Climate Change Summit Welcomes U.S. Declaration on Greenhouse Gases

December 9, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

People stop to look at a globe part of an art installation entitled 'Cool Globes', an exhibition about combating global warming and climate change in Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen on December 8, 2009. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)
People stop to look at a globe part of an art installation entitled 'Cool Globes', an exhibition about combating global warming and climate change in Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen on December 8, 2009. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)
On the second day of the climate change summit in Copenhagen, representatives from the U.N. and EU praised the U.S. declaration that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health.

The declaration will give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorization to order gas cuts without congressional approval.

As the climate change talks continue on the 12-day worldwide summit in Denmark, all the heaviest greenhouse gas polluters are expected to put forward their proposals to cut emissions.

Andreas Carlgren, minister for the Environment of Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said the outcome of the climate summit would depend largely “on what will be delivered by the United States and China.”

The United States, the largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases, promised to cut emissions to about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, as well as providing financial incentives for developing countries. The United States also wants legally binding commitments from other countries, mainly China and India.

EU nations and small island states lobby for a higher emission cuts, calling for a 25 percent to 40 percent reduction from 1990 level by 2020.

Leaked ‘Danish Text’

Talks in Copenhagen were stirred up by a draft document leaked by the Guardian newspaper proposing a new deal, which provoked negative reactions from developing countries.

Dubbed as the “Danish text,” the document is understood as a departure from the Kyoto Protocol, advantaging rich countries at the expense of the developing ones.

The agreement will give control of climate change finance to the World Bank, while lessening the role of the U.N. in the future climate negotiations.

The draft proposal would also force poorer countries to specific emission cuts, while allowing rich countries to emit about twice as much carbon per person.

Although Denmark’s government vehemently denied the existence of the “secret Danish draft,” saying that “many different working papers are circulated amongst many different parties,” the furious reactions revealed how delicate the relationship between developed and developing countries is when it comes to climate change.

In the following days of the summit, small island states, the African bloc, the least developed countries, and a U.N. coalition of developing nations called Group 77 are expected to put forward their own proposals.