The Dernogalizer

December 21, 2009

UK Climate Secretary Accuses China of Hijacking Copenhagen

Here’s a piece in the Guardian by the UK Climate Secretary Ed Miliband on the outcome at Copenhagen, and the path forward.  My perspective is still forthcoming.

The road from Copenhagen

Where do we go from here? That is the question we are all asking ourselves after Copenhagen. We have to begin by understanding the lessons of what went wrong but also recognise the achievements that it secured.

This was a chaotic process dogged by procedural games. Thirty leaders left their negotiators at 3am on Friday, the last night to haggle over the short Danish text that became the accord. To get a deal we needed urgent progress because time was running out. Five hours later, we had got to the third paragraph.

The procedural wrangling was, in fact, a cover for points of serious, substantive disagreement. The vast majority of countries, developed and developing, believe that we will only construct a lasting accord that protects the planet if all countries’ commitments or actions are legally binding. But some leading developing countries currently refuse to countenance this. That is why we did not secure an agreement that the political accord struck in Copenhagen should lead to a legally binding outcome.

We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries. Indeed, this is one of the straws in the wind for the future: the old order of developed versus developing has been replaced by more interesting alliances.

Would it have been better to refuse to sign and walk away? No. Of course it was right to consider whether we should sign. But to have vetoed the agreement would have meant walking away from the progress made in the last year and the real outcomes that are part of this accord, including finance for poor countries. Some of the strongest voices urging that we agree the accord were countries like the Maldives and Ethiopia.

Countries signing the accord have endorsed the science that says we must prevent warming of more than 2C. For the first time developing countries, including China, as well as developed countries have agreed emissions commitments for the next decade. If countries deliver on the most ambitious targets, we will be within striking distance of what is needed to prevent warming of more than 2C. These commitments will also for the first time be listed and independently scrutinised, with reports to the UN required every two years.

We have also established an unprecedented commitment among rich countries to finance the response to climate change: $10bn a year over the next three years – starting to flow now – rising to $100bn a year by 2020, the goal first set out by the prime minister in June.

In the months ahead, these concrete achievements must be secured and extended. We must work to ensure that developed nations in particular, such as Australia, Japan and the EU nations, deliver on the highest possible emissions cuts. And as the US Senate considers its legislation, it is important it delivers not just the 17% reductions offered so far but the deepest possible.

Finance for poor countries must flow straight away, which the decision agreed last Saturday enables us to do. We must also agree new ways to raise revenue to meet these commitments, which the working group established by the accord will propose.

We should also mobilise all the countries that want a legal treaty to campaign for it. The voice of small island states and African countries were the most resonant at these talks. For their people, most vulnerable to climate change, they know we must have a legal framework. Together we will make clear to those countries holding out against a binding legal treaty that we will not allow them to block global progress.

There is a wider question, too, about the structures and nature of the negotiations. The last two weeks at times have presented a farcical picture to the public. We cannot again allow negotiations on real points of substance to be hijacked in this way. We will need to have major reform of the UN body overseeing the negotiations and of the way the negotiations are conducted.

The challenge for all of us is not to lose heart and momentum. The truth is that the global campaign, co-ordinated by green NGOs, backed by business and supported by a wider cross section of the public, has achieved a lot. We would never have had targets from so many countries, the engagement of leaders, and the agreement on finance without this sort of mobilisation.

My fear that Copenhagen would pass people by without comment turned out to be unfounded. But the lesson of Make Poverty History is that we must keep this campaign going and build on it. It needs to be more of a genuinely global mobilisation, taking in all countries.

Today many people will be feeling gloomy about the results of their efforts. But no campaign ever wholly succeeds at the first time of asking. We should take heart from the achievements and step up our efforts. The road from Copenhagen will have as many obstacles as the road to it. But this year has proved what can be done, as well as the scale of the challenge we face.

December 19, 2009

AP: Clock, chaos, and comedy

More information from the AP on President Obama’s wild day of talks in Copenhagen.

By CHARLES BABINGTON and JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writers 1 min ago

WASHINGTON – It was almost unthinkable. The president of the United States walked into a meeting of fellow world leaders and there wasn’t a chair for him, a sure sign he was not expected, maybe not even wanted.

Barack Obama didn’t pause, however. “I’m going to sit by my friend Lula,” he said, moving toward Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

A Brazilian aide gave the U.S. president his chair, and Obama spent the next 80 minutes helping craft new requirements for disclosing efforts to fight global warming. Along with India, South Africa andBrazil, the key member in the room was China, which recently surpassed the U.S. as the world’s top emitter of heat-trapping gasses.

At the table this time for China was Premier Wen Jiabao, not an underling as before. Obama was bent on striking a deal before flying home to snowbound Washington.

He would later hail the achievement as a breakthrough. But even Obama said there was much more to do, and climate authorities called Copenhagen’s results a modest step in the global bid to curb greenhouse gasses that threaten to melt glaciers and flood coastlines.

Obama’s 15-hour, seat-of-the-pants dash through Copenhagen was marked by doggedness, confusion and semi-comedy. Constrained by partisan politics at home, and quarrels between rich and poor nations abroad, he was determined to come home with a victory, no matter how imperfect.

Experts and activists may debate its significance for years. Some, like Jeremy Symons, who watched the talks for the National Wildlife Federation, said it was “high drama and true grit on the part of the president that delivered the deal.”

Others were far less kind. The Copenhagen agreements are “merely the repackaging of old and toothless promises,” said Asher Miller, executive director of the Post Carbon Institute.

Even though a weary, bleary-eyed Obama had added six hours to his planned nine-hour visit, he was back in Washington by the time delegates at the 193-nation summit approved the U.S.-brokered compromises on Saturday. The agreements will give billions of dollars in climate aid to poor nations, but they do not require the world’s major polluters to make deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.

This account of Obama’s hectic day is based on dozens of interviews and statements by key players from numerous countries.


Obama was thrown off schedule almost from the moment he landed Friday morning in Copenhagen, where the summit’s final-day talks seemed to be collapsing.

Instead of attending a planned meeting with Denmark’s prime minister, he plunged into an emergency session of about 20 nations, big and small, wealthy and poor. Right away there was a troubling sign.

China was the only nation to send a second-tier official: vice foreign minister He Yafei instead of Premier Wen, who was in the building. The snub baffled and annoyed delegates.

For months, Obama had been pressing China to put into writing its promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama later seemed unusually animated when he alluded indirectly to China in a short, late-morning speech to the full conference.

“I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Things then appeared to turn for the better, as Obama and Wen met privately, as scheduled, for 55 minutes. A U.S. official said they took a step forward as they discussed emissions targets, financing and transparency.

The two leaders directed aides to work on mutual language, and Obama’s team proposed specific wording meant to solidify China’s promise to be more forthcoming about its anti-pollution efforts.

A short time later, however, the U.S. team was more baffled and irked than before. At a follow-up session of the morning’s big meeting, the Chinese sent an even lower-ranking envoy in Wen’s place.

An irritated Obama told his staff, “I don’t want to mess around with this anymore, I want to just talk with Premier Wen,” according to a senior administration official who spoke on background to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues.


By now night had fallen, and it was clear Obama would be late getting home. He kept an appointment to discuss arms control with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Meanwhile he asked aides to try to set up a final one-on-one meeting with Wen, and a separate meeting with leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa. He hoped these fast-growing nations, which had been loosely aligned with China on many of the key issues, might influence the Chinese.

Confusion reigned. Chinese officials said Wen was at his hotel and his staff was at the airport. The same was said of top Indian officials, but nothing was clear.

South African President Jacob Zuma agreed to meet with Obama, then canceled when he heard the Indian leader was away, and Brazil would attend only if India did.

The Chinese said Wen could meet with Obama at 6:15 p.m., then changed it to 7 p.m. Obama used the time to talk strategy with the leaders of France, Germany and Great Britain.

Meanwhile, a four-nation negotiating team known as BASIC gathered. The modified acronym reflected its members: Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

Obama was unaware, however, thinking he was going to meet alone with Wen. After some confusion about who had access to the room, White House aides told the president that Wen was inside with the leaders of the three other countries, apparently working on strategy.

