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Tilting at Windmills

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November 25, 2009

PERIPATETIC PRESIDENT TO PRESS FOR PROGRESS.... To demonstrate the U.S. commitment to combating global warming, many, here and around the world, hoped President Obama would personally travel to Copenhagen next month for the United Nations meeting on climate change. They got their wish.

Mr. Obama, who had previously not committed to making an appearance at the summit, will deliver a speech on Dec. 9 en route to Oslo, Norway, where he will accept the Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10.

Mr. Obama had been under considerable pressure from other world leaders and environmental advocates to make the trip as a statement of American commitment to the climate change negotiations. The talks, involving more than 190 nations, are expected to produce a wide-ranging interim political declaration but stop short of proposing a binding international treaty.

Delegates are expected to commit to completing the treaty next year.

Mr. Obama has said recently that he would attend the session if his presence could help lead to a successful outcome. It is significant that he will appear at the beginning rather than at the end of the 12-day meeting. Most major decisions at such environmental forums come at the very end of the process.

Mr. Obama will tell the delegates to the climate conference that the United States intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions "in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020," according to a White House official.

In a statement this morning, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who's helping lead the Senate fight on a climate bill, said of the president's travel plans, "This could be one hell of a global game changer with big reverberations here at home. For the first time, an American Administration has proposed an emissions reduction target and when President Obama lands in Copenhagen it will emphasize that the United States is in it to win it. This announcement matches words with action. The Obama Administration is now undeniably mustering bona fide leadership on climate change, not merely departing from Bush Administration intransigence and ideology."

Now, as we talked about last week, the larger plans for the Copenhagen meeting have already been scaled back a bit, with leaders eyeing a two-step process -- incremental progress this year, and a commitment to renew the next stage of efforts next year.

But Obama's in-person lobbying efforts will give the talks a boost, and signal to the world that the United States intends to lead.

Steve Benen 10:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (9)

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Of course, the only angle that the media will cover will be whether Obama bows at all during his trip.

Posted by: Old School on November 25, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

More and more it looks like the United States is approaching global warming in the wrong way. We're trying to pretend that we can solve global warming by continuing to do the same things, only do them more slowly. We're demanding that the third world make promises of sacrifice that they won't fulfill.

Instead, the United States should move ahead on their own, and let the world eat our dust (and breathe their own pollution).

Did it take a treaty to get the world to move from typewriters to word processors? Did it take a series of world conferences to get people to switch from telephones attached to copper wires?

Hell no.

The president of the U.S. should start an all out, land-a-man-on-the-moon-and-bring-him-back-by-the-end-of-the-decade push to end the use of all fossil fuels. He should announce that the federal government will support research in both pure and applied science, that it will provide grants for students who want to go to college to study science, that it will fund pilot projects and that it will subsidize commercial products.

In a few decades, the world will run out of oil. When that happens, either the U.S. or China will renewable energy technology to everyone else. When that happens, the winning economy will rule the world, while the loser . . . .

Now if only the United States had a president who actually believes in changing the status quo.

Posted by: SteveT on November 25, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's in-person lobbying efforts will...signal to the world that the United States intends to lead.

And a bunch of 'centrist' Business Dog Democrat Senators will tell the world to f*** off.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on November 25, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

The mere fact that Obama had even considered not going tells you all you need to know about what a fraud this guy is.

Posted by: scott on November 25, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

In a few decades, the world will run out of oil. When that happens, either the U.S. or China will renewable energy technology to everyone else. When that happens, the winning economy will rule the world, while the loser . . . .

A rapid development of alternative energy supplies will guarantee that oil remains plentiful and cheap. The winning economy will be the economy that persistently spends the least on alternative energy, while forcing the other to spend the most. Oddly, the US right now is stimulating demand (the tax credits for purchase) while China is stimulating production, with the result that the US imports solar panels and wind turbines from China. With these strategies in place, China looks to be the winner, and in the not-too-distant future. Besides that, China is building up both its nuclear power capacity and its coal power capacity faster than the US is doing.

If winning national competitions is your goal, make sure your strategy addresses that goal. I expect that whatever Obama says in Copenhagen will influence the Chinese government as much as his recommendations on civil rights did. If that happens, a US focus on reducing CO2 will put US economic development behind Chinese economic development for a long time to come.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on November 25, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's a bit late to lead years after Europe introduced cap and trade. I'd settle for a United States which is ready to follow.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on November 25, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, the message has not gotten out to all... the phrase "global warming" has been replaced by "climate change", which I suspect was done to buffer increasing criticism of the "warming" argument (snark, snark).

Posted by: pencarrow on November 25, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Good luck. Mean that.

Down here in New Zealand our ever more ridiculous govt just passed an Emissions Trading law that doesn't have a cap, has the govt subsidise the biggest polluters by giving them credits, and continues to do so well till about 2050, or beyond for certain sectors. Result: polluters are actually encouraged to emit, public debt increases and NZ as a whole will have to spend more money meeting it's Kyoto obligations by buying credits. Positive feedbacks. Huzzah.

Thankfully our PM won't be going to Copenhagen, ( he doesn't like bad news).

He does however become all giggly when he gets a chance to talk to your Mr Obama. Could y'all do us a favour and get Obama to call our guy an ass or something?

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