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Obama to Offer 17% U.S. Emissions Cut at Copenhagen Summit

The White House said President Obama will travel to Copenhagen with a promise to reduce carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020. Judy Woodruff reports.

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    The Obama administration announced a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions today, along with plans for the president to attend a key international climate conference next month.

    Judy Woodruff begins our lead story coverage.


    Well, that's a good-looking bird.


    While the president's only public appearances today were the traditional pardoning of a turkey and a community service event with the first family, behind the scenes, White House officials announced that Mr. Obama would in fact attend a global climate change conference in Denmark next month.

    In a statement, the White House indicated the president was — quote — "prepared to put on the table U.S. emissions reduction targets, beginning with a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2020." The cuts would grow to 30 percent by 2025, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050.

    Those targets are in line with the climate legislation passed in June by the U.S. House. A Senate bill, which is still being debated, calls for a larger 20 percent cut by 2020. Congress would also have to ratify any treaty that results from the meeting.

    The announcement comes as the European Union has called on the U.S. and China to lay out emissions targets at the talks, contending that delays by the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases were hampering global efforts.

    But China's climate envoy said today the onus should be on developed countries, like the U.S.


    What developed countries should do is to take serious action on whether they have been true in words and resolute in deeds in order to solve this problem, which was caused by them.


    The original hope was that the conference would result in a new treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which the U.S. ultimately did not to sign. It now appears more likely the summit will produce only a framework for future action.

    Still, the news of the president's decision was welcomed by many, including India's climate envoy, Shyam Saran, who was in Washington this week for the state visit by India's prime minister.