Monday, December 7, 2009

President Barack Obama to Attend the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, Despite War, Accepts Nobel Prize


Obama to announce carbon targets; attend Copenhagen summit later; accept Nobel Prize; surge in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama is now to attend the later part of the Copenhagen climate change summit. "Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the president believes that continued U.S. leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18 rather than on December 9,” said Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs. His decision to shift his schedule from the beginning of the conference to the end may have come from criticism from Greenpeace, which believed that it would be better if he attended the end when agreements would finalize.

Obama's now abandoned scheduled was to visit Copenhagen on December 9 right before accepting the Nobel Peace prize in Oslo, Norway on December 10. Some criticize the president for attaining a Nobel Peace Prize despite his recent commitment to place 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan, making the total number of troops to more than 80,000. As previously mentioned, national security is an externality of climate change; poorer nations will buckle once climate effects devastate populations from many severe climatic events. A surge in Afghanistan will tie up US resources with the potential to spread troops too thin if another conflict were to arise. National security is also expensive, $657B being the price tag for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars up until 2008. The USA and the world cannot afford to allow climate change to cause a costly conflict. Developing countries are asking for $10B a year until 2012 to begin to mitigate climate effects. Mitigation now and swiftly remains the best solution.

In finding the best solution, Obama is expected to officially announce in Copenhagen his administration's plan to cut carbon emissions of the United States by 17% of 2005 levels. He also has plans to cut emissions to 83% by 2050, which fits well with the prescribed 80% cuts in carbon emissions of rich countries that Lord Stern prescribed in the Stern Review.

The last time Obama addressed world leaders about climate change was September 22. In his speech to the United Nations Obama professes: "As we head towards Copenhagen, there should be no illusions that the hardest part of our journey is in front of us." Obama warns:" Unease is no excuse for inaction. And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress." In closing: "The journey is long. The journey is hard. And we don't have much time left to make it. It is a journey that will require each of us to persevere through setback, and fight for every inch of progress, even when it comes in fits and starts. So let us begin. For if we are flexible and pragmatic; if we can resolve to work tirelessly in common effort, then we will achieve our common purpose: a world that is safer, cleaner, and healthier than the one we found; and a future that is worthy of our children. Thank you."

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