U.S. will defer to absent Obama: climate chief

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

POZNAN, Poland -- U.S. president-elect Barack Obama will not be present at marathon international climate talks in Poland starting on Monday but his “eyes and ears” will be, the UN’s climate chief says.

“President-elect Obama has asked a number of senators to be his eyes and ears at this conference” in Poznan, Poland aimed at getting the ball rolling for a new global climate change pact in 2009, Yvo de Boer said on Sunday.

“I have also been told by the current U.S. representation that they will be sure to keep in very close contact with Senator Obama’s team in order to ensure that positions taken by the U.S. delegation during this meeting here do not go in a direction that would not be favoured by Senator Obama’s team,” de Boer said.

De Boer, who is executive secretary of the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told a news conference he believed the U.S. delegation would include John Kerry, who be chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Others will include Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, and Henry Waxman, who is taking over the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce committee, he said.

The forum of the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznan comes halfway along a two-year process launched with fanfare by the international community in Bali a year ago.

The aim is for the countries to ink in Copenhagen in December 2009 a new global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that will be the most ambitious and complex environmental deal ever seen.

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