Obama Will Go to Copenhagen, Pledge 17-Percent Emissions Cut
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 10:47 am
President Obama will travel to Copenhagen next month to attend part of the international climate conference, The Washington Post reports.
The decision follows months of speculation over whether the president would make the trip. Obama has said for the past few weeks that he would only attend if his presence could be the impetus for a successful climate agreement.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Obama will commit to a greenhouse gas emissions cut by the United States “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. That’s the target set by the House climate bill passed in June. But without a Senate counterpart in place, Obama’s pledge might not carry much weight in Copenhagen. The Senate is not expected to take up climate legislation until early next year.
Obama will spend Dec. 9 in Copenhagen before flying to Oslo the next day to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. The climate conference is scheduled to run from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18.
Environmentalists have argued for some time that Obama’s presence is critical if the global community is to think that the United States — the world’s biggest carbon emitter, historically — is serious about an international treaty.
But a one-day stop in Copenhagen may not be enough. Obama “must also be willing to return to Copenhagen with the rest of the world’s leaders during the final stages of the negotiations” if necessary, Keya Chatterjee, climate director for the World Wildlife Fund, told The Post.
Other Western leaders, including Britain’s Gordon Brown and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, have already pledged to attend the conference.
Update 10:54 am: Here’s a press release just sent out by the White House:
President to Attend Copenhagen Climate Talks
Administration Announces U.S. Emission Target for 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. The President has worked steadily on behalf of a positive outcome in Copenhagen throughout the year. Based on the President’s work on climate change over the past 10 months – in the Major Economies Forum, the G20, bilateral discussions and multilateral consultations – and based on progress made in recent, constructive discussions with China and India’s Leaders, the President believes it is possible to reach a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen. The President’s decision to go is a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change, and to lay the foundation for a new, sustainable and prosperous clean energy future.
The White House also announced that, in the context of an overall deal in Copenhagen that includes robust mitigation contributions from China and the other emerging economies, the President is prepared to put on the table a U.S. emissions reduction target in the range of 17% below 2005 levels in 2020 and ultimately in line with final U.S. energy and climate legislation. In light of the President’s goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050, the expected pathway set forth in this pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42% reduction below 2005 in 2030. This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long. With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, it is essential that the countries of the world, led by the major economies, do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty. The President is working closely with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation as soon as possible.
Underscoring President Obama’s commitment to American leadership on clean energy and combating climate change, the White House also announced today that a host of Cabinet secretaries and other top officials from across the Administration will travel to Copenhagen for the conference. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson are all scheduled to attend, along with Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.
For the first time, the U.S. delegation will have a U.S. Center at the conference, providing a unique and interactive forum to share our story with the world. In addition to working with other countries to advance American interests, U.S. delegates will keynote a series of events highlighting actions by the Obama Administration to provide domestic and global leadership in the transition to a clean energy economy. Topics will range from energy efficiency investments and global commitments to renewables policy and clean energy jobs. The following keynote events and speakers are currently scheduled:
· Wednesday, December 9th: Taking Action at Home, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
· Thursday, December 10th: New Energy Future: the role of public lands in clean energy production and carbon capture, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
· Friday, December 11th: Clean Energy Jobs in a Global Marketplace, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
· Monday, December 14th: Leading in Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Energy Secretary Steven Chu
· Tuesday, December 15th: Clean Energy Investments: creating opportunities for rural economies, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
· Thursday, December 17th: Backing Up International Agreement with Domestic Action, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and Assistant to the President Carol Browner
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