US climate legislation and the Copenhagen talks

2009-10-05

in Law, Politics, The environment

Some news sources are reporting that Obama’s top energy advisor is saying there will be no new climate legislation in the US this year. If true, that would mean that the US will be going to the UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen with disappointingly little to offer as evidence of progress, reducing the chances that the talk will succeed.

That being said, Joseph Romm is decrying such stories as misleading and old news. He claims that: “for many, many months now the only issue for those who follow DC climate politics has been whether the Senate would pass a climate bill before Copenhagen, not whether a final bill would get onto Obama’s desk before Copenhagen.”

Romm has been playing the role of arch-optimist when it comes to the Waxman-Markey bill and the upcoming Copenhagen talks. Hopefully, his perspective will prove justified in light of future events.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. October 6, 2009 at 9:40 am

Fifty years from now, this might be seen as the defining failure of the Obama presidency.

Milan October 6, 2009 at 10:46 am

Joseph Romm said something similar: “Future historians will inevitably judge all 21st century presidents as failures if the world doesn’t stop catastrophic global warming.”

. November 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm

In the eyes of most of the world, the United States has again emerged as the principal obstacle to a new international climate agreement, in stark contrast to India, China and other rapidly industrializing developing countries that, despite the widely held view of a year ago that they would be unlikely to cooperate on drafting a new pact, have actually moved further and faster to address the climate crisis.

As the final preparatory talks wound up in Barcelona at the end of last week without finalizing a negotiating text for Copenhagen, almost everyone had accepted that a new agreement would not be finalized in the Danish capital, thanks to the United States’ failure to deliver on last year’s hopeful signals.

Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace’s policy director, said U.S. intransigence was “threatening to kill the prospect of a legally binding Copenhagen treaty.” Oxfam added: “The U.S. shadow is looming large over the climate talks.”

Key delegates vented their frustration by breaking with protocol to point the finger towards Washington. “Clearly, the U.S. has been slowing things down,” said Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Union’s chief climate negotiator. Alicia Montalbo, chief negotiator for Spain (the next country to hold the rotating European Union presidency), echoed Kaiser’s sentiments more indirectly, saying: “There’s a certain level of frustration in seeing that not all countries share (the) vision.” More of the same came from Denmark’s climate minister, Connie Hedegaard: “We can’t imagine having an agreement without the United States, they have to be a part of it,” she told Agence France-Presse.

After visiting President Obama last week, Frederik Reinfeld, the Prime Minister of Sweden (and current EU president) said the slow progress of the U.S. Senate’s climate bill made adopting a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen impossible. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, addressing both houses of Congress on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, devoted most of her speech to the need to address climate change, stressing: “We have no time to lose.””

. November 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

US will announce target for cutting carbon emissions
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

The US will announce a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions before next month’s UN climate summit, according to a White House official.

The target is expected to be in line with figures contained in legislation before the Senate – a reduction of about 17-20% from 2005 levels by 2020.

The absence of a US target has widely been seen as the single biggest obstacle to agreement at the summit.

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