16 December 2009

Catch 22

Prospects for U.S. climate legislation hinge on a successful outcome at Copenhagen, says Senator John Kerry (D-MA):
If international climate change talks falter this week, chances for the United States approving its own carbon pollution-reduction plan will seriously erode, U.S. Senator John Kerry warned on Wednesday.
Meantime, negotiators in Copenhagen await leadership from the United States as the basis for an international agreement:
Everyone is waiting to see if President Obama will improve the offer from the US when he joins the conference on Friday. There is a widespread reluctance among other countries to make significant concessions until the country which has caused most of the problem takes more of its fair share of the burden of solving it.
But the United States won't go further than its legislative process will allow:
. . . the United States poured cold water on the notion that it would deepen its offer of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, as outlined by President Barack Obama in the run-up to the conference.

"I am not anticipating any change in the mitigation commitment," US chief delegate Todd Stern told a press conference.

"Our commitment is tied to our anticipated legislation and there are elements in that legislation that could result in an overall target or an overall reduction amount that could actually be a fair amount higher.

"But we're not making a commitment to that right now because it's just uncertain and we don't want to promise something that we don't have."

Unless President Obama can spring a substantive surprise this week in Copenhagen, guess who is going to once again be the bad guy in the negotiations?