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A warning to delegates in Copenhagen: If you’re looking for President Barack Obama to cave to pressure and deepen US efforts to curb greenhouse gases, don’t bet on it.

AP/Nanet Poulsen17/12/2009 09:05
A warning to delegates in Copenhagen: If you’re looking for President Barack Obama to cave to pressure and deepen US efforts to curb greenhouse gases, don’t bet on it.

Obama, like most world leaders, is constrained by tough politics at home. And that makes it tougher for the summit to produce meaningful pollution cuts.

US officials stressed Wednesday that when Obama travels to the climate conference in Denmark this week he won’t bring anything to the talks beyond Washington’s already stated goals: to commit to reducing greenhouse gases by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and to pay a “fair share” into a 10 billion US dollars fund to help developing countries deal with climate change.

Developing countries have called on the United States and Europe to make much deeper cuts in the short term — by at least 34 percent from 2005 emission levels by 2020. Those are reductions far beyond what members of Congress — even those supporting climate legislation — say they will accept.

“We don’t want to promise something we don’t have,” Todd Stern, chief of the US delegation to the climate conference, told reporters this week in Copenhagen. He said he did not anticipate any change in the US commitment.

Said Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, a co-author of a climate bill already passed by the House of Representatives: The president “is not going to go further. … The words he is going to use are the same words he has been using for the last two weeks.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, too, kept a tight hold on expectations for the summit. Noting that there are remaining disagreements among delegates, he said the president “is hopeful that his presence can help” produce “a strong operational agreement, even as we work toward something even stronger in the future.”

In Copenhagen, Stern, the U.S. delegation head, declared: “Our commitment is tied to our anticipated legislation. We don’t want to promise something we don’t have.”
At the same time, administration officials said — and are arguing in meetings in Copenhagen — that the U.S. is doing more to reduce the climate change threat than getting legislation passed by Congress.

In recent days, the White House has choreographed a series of announcements and events in Washington designed to highlight those efforts — from tax breaks for renewable energy manufacturers to the president visiting a home remodeling store to declare it is “sexy” to better insulate your home.

The White House distributed a memo noting that the economic recovery program contains 80 billion dollars to help promote clean energy development including money for renewable energy projects, nuclear power plants, more fuel efficient motor vehicles and commercial development of carbon capture technologies to be used at coal burning power plants.

It was a message designed for both Copenhagen and domestic consumption. (Photo: Scanpix/AFP)

Source: en.cop15.dk