US Can Challenge India, China on Climate Goals: Obama Adviser

Describing the limited, non-binding Copenhagen accord as a great step forward, a top White House adviser has said that the US could challenge India and China if they don’t meet their stated goals.

David Axelrod, noted Obama adviser, said that as part of the agreement between the US and four other countries, China and India have set goals for combating climate change

“We’re going to be able to review what they’re doing. We’re going to be able to challenge them if they don’t meet those goals,” Axelrod told CNN.

“Now the Chinese, the Indians, the other major economies are coming along and this is the result of (Obama’s) strong leadership,” he said of the limited agreement reached just as the 12-day meeting in Copenhagen was ending.

The accord, which involves India, China, Brazil and South Africa, calls on countries to identify their own voluntary commitment for reduction of greenhouse gases so that compliance can be internationally monitored.

Axelrod said that Obama administration doesn’t want to put the US at a competitive disadvantage relative to the world’s other large economies.

He called the Copenhagen accord a step in the right direction to control climate change that lays the groundwork for more independent efforts by the US.

Axelrod said that the US intends to pursue efforts to lessen greenhouse gas emissions even in the absence of making a binding international commitment to do so.

“We’re going to pursue this anyway because the president understands that our future lies with a clean energy economy.”

“Nobody says that this is the end of the road,” Axelrod said. “The end of the road would’ve been the complete collapse of those talks (in Copenhagen),” he said adding: “This is a great step forward.”

Though the White House is seeking to project the Copenhagen accord as a success, many environmentalists and political observers say that it is Obama administration’s last ditch effort not to leave the closely watched Copenhagen talks completely empty-handed.

On the domestic front, a Democratic bill for a cap-and-trade system governing carbon emissions has passed in the House but a similar bill has been stalled in the Senate, which is focused on passing health care reform by year’s end.

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