The White House officially announced today that President Barack Obama will go to Copenhagen to attend the COP15 climate conference, a commitment Obama has thus far been reticent to make, saying that he would attend only if his presence would help secure a successful outcome in the climate negotiations.
It now appears as if he feels his attendance will do just that. President Obama plans on giving a speech at the conference on December 9th as he makes his way to Sweden to pick up his Noble Peace Prize on the 10th.
The White House also confirmed that the US will finally agree to put “numbers on the table” in negotiations, with a proposal to cut emissions “in the range” of 17 percent below 2005 levels, in line with the targets mandated in the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill passed in the House of Representative this summer.
The reference year for the target is 2005, instead of the more internationally accepted 1990. The targets are below other developed nations target and are significantly off the 40 percent cut below 1990 levels that developing nations say is necessary to begin effectively dealing with climate change.
Nonetheless, Obama’s commitment to lend his presence to the process, and the firm targets proposed by the US, represent progress and leadership that has heretofore been absent in the negotiating process. It isn’t enough, but it is a start.