President Obama will announce
specific near-term carbon emissions targets in the coming days with an eye
on U.S. Senate approval in the months ahead, setting the stage for The United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen.
The move could do much to assuage the fears of world leaders, many of whom look to the U.S. for cues on climate action. Members of the European Union and other leaders have already applauded the announcement, saying
a target could improve chances of a successful meeting and agreement in December.
"It does seem that a position is likely to be set out soon by the United States," said European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "A positive stance from the United States would have spillover effects on other countries in terms of improving the prospects of success at Copenhagen."
President Obama will soon decide
whether to attend the Copenhagen talks, whose participants are expected to include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"The president has always said if it looks as though negotiations have proceeded sufficiently that going to Copenhagen would give a final impetus or push to the process, that he would be willing to go," said a senior official.