Friday, December 18, 2009

President Obama speaks to climate carnival of chaos

President Obama addressed the Copenhagen Climate Conference this morning to mixed reviews.  You can read the entire text of the speech here.  Newsweek (not surprisingly) gives the President a grade of B minus on the speech, but reviews outside the comfy U.S. mainstream media have not been so kind.

Things kicked off on a bad foot from the start.  After his arrival in Copenhagen on Thursday night, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao snubbed the U.S. by boycotting a meeting with Obama.  From the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE Copenhagen climate talks were hanging in the balance late last night after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao boycotted a meeting with US President Barack Obama, prompting Mr Obama to warn that the world could ‘‘split apart’’ on how to tackle climate change.

Speaking to the United Nations conference plenary after being stood up by Mr Wen, Mr Obama said leaders were struggling to deal with political fault lines that have prevented action to limit greenhouse gas emissions despite nearly two decades of talking. ‘‘While the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest — I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now and hangs in the balance,’’ he said.

‘‘We are running short of time and at this point the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart.’’

Mr Obama earlier met a group of fellow leaders to discuss a preliminary draft of a political declaration on tackling climate change. Mr Wen received a rebuke from French President Nicolas Sarkozy after refusing to attend the meeting.
Well it was nice that President Sarkozy stood up for Obama.  Embarassing, but nice, nonetheless.

The Guardian (UK) reports on the speech in a story headlined Barack Obama's speech disappoints and fuels frustration at Copenhagen:  US president offers no further commitment on reducing emissions or on finance to poor countries.  Here's more:

Responding to Obama's speech, a British official said: "Gordon Brown is committed to doing all he can and will stay until the very last minute to secure a deal... but others also need to show the same level of commitment. The prospects of a deal are not great."

Many reactions were strongly critical of Obama. Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, described Obama's speech as "ridiculous" and the US's initial offer of a $10bn fund for poor countries in the draft text as "a joke".

Tim Jones, a spokesman for the World Development Movement, said: "The president said he came to act, but showed little evidence of doing so. He showed no awareness of the inequality and injustice of climate change. If America has really made its choice, it is a choice that condemns hundreds of millions of people to climate change disaster."

Friends of the Earth said in a statement, "Obama has deeply disappointed not only those listening to his speech at the UN talks, he has disappointed the whole world."

The World Wildlife Fund said Obama had let down the international community by failing to commit to pushing for action in Congress: "The only way the world can be sure the US is standing behind its commitments is for the president to clearly state that climate change will be his next top legislative priority.
If these left wing environmental groups hated it so much, it can't have been that bad.  You can read more reactions at the Globe and Mail.(Canada) here.

We will know if a few hours if the U.S. signs on to anything at this global carnival of chaos.

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