Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Change Summit Expectations Slashed

The Obama administration is backpedaling rapidly on the eve of the Copenhagen conference for negotiating a replacement for the soon to expire Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission controls. Deputy National Security Adviser for Economic Affairs Michael Froman said Monday “It was unrealistic to expect a full, legally binding international agreement to be reached between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days.”

Congressional leaders acknowledge that climate change measures in the Senate have been bumped off the fast track by the extended health care reform debate and the need to focus on job creation and financial market reform before any detailed cap and trade emissions program can be put into place. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expects the Copenhagen talks to result in little more than a political agreement to continue negotiations on the terms of a potential binding replacement treaty.

Senator Dick Lugar acknowledges that the present is an especially difficult time for US negotiators to enter into discussions about payments to developing nations to help them convert to clean technologies and cope with already occurring climate changes. “There’s the thought of transfer of wealth to so-called developing countries and billions of dollars in the midst of this [American unemployment at 10.2 %]. This is real money. All I’m saying is, get real,” Lugar pronounced. President Obama and other world leaders are now looking for a two step process, with Copenhagen representing the first step: a nonbinding political agreement calling for greenhouse gas reduction and aid to developing economies. Step two will be another meeting late next year to negotiate a binding treaty, presumably after Congress has committed the US to specific emission reduction goals.

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