President Obama won’t talk climate change in Copenhagen

by Giles Whittell
Washington
The Times [UK]
October 24, 2009

President Obama will almost certainly not travel to the Copenhagen climate change summit in December and may instead use his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to set out US environmental goals, The Times has learnt.

With healthcare reform clogging his domestic agenda and no prospect of a comprehensive climate treaty in Copenhagen, Mr Obama may disappoint campaigners and foreign leaders, including Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, who have urged him to attend to boost the hopes of a breakthrough.

The White House would not comment on Mr Obama’s travel plans yesterday, but administration officials have said privately that “Oslo is plenty close” — a reference to the Nobel ceremony that falls on December 10, two days into the Copenhagen meeting.

The White House confirmed that the President would be in Oslo to accept the prize, but a source close to the Administration said it was “hard to see the benefit” of his going to Copenhagen if there was no comprehensive deal for him to close or sign. Another expert, who did not want to be named, said he would be “really, really shocked” if Mr Obama went to Copenhagen, adding that European hopes about the power of his Administration to transform the climate change debate in a matter of months bore little relation to reality. The comprehensive climate change treaty that for years has been the goal of the Copenhagen conference was now an “unrealistic” prospect, Yvo de Boer, the UN official guiding the process, said last week.

Chinese and Indian resistance to mandatory carbon emission limits has so far proved an insurmountable obstacle to crafting a successor to the Kyoto Protocol that is acceptable to the US. America has also slowed the process through its reluctance to accept climate change science or the carbon cap-and-trade mechanism to combat global warming.

…the White House is having to wage a vote-by-vote battle in Congress for a climate change Bill that would embrace cap-and-trade. The Bill will not be signed into law until next year at the earliest but is considered essential for any global deal.

The article continues at The Times.

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