Obama Frustrated with Outcome of Copenhagen Climate Talks

planetwatch

Despite near instantaneous condemnation of his role in the culmination of the COP15 climate negotiations last week, president Obama voiced his frustration over the course those negotiations took and accord that resulted from them.

President Obama disappointed in outcome of COP15 negotiations

Speaking with Jim Lehrer on Wednesday, president Obama said that "people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen."

Lehrer asked about comments Obama made that Copenhagen "was a success anyhow," despite the tepid nature of the accord. President Obama responded:

What—what did occur was that at a point where there was about to be complete breakdown, and the prime minister of India was heading to the airport and the Chinese representatives were essentially skipping negotiations, and everybody’s screaming, what did happen was cooler heads prevailed.

So that—that was an important principle, that everybody’s got to do something in order to solve this problem. But I make no claims, and didn’t make any claims going in, that somehow that was going to be everything that we needed to do to solve climate change. And—and my main responsibility here is to convince the American people that it is smart economics and it is going to be the engine of our economic growth for us to be a leader in clean energy.

And if we pass a bill in the Senate, reconcile it with the House, that says we are going to invest in wind energy and solar energy and we’re going to be the guys who are producing wind turbines, and we’re going to be the folks who are producing solar panels on rooftops, and we’re going to be the country that is retrofitting all its homes and businesses so that we are 30 percent more energy efficient than we are right now, that produces jobs that can’t be exported; it reduces our dependence on foreign oil; it is good economics; it will increase our exports—oh, and by the way, it also solves the climate problem. And that is, I think, an argument that I’m going to be making not just next year, but for several years to come.
What I said was essentially that rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen, in which nothing at all got done and would have been a huge backward step, at least we kind of held ground and there wasn’t too much backsliding from where we were.

It didn’t move us the way we need to. The science says that we’ve got to significantly reduce emissions over the next—over the next 40 years. There’s nothing in the Copenhagen agreement that ensures that that happens.

What—what did occur was that at a point where there was about to be complete breakdown, and the prime minister of India was heading to the airport and the Chinese representatives were essentially skipping negotiations, and everybody’s screaming, what did happen was cooler heads prevailed.
And we were able to at least agree on nonlegally binding targets for all countries—not just the United States, not just Europe, but also for China and India, which, projecting forward, are going to be the world’s largest emitters.

So that—that was an important principle, that everybody’s got to do something in order to solve this problem. But I make no claims, and didn’t make any claims going in, that somehow that was going to be everything that we needed to do to solve climate change. And—and my main responsibility here is to convince the American people that it is smart economics and it is going to be the engine of our economic growth for us to be a leader in clean energy.

And if we pass a bill in the Senate, reconcile it with the House, that says we are going to invest in wind energy and solar energy and we’re going to be the guys who are producing wind turbines, and we’re going to be the folks who are producing solar panels on rooftops, and we’re going to be the country that is retrofitting all its homes and businesses so that we are 30 percent more energy efficient than we are right now, that produces jobs that can’t be exported; it reduces our dependence on foreign oil; it is good economics; it will increase our exports—oh, and by the way, it also solves the climate problem. And that is, I think, an argument that I’m going to be making not just next year, but for several years to come.

A full transcript of the president's remarks is available from PBS

Sources and further reading:
Newsweek
ClimateWire (subscription)
Guardian - How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room

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