“Good,” Obama said as he walked through the door. “Mr. Premier, are you ready to see me?” he called out. “Are you ready?”

Inside he found startled leaders and no chair to sit in.

U.S. officials denied that Obama crashed the party, saying he simply showed up for his 7 p.m. meeting with Wen and found the others there.

Whatever the meeting’s original purpose, Obama used it to help strike an agreement on ways to verify developing nations’ reductions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, a good U.S. ending to their talks with the Chinese.


Other agreements that came from Copenhagen were a mixed bag, with some environmentalists keenly disappointed, and probably no nation entirely pleased.

Rich countries vowed to provide $30 billion in emergency climate aid to poor nations in the next three years, and set a goal of eventually channeling $100 billion a year to them by 2020.

The summit’s final document said carbon emissions should be reduced enough to keep the increase in average global temperatures below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) since preindustrial times. But average temperatures already have risen 0.7 degrees C (1.3 degrees F) since then.

The nations most vulnerable to climate change, including low-lying islands, say the 2 degree C figure is already too high.

It was just after 1 a.m. EST Saturday when Air Force One landed outside Washington on the flight from Copenhagen. With a steady snow falling, Obama headed for the White House. It would be 3 1/2 more hours before the 193 nations, with a few objections, would agree to the deal brokered by the American president. A short time later the conference adjourned.

Later Saturday, Obama put the best face possible on the results.

“This breakthrough lays the foundation for international action in the years to come,” he said from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room.

But he got no plaudits in the Chinese press.

The English-language China Daily newspaper called Obama’s Copenhagen speech “grandstanding,” and said it left non-governmental organizations at the summit disappointed.

The White House’s take on Obama’s meeting with India,China, and Brazil

Interesting information from a Senior Administration official of how the last-minute negotiations between the US, China, India, and Brazil went down.


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release                                                                              December 18, 2009



Aboard Air Force One

En route Andrews Air Force Base

11:46 P.M. CET

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So I just want to make sure everybody is cool with the rules here.  We’re going to have probably a couple of these on this flight.  What I want to do though, on background as a senior administration official, I want to go through a series of events that led up to the President going into what we had set up as a bilateral meeting with Premier Wen.  So I just want to get — I want everyone to be clear on this set of events.  So let me go through this timeline and then we can go through questions.  And bear with me because I sometimes can’t even read my own writing.

At the first bilateral meeting with Premier Wen, the President, as we have done over the past several days, was pushing quite hard on transparency language.  And we had given some transparency language to them and negotiators on our side had gone to work with their side on the notion of transparency.

Q    The language was before the meeting, though?  Was given to them before the meeting?


Q    When you said, “we had given language to them,” you meant before their bilat?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  This was during the bilat.  So this was at the end of the bilat and the President says to Wen that he thinks our negotiators should get together, spend about an hour seeing if we can make some progress — because in all honesty, rhetorically, we were hearing what we wanted to hear about steps that they were willing to take on transparency, but wanted to make sure that we would have something to agree on that wasn’t just them agreeing to agree.

So the President at that point — you guys will have some times in your email to go through — but remember there comes a point in which you should have gotten from Kevin Lewis, via an update from me, that says the President has gone to the multilateral meeting and representing the Chinese was their climate change ambassador in the ministry of foreign affairs, who was in this meeting — to put it, I guess, accurately — as to speak for the entire Chinese government.

It’s at this point that the President, before our Medvedev bilateral, the President said to staff, I don’t want to mess around with this anymore, I want to just talk with Premier Wen.  So we were trying to do that before the Medvedev bilat.  Our advance team called their advance team to try to set this meeting up, and in all honesty make one more chance, make one more run at getting something done.  The Chinese say they need to call our advance guys back.  So it’s clear that it’s going to take some time to get this Wen meeting done, so we’re going to go ahead and do the Medvedev bilat earlier than was on the schedule.

And as the President waited for Medvedev to be — to move the delegation down into the room, the President also says to staff, we should meet in a group of three with Lula of Brazil, Singh of India, and Zuma of South Africa.  All right.  So, let’s get a meeting with Wen, let’s get a meeting with these three guys.

We get a call back from advance that Wen is at the hotel and the Chinese staff are at the airport.

Q    (Inaudible.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t know what level of staff, but some of their staff — a decent chunk of their staff was at the airport.

Q    So they had all left the Bella Center?


Q    Including Wen — and that was news to you guys —


Q    Oh, he was at the hotel.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The Indians — when we called also about Zuma, Lula and Singh, we were told Singh was at the airport.

Q    Do you consider that a walk-out?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I think they thought the meeting was done.  I think they thought there wasn’t anything left to stay for, in all honesty.

Q    That was around 4:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’d have to — my sense is probably closer to 4:00 p.m.  So we basically — we set times for when we want to have these meetings.  We called the advance for each of these countries.  We want to do — we had given the Chinese to a certain point before we were going to lock in first the other meetings.  So we hadn’t heard back from the Chinese so we lock in first the notion at 5:30 p.m. we’d like to meet with the three, Zuma, Lula and Singh.  And then at 6:15 p.m. — the Chinese called back — we didn’t know if they were going to call back, at 6:15 p.m. we lock in that we’re going to do a bilateral meeting with Premier Wen.

Zuma originally accepted this 5:30 p.m. multilateral meeting.  Brazil tells us that they don’t know if they can come because they want the Indians to come.  The Indians, as I just said, were at the airport.  Zuma is under the impression that everybody is coming.  Advance basically tells the South Africans that at this point the Brazilians are unclear about meeting without the Indians, the Indians are at the airport, and Zuma at that point says, well, if they’re not coming I can’t do this.

The Chinese then call and say, can we move our 6:15 p.m. bilateral back to 7:00 p.m.  And we said — we put them on hold, talked a little bit, the President walked up, the President said, move it to 7:00 p.m., I’m going back to the multilateral.  The President goes to the multilateral and we had been getting emails at this time from those in the European delegation about — because the President had left that first multilateral — or the previous multilateral after the deputy foreign minister for climate change had been there representing the Chinese and saying, I’m going to go find and talk to Wen.  All right, we’re going to do this Wen thing.  So the Europeans are wondering sort of where we were with Premier Wen.

He spent about 45 minutes in the bilateral meeting —


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’m sorry, in the multilateral meeting; thank you.  That’s with the Europeans, that’s with Ethiopians.  At the very —

Q    (Inaudible.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So this would have been, quite frankly, leading up to about 7:00 p.m.


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, after Medvedev.  We said — a couple of us start to walk up to the room where the multilat is because we had sent advance to look at the room, the room where we were going to have the China bilat and realize the room is occupied by what we think are the Chinese and we can’t get into the room to look at it.

So they come back and it sort of got our antennae up a little bit.  So by the time several of us, including Denis McDonough and I, got into the multilateral room we’ve now figured out why we can’t get into that room:  because that room has Wen, Lula, Singh and Zuma.  They’re all having a meeting.

Q    So they weren’t at the airport?


Q    And you guys didn’t know this.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We did not know this.  We are getting — I can show you some of the emails that we’re getting saying — because truthfully I asked one of the advance guys, did you see anybody else in the hallway?  And he said, just clearly Chinese.

Q    So Wen —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Wen, Lula, Singh and Zuma.  But we’re starting to get emails one by one, hey Zuma is in this room, too; hey, Singh is in this room, too.  So all of a sudden that’s when we start to make sure we’re walking up to the multilateral room.  The President is beginning to leave.  He spends time right before he leaves — this would have been right before 7:00 p.m., the President is talking with Chancellor Merkel and Gordon Brown about going for this bilateral meeting with Premier Wen, that they had rescheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Again, we thought we were still on for a bilateral meeting.  That’s when our delegation walked over.  We held and I think Ben moved the pool because we had heard at this point previous to this that the pool for the Chinese had been assembled outside of this room.  And we had the President wait for a minute while Ben moved the pool so that — we had heard that they were going to pre-set without any of us.  So we had the President hold.

