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Presidential race has little impact on US climate policy
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This year's US presidential election is unlikely to have a great impact on the consistency of the country's climate policy, Andy Karsner, US assistant secretary of energy, told Xinhua Wednesday.

Speaking at a press briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing major economies meeting on energy security and climate change held at Honolulu in Hawaii January 30-31, he said that the groundwork of US climate policy is actually laid down by mid-level officials who are bipartisan.

"We are building a continuity in the civil service," he said, referring to the fact that although there will be a new administration next year, those career civil service officials will be still making policies by then.

Karsner also argued that whoever becomes the new president, whether Republican or Democrat, he or she must make climate policy decisions based on broad bipartisan support.

He noted that the energy bill President George W. Bush signed last year has already demonstrated that kind of bipartisan consensus.

On the prospect that a new president will probably not resist the mandatory pollution reduction targets like Bush, Karsner argued that may not be the case.

He said the United States has its own understanding of the issue.

If it is mandatory, Karsner said, it shall be a law which will need bipartisan support before the president's signing.

Also, the US government has some mandatory regulation in place in other areas, including the energy efficiency standard.

However, most major presidential candidates are actually embracing for the idea of mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emission.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the two front-runners in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, have all pledged to cut US emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2050, and both of them accept that this can only be achieved by legal caps on emissions.

The leading Republican candidate, John McCain, has made similar promises, except that he is only aiming for a 65-percent cut by 2050. 

(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)

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