US to launch talks on free trade in environmental goods and services

Washington, June 26 (IANS) The United States will launch negotiations toward global free trade in environmental goods and services, including clean energy technology, for a low-carbon world economy, President Barrack Obama has announced.

Also, the US will stop public financing for new coal plants overseas — unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, Obama said unveiling an aggressive climate change strategy that would limit pollution from existing coal-fired power plants.

“Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all humankind,” Obama said in a policy speech in Georgetown University Tuesday and urged other countries to join the efforts of his administration to combat climate change.

“Developing nations with some of the fastest-rising levels of carbon pollution are going to have to take action to meet this challenge alongside us. They’re watching what we do, but we’ve got to make sure that they’re stepping up to the plate as well. We compete for business with them, but we also share a planet. And we have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we’re going to suffer the consequences — together.”

Obama said the US had intensified climate cooperation with major emerging economies like India and Brazil, and China — the world’s largest emitter. “So, for example, earlier this month, President Xi (Jinping) of China and I reached an important agreement to jointly phase down our production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, and we intend to take more steps together in the months to come.”

India and the US Monday agreed to set up a new working group that would find ways to address the urgency of climate change.

The US president said his administration will redouble efforts to “engage our international partners” in reaching a new global agreement to reduce carbon pollution through concrete action.

Four years ago, in Copenhagen, participating countries agreed, for the first time, to limit carbon pollution by 2020. Two years ago, it was decided to forge a new agreement beyond 2020 that would apply to all countries, not just developed countries.

“What we need is an agreement that’s ambitious — because that’s what the scale of the challenge demands. We need an inclusive agreement — because every country has to play its part. And we need an agreement that’s flexible — because different nations have different needs. And if we can come together and get this right, we can define a sustainable future for your generation.”

On the domestic front, Obama said the US must use less “dirty energy”, waste less, transit to cleaner sources and lead the world “by the power of our example”.

“The world still looks for the United States to lead,” he said, noting that the US is the world’s largest economy and the second-largest carbon emitter. And as a country with unsurpassed ability to drive innovation and scientific breakthroughs, “We’ve got a unique responsibility… a vital role to play”.

He said that to help more countries transitioning to cleaner sources of energy and to help them do it faster, the US would partner with the private sector to apply private sector technological know-how in countries that transition to natural gas.

“We’ve mobilized billions of dollars in private capital for clean energy projects around the world,” he added.

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