Obama Makes Promise to Bolster Copenhagen Protocol

Obama Makes Promise to Bolster Copenhagen Protocol

Last week the White House announced that President Obama intends to make a pledge for U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions at the United Nations climate summit meeting next week in Copenhagen.  Earlier last month we sent out a weekly alert warning you of the threat the Copenhagen Protocol being negotiated at this meeting presents to your individual liberty and the sovereignty of every nation. Pres. Obama’s promise significantly amplifies this threat.

Obama will be traveling to the Copenhagen meetings on December 9, early in the 12-day sessions, to deliver the promise to delegates that the U.S. intends to reduce GHG emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% below by 2050. Many believe such a strong statement from the U.S. will encourage other countries such as China and India to make similar pledges, thus increasing the likelihood of a final agreement being reached and ratified internationally.

Obama’s pledge mirrors GHG reduction targets already in climate change legislation waiting in the Senate. The legislation passed the House last June but is currently stalled in the Senate. It is designed to reduce carbon emissions through a national cap-and-trade system that turns carbon emissions into a commodity traded in the market.

The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation next Spring. It appears the administration is hoping Obama’s new pledge will encourage the Senate to finally approve this legislation and eventually ratify the Copenhagen Protocol, if an agreement is finally reached. It is still unclear, however, what effect Obama’s pledge will have on Copenhagen and national efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

Senator John Kerry called the new promise a “game-changer.”

“By announcing a provisional target, contingent on the support of Congress, the President has defined a path to an international agreement that challenges the developed and developing nations to fulfill their obligations,” he said. “It lays the groundwork for a broad political consensus at Copenhagen that will strip climate obstructionists here at home of their most persistent charge, that the United States shouldn’t act if other countries won’t join with us.”

Others are more skeptical. Up to this point Congress has never enacted or ratified any legislation or treaties that set binding GHG reduction targets or emission limits in the U.S. It does appear, however, that the current administration is doing its best to ensure that the Copenhagen Protocol is internationally agreed upon and ratified here in the U.S.

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