Good COP, Bad COP

Thoughts from the U.S. delegation
by -- December 8th, 2009

The U.S. delegation held a briefing for NGOs this evening.

The U.S. delegation held a briefing for NGOs this evening.  In addition to U.S. climate negotiators, Lisa Jackson (EPA Administrator) was there to discuss the agency’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including the endangerment finding that was issued yesterday.


Some of the most interesting takeaways from the briefing include:

  • Numerous agency heads and other high level government officials will attend COP 15 to signal the U.S.’s commitment to the issue.  In addition to Lisa Jackson, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will be here Thursday, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will be here Friday, followed by Energy Secretary Steven Chu (next Monday), Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (next Tuesday), and Chair of the White House Council of Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner (next Thursday).
  • Negotiators are discussing financing to support developing countries’ efforts to address climate change.  An idea under consideration at the moment would provide $10 billion per year to a fund, starting within three years, with the understanding that much more would be needed in the long-term.  The US would contribute a portion of the money, along with other countries and institutions.  One of the sticking points is how to create the proper international institutions to ensure the money is well spent.
  • Right now, the U.S. is still focusing on finalizing a political deal in Copenhagen, with a binding treaty coming later.  There are a few reasons for this.  The negotiators ran out of time to lay the groundwork for a legal treaty and the lack of U.S. climate change legislation limits the U.S. delegation’s ability to agree to firm commitments.  Plus, the speakers made the point that it is more important to see national commitments reflected in domestic law than to have signatures on a treaty.  In the end, it is domestic law that will determine whether countries make real emissions reductions.

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