“Immediate Operational Effect” – President to Attend Copenhagen Negotiations
By Keith Schneider
WASHINGTON – With the start of international climate negotiations just days away, and with global allies and public interest organizations pressing the United States for emissions reductions and clean energy financing for developing countries, the White House today announced dramatic steps to help push the world as close to a binding agreement on climate change as possible.
First, said the White House, President Obama will attend the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen. His appearance on December 9 comes a day before he receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. President Obama will be among the more than 60 heads of state scheduled to participate in the Copenhagen negotiations, which occur from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18 and include delegates from 192 nations.
Second, the Obama administration said it is prepared to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 “in the range” of 17 percent below 2005 levels, and that the overall goal of the U.S. is to reduce emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.
And third, the administration is establishing a U.S. Center in Copenhagen and sending its natural resources, environment, climate, and energy A-team to aid negotiators, hold news conferences, and present formal talks. The high-ranking delegation is meant to underscore what the White House said is “the historic progress the Obama administration has made to address climate change and create a new energy future.” Among the president’s senior aides scheduled to be in Copenhagen are Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, along with Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate, and Nancy Sutley, the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
India Yesterday, China Friday
For weeks the Obama administration has plainly signaled its resolve to make the Copenhagen negotiations, if not the final step in writing a new climate treaty, a substantive conference with historic influence in securing the environment and advancing a global clean energy economy. Earlier this month, during the U.S. – China summit in Beijing, President Obama declared his intention to draw as close as possible to a climate agreement that has tangible results. “Our aim is not a partial accord or a political declaration,” the president said, “but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect. This kind of comprehensive agreement would be an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge.”
Consistent with Domestic Legislation
In responding to the White House announcement, American environmental and climate action groups generally expressed satisfaction in the president’s decision to attend Copenhagen. But almost all noted that the president needed to follow his administration’s strong presence in Copenhagen with a full-court press in Congress to pass domestic climate and clean energy legislation. Doing so, they said, will advance the work of clearing the skies of climate changing pollution and accelerating the clean energy economy in the United States. And a domestic law would help reach a legally binding and final global climate agreement next year.
“It's great that he's going to Copenhagen,” said Angela Anderson, the program director of the US Climate Action Network, a coalition of nearly 90 organizations based in Washington, D.C. “And he needs to keep Air Force One warm so that he can return to seal the deal.”
Get It Done in Washington
The president’s Copenhagen travel plans also prompted criticism from opponents to climate action and clean energy, among them Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who considers climate change a scientific “hoax.” “It's clear that China, India, and the developing world, which will soon be responsible for the vast bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, will not accept mandatory cuts in emissions-despite entreaties from President Obama,” said Senator Inhofe in a statement today. “The U.S. Senate has made clear on numerous occasions that unilateral action by the United States is unacceptable, because it will harm our economy and have virtually no effect on climate change."
But Senator Kerry told a reporter for E&E News today that the White House emissions target “lays the groundwork for a broad political consensus at Copenhagen that will strip climate obstructionists here at home of their most persistent charge, that the United States shouldn't act if other countries won't join with us. It is an enormous shot in the arm for those of us working overtime to get a comprehensive bill passed in the Senate. And the fact that the president will attend the Copenhagen talks underscores that the administration is putting its money where its mouth is, putting the president's prestige on the line."
Keith Schneider, a journalist, is director of media and communications at the US Climate Action Network. Reach him at email@example.com.
1Sky is very pleased to learn that President Obama will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark and sees the trip as yet another indication that he is the most engaged president ever on this issue.
The President's attendance in Copenhagen demonstrates his personal commitment to getting a deal that is good for the U.S. and good for our clean energy future. It's a powerful statement that the U.S. is back, ready to lead the world.
“It’s good that President Obama plans to attend the global climate-change conference in Copenhagen. But the United States has to do more than just show up. We need to lead the world on emissions-reduction targets, and the targets the President is pledging to take with him are far too weak to avoid climate catastrophe. "
Statement from Alliance for Climate Protection President and CEO Maggie L. Fox on President Obama Attending Copenhagen
Today’s announcement that President Obama will attend the UN Conference of Parties 15 in Copenhagen sends the clear message that the United States is serious about stepping up to lead international efforts to address the urgent threat of climate change and forge a new clean energy future for our nation and the world.
“President Obama’s decision to attend climate talks in Copenhagen is good news for the planet, and a great Thanksgiving gift for America. President Obama’s personal involvement in this historic event shows the U.S. is serious about protecting the climate and creating a clean energy future for the world. "
“We applaud President Obama and the Administration for bringing the United States to the international negotiating table to solve global warming."
"The administration's announcement proposes the same inadequate emissions targets that were included in the House-passed climate legislation. By taking his cues from a Congress heavily influenced by the fossil fuel industry, Obama continues to shirk domestic and international leadership on climate policy."
“We applaud President Obama for continuing to demonstrate steadfast leadership towards curbing global warming pollution and building a clean energy economy."
The White House announced today that President Obama will travel to Copenhagen on December 9 to participate in the United Nations climate change conference. His presence will help the international community as it works toward a comprehensive and effective agreement to reduce global warming pollution, according to policy experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“For months, President Obama stated his personal commitment to tackling climate change at the global level. Today, he signaled that he’s ready to roll up his sleeves to make a climate change deal happen."
"We applaud President Obama for making this trip. President Obama's attendance at these talks will demonstrate that America is giving this challenge the attention it deserves."
"The White House's announcement that President Obama will attend the climate talks in Copenhagen next month is very encouraging. "
“President Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen on December 9 to personally deliver the U.S. position on climate change to the rest of the world is welcome news. It will take the personal commitment of the president and other leaders to deliver the fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement that the world needs out of Copenhagen.
The White House announced today that President Obama will travel to Copenhagen on Dec. 9 to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he is eager to work with the international community to drive progress toward a comprehensive and operational Copenhagen accord.
In response, Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, said, “President Obama’s willingness to go to Copenhagen and put numbers on the table are two necessary pieces to make a binding global agreement possible."
“If his presence during the latter days of the COP becomes necessary to secure the right commitments, we hope the President will be willing to return to Copenhagen with the rest of the world's leaders during the final stages of the negotiations."