President Obama Will Attend Copenhagen

Administrator officials told Reutersthat President Obama would attend the Copenhagen Conference inDecember.  Officials said that he would stop by the conference on Dec.9 on his way to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

Hopes for an international agreement have been squashed recently afterthe Obama Administration and other leaders in the world declared afinalized deal simply ‘too hard’ to work out right now.  PresidentObama has been hamstrung by the Senate’s inability to act on the energyand climate bill before them due to the healthcare tie-up there.  Someargue that the stalling of the healthcare bill was a Republicanstrategy to push off energy legislation until next year after theCopenhagen conference in hopes that the issue would simply die after afailed international agreement.

The conference in Copenhagen runs from Dec. 7-18, and leading Heads ofState in other countries are planning to attend at the tail end of themeeting.  President Obama’s Dec.9 visit does not allow him to be ableto personally work out details in person with other leaders at theconference.

Although President Obama has stated that climate change is a toppriority of his administration, he looks foolish accepting the NobelPeace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" and then not put forth the extra effort needed to represent the U.S. fully at the conference.

Other world leaders have begun criticizing the U.S. saying thatAmerica’s inability to define acceptable emission reduction targets iscausing other nations to sidestep enacting their own domesticregulations, thus causing the failure of accomplishing the conference’sgoals.

Hu Jintao, president of China has not committed to attending theconference, and President Obama’s ‘fly-by’ will probably not convincethe Chinese leader to attend. (BBC)

Together, China and the U.S. are the number one and number two emitters of greenhouse gases accounting for over 40% of all global emissions.  Without them there, other countries in the world see their efforts as futile in combating climate change.

"It is significant that he will appear at the beginning ratherthan at the end of the 12-day meeting. Most major decisions at suchenvironmental forums come at the very end of the process", the NYT reports.

The Washington Post says that "officialsin many countries also pledged to reach an interim agreement that wouldnot be legally binding on the countries, but would set targets foremission reductions and be a step toward a treaty", a step that the Union of Concerned Scientists agrees with.

Critics of the progress of the climate bill in the Senate see the ObamaAdministration’s one-day stopover in Copenhagen as a case of ‘toolittle, too late’, but hope the the Administration will throw its fullweight behind passing an energy bill in the first part of 2010 using aninterim agreement hashed out in Copenhagen as a blueprint for action.

The L.A. Timesis reporting that President Obama is set to pledge a 17% drop in U.S.emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, a level of emissions still abovethe 1990 level that other countries are using.  Essentially, PresidentObama is having trouble committing to reducing U.S. emissions to 1990levels by 2020.  Other countries in the world have already promisedreducing their own emissions by 25% from 1990 levels, making PresidentObama seem as though his statements regarding climate change are simplyrhetoric, and that he does not have the political will to turn hiswords into action.

One such window for action is quickly approaching in Copenhagen.  Therewill be other chances to define an international climate treaty, butthe here-and-now is always the best place to take action.



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