November 25, 2009 / 2:22 PM / 11 years ago

Obama to attend beginning of U.N. climate meeting

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh in the East Room at the White House in Washington November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will go to Copenhagen for a U.N. climate change meeting on December 9, hoping to add momentum to an international process despite slow progress on a domestic bill to cut carbon emissions.

Obama planned to make a visit at the beginning of the climate negotiations in Denmark, an administration official told Reuters on Wednesday, before picking up the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in neighboring Oslo.

Obama did not plan to return for the end of the December 7-18 meeting, when roughly 65 other heads of state and government are expected to attend, the official said.

Obama has made climate change a top priority of his administration, but a bill to cut U.S. emissions is bogged down in the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed its version of climate change legislation.

Most nations have given up hopes of agreeing to a binding legal treaty text in Copenhagen, partly because of uncertainty about what the United States will be able to offer.

Environmentalists had hoped Obama would be present for the leaders meeting at the end of the talks to give legitimacy to a “politically binding” agreement that host Denmark still hopes to achieve.

In such an agreement, developed nations would set goals for cutting emissions by 2020, developing nations would agree to slow the rise of their emissions, and the rich would come up with new aid and clean technology to help the poor cope with climate change.

Editing by Will Dunham

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