That’s I think when many of you start to pick up this story.  This is when I think you, in the pool report, said, you know —

Q    When he said, are you ready, are you ready?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Are you ready for me?  We were going to —

Q    You were going to crash their meeting.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, no, no, no, no.  We weren’t crashing a meeting; we were going for our bilateral meeting.

Q    And you found those other people there.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We found the other people there.  We found this out as we were going —

Q    So as you walked in you realized it —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We found this out — remember, we found this out as Denis and I are walking up to the room to go with the President, because the delegations were the same for the Wen bilat, Denis, Ben and I were both in the delegation for the original Wen bilat.  That’s when the President walks in — Helene has in the pool report, you know, “Are you ready for me?”

Q    Is it correct to say that when he walked in he didn’t know?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t — I think it’s safe to say they did not intend to have that meeting with four of them; they intended to have that meeting with one.  The President walks in — and by the time I finally push through I hear the President say — there aren’t any seats, right, I mean, I think if you’ve seen some of the pictures, there were basically no chairs.  And the President says, “No, no, don’t worry, I’m going to go sit by my friend Lula,” and says, “Hey, Lula.”  Walks over, moves a chair, sits down next to Lula.  The Secretary of State sits down next to him.

And that leaves us at a series of events that Doug and others covered where there’s pushing and that would have been at 7:00 p.m. local time, so 1:00 p.m. sort of East Coast Time.

Q    When the President —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Let me just — I want to do a couple things now.  They’re still meeting back in Copenhagen.  We’re going to get some regular updates, and as we get some updates, our hope and goal is to provide you then a little bit more context.  Then we’ll start then at 7:00 p.m., or 1:00 p.m Eastern, because there’s several more twists in this road before we get to I think my notes have it at about — that whole meeting concludes about 8:15 p.m.-8:20 p.m.  But there’s a whole lot of fun in between.


Q    Can I clarify two just sort of factual points.  You said at one point that the President left the multilateral because of the level of Chinese representation — is that right, that he — basically he said, I’m out?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Let me say this — I think the President realized, based on a meeting that — meetings that he’d had in Beijing with Premier Wen and the bilateral, he felt like he had a very good relationship with Premier Wen, and quite frankly, if the Chinese were going to make — if the Chinese were going to move on transparency, it wasn’t going to be through the deputy mining minister — right?

Q    Is that what the guy is, deputy mining minister?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, I was just — sort of a joke.  But, no, he’s the — I think we sent it around — he’s the —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Climate change ambassador.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  — climate change rep for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  But in all honesty, it’s a position lower than the person that was in the original multilateral when we got there —

Q    (Inaudible.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Right, yes.  So I think at that point, the President — I think the President understands that he wants to make one more run at this, but he wants to make one more run at this with Premier Wen.

Q    And later in the — when he was going up to the meeting that turned into the multilateral, is it your thought that they meant to have a meeting with each other to exclude the United States, or get their ducks in a row, or what was going on?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I will assume that their meeting was to get their ducks in a row.  Because at this point, though our — certainly our impression was that a number of these people were either at or on the way to the airport.  We had confirmed with the Chinese before he went to the multilateral the second to last time — the last time being right before the press conference — but the second to last time, that we had just then agreed to move the bilateral meeting that we wanted to set up with the Chinese to 7:00 p.m.  So we believed, up until about two minutes before Denis and I walked into the multilateral, before moving to the 7:00 p.m. meeting, that we were having a bilateral meeting.

Q    But it’s not — it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise because those four countries have been working as a negotiating team on this issue, right?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Certainly no surprise.  Again, we were trying to put together a similar meeting, but found the logistics to be hard to do.  And I think I know now why the logistics proved somewhat challenging.  They were busy; they were meeting.

Q    Was it logistics, or were they trying to have their own separate meeting without the U.S. involved?

Q    Were they trying to scuffle the deal and get together and —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t know that they were trying — I don’t know where they were on the deal.  I know that the — again, the President’s viewpoint was I’m going to make one last run.  When it appeared we couldn’t get the Chinese earlier in the day, the President said, well, if we can’t get the Chinese then let’s get the next three that are — absolutely they’re working as a team.  They’ve got similar interests, there’s no doubt about that.

Again, the only surprise we had, in all honesty, was we did not know at 6:15 p.m., when we moved our meeting from 6:15 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., that in that room wasn’t just the Chinese having a meeting about their posture going into the 7:00 p.m. meeting, but in fact all four countries that we had been trying to arrange meetings with were indeed all in the same room.

Q    Well, when did that become clear?  When the President goes to that meeting does he think he’s going to meet Wen, and walks in the door and is, like, oh, everyone is here?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, no.  Denis and I had told him that — we had told him —

Q    That they were all in there?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  — that the room that the meeting is being held in for our bilateral currently contains the leaders of those four countries.  And he said, “Good.”

Q    That was his thought — good?


Q    Can I ask one logistical —

Q    So he said, “Good,” and, I’m going to go up there at 7:00 p.m. for my prior appointment with Wen —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He said, “Good,” on the way to walking to the meeting.  I mean, we had a 7:00 p.m. meeting and we were walking on our way to meet our 7:00 p.m. meeting.  We briefed him that our 7:00 p.m. meeting is in a room currently occupied by not just the Chinese, but the three other countries. And the President’s viewpoint is, I wanted to see them all and now is our chance.

Q    Were they waiting for him there?  Is that why they were all there, because they knew he was coming?

Q    Was there surprise when he walked in?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, the Chinese were waiting for us.  I do not believe they anticipated that the meeting that we ultimately had would actually include all the countries.  There’s no doubt —

Q    They thought you guys would wait until they were done?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t know whether they thought we would — there really wasn’t anybody to — actually I think we were shown into the room, in all honesty.  I think we were shown which direction to go to the room and I think there was no doubt there was some surprise that we were going to join the bigger meeting.

Q    I’ve got to ask why you didn’t have better intel — and I don’t mean in the CIA sense – on where all these people were?     I mean, it’s not —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We did.  We thought they were at the airport.

Q    Right, exactly.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I mean, that’s what we were told.

Q    But, you know, you’re all sort of in a close area there.  Why didn’t anybody from the administration know where all these people were?  I mean —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, it’s not our job to know where Prime Minister Singh is if his — if we’re told he’s at the airport.

Q    But usually at these summits there’s a lot of Sherpa-tracking going on and that sort of thing, you know.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, look, I — I mean, we were — we were told they were at the airport.  We were told delegations were split up.  We were told they weren’t going to meet — Zuma wasn’t going to come unless he was under the impression that the other two were going to come.

Q    Do you think that’s all part of the brinksmanship and the sort of horse-trading and maneuvering?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I honestly think that they — well, my gut instinct tells me that they knew they had to make one more run at this.

Q    One more?


Q    But there’s this — what they call a taxicab strategy, when you always threaten to walk out.  I mean, do you think that’s what —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, they didn’t threaten to walk out.  When we tried to set up the meetings we were told they were gone.  I mean, if they employed that strategy they didn’t lay down the threat.

Q    Can I ask a logistical question just about when — I mean, because we’re all on the plane and we land at 1:00 a.m. in the morning —


Q    If we’re lucky.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:    If somebody wants to type this up and call it in, I will tell them that that’s fine to do — largely because I want to be — I want to make clear, we did not break into what we thought was a secret meeting, okay?  Again, the reason that we appeared at the room — the reason we appeared at the room was at — in the 5:00 p.m. hour the Chinese wanted to move their 6:15 p.m. meeting back to 7:00 p.m. in the room that they had for their meetings.  We said, fine.  We were walking to meet our 7:00 p.m. appointment.

Q    Well, you guys want — I mean, can we — because are we going to try and get this in for tonight?  Or — I just want to make sure that — the one thing I just want to make sure doesn’t happen is a transcript lands and some — and we don’t somewhere  —

Q    I’m more interested in what happens between 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It’s a good story, my friend, and with a little luck we’ll be able to tell that at a little bit later leg on the flight.

