U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he would travel to Copenhagen next month if a climate summit is on the verge of a framework deal and his presence there will make a difference in clinching it …
“If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge then certainly that’s something that I will do,” Obama told Reuters in an interview.
I had written back on Oct. 9, after the Nobel Peace Prize announcement, that it looks like Obama will be going to Copenhagen after all.
The only question is whether there will be enough progress to motivate him to come. Reuters notes that the President remains optimistic in spite of the too-slow movement in the Senate:
Obama, who has faced resistance from opposition Republicans and even some fellow Democrats to setting caps on greenhouse gas emissions, acknowledged that the U.S. Senate would not pass climate change legislation before Copenhagen.
Delays in the U.S. Congress have rankled European allies and added to questions about how significant the deal that emerges from Copenhagen will ultimately be.
But Obama insisted he remained optimistic that the Dec. 7-18 summit could yield a “framework” agreement.
“I think the question is can we create a set of principles, building blocks, that allow for ongoing and continuing progress on the issue and that’s something I’m confident we can achieve,” he said.
Finally, it has been obvious for a while that a framework deal between the U.S. and China was key to enabling both domestic and international action (see “Does a serious bill need action from China?“). The Administration has been pursuing it aggressively for a while (see “Exclusive: Have China and the U.S. been holding secret talks aimed at a climate deal this fall?“).
Now the President has publicly stated he expected such a framework deal to be achieved this month:
Obama made clear he considers his talks with Chinese leaders during an Asia tour later this month to be crucial in clearing remaining obstacles to some kind of accord.
“The key now is for the United States and China, the two largest emitters in the world, is to be able to come up with a framework that, along with other big emitters like the Europeans and those countries that are projected to be large emitters in the future, like India, can all buy into,” he said.
“I remain optimistic that between now and Copenhagen that we can arrive at that framework,” he added.
If he succeeds, then I do think Copenhagen will achieve what is needed to advance the prospects for international deal, the President will come and a global framework will be agreed to — with a follow-on global meeting set for six months later — then the U.S. Senate and then the entire Congress will pass a climate bill, and we will finalize the international agreement by the end of next year.