Denmark has told the United States and all other developed countries they must bring specific pledges to cut greenhouse gases to next month's climate change conference, the Scandinavian country's prime minister said Tuesday.
Lars Loekke Rasmussen said the policy he outlined last week at an Asia Pacific summit was endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama and the other leaders calling for "an ambitious, binding agreement" in Copenhagen, even though it would fall short of a legal treaty.
"We need numbers on the table in Copenhagen," Loekke Rasmussen told a closed meeting of top negotiators from 44 key countries preparing for the UN conference in the Danish capital, repeating his comments to leaders at the Singapore summit.
He said he was pleased with the response in Singapore.
"Also the American president endorsed our approach, implying that all developed countries will need to bring strong reduction targets to the negotiating table in Copenhagen," Loekke Rasmussen said in remarks released by his office.
It was unclear, however, whether the U.S. delegation to Copenhagen could deliver hard commitments on cutting carbon emissions before Congress completes legislation on a climate and energy bill. The Senate will debate the bill only next year, and the Obama administration is wary of making promises that might be countermanded by congressional action.
The Copenhagen accord is meant to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions targets for 37 industrialized countries. The U.S. rejected Kyoto since it made no demands of rapidly growing economies.
Ambitions for Copenhagen have been scaled back in recent months, as negotiators acknowledged that divisions between rich and poor countries are too deep and the technical details too complex to complete a full treaty this year.
But Loekke Rasmussen said Copenhagen must end in a deal covering all the essential political elements.
"Copenhagen should neither be a stopover nor a tiny stepping stone, as some proclaim," he said.
The agreement "should be concrete and binding on countries committing to reach targets," he said.
Germany 'will push for more ambitious goals'
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the summit would be high on her new cabinet's agenda.
"We will make it very clear that we will push for more ambitious goals at Copenhagen," said Merkel who will be among more than 40 heads of government attending the final sessions of the Dec. 7-18 conference.
"We need to do everything in our power to swiftly come to a binding agreement. Even if it is not possible to achieve this in Copenhagen, it cannot be put off indefinitely."
The Danes want to set a deadline for the final text — possibly at talks set for December 2010 in Mexico City.
"The stronger our politically binding agreement in Copenhagen, the faster the progress toward a new legally binding, global climate regime," Loekke Rasmussen said.