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WH Bullish on Copenhagen Climate Deal

By Richard Wolffe, The Daily Beast - December 5, 2009

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Could Obama actually return from Copenhagen with a deal? The White House is suddenly feeling a gust of optimism. Richard Wolffe on how he might earn that Nobel prize after all. Plus, read our user's guide to the state of the climate change debate.

The last time President Obama made a late schedule change to travel to Copenhagen, the gamble failed badly: despite a spirited speech, he returned empty-handed as his hometown of Chicago lost the contest to host the 2016 Olympics.

But late Friday afternoon, the White House repeated the gamble. Less than two months since their last Copenhagen debacle, the president’s staff moved his plan for travel to the Danish capital back a week—from the start of the UN climate talks, to the end of the tortured process.

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Charles Dharapak / AP Photo; AP Photo

It could turn out to be another reckless wager risking the president’s prestige. But the White House is betting this one turns out differently. Obama’s aides seem confident that several months of patient diplomacy is about to pay off.

The mood inside the West Wing late on Friday was cautiously, but palpably, optimistic about securing a Copenhagen deal. By pushing back Obama’s arrival date, the president’s aides have significantly recalculated the risks involved in the talks. A summit that seemed, just a week ago, doomed to failure is suddenly suffused with a burst of hope.

The initial plan allowed for Obama to leave early if it looked like the talks were heading for deadlock. That scenario seemed fraught—raising the very real prospect that close on the heels of the widely criticized Asia trip, the president could once again travel abroad only to return home empty-handed. But as of late Friday, the mood shifted; a deal once considered out of reach might now be in sight.

The details of such an accord remain elusive at this hour. And any climate deal coming out of Copenhagen is likely to be seen by environmentalists as an inadequate disappointment. But by the same token, any agreement will be hailed as a significant change from the deadlock that marked the Bush era. It could also change the complexion of the debate over whether Obama deserves the Nobel peace prize he’s slated to accept next week in Oslo.

So what changed?

While the Washington press corps and much of the country was obsessing over the party crashers and Tiger Woods’ transgressions, the White House was quietly building momentum toward a deal. Obama returned home from his much-maligned Asia trip to announce specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions—pledging to cut them 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. China followed with pledges of its own. While the cameras were trained on the Salahis, Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were carrying on off-air talks. The results: India promised to cut carbon intensity (relative to India’s economic growth) by 20 to 25% below 2005 levels over the next decade.

The second step came among the richer nations this week, in Obama’s face-to-face sessions with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, as well as his phone calls with the British, German and French leaders. Together they negotiated an arrangement they hope will effectively silence the complaints of the poorer countries of the developing world, who could still stymie any deal in Copenhagen.

Their offer: $10 billion a year by 2012 to help developing countries deal with and adapt to climate change. The promised cash amounts to a big boost in development aid, and was justified by the White House on humanitarian and security grounds to mitigate the impact of climate change.

View as Single Page 12 Back to Top December 5, 2009 | 12:05am Facebook | Twitter | Digg |   | Emails | print Copenhagen, Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama, Climate Change, G-77, German And French Leaders, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Salahis, Asia Trip, Oslo, 2016 Olympics, Sudan, Manmohan Singh, Un, Chicago, British, India, China, United Nations  (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies Sort Up Sort Down sort by date: Baddchild

The last time this nimcompoop went to Copenhagen he came back home a big time loser, and now he heads back looking to take part in the biggest fraud since his credentials to be preseident. For over 2 weeks now we know the emails are out there proving the fraud that the climate models that are constantly cited as evidence of MAN MADE global warming are a hoax, cooked up in a University in the UK that has recieved over 100 million dollars to "research" global warming. The CLIMATEGATE Emails leaked to the world via a whislte blower have not even merited a whisper in the goverment run media or here on the DB. The WARM MONGERS are out in full damage control, trying to keep this story from the light of day.ALGore just did an interview with the politiico and wasn't even asked about climategate or why 2 members from the Academy Awards have asked him to give back his Oscar for the fraudulent data used in his movie that has now come to light. Time for a full investigation into the fraud that this administration is about to perpatrate on this country and anyone involved should be put behind bars immediately. Time to take America back for the people!

The only nincompoop is posting screeds here on the Beast. Save us your Obama bashing, republicafart.

Pffffffft!

update, the politico interview was done before the email release but held until now so they are off the hook for this one.... for now.

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