STOCKHOLM (AP) — The European Union's climate commissioner says she hopes that President Barack Obama's renewed attention to global warming after the election will translate into greater U.S. involvement in U.N. climate talks.
Connie Hedegaard told The Associated Press during a visit to Stockholm on Thursday that many Europeans were disappointed that climate change didn't get more attention during Obama's first term.
"But I hope that the re-elected president will pull his whole weight now into this area," she said "I'm absolutely sure that that could make a difference not only internally in the United States, but also at the international scene."
Climate change was virtually absent during the presidential campaign until Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, so climate activists were elated when Obama mentioned the "destructive power of a warming planet" in his victory speech.
The president also addressed the issue in a news conference Wednesday, saying he hopes to begin his second term by opening a national "conversation" on climate change.
Obama took some steps in his first term to slow global warming, such as sharply increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, but said "we haven't done as much as we need to."
Hedegaard said it was "very encouraging" to hear those words from Obama because internationally it was necessary to engage the U.S. more.
Governments will meet in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 26 for a new round of talks on crafting a global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, a pact limiting the greenhouse emissions of industrialized countries. The U.S. never ratified that treaty, which expires this year, because it didn't impose any binding commitments on major emerging economies like China.
China insists that as a developing country it shouldn't face the same requirements to reduce emissions as Western countries that have polluted the atmosphere for centuries. That remains a major sticking point that is unlikely to be resolved in Doha.
Countries last year said the new agreement should be adopted by 2015 and take effect five years later.
"From 2020, when the new regime enters into force, we will all have to be equally legally bound," Hedegaard said. "In other words, we get rid of that old firewall where some will be committed and some only do something voluntarily."
Karl Ritter can be reached at http://Twitter.com/karl_ritter