... resist legally binding cuts in carbon emissions; the latter that it will do likewise in the face of China's instransigence.
The confontation between the globe's two major superpowers has potentially damaging implications for world business, given that ongoing uncertainty over the next eight years could have dangerous side effects - not least for the marketing, media and advertising industries.
Likewise the economies of developing nations, which stand to lose the most in the event of rising sea levels and extreme-weather events, like droughts and floods, that scientists predict are likely to increase in frequency if global temperatures continue to rise.
According to Todd Stern, US climate envoy and lead negotiator: "With no major climate deal in sight until 2020, the US plans to stick to an emission-reduction pledge it made in 2009 in Copenhagen and implement a package of nonbinding agreements that nations reached last year in Cancun, Mexico."
Continued Stern: "What is true about Cancun and Copenhagen is that all major parties have taken steps together, which had never happened before," Stern told reporters Tuesday. The agreement may be nonbinding, but it "represents a solemn commitment by all the parties. No one takes it lightly."
Japan, Russia and Canada have said they don't plan to sign on to a second round of the Kyoto treaty unless the world's major emitters, particularly the US and China, also agree to cut their emissions - a stance also iterated by European countries.
Questioned earlier this week about progress in the US, where a road emissions-reduction program has failed to make it through Congress [thanks to the good ol' boy oil and coal lobbyists], Stern cited the work of President Barack Obama's administration to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from gasoline-burning vehicles and coal-fired power plants, two major sources of greenhouse gases.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has tightened vehicle-emissions standards, but the power-plant rules are still pending.
Meantime, the world's nations will meet in Durban, South Africa, next week to work out the details of the Cancun agreements. Delegates also will be negotiating a fund that would provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to poorer countries to develop clean-energy resources and offset the costs of handling droughts, floods and other effects of climate change.