The USA accounts for almost a quarter of the world’s total CO2 emissions. However US emissions of carbon dioxide from energy sources, such as gasoline and coal, fell 2.8% in 2008 as the recession and high fuel prices led to lower consumer demand for energy. The Energy Information Administration said that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide in 2008 fell 165m metric tons from the previous year to 5,802m metric tons.
The USA has in the past received a large degree of international criticism for its stance on climate change. President Bush said he wouldn't ratify the Kyoto
Protocol because it could significantly damage the country financially and that it would be more beneficial to the American people to go it alone. The USA is in fact the only country to have signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and then backed out of it - this came about following the departure of President Bill Clinton and the arrival of President Bush.
President Bush also expressed concern about the pressure on the 'industrialised' countries to cut back on carbon dioxide, while developing countries weren't expected to cut back on theirs. At previous climate conferences the representatives of the Bush White House had been reproached by other delegates for acting as an obstacle to more rapid progress. With Barack Obama as President it is widely believed that America’s position towards climate change will differ from previous administrations.
President Obama has repeatedly stated that America will lead the fight against climate change and has put forward proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050. This matches commitments made by the UK and the EU. However, President Obama's medium-term target has been criticised by some for being under-ambitious. He has said that America should aim to return to 1990 emissions levels by 2020 with critics saying that emissions need to be significantly lower than that by then.
The US government has accepted the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee that the budgets should be re-set at a tougher level if a satisfactory international climate change deal is negotiated.