DOHA, Qatar — The U.S. defended its track record on fighting climate change on Monday at U.N. talks, saying it's making "enormous" efforts to slow global warming and help the poor nations most affected by it.
Other countries have accused Washington of hampering the climate talks ever since the Bush administration abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty limiting emissions of heat-trapping gases by industrialized countries. As negotiators met for a two-week session in oil and gas-rich Qatar, U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing suggested America deserves more credit.
"Those who don't follow what the U.S. is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it's enormous," Pershing said.
He noted that the Obama administration has taken a series of steps, including sharply increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and made good on promises of climate financing for poor countries. A climate bill that would have capped emissions stalled in the Senate.
"It doesn't mean enough is being done," Pershing said. "It's clear the global community, and that includes us, has to do more if we are going to succeed at avoiding the damages projected in a warming world."
The two-decade-old U.N. talks have not fulfilled their main purpose: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.
The goal is to keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees C (3.6 F), compared to pre-industrial times.
Efforts taken so far to rein in emissions, reduce deforestation and promote clean technology are not getting the job done. A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are expected to increase by up to 4 degrees C (7.2 F) by 2100.
Scientists warn that dangerous warming effects could include flooding of coastal cities and island nations, disruptions to agriculture and drinking water, the spread of diseases and the extinction of species.