Obama heads to Copenhagen, sees progress with China

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:42pm EST

1 of 2. U.S. President Barack Obama listens to his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington December 14, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is making progress with China on outstanding issues overshadowing U.N. climate talks but cannot say whether a deal will result after President Barack Obama arrives in Copenhagen, officials said.

Obama leaves Washington later on Thursday and is expected to arrive in Denmark around 8 a.m. local time on Friday, U.S. officials told reporters on a conference call.

He will give a brief address at a plenary session with other world leaders and emphasize the renewed U.S. commitment to show leadership on global warming, but he is not expected to be more specific about Washington's pledge to help provide funding for poor countries dealing with climate change.

That pledge is tied to monitoring, reporting and verification requirements by China and other big developing countries on their emissions curbs. China has resisted such requirements.

One U.S. official said progress was being made on that issue and others ahead of Obama's arrival.

"We're making progress on all of our outstanding issues with the Chinese. We have a good dialogue going and there are other parties as well," the official said.

"There's still a way to go on all the issues and there's not much time left, so we certainly can't predict at this point what the outcome of the conference will be," he said.

Obama, who delayed a decision on whether to attend the talks until just weeks ago, is staking his credibility on the still elusive deal with ramifications for him at home and on the world stage.

Asked whether the president was concerned about returning empty-handed from Copenhagen for a second time this year after failing to secure the 2016 Olympics for Chicago, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "Coming back with an empty agreement would be far worse than coming back empty-handed."

With his top domestic legislative priority of healthcare reform percolating in Washington, the president plans to stay in Copenhagen less than a day.

That may or may not be enough time to overcome persistent disagreements between developed and developing nations that have marred two weeks of talks, but Obama's presence and contribution could be a potential deal-maker.

DEADLOCK, RISK

The United States tried to break a deadlock on Thursday, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announcing that Washington was prepared to help mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to assist poor nations dealing with climate change.

Gibbs said the United States still believed an agreement at Copenhagen was possible.

"We want something that works for both the international community but also that works for the United States. We think the elements are there to reach that agreement," he said.

The United States has proposed cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. That corresponds to a 3 percent reduction from 1990 levels, the baseline used by the European Union and others.

Obama is unlikely to propose a more aggressive emissions reduction target, which many countries have demanded. His goals are based on a bill that passed the House of Representatives but has yet to go through the Senate.

Environmentalists say Obama could turn the talks around by pledging his strong support for the Senate climate bill, which has a more aggressive 20 percent emissions reduction target, and by putting his full efforts into the issue once healthcare reform is finished.

An official on the conference call said the administration would make a "robust" effort to advance the bill next year.

Obama's participation is fraught with risks. If the president, a Democrat, puts a more aggressive offer on the table in Copenhagen, he could face criticism from Republicans who charge the United States is going too far without getting enough in return from big developing economies such as India and China.

If he is more cautious and the talks end up faltering, he would be connected to that failure and his efforts to pass domestic climate change legislation could suffer along with his credibility among other international leaders.

"He's sort of damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, and (so) he might as well do the thing that's right," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, urging Obama to push the talks forward.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan and Ross Colvin; Editing by Eric Beech)

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warrengs wrote:
US Religious Leaders Present Statement to President Obama and UN Delegates to Take Action Now for Low Carbon World

News Category : PressRelease EARTHTIMES

As the climate summit reaches new momentum in Copenhagen, a coalition of United States religious organizations, the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, (nrccc.net) has presented a collection of religion body resolutions and statements on Climate Change to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Barack Obama stating that climate change is a moral and ethical issue, and urges the UN to act now to pass a global treaty to reduce CO2 emissions for the sake of humanity.

As the climate summit reaches new momentum in Copenhagen, a coalition of United States religious organizations, the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, (nrccc.net) has presented a collection of religion body resolutions and statements on Climate Change to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Barack Obama stating that climate change is a moral and ethical issue, and urges the UN to act now to pass a global treaty to reduce CO2 emissions for the sake of humanity.

Major U.S. religious organizations over the past several years have issued numerous statements about the threats posed by changes caused by humans to the world’s climate. Roman Catholics, Jews, Mainline Protestants and most Evangelicals are united in seeing spiritual implications to the problems represented by human actions.

“In a world where matters of faith so often and so tragically to divide us, there is no issue that aligns us more deeply than our shared dependence upon and sacred responsibility to this tiny planet, enfolded within its fragile atmosphere, spinning in the vastness of time and space,” states Rabbi Warren Stone from UN Summit in Copenhagen.

