According to the enviro-mag Grist, this is a big risk for the president:
A couple of hours ago, the Obama administration announced a startling shift in plans: rather than stop by the Copenhagen climate talks on Dec. 9, Obama will be going on the 18th, the final day of the meeting — a notable increase in commitment (and political exposure) from the administration.
The first week of every COP meeting consists of posturing, speeches, protests, and NGO reports. Everything of significance to the treaty is announced late in the meetings, often on the last day, after a flurry of last-minute negotiations. Coming to Copenhagen at the climax of the talks, specifically to push negotiations “over the top,” as the White House statement says, is a risky move for Obama. He’s got skin in the game now; he’ll look foolish if he rides in at the last minute and fails to broker an agreement.
If he’s willing to stick his neck out like this, Obama must be pretty confident that he can get a deal. There have been signs of momentum for weeks now. The much-discussed deal with China was just one in a raft of commitments from the developing countries, including India and Brazil. Movement from the developing world has undercut one of U.S. conservatives’ principal arguments for inaction. Over 65 world leaders have pledged to attend. was just one in a raft of
Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA is expected to finalize its endangerment ruling on CO2 on Monday — the kickoff day of Copenhagen — making regulations on CO2 legally mandated and all but inevitable. That’s likely to help motivate the Senate, where Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are busy working out a compromise bill that can get 60 votes. Kerry released the Foreign Relations Committee’s contribution to the bill
today, which would authorize programs, including adaptation funding and technology transfer, that the U.S. is expected to offer as part of a deal in Copenhagen.
After being declared dead a dozen separate times by the media, it would seem Copenhagen is still very much alive and kicking.
Amusing to see the BRICs’ promises to raise their emissions a little less in exchange for big sacks of cash being touted as a sign of momentum. I’m not so sure about the central premise, either. If Copenhagen blows up, doesn’t showing up on the last day give Obama a chance to lecture the world rather than look incompetent for not getting anything done?