Q    That’s what I mean.  So we, like hold — are we holding everything until we land?  Or are we trying to, like —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I just want to make sure — I don’t want to be — just again, I just want to make sure that  — the reason I gave you this series of events is because to accurately portray just sort of what is happening and when.  We did not — again, our presence at that room at 7:00 p.m. was expected based on the meeting that we had set up.  Whether or —

Q    With Wen.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Right.  Whether or not the other — fair enough we did not know the other three were there until at a point at which we were about to go and walking to that meeting.

Q    And you and Denis told the President?


Q    Was anybody mad about it?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No.  We thought this was a great opportunity to finish four meetings.

Q    The other guys.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  You know, it’s hard to tell because the truth is — and we’ll get into this on the next leg of this — there were — quickly dove into about an hour and 20 minutes worth of negotiating that — I want to do this part off the record.

* * * * *

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, the President believed that he needed to talk to Wen, they needed to make one more run at getting an agreement.  So he’s in this meeting — this is the group of leaders that we first visit in the very beginning of the morning.  So it is comprised of — obviously you’re going to take the four out that are already in the different meeting.  So you’ve got a pretty decent cross-section, first, of — you’ve the Europeans — you’ve got Merkel, Brown, Sarkozy; you’ve got Rudd from Australia; you’ve got Rasmussen from Denmark.  You’ve also got Meles from Ethiopia; you’ve got Mexico, Norway — so you basically have the smaller developing countries, Europe, Australia, Scandinavia — so you basically have the larger group minus the four that he ultimately sees.

This larger group had come to the conclusion that the agreement would either — they needed to make one more run at two main points.  One of them was the percent reduction by 2050 and the temperature change, as well as the transparency; that they had to do that with Wen or they were not going to get an agreement.

So, at this point — so the President went around to — went around the table, physically walking around the table, talking to Ethiopia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, the Maldives — all these countries to talk about what they were going to go — what he was going to go do in making a last run at Premier Wen.  And they talked about the fact that if they didn’t — if they went to Wen and they couldn’t get an agreement, that basically they would still try to structure something for those that would sign on in order to continue to make progress toward something in the future.

So essentially the President has — is working with Europe, Asia — I’m sorry, Europe, Australia, and others in the developed — of the developed economies, in addition to the smaller developing countries minus India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, which is essential in ensuring that, in all honesty, the other four realized — this is where I think the other four realized that they’ve got to make one more run at this, too, because what they were — what the President was discussing along with this group was, if they couldn’t get something that included China, India, Brazil, and South Africa on transparency and temperature mitigation, that they would get what they could with who they could get it with.

So you basically have — you’ve got — you’ve now got two different coalitions.  All right.

Q    I just don’t understand your last sentence — they would get what they could with who they could get it with.

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, basically if the Chinese were unwilling to do transparency, and the Indians and the Brazilians and the South Africans followed the Chinese, then the President and those in that multilateral group would try to get something that all they could agree on, and we would go out with all of that.

I mean, look, I think it’s safe to say at that point in the day, China had real — they were balking at transparency.  The President thought at the very least we could get — we can make progress on something by putting together a coalition of those that were agreeable to having some sort of declaration or agreement.

Q    And that coalition included both developing and developed countries?

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, and that obviously is the key to —

Q    Like you could create leverage against the four outstanding.

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, yes.  I think that’s why people stowed their luggage in their overhead bins and decided to come back to the negotiating table.  Came back from the airport.

All right?  Thanks, guys.

December 18, 2009

Your Copenhagen Draft Text

You can find the pictures of the pages of the Copenhagen draft text that countries have come up with right here.  Below is President Obama’s press conference on the “deal”.  My analysis of the result to follow this weekend.

THE PRESIDENT:  Let me start with a statement and then I’ll take a couple of questions.

Today we’ve made meaningful and unprecedented — made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen.  For the first time in history all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.

Let me first recount what our approach was throughout the year and coming into this conference.  To begin with, we’ve reaffirmed America’s commitment to transform our energy economy at home.  We’ve made historic investments in renewable energy that have already put people back to work.  We’ve raised our fuel efficiency standards.  And we have renewed American leadership in international climate negotiations.

Most importantly, we remain committed to comprehensive legislation that will create millions of new American jobs, power new industry, and enhance our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

That effort at home serves as a foundation for our leadership around the world.  Because of the actions we’re taking we came here to Copenhagen with an ambitious target to reduce our emissions.  We agreed to join an international effort to provide financing to help developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, adapt to climate change.  And we reaffirmed the necessity of listing our national actions and commitments in a transparent way.

These three components — transparency, mitigation and finance — form the basis of the common approach that the United States and our partners embraced here in Copenhagen.  Throughout the day we worked with many countries to establish a new consensus around these three points, a consensus that will serve as a foundation for global action to confront the threat of climate change for years to come.

This success would have not been possible without the hard work of many countries and many leaders — and I have to add that because of weather constraints in Washington I am leaving before the final vote, but we feel confident that we are moving in the direction of a significant accord.

In addition to our close allies who did so much to advance this effort, I worked throughout the day with Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia, who was representing Africa, as well as Premier Wen of China, Prime Minister Singh of India, President Lula of Brazil, and President Zuma of South Africa, to achieve what I believe will be an important milestone.

Earlier this evening I had a meeting with the last four leaders I mentioned — from China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.  And that’s where we agreed to list our national actions and commitments, to provide information on the implementation of these actions through national communications, with international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines.  We agreed to set a mitigation target to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, and importantly, to take action to meet this objective consistent with science.

Taken together these actions will help us begin to meet our responsibilities to leave our children and our grandchildren a cleaner and safer planet.

Now, this progress did not come easily, and we know that this progress alone is not enough.  Going forward, we’re going to have to build on the momentum that we’ve established here in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time.  We’ve come a long way, but we have much further to go.

To continue moving forward we must draw on the effort that allowed us to succeed here today — engagement among nations that represent a baseline of mutual interest and mutual respect.  Climate change threatens us all; therefore, we must bridge old divides and build new partnerships to meet this great challenge of our time.  That’s what we’ve begun to do here today.

For energy holds out not just the perils of a warming climate, but also the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous tomorrow.  If America leads in developing clean energy, we will lead in growing our economy, in putting our people back to work, and in leaving a stronger and more secure country to our children.

And around the world, energy is an issue that demands our leadership.  The time has come for us to get off the sidelines and to shape the future that we seek.  That’s why I came to Copenhagen today, and that’s why I’m committed to working in common effort with countries from around the globe.  That’s also why I believe what we have achieved in Copenhagen will not be the end but rather the beginning, the beginning of a new era of international action.

So with that, let me just take a couple of questions, and I’m going to start with Jeff Mason.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Can you give a little bit more detail about how the transparency issue will work, how countries will show or prove that they’re doing what they say they’ll do on emissions curbs?  And can you speak also more specifically about cutting emissions?  There’s no mention of that in your statement or in what we’ve heard so far, specifically about the agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, on the second question first, the way this agreement is structured, each nation will be putting concrete commitments into an appendix to the document, and so will lay out very specifically what each country’s intentions are.

Those commitments will then be subject to a international consultation and analysis, similar to, for example, what takes place when the WTO is examining progress or lack of progress that countries are making on various commitments.  It will not be legally binding, but what it will do is allow for each country to show to the world what they’re doing, and there will be a sense on the part of each country that we’re in this together, and we’ll know who is meeting and who’s not meeting the mutual obligations that have been set forth.

With respect to the emissions targets that are going to be set, we know that they will not be by themselves sufficient to get to where we need to get by 2050.  So that’s why I say that this is going to be a first step.  And there are going to be those who are going to — who are going to look at the national commitments, tally them up and say, you know, the science dictates that even more needs to be done.  The challenge here was that for a lot of countries, particularly those emerging countries that are still in different stages of development, this is going to be the first time in which even voluntarily they offered up mitigation targets.  And I think that it was important to essentially get that shift in orientation moving, that’s what I think will end up being most significant about this accord.