Speaking on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, from Washington, DC, declared, “Climate change is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem.” Catholic bishops are very concerned and they will be promoting a new Climate Covenant. They will take the message on the seriousness of climate change to every Catholic parish in America.

Cardinal McCarrick’s statement reflects the position of Pope Benedict XVI: “Attention to climate change is a matter of grave importance for the entire human family,” said Pope Benedict XVI before a gathering in Saint Peter’s Square.

Rabbi Warren Stone, representing the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care (www.nrccc.net) and representing the CCAR, URJ and 22 national Jewish organizations at the Copenhagen UN, declared, “Our religious traditions compel us to act boldly for justice. This is something we all share in common and it is a shared source of strength and inspiration upon which we must draw. There is no one fixed or easy answer. Now is the time to act.”

Rabbi Stone presented these statements to the Office of Secretary Ban Ki-Moon and President Barack Obama’s White House and urged rapid and bold action for the sake of humanity.

The Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the National Council of Churches, observed “We agree on the need to protect God’s creation. It has become clear that global warming will have devastating impact on those in poverty around the world.”

The Rev. Owen Owens, past chair of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice stated: “This is one of the most serious issues society faces. Every major religious organization has a statement on climate change and calls for strong action to hold off this threat to the future welfare of our planet. ”

Dr. Thomas English, Creation Care Educator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), from San Diego, California, states: “Global warming will result in mass extinctions of plants and animals by the end of the century. These extinctions will profoundly disrupt the food web for people over the entire Earth. People will attempt to ease their suffering by migration to other countries. Global migration will increase international tensions.”

Three years ago, 86 top U.S. evangelical Christian leaders launched the Evangelical Climate Initiative, which calls upon all Christians to push for legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says that global warning is also a social justice issue. He added, “Climate changes, in terms of famine, in terms of the inability to grow crops, in terms of the flooding of islands, most affects the poor, but the front edge of disaster is most going to affect those who have the least.”

Mrs. Connie Hanson, an evangelical Presbyterian and president of Christians Caring for Creation, in Pasadena, California said: “Climate change is already disrupting the lives of many people and it is threatening many of God’s precious creatures, often the most vulnerable of the Lord’s children.”

The Rev. Richard Cizik, former vice president for the National Association of Evangelicals, said: “this is not a matter of political persuasion so much as moral leadership.”

Eastern Orthodox Christians are also concerned about climate change. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has convened a series of international symposia to study environmental challenges declared that climate change is “a profoundly moral and spiritual problem.” “We urge every person to realize their responsibility and to do whatever they can to avert the increase of the earth’s temperature.”

The Rev. John Chryssavgis, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese stated: There is no longer room for negotiating with nature. We must assume courageous initiatives toward the treatment of the earth’s resources and assume leadership in supporting the burden of the poor.”

Rabbi Warren Stone, who serves as co-chair for the NRCCC, observed that Copenhagen will serve as a stage for the next step in the world’s response to climate change. “We are called by our religious traditions to serve as a bold voice for justice. Climate change will have a dramatic impact on hundreds of millions of the poorest people on our planet, especially those who live in coastal areas.

“In Judaism there is a profound and powerful mandate for caring for the Earth. In a world where matters of faith so often and so tragically to divide us, there is no issue that aligns us more deeply than our shared dependence upon and sacred responsibility to this tiny planet, enfolded within its fragile atmosphere, spinning in the vastness of time and space,” states Rabbi Stone.

“It is our moral responsibility to the world community,” continued Rabbi Stone, “to take decisive action now! A treaty and legislation, though helpful, will not be enough. We need to change our way of life toward sustainability. Religious communities understand the importance of spiritual values as guiding our choices. We need to shift the way we live toward more sustainability. Our common future demands nothing less. Now is the time for a cultural shift in our way of living.”

Dec 17, 2009 12:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
PolarBear wrote:
Maybe our Lord Obama can conscript Americans who are now destitute and homeless because they couldn’t pay their bills because their money was all sucked in to the universe of Obama taxes, including “climate fund” taxes. Digging windmill anchor ditches in Bangladesh is a nice jobs program for “migrant” U.S. workers.

Don’t laugh folks, this is OUR future unless this one-world charlatan gets booted in the next election…..better idea:…have him run for EU Presidency since you EUers love him so much- take him!!!!!

Dec 17, 2009 2:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
renfrowk wrote:
What’s the deal with the second picture? Why is Obama’s head clearly doctored onto the photograph?

Dec 17, 2009 4:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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