PARIS (AFP) — UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said on Tuesday the profiles of all three US presidential candidates pointed to a major change in US policies on global warming after George W. Bush leaves the White House next January.
Yvo de Boer, who is executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said he found the stances of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain "very encouraging."
"All three presidential candidates have recognised the importance of climate change; want to act on climate change; want to develop a strong domestic policy approach; seem to favour a policy approach that goes in the direction of a cap-and-trade regime which would mesh very well with the direction in which other industrialised countries want to go; and seem to favour an international approach to climate change," de Boer said in Paris.
"So, in other words, whoever wins the presidential elections, I think that we will see a pro-active, international, market-based approach to climate change in the United States, founded on solid domestic policy."
The United States is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases which stoke man-made global warming, although by some estimates it has been overtaken by China.
Under the Bush presidency, the United States walked away from the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol, saying its caps on emissions by industrial countries were too costly for the US economy and unfair as big developing countries do not have such constraints.
Under a bill put before the US Senate this week, the United States would set up its own cap-and-trade system, meaning that companies would be set a ceiling of carbon emissions, and those who are below it can sell the surplus to those who are above it.
The idea behind cap-and-trade is to provide a financial incentive to reduce carbon pollution.
De Boer, speaking at a climate conference hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said it was a "very exciting week in Washington" but added "let's see" if the so-called Lieberman-Warner bill becomes law.
Bush has threatened to veto the bill "in its current form," saying it would impose six trillion dollars of new costs on the US economy.
Proponents, though, say the bill, in addition to reducing carbon emissions, would raise fuel efficiency and ease dependence on foreign energy imports.