From the perspective of the United States, I’ve set forth goals that are reflected in legislation that came out of the House that are being discussed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.  And although we will not be legally bound by anything that took place here today, we will I think have reaffirmed our commitment to meet those targets.  And we’re going to meet those targets, as I said before, not simply because the science demands it, but also because I think it offers us enormous economic opportunity down the road.

Q    And the first part of the question, about the transparency issue?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I said, there is a specific —

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Exactly.  There is the annexing combined with a process where essentially they are presenting to the world — subject to international consultation and then analysis — exactly what are these steps.  So if I make a claim that I’m reducing greenhouse gases because I’ve changed mileage standards on cars, there will be a process whereby people will be able to take a look and say, is that in fact in effect?

Jennifer Loven.

Q    Thank you, sir.  You’ve talked to, in your remarks earlier today, about other nations needing to accept less than perfect in their view.  Can you talk about what you gave up and where you might have shifted the U.S. position to get to this point?  And also, if this was so hard to get to, just what you have today, how do you feel confident about getting to a legally binding agreement in a year?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it is going to be very hard and it’s going to take some time.  Let me sort of provide the context for what I saw when I arrived.

And I think it’s important to be able to stand in the shoes of all the different parties involved here.  In some ways the United States was coming with a somewhat clean slate, because we had been on the sidelines in many of these negotiations over several years.

Essentially you have a situation where the Kyoto Protocol and some of the subsequent accords called on the developed countries who were signatories to engage in some significant mitigation actions and also to help developing countries.  And there were very few, if any, obligations on the part of the developing countries.

Now, in some cases, for countries that are extremely poor, still agrarian and so forth, they’re just not significant contributors to greenhouse gases.  But what’s happened obviously since 1992 is that you’ve got emerging countries like China and India and Brazil that have seen enormous economic growth and industrialization.  So we know that moving forward it’s going to be necessary if we’re going to meet those targets for some changes to take place among those countries.  It’s not enough just for the developed countries to make changes.  Those countries are going to have to make some changes, as well — not of the same pace, not in the same way, but they’re going to have to do something to assure that whatever carbon we’re taking out of the environment is not just simply dumped in by other parties.

On the other hand, from the perspective of the developing countries like China and India, they’re saying to themselves, per capita our carbon footprint remains very small, and we have hundreds of millions of people who don’t even have electricity yet, so for us to get bound by a set of legal obligations could potentially curtail our ability to develop, and that’s not fair.

So I think that you have a fundamental deadlock in perspectives that were brought to the discussions during the course of this week.  And both sides have legitimate points.

My view was that if we could begin to acknowledge that the emerging countries are going to have some responsibilities, but that those responsibilities are not exactly the same as the developed countries, and if we could set up a financing mechanism to help those countries that are most vulnerable, like Bangladesh, then we would be at least starting to reorient ourselves in a way that allows us to be effective in the future.

But it is still going to require more work and more confidence-building and greater trust between emerging countries, the least developed countries, and the developed countries before I think you are going to see another legally binding treaty signed.

I actually think that it’s necessary for us ultimately to get to such a treaty, and I am supportive of such efforts.  But this is a classic example of a situation where if we just waited for that, then we would not make any progress.  And in fact I think there might be such frustration and cynicism that rather than taking one step forward, we ended up taking two steps back.

But I want to be very clear that ultimately this issue is going to be dictated by the science, and the science indicates that we’re going to have to take more aggressive steps in the future.  Our hope is that by investing in clean energy, in research, in development, in innovation, that in the same way that the Clean Air Act ended up spurring all kinds of innovations that solved the acid rain problem at a much cheaper and much more rapid pace than we expected, that by beginning to make progress and getting the wheels of innovation moving, that we are in fact going to be in a position to solve this problem.

But we’re going to need technological breakthroughs to get to the goals that we’re looking for.  In the meantime, we’ve got to be able to take the steps that are in our grasp right now, like for example energy efficiency, something I emphasized last week.

All right.  Helene Cooper.  I’m sorry.

Q    What about the compromise shift question?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have to say that, quietly, we did some pretty good ground work during the course of this year, so that our position was relatively clear.  I think that the one principle that I brought to this is that whatever commitments we make, I want to be able to be sure that they’re actually commitments that we can keep.  So we tried to be modest in what we thought we could accomplish.  I think there was interest on the part of some to, for example, increase our mitigation targets.  Although when you look out in the years 2025 or 2030, our goals are actually entirely comparable with Europe’s.  On the front end they appear to be less, because frankly, they’ve had a head start over the last several years in doing things like energy efficiency that we care about.

What I said to the other people in the room is, is that I want to make sure that whatever it is that we promise we can actually deliver on, and that it would be unrealistic for us to think that we can turn on a dime and that suddenly a clean-energy economy is going to emerge overnight, given the fact that it’s going to require significant effort.  And companies and industries are going to be wanting to make changes — we’re already seeing those changes, but they haven’t all borne fruit yet.  And we want to make sure that we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves in terms of targets, even as I understand that the science compels us to move as rapidly as we can.

All right.  Helene Cooper.

Q    Thank you.  I wanted to ask you about this listing of the — in the appendix.  Going forward do you think that’s going to continue to be sufficient, or do you think verification is going to remain a source of friction between the U.S. and China?  And also on cap and trade, are you able to — were you able to assure the leaders here that you’ll make that a legislative priority next year?

THE PRESIDENT:  With respect to the appendix, these countries have set forth for the first time some very significant mitigation efforts, and I want to give them credit for that.  I mean, if you look at a country like India, as I said, they’ve got hundreds of millions of people who don’t have electricity, hundreds of millions of people who, by any standard, are still living in dire poverty.  For them, even voluntarily to say, we are going to reduce carbon emissions relative to our current ways of doing business by X percent is an important step.  And we applaud them for that.

The problem actually is not going to be verification in the sense that this international consultation and analysis mechanism will actually tell us a lot of what we need to know.  And the truth is that we can actually monitor a lot of what takes place through satellite imagery and so forth.  So I think we’re going to have a pretty good sense of what countries are doing.

What I think that some people are going to legitimately ask is, well, if it’s not legally binding what prevents us from, 10 years from now, looking and saying, you know, everybody fell short of these goals and there’s no consequences to it?  My response is that, A, that’s why I think we should still drive towards something that is more binding than it is.  But that was not achievable at this conference.

And the second point that I’d make is that Kyoto was legally binding and everybody still fell short anyway.  And so I think that it’s important for us, instead of setting up a bunch of goals that end up just being words on a page and are not met, that we get moving — everybody is taking as aggressive a set of actions as they can; that there is a sense of mutual obligation and information sharing so that people can see who’s serious and who’s not; that we strive for more binding agreements over time; and that we just keep moving forward.  That’s been the main goal that I tried to pursue today.

And I think that as people step back, I guarantee you there are going to be a lot of people who immediately say, the science says you got to do X, Y, Z; in the absence of some sort of legal enforcement, it’s not going to happen.  Well, we don’t have international government, and even treaties, as we saw in Kyoto, are only as strong as the countries’ commitments to participate.

Because of the differing views between developing countries and developed countries, in terms of future obligations, the most important thing I think we can do at this point — and that we began to accomplish but are not finished with — is to build some trust between the developing and the developed countries to break down some of the logjams that have to do with people looking backwards and saying, well, Kyoto said this, or Bali said that, or you guys need to do something but we don’t need to do something; getting out of that mindset and moving towards a position where everybody recognizes we all have to move together.  If we start from that position, then I think we’re going to be able to make progress in the future.

But this is going to be hard.  This is hard within countries; it’s going to be even harder between countries.  And one of the things that I’ve felt very strongly about during the course of this year is that hard stuff requires not paralysis, but it requires going ahead and making the best of the situation that you’re in at this point, and then continually trying to improve and make progress from there.

Okay, thank you very much everybody.  We’ll see some of you on the plane.

