Does success of the Copenhagen Conference on Global Warming hinge on whether or not US President Obama shows up?
Time says ‘yes’ if anything is to get done; so far the President is non-commital.
No leader’s appearance at Copenhagen would be more important than Obama’s. Although the U.S. is no longer the world’s top carbon emitter (that title has been ceded to China and its runaway economic growth), America remains the key player at Copenhagen. The European Union has already pledged to make relatively deep cuts in emissions between now and 2020, but it accounts for a shrinking slice of the carbon pie. If the U.S. were to arrive in Copenhagen with specific targets for emissions cuts, it might be able to break the deadlock between developed and developing countries and finally shove the world toward a new climate deal.
If Obama attended Copenhagen personally — and wielded the oratorical skills that helped his presidential campaign triumph in 2008 — he would add prestige to the proceedings and make it harder for diplomats to leave the Danish city without a real treaty. “It would seem that a country that takes climate change seriously would want its head of state in Copenhagen,” says Keya Chatterjee, the U.S. acting director of the World Wildlife Fund’s climate-change program. “The whole world is being asked to trust the U.S., but the global community can’t take it seriously if Obama isn’t there.”
Will he attend? British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will, along with scores of politicians from the developing nations most vulnerable to climate change.
Look at this another way: if Obama doesn’t attend COP15 his message will be loud and clear: don’t look to the US for any leadership … or even compliance.
The world is warming, even between a rock and a hard place.