Here on the eve of Thanksgiving, the White House has announced that President Obama will go to the Copenhagen Climate Negotiations and offer greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for the United States. His trip to Copenhagen will coincide with his trip to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10th.
The New York Times reports that President Obama will announce greenhouse gas reductions of around 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. Most nations are proposing 20% or more reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 (note the difference in base years). But hey, let’s applaud the President for his efforts to address climate change in a country where public opinion is declining about the seriousness of climate change in the face of increasingly more perilous predictions of a warming future.
The Copenhagen Climate Negotiations will begin on December 7th and continue through the 18th. President Obama’s arrival will be at the beginning of the negotiations. Historically high-level political leaders don’t show up until the final few days. The President’s early arrival in the conference may bode well for a strong outcome in Copenhagen, as this will give time for other countries to shuffle their commitments around the United States and reach agreement.
While President Obama, is only committing to Copenhagen for a short visit, several Ashevillians will be there the entire time. We’ll be there struggling and striving for an agreement that is on par with what scientists say is necessary. Right now, pre-negotiations have fallen into a sort of stalemate where no one wants to make bold commitments without knowing what the world’s biggest emitters are going to do. Many have already predicted that this stalemate will not be resolved in Copenhagen and that the outcome will merely be a step towards a more comprehensive agreement. We will see if Obama will bring hope to Copenhagen.