Q    Mr. President, who will sign the agreement — since you’re leaving, who here has the power to sign it?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ve got our negotiators who are here.  I’m not going to be the only leader who I think leaves before it’s finally presented, but they are empowered to sign off — given at this point that most of the text has been completely worked out.

Q    Does it require signing, is it that kind of agreement?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, it raises an interesting question as to whether technically there’s actually a signature — since, as I said, it’s not a legally binding agreement, I don’t know what the protocols are.  But I do think that this is a commitment that we, as the United States, are making and that we think is very important.

All right.  Thanks, guys.

EU ups Target to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 (See Update)

**Update**  11:49 pm, I’m hearing now that because of disappointment with the nature of the accord, the EU is going back to the 2020 target.

This just recently came in, the EU has raised the bar for it’s emissions reductions target, raising it from 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 to 30%.  This is a good step in the right direction.  Now the US and China need to step Obama.  It hasn’t been looking too good in that regard.  Below is an update by the AP on the efforts to get a deal.  I’ll skip over analysis of President Obama’s speech, it was pretty lackluster, but the real action is happening right now at this tails into the night in Copenhagen.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent – 1 hr 29 mins ago

COPENHAGEN – President Barack Obama raced from one impromptu meeting to another and made an animated plea for compromise Friday, making plain his frustration over the difficulty of pushing world leadersto settle on a plan to combat global warming.

“We are running short on time,” Obama told the 193-nation summit as the clock was running out on its final day. “There has to be movement on all sides.”

Working into the night and putting his departure time in question, Obama had scheduled a second one-on-one meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao after an earlier session of nearly an hour. But that second meeting did not take place and it was unclear why.

Officials had said the two men made a step forward in their earlier talks, though the degree of progress was not clear.

Obama also attended a a third meeting with other world leaders that included Wen.

China sent lower-level officials to two other unscheduled meetings of nearly 20 leaders, including Obama. But the direct talks between Obama and Wen underscored efforts to resolve differences that represent one of the major roadblocks in reaching a global climate deal. The U.S. has been insisting that China, the only nation that emits more heat-trapping gasses than the U.S., make its emissions-reduction pledges subject to international review.

Without mentioning China specifically, Obama addressed Beijing’s resistance in his speech.

“I don’t know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and making sure we are meeting our commitments,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. It would be a hollow victory.”

Obama indirectly acknowledged that some nations feel the United States is doing too little to reducegreenhouse gas emissions, and he urged leaders to accept a less-than-perfect pact. Meanwhile, he offered no new U.S. concessions.

“No country will get everything that it wants,” Obama said.

It’s possible that Obama’s biggest success here will have nothing to do with the climate. He met with the Russian president and said afterward that the United States and Russia are “quite close” to a new nuclear arms control agreement to replace an expired Cold War-era arms control treaty.

In his speech, Obama said the United States has acted boldly by vowing to reduce greenhouse gasses and help other nations pay for similar efforts. Critics note that many industrialized nations have promised much larger reductions.

And yet Obama arrived in snow-covered Copenhagen with no new proposal from the U.S. side. Some had hoped he might increase Washington’s emissons-cut pledge, now only a fraction of those from otherdeveloped countries, or put a specific dollar amount on America’s expected contributions to short- or long-term aid funds to help poorer nations deal with the effects of climate change.

Obama had planned to spend only about nine hours at the summit. But the second meeting with the Chinese premier promised to add several hours to his stay.

The U.S. commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses mirrors legislation before Congress. It calls for 17 percent reduction in such pollution from 2005 levels by 2020 — the equivalent of 3 percent to 4 percent from the more commonly used baseline of 1990 levels. That is far less than the offers from the European Union, Japan and Russia.

Even that target was hard-won in a skittish Congress, and Obama has decided he can’t go further without potentially souring final passage of the bill, approved in the House but not yet considered in the Senate. He also could imperil eventual Senate ratification of any global treaty that emerges next year.

December 17, 2009

Hilary Clinton Pledges $100 billion a year global fund by 2020, I say show us how

Advocates in Copenhagen have been pushing hardest for some serious financing for developing countries to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change to break the impasse in the negotiations.  Hilary Clinton has come up with a much needed announcement that the US will build a global fund of $100 billion dollars from “a variety of sources” by 2020.  I say good, but show us how.  I can’t see this announcement doing much at all unless Clinton or Obama can give us a little more detail on what the US, Europe, and others are going to do to get that kind of money flowing each year.  Try ending fossil fuel subsidies.

US would contribute to $100bln climate fund: Clinton

(AFP) – 2 hours ago

COPENHAGEN — The United States would contribute towards a fund worth 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with climate change, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

She said the contribution would be “in the context of a strong accord in which all major economies stand behind meaningful [greenhouse-gas] mitigation actions and provide full transparency as to their implementation.”

In such circumstances, “the United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs,” she said.

The figure is aligned with figures for long-term funding sketched by the European Union (EU).

Climate finance is one of the core issues being debated at the 12-day UN climate conference in Beijing.

The money would be used to help poorer countries switch to cleaner technology and shore up their defences against the impacts of climate change.

December 16, 2009

Senator John Kerry’s Speech at Copenhagen

Taken from his website

Thank you also for the privilege of allowing me to share some thoughts at this historic meeting.

For seventeen years now we’ve been coming together.  Through enormous transitions in our politics — new Presidents, new Prime Ministers, new friends who quickly became old friends; we’ve taken a long journey together.

From Rio to Copenhagen, with 14 COPs in between, through all the hurdles and the challenges, two constants have remained:  First, the urgency of the science that tells us we must act.  Second, we have never wavered from our determination to get the job done.  And that’s why we’re on the brink of making history now.

Back in 1992 an American President personally traveled to climate talks in Rio to help plant the seeds of possibility, the promise of a beginning; But that promise was allowed to wither on the vine. In the years that followed the United States joined with other major polluters to delay, divide and deny.  We simply failed to lead in the manner this challenge demands.

But this is a new day.  Just as in Rio, an American President is now coming to these talks in good faith—this time, to promise a new beginning and to re-commit the United States to being part of a global solution.

Seventeen years is a long time to pursue an urgent goal.  But history reminds us that sometimes even urgent struggles take time.  Consider the hundred years of conflict inNorthern Ireland.  At the moment when peace was finally achieved after tireless efforts, Senator George Mitchell, said simply:  “We had seven hundred days of failure and one day of success.”

And that’s why we’re gathered here again: Because we know that, in one day, with one agreement, we can put the world on a safer path.  And in the coming hours and days, the world expects us to get the job done.

Even back in 1992, we all came together for a simple reason:  we accepted the science. I’ve often said that global climate change is an issue where no one has the luxury of being “half-pregnant.”  You either are or you aren’t.  And so it is with climate change. You either understand and accept the science – or you don’t. Folks this isn’t a cafeteria where you can pick and choose and accept the science that tells us what is happening, but then reject the science that warns us what will happen.

If Dick Cheney can argue that even a 1% chance of a terrorist attack is 100% justification for preemptive action—then surely, when scientists tell us that climate change is nearly a 100% certainty, we ought to be able to stand together, all of us, and join in an all out effort to combat a mortal threat to the life of this planet.

In recent days it has been interesting to watch people who have never even accepted the basic science now suddenly transform themselves into climate change investigators, wannabe Inspector Clouseaus looking for some sort of smoking gun to erase decades of constant and unequivocal research.

There isn’t a nation on the planet where the evidence of the impacts of climate change isn’t mounting. Frankly, those who look for any excuse to continue challenging the science have a fundamental responsibility which they have never fulfilled:  Prove us wrong or stand down.   Prove that the pollution we put in the atmosphere is not having the harmful effect we know it is. Tell us where the gases go and what they do.  Pony up one single, cogent, legitimate, scholarly analysis.  Prove that the ocean isn’t actually rising; prove that the ice caps aren’t melting, that deserts aren’t expanding. And prove that human beings have nothing to do with any of it. And by the way — good luck!

Ladies and Gentlemen: Here in Copenhagen, now and forever, amateur hour is over. It’s time for science fact to trump science fiction.

