Obama Will Go to COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen
The White House has officially announced that president Obama plans on attending the COP15 climate change conference held next month in Copenhagen from December 7th to the 19th.
Obama will give a speech at the conference on December 9th on his way to Norway to pick up his Nobel Peace Price on the 10th.
Obama had not committed to making an appearance at COP15, saying he would attend only if his presence would help lead to a successful outcome.
Pressure on the US
Despite his reticence to go to Copenhagen, Obama has been under intense pressure from other world leaders to make a showing at the conference. The negotiating process has been hobbled by the US lack of commitment and hopes are that Obama will lead the way in an American response and commitment to mitigation and finance targets as the international community wrestles with building a new treaty that will both define the second commitment period for the Kyoto protocol beginning in 2013, and for a larger, more comprehensive agreement that includes the United States.
Numbers on the table
Obama has indicated he will put “numbers on the table” in regard to emissions targets, something that has heretofore been absent from the US in any climate negotiations. Those numbers are likely to please no one, as they will hoe the line already drawn from the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill: “in the range” of a 17 percent reduction by 2020 over 2005 levels. Most developed countries have committed between 20 to 30% in emissions reduction over 1990 levels, and developing countries have called for a need to reduce emission by as much as 40 percent from 1990 by 2020 if the world is to get serious about dealing with escalating emissions and climate change. With 1990 as the reference year, the US proposal represents a 4% reduction in emissions.
Nonetheless, just having Obama show up with a willingness to offer a commitment target is seen as progress. It may be an indication of lowered expectations, but any progress in US involvement in the negotiating process should be seen as a good thing. At least it’s a start.