Obama climate address disappoints Leuenberger

Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger says he is disappointed with United States President Barack Obama's address to a United Nations climate meeting in New York.

This content was published on September 22, 2009 minutes

"More commitment was shown in the talks today but I'm disappointed with Barack Obama's address. He made no specific promises," Leuenberger told Swiss television on Tuesday evening.

Leuenberger said the "cascading effect" would be that China and Japan would not feel compelled either to toughen their own environmental standards.

Leuenberger, of Switzerland's centre-left Social Democrats, had earlier in the day called on emerging economies to increase efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

He was one of around 100 heads of state and government representatives attending panel discussions on the eve of this year's UN General Assembly.

In a video message, Leuenberger said not only industrialised countries must contribute to protecting the environment.

"The glaciers in the Swiss Alps are melting very fast. There are an increasing number of rockfalls on the Matterhorn," he said. "But at the same time the Pacific islands of Tuvalu risked being flooded by rising sea levels."

He said Switzerland supported the introduction of a CO2 tax to fund projects in the developing world. These projects are aimed at helping the countries adapt to climate change.

Leuenberger also said Switzerland - like the European Union - was prepared to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 if other industrial countries do the same.

The Swiss environment minister is optimistic a follow up to the Kyoto Accord can be agreed in Copenhagen in December, but it remains open how binding it will be.

Urs Geiser, and agencies

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