Experts from the world’s leading universities and think tanks—including The Fletcher School and the Heinz Center—have created a new “climate scorecard” called C-ROADS that more accurately predicts where we’re headed. It shows that if you take the best, latest offers of every country, and assume they will be perfectly, completely implemented—guess what? None of it is nearly enough to get the job done.

Right now our best efforts may limit us to a rise of 3.9 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, even though the world’s major economies agreed this year in Italy that anything beyond 2 degrees would be catastrophic.  That’s why Copenhagen is not about one country or one faction simply making a demand of another.  It’s the science itself, demanding action from all of us.

As fingers point in one direction or another, as frustration grows with the politics of one country or another, let’s not lose sight of the reality that no country individually, and none of us collectively, are doing enough.

So why then are these next three days so important? Because it is crucial that we get started. By setting a price on carbon and committing ourselves to reduce emissions, we send a signal to the marketplace that will revolutionize global supply and use of energy. It will forever alter the patterns of capital investment and consumer behavior. I believe in the power of the free market. And when the free market is unleashed to solve a problem, our innovators and entrepreneurs can eclipse all the predictions and render all the models obsolete. If you don’t believe me let me remind you that in 1992 when we met in Rio there were about 26 sites on the internet. Type Copenhagen into Google today and you get 43 million hits.

The 12 months since we gathered in Poznan have seen a series of successes that add up to a changed and changing world.  And I’m proud to say that nowhere has that change been more pronounced than in the United States, where we are at last moving in the right direction.

In January, we swore in a President who promised to “mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change.”  And he has.

Since January, we have made the single largest investment in clean energy in our nation’s history: eighty billion dollars which will result directly in emissions reductions.  At the Major Economies Forum we led the world in agreeing to cut global emissions in half by 2050.  We have set bold, binding targets to raise the fuel economy of America’s cars and trucks for the first time in three decades—and now accelerated those targets by four years. This Monday, our Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $350 million dollar clean energy fund for advanced economies to help pay for wind, solar, and efficiency projects in the developing world.

Thirty-three of our fifty states have voluntarily entered into compacts to reduce emissions. As a result, over half the American economy is already preparing to implement mandatory emissions reduction policies, and three regions are currently setting up emissions trading systems.  More than 1,000 mayors are taking strict measures to aim towards Kyoto targets–and a number of cities are actually getting close on their own. Across America, grassroots initiatives are sprouting up as citizens lead their leaders.

It was against that backdrop that the House of Representatives finally passed comprehensive climate change legislation with billions of dollars for international adaptation, technology transfer, deforestation and, for the first time in American history, a national mandatory emissions target.

And just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency sent a wakeup call to Capitol Hill: If Congress won’t legislate, the EPA will regulate.

In the last ten months, we’ve accomplished more than we did in the previous ten years.   Two years ago in Bali, in a room much like this one, a delegate from Papua New Guineachastised the United States saying “If…you are not willing to lead, then please, leave it to the rest of us, please get out of the way.”   Well, we’re here today. The United States is back and President Barack Obama is coming to Copenhagen to put America on the right side of history.

But, as energized as I am about all we’ve done this year, we still need to complete the task in the United States Senate. Frankly, meeting that challenge early next spring can be significantly assisted by what is achieved here. In the Senate and in America, the concerns that kept us out of Kyoto back in 1997 are still with us today, and we need to preempt them here in Copenhagen.

Make no mistake: I don’t offer these insights to defend inaction.  I simply want to describe for you the reality of what it will take to get this done.

Some of my colleagues in Washington– like some leaders elsewhere— remain reluctant to grapple with a climate crisis mostly measured in future dangers, when they’re confronted every day with the present pain of hardworking people in a tough economic time. To pass a bill, we must be able to assure a Senator from Ohio that steel workers in his state won’t lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measureable, reportable and verifiable. Every American – indeed, I think all citizens—need to know that no country will claim an unfair advantage.

Shared responsibility must include an obligation to share information about each country’s good faith efforts to keep its commitments. After all – that’s what an agreement means. People need to trust the process, and that trust is built through transparency.

There is nothing new or threatening about such transparency.  We have it in nuclear arms agreements and in trade agreements.  Countries have accepted the international rules and enforcement mechanisms of the WTO and flourished, and today we must share with each other, in good faith, our efforts to meet the new standards that come with our international climate commitments.

Without an agreement here in Copenhagen that addresses this core issue of transparency, it will be exceedingly difficult to persuade already doubtful elected officials that they are safe in asking their citizens to go along. Senators and Congressmen alike are determined that there must be consequences for any country that thinks they can duck altogether or fake their participation in a solution.  Once a treaty is in force, countries that fail to make a good faith effort toward reducing emissions will find that they cannot dump high carbon intensity products into our markets. That is a fair response to non-compliance with a binding international agreement.

One of the last barriers to bold American leadership is the knowledge that even if we take tough steps forward, our efforts can be totally eclipsed by rising emissions from others. You may not know it, but when the US Senate talks about climate policy, fundamentally, all of you are in the room—because our debate always comes back to the need for a global effort.

Let me be clear: America will continue to honor the bedrock principle of common but differentiated responsibility. “Differentiated” means less developed countries can adopt different reduction targets at different rates reflecting their economic and energy realities. But let’s be honest here: our common responsibility demands that if we’re serious about solving climate change, then every country that contributes significantly to the problem today or will contribute in the future, must be a part of the solution in a way that is transparent and accountable.

I recognize that there is an inconsistency in asking other countries to grow differently than we did.  Industrial pollution did not begin in the developing world. For a century and a half theUnited States and the countries of Europe became modern economies with scant knowledge of the damage we were doing to our climate. But for the last twenty years, at least, we haveknown—and that only adds to our responsibility.

I am sympathetic to developing countries’ concerns:  because of our emissions it’s their crops that will disappear; because of our inaction, it’s their fields that turn to desert; and their people, who will be worst affected, are least equipped to meet this challenge.  Those are legitimate issues.  But for developing countries, winning the right to repeat our mistakes will be cold comfort if it leads us all to climate catastrophe—especially when there are alternative technologies and energy sources available to allow them to develop sustainably.  To help developing nations take responsibility, climate finance must be resolved in negotiations this week to become a core element of a Copenhagen agreement.

Today, there is no excuse for America not to act when we account for just five percent of the world’s population, but 20 percent of its emissions.  By the very same token, when 97 percent of new emissions over the next two decades will come from the developing world, that is more than “an inconvenient truth” in our larger struggle.  It is a core issue.  By 2020China’s emissions will be 40% larger than America’s.  It is inescapable that ultimately, the only workable way forward will be a global solution where all major emitters take on binding commitments.

The developing world is already making enormous progress.   China has committed to a 40-45 percent carbon intensity reduction; Brazil has pledged a remarkable 80 percent cut in its all-important emissions from deforestation; and India too has broken new ground with an offer to cut its emissions intensity by 20-25 percent.  Yes, many would like to see more, and yes these commitments must be made part of an international agreement, but these countries’ decision to join in announcing targeted reductions is an historic breakthrough and they deserve our applause for getting this far.

And in America, we too are making progress.  Every day we are building support in the Senate, across the political spectrum.  Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican Senator from South Carolina, has become a trusted partner.  Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who wrote the amendment that effectively ended U.S. participation in Kyoto, who has championed American coal for fifty years, said just this month, and I quote: “To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say ’deal me out.’West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.”   Twelve years after the Byrd-Hagel Amendment, we finally have Robert Byrd at the table. The two key Senate Committees have already advanced major proposals and the Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, has stated publicly that we will take this on early next spring.

Let me say to all of you wondering about whether we will pass something: the naysayers predicting defeat are wrong. With a successful deal here in Copenhagen, next year, the United States Congress—House and Senate—will pass comprehensive energy/climate legislation that will reduce America’s emissions.  And though we have yet to reach full agreement on a method, more and more businesses and lawmakers are convinced that the only way to meet an emissions reduction target is to price carbon.

