Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Copenhagen might not be lost - president Obama will go

Adelina Marini, November 26, 2009

The American president Barack Obama will go to Copenhagen for the global climate conference next month, despite the conference's failure to secure a binding worldwide treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an administration official was quoted by the Washington post as saying. The news is good since 2 weeks ago it became clear that the summit will be at e lower level, after it was reported that there would not be a legally binding agreement.

According to the source of the Washington post, the purpose of Obama's visit is to help "move the process forward". Earlier in an editorial the New York Times, not typically for an American media, severely criticised the American Senate for protracting the first cap-and-trade and emissions reduction bill. "The news that world leaders have abandoned hope for a comprehensive, legally binding climate change treaty in Copenhagen next month inspired no end of finger-pointing. Environmentalists blamed eight years of inaction under George W. Bush. The Europeans noted that the Chinese and several other big developing nations had done little to move the ball forward", the newspaper writes.

"Our own candidate for criticism is the United States Senate. We cannot rewrite the Bush years any more than we can persuade the Chinese of the merits of a binding treaty to control greenhouse gases. What the United States can do is assume responsibility for its own emissions, and this the Senate has manifestly failed to do".

But beside the Senate, the NYT blamed the president Barack Obama for the bad signal the US sends to the rest of the world. The newspaper recommends the president to appear quickly and publicly with Ms. Boxer, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Reid, and climate stalwarts like John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham (a Republican outlier) and announce that climate change will be an early order of business next year and that he will not rest until he gets a bill.

He has not done so yet but the fact that he has announced his decision to go to Copenhagen should be signal that to him climate change is important, at least for the sake of other big polluters not to give up their efforts.