Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will Obama Attend Copenhagen?

One of the big contentions going into December's Copenhagen meeting is how many heads of state will attend. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to attend, in keeping with the priority level that his government has given to the issue.

Now, the Times of London is reporting that Lord Stern, who wrote the Stern Report in 2006, is saying that Obama must attend the meeting in Copenhagen. This article is the latest in a series of 'will he - won't he' articles that seems to have obsessed the Times and other British Papers.

The papers have probably taken their lead from British politicians: earlier this month, Ed Miliband, the British Energy and Climate Change Secretary, called on Obama to "save" the summit.

Examples of this trend include an October 20 article reporting that Obama "'may not attend" the summit, according to Todd Stern, the State Departments special envoy on climate change. This was followed by a report on October 24, also in the Times that Obama would "almost certainly" not go to Copenhagen, citing 'an official close to the Administration'. Today, the Times is reporting that an Administration spokesman insisted that “no decision has been made” about the trip. I'm quite sure that no American newspaper has been following this so closely.

Obama will be in Oslo on December 10 to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. Personally, I think it would be a big snub to be so close, and skip Copenhagen. However, one man cannot bridge the unbridgable divides at the UN negotiations. Instead of focusing entirely on Copenhagen, the British press should be looking to the bilateral arrangements that the Obama administration is quietly lining up. If the upcoming meetings with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and Indian PM Manmohan Singh end with robust climate agreements, then we can begin to talk about success in Copenhagen.

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