Obama, Hu Renew Commitment to Copenhagen Goals, but Offer No Specifics
U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Hu released a joint statement on climate change, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, saying the Copenhagen summit should “include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.” That statement seems firmly in line with the position of developing countries—including megapolluter China (the world’s number 1 carbon emitter)—that the developed world should be held accountable for reducing carbon emissions by significant amounts, while the developing world should only have loose goals without teeth or bite.
The statement was short on specifics, however, including on carbon reduction targets, developing world goals, or the most divisive issue—exactly how the cost of carbon reduction should be divvied up.
The joint statement may satisfy German Chancellor Merkel, who might not be forced to make good on her threat to boycott Copenhagen unless the U.S. and China make progress before the conference. It also is hoped by the Obama Administration that discussions and agreement—even broad-strokes agreement—with China will help get a climate bill through Congress.
While accepting that a binding treaty will not come out of Copenhagen, Administration officials sought to portray the conference as still significant, with the President saying that the goal is not merely a “political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues of in the negotiations, and . . . has immediate effect.” Obama wants the conference to result in more than “an agreement to have an agreement,” though it is unclear how an unenforceable accord differs from an agreement to agree at some later date.
The Obama Administration has been a vocal cheerleader in the fight against global warming and, more specifically, of the need for multinational agreement on the issue. To that end, the Administration has said that the U.S. is ready to provide financial assistance to developing countries to help cover the costs of fighting global warming—which means that the U.S. could end up paying for other nations’ carbon dioxide emissions as well as its own.