Today in Copenhagen, we are close to making history.  This can be a watershed moment if we go home with a comprehensive political agreement at the highest level that includes a global emissions reduction target and commitments by all countries to take actions to achieve that target.  We also need to support developing nations in improving the frequency and transparency of their reporting, and establish a structure to assess our progress toward our stated goals. In addition, we should build on the Bali Action Plan to ensure that REDD plays an important role in the agreement here.

A final but critical component of any agreement here in Copenhagen is finance.  Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress injected over $1.2 billion into a variety of international climate change priorities, including efforts to advance clean energy technologies and reduce deforestation. This is a beginning to support a global fast-start financing contribution on the order of $10 billion.  I believe the United States should be prepared to do more as other countries clarify their own efforts for transparency and mitigation.  Clearly, funding must ramp up significantly in future years as part of a global deal which includes a structure to direct financing in an effective and accountable way. We need to consider innovative ideas to meet this financing challenge, including focusing and expanding the efforts of our development banks, dedicating revenues from putting a price on carbon, and exploring other internationally-agreed sectoral mechanisms.

And vitally, we must agree on a process to come back together next year to transform theCopenhagen political agreement into a binding international treaty. That process should not delay and I believe an early summer date of June or July 2010 is realistic and necessary.

The truth is we are reaching the limits of how far each of us can go if we go it alone. People in every country are asking, “If we go forward will others follow?”  We need to build trust—in the process and in each other.  Brazil and Indonesia must be confident that the international community will provide sufficient financial support. Europe and Japan need to be convinced that the rest of the world will join in taking sufficient steps forward.

It is easy to get lost in the ups and downs of a week like this one.  Emotions run high.  While we may sometimes want to walk away from each other, none of us can truly afford to walk away from this problem.

An old American patriot described today’s situation very well.   As America fought for its independence, Benjamin Franklin said, “we must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

When the desert is creeping into East Africa, and ever more scarce resources push farmers and herders into deadly conflict, then that is a matter of shared security for all of us.  When the people of the Maldives are forced to abandon a place they’ve called home for hundreds of years—it’s a stain on our collective conscience, and a moral challenge to each of us. When our own grandchildren risk growing up a world we can’t recognize and don’t want to, in the long shadow of a global failure to cooperate, then—clearly, urgently, profoundly—we all need to do better.

There are issues of war and peace. And then, there are issues of life and death like this one that are no less morally compelling than war itself.  We have an obligation to save the lives of millions of people who risk famine, dislocation, disease and death, simply because they are forced – not called on—but forced to suffer the indifference of wealthy nations  and their addiction to the status quo.

We can stop the climate-driven wars of the future.  We can keep would-be climate refugees in their homes.  We can keep islands on the map and stop climate-fueled droughts and storms before they ever start.

Here in Copenhagen we have an opportunity to realign the way nations have dealt with each other. By reaching agreement on finance, emission targets, and a transparent system for global action, we will be recognizing globally that the stewardship of the planet and our appetite for resources will be managed in a new way in a new era.

None of this will be easy– we know that — but we can find the answers if we find the will to demand them. This is not a moment when the world can afford to settle for less.  This is a moment to demand what is necessary and deliver what is right—not to weigh what is the least that our country can offer up in Copenhagen—but to act boldly and find out what is the most we can accomplish here together.

I have seen this process through more highs and lows than I care to remember.  Today we are closer than ever to getting the job done.

People fail for seven hundred days and succeed for one.  People strive for 17 years and succeed for one.  We need to trust the science.  We need to trust each other, put aside our grievances, focus on the bottom line and have the courage to take risks together and make Friday our day of success.

# # #


Whitney Smith

Press Secretary

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.)


Videos of Protests Inside and Outside Copenhagen Conference

There are a number of direct action protests taking place to protest what many activists see as lackluster negotiations that aren’t resolving any of the key issues over emissions targets, finance, or a legally binding treaty.  Below is footage from a march on the conference center, and a youth sit-in inside.  There is a live blog of the youth protest, which you can find here.

18 Organizations Write to Obama to Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies

18 environmental organizations have sent a letter to President Obama requesting some serious financing be put on the table for the Copenhagen climate talks by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, and redirecting that money for international assistance.  The also want the US to reach a strong deal over international deforestation.  The letter was signed by National Wildlife Federation President & CEO Larry Schweiger, along with leaders of Alliance for Climate Protection, American Council On Renewable Energy, Center for International Environmental Law, Ceres/BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy), Clean Economy Network Inc., Environmental Defense Fund, Evangelical Environmental Network, Food for the Hungry, Inc., League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, The Wilderness Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, and 1Sky.  It’s reposted below

December 16, 2009
President Obama
The White House
Washington, DC
Dear Mr. President,
We write to you on behalf of the businesses and millions of Americans we represent to urge you
to lead at this historic moment and secure a fair and ambitious plan for global cooperation to
combat climate change. In particular, we ask that you reprioritize American policy to phase out
the sizable taxpayer subsidies we provide the fossil fuel industry and instead significantly
increase the U.S. investment in global efforts to protect tropical forests, provide humanitarian
assistance to protect vulnerable communities from climate impacts, and speed the deployment of
clean energy technologies. With strong leadership and new proposals in the coming days, the
United States can and should secure additional financing commitments from other nations as part
of a broader agreement from major emitters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A Copenhagen agreement should include a landmark global plan to protect tropical forests from
the destruction that causes approximately 15% of the emissions that contribute to global
warming. Backed by a broad coalition of businesses and conservation groups, many in Congress
have already supported measures to finance global efforts to protect tropical forests in climate
legislation. The House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act includes strong
financing for efforts to reduce emissions from global deforestation by 720 million tons annually
by 2020 – emission reductions that are above and beyond the emission standards in the bill.
Similar provisions are included in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act that has been
approved by the Senate Environment Committee. You have an opportunity to offer this as a
supplemental commitment here in Copenhagen and ask other nations to match it.
From Biloxi to Bangladesh, poor families get hit first and worst by the effects of climate change.
We must help the poor in poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, including
increased water scarcity, extreme weather events, increases in diseases, and declining
agricultural productivity. Since climate impacts act as “threat multipliers,” such destabilization
and the increase of refugees also will lead to security threats. Just as climate legislation in
Congress must address impacts of climate on America’s poor, a global agreement should make
sure that such impacts do not make it more difficult for the world’s poor to create better lives for
themselves. The good news is that the solutions can help them climb out of poverty.
There are several opportunities to generate the necessary financing from innovative sources. At
the G-20 and at the meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations, you helped lead an
effort to phase out the subsidies of fossil fuels globally. These subsidies have been costing
American taxpayers $10 billion annually. International transport emissions from aviation and
shipping were left out of the Kyoto Protocol. The loophole for these fast growing sectors should
be closed through a global sectoral cap, and revenue generated should be directed to these
A successful Copenhagen outcome will include global targets for both emissions and climate
finance. The United States should encourage and support a strong global commitment through
2020 for public finance of forest, adaptation and technology initiatives, backed by specific
options for securing this funding. This effort will help advance global cooperation toward a
more ambitious and fairer global deal that involves all nations.
We stand ready to support your leadership.

December 15, 2009

Japan Unveils $10 billion in Climate Aid

Although serious financing has a long way to go, it was heartening this morning to see that Japan has offered $10 billion in climate aid, which doubles the current amount of money that was on the table in the early years.

Japan to unveil 10 billion dollars in climate aid

A pledge of funds from rich countries will be a key ingredient for any climate change deal in Copenhagen. Japan is ready to make an offer in Copenhagen.

Rie Jerichow15/12/2009 13:25

When Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama lands in Copenhagen for the UN climate summit, he will bring along an offer of 10 billion US dollars to help developing countries fight global warming, the Tokyo Shimbun daily reports, according to Reuters.

The pledge of 10 billion dollars over three years, including steps to protect biodiversity, is more than previously announced.

According to Reuters, Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa last week declined to say how much Japan – the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases – would contribute, but said that the government wanted to pay more than a previously announced 9.2 billion dollars over three years.

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