Wednesday, November 25, 2009

President Obama Will Go To Copenhagen & Emission Targets

Nov 25: With just 11 days before the start of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP15), the White House announced that President Obama will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark on December 9 to participate in the conference. According to a release, the President "is eager to work with the international community to drive progress toward a comprehensive and operational Copenhagen accord."

The release indicates, 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 release states, "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."

The White House said, the "provisional target" is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress (i.e. H.R. 2454 & S. 1733) 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, the White House said, "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."

The White House also announced 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 U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are all scheduled to attend, along with Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, 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, which they said would provide "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 schedule and topics of keynote events and speakers are: 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; and, Thursday, December 17th: Backing Up International Agreement with Domestic Action, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and Assistant to the President Carol Browner.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released a brief statement regarding the Obama administration's announcement and said, "I am so pleased that the President is going to Copenhagen to address one of the most pressing issues of our time -- global warming. The goal he announced today, in the range of 17 percent, reflects the work that was done in the House of Representatives and in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It is realistic, it's smart, and it's credible." The Senate Bill, S. 1733, actually includes a 20% reduction over 2005 levels -- a reduction that Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee that will consider the bill in January, said was "too high." Senator Baucus was the only dissenting Democratic vote when the EPW approved the bill [
See WIMS 11/5/09].

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the EPW Committee, commented on the news that President Obama will travel to Copenhagen and said, "I suspect President Obama is making the trip to Copenhagen in order to ‘save' the climate conference. Yet no amount of lofty rhetoric or promises of future commitments can save it. This is due in large part to the fact cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate is dying on the vine, and, as important, recent revelations of leading climate scientists who appear to have manufactured the climate ‘consensus'-revelations that cast doubt over the entire global warming enterprise. Moreover, it's clear that China, India, and the developing world, which will soon be responsible for the vast bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, will not accept mandatory cuts in emissions -- despite entreaties from President Obama. The U.S. Senate has made clear on numerous occasions that unilateral action by the United States is unacceptable, because it will harm our economy and have virtually no effect on climate change."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the announcement that President Barack Obama would be attending the Conference in Copenhagen. UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters, “As more and more heads of State and government confirm their attendance, momentum is building for a successful conclusion to this crucial world gathering. Earlier this month, Ban urged the US to take a leading role in forging a new global pact to combat global warming and said, “No country is more important than the United States in resolving this climate change issue.” In a briefing to the press less than two weeks ahead of the Copenhagen (COP 15) conference, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer spoke about his expectations for the meeting, which he described as a “historic turning point.” with "no Plan B."

Access a lengthy release from the White House with a listing and links to further information on American action and accomplishments over the last 10 months (
click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a statement from the UN (click here). Access links to the de Boer briefing video and speaking notes (click here).

Today's full issue of eNewsUSA included more climate-related articles including:

  • CBO On The Costs of Reducing Greenhouse-Gas Emissions
  • Senator Inhofe Launches "Climategate" Investigation
  • India & U.S., Two Largest Democracies, Form "Green Partnership"
  • Draft Report Analyzing Vulnerability Of Endangered Species To Climate Change

Click here and we'll send you today's complete report