LONDON (Reuters) - The United States must make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than proposed by PresidentBarack Obama if the world is to stand a chance of avoiding devastating climate change, an EU official said.
Jos Delbeke, the European Commission's deputy director-general of the environment, said a goal of bringing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, set by Obama last month, will probably not be enough.
"I doubt whether that will bring us to the average required by developed countries," he told Reuters on Friday. "We in Europe would hope the U.S. will do more than stabilization of 1990 levels. I will not hide that."
Scientists say global emissions must stabilize by 2015, then fall by some 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 if the world is to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
A rise of over 2 degrees may trigger widespread flooding, droughts, disease and famine, United Nations scientists said.
The 27-nation European Union has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, upping that target to 30 percent if a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol climate pact is signed.
"The EU's position is that developed countries, as a group, must cut 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020," Delbeke told a clean energy conference held by analysts New Energy Finance.
With its carbon dioxide emissions rising nearly 20 percent since 1990, the United States is the most polluting developed country.
Stabilization of U.S. emissions at 1990 levels in 2020 would make it near impossible for developed countries to reach the EU's 30 percent group target.