the internal EU report by Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency.

"It is not possible to fully compensate in future decades for higher emissions in the earlier years in a so-called 'delayed action scenario'," it added, citing recent scientific research.

The European Union has pledged to cut emissions of climate warming carbon dioxide to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and will cut by 30 percent if other nations follow suit.

By contrast, the US is moving towards agreeing a target of cutting emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 from the higher baseline of 2005.

Both leaderships aim to prevent global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the point at which scientists warn of dangerous climate risks.

"The USA recently has also adopted the two degree target, but maintains the idea that there is significant flexibility in designing global emissions pathways," said the report seen by Reuters yesterday.

"A delay... results in an increased risk to exceed the two degree target by about 15 percent that is not compensated for by steeper reduction in later years," it added. "The EU should therefore continue to press for an ambitious international outcome regarding 2020 commitments."


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