It has just recently surfaced that the Obama Administration is going to announce short term emissions targets for Copenhagen before the conference. It looks like they’re going to be in the ballpark of what we’re currently seeing in the Senate legislation(around 14-20% below 2005 levels by 2020). While this might not seem surprising, there are two very significant reasons why coming out with a commitment going into Copenhagen will be a very good thing.
1. Other countries such as Canada, China, and Australia have been dragging their feet domestically and internationally on making significant commitments to reducing emissions because they are waiting to see what the US does. With the US offering up a specific target, this will shift the pressure onto the leaders of these countries to make their own, and back their “we’re waiting for the US” excuse into a corner.
2. The target the Obama Administration brings to Copenhagen will have big implications for Senate climate legislation. The Obama Administration will not want to agree to any target in Copenhagen that they don’t think they can get in a domestic bill. There have been considerable fears by climate advocates that the Senate provision that currently stands at 20% below 2005 levels by 1990 will get extremely watered down, more so than it already is. There is also a fear that the Senate bill only do an energy bill, and pass on the climate part of it. The Obama Administration making an international commitment will send a message to Senate leaders on how much(hopefully little) they can compromise, and it will send a signal that climate+energy needs to be done together.