The US must not do less than the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions, said in an exclusive interview with EurActiv Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the Nobel prize in 2007 together with Al Gore.
Speaking to EurActiv in the car during his day-long conference marathon at Belgian universities, Pachauri urged the Obama administration to be more aggressive in its climate plans.
"The US plan to stabilise emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 is far below [what] the EU has committed to," he said. That "does not represent a leadership position," he added.
The IPCC chief urged the US to achieve a domestic consensus, which he says is needed if world governments are to agree a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change in Copenhagen next December.
"The danger of postponing actions is that it might strengthen some of the forces who are going to resist any agreement and any change," Pachauri said, adding that that failure to act in the US might break the global momentum.
On the other hand, if the US makes quick progress in implementing its domestic agenda and President Obama repeatedly assures the world of what he wants to do, it should be enough to allow an agreement to be hammered out, Pachauri said.
An Indian national, Pachauri urged developed countries to listen to demands from poorer nations on financial transfers for adapting to the consequences of climate change and mitigating emissions.
"Developing countries have asked for financial transfers, largely for adaptation, but also help with mitigation actions, and they have asked for access to technology to make that possible. To be quite honest, the response to that from the developed world has not been very clear so far. There has not been any kind of firm or concrete response from the developed world on this issue," he stated, stressing that an adaptation fund should be "reasonable in size".
Asked about the range of financial support needed, Pachauri noted it was not a matter of numbers, but more of having serious discussions to come up with the right approach to financing.
Pachauri also favoured carbon, or so-called 'Tobin taxes', to raise funds to combat global warming. "Being able to provide a price for carbon, by which markets get a strong signal to move towards a low-carbon technology" is key, he said. "A Tobin tax has a lot of merit, but somehow has not received the attention it deserves," he argued.
Policies go hand in hand with raising awareness, said Pachauri, praising a 'Greenathon' which took place in India last month. "I recommend it strongly to TV channels. It really helped to get the message across on climate change," he said.
Pachauri is convinced that "we all have to practise what we preach". "If we believe something has to be done about the problem we have to be part of the solution," he said.
Pachauri was speaking to EurActiv Managing Editor Daniela Vincenti-Mitchener