President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda isn’t about the environment, according to Sen. [crscore]Jim Inhofe[/crscore], it’s about saving face from the “embarrassment” the president suffered when trying to get countries to sign a climate treaty in 2009.
“The president’s so-called ‘Climate Action Plan’ has never been about saving the environment or the world from impending global warming doom,” the Oklahoma Republican said in a Wednesday hearing on a potential United Nations climate treaty. “It is about making up for the embarrassment of Copenhagen and solidifying his environmental legacy.”
Obama and other world leaders will meet in Paris later this month to kick off U.N. climate talks. Delegates are expected to come up with an agreement for countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions in the coming decades.
The White House has hyped up the summit as a pivotal moment in the fight against global warming, but the climate talks could easily become a major disappointment like the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Obama himself went to Copenhagen in 2009, convinced he could get the world to sign a global agreement to cut emissions. The climate summit, however, quickly broke down amid disagreements over which countries would cut emissions and over how much money rich countries would give poor countries for development.
There was no agreement on a legally binding treaty and support for the Kyoto Protocol — the world’s only binding climate treaty — fell apart. Obama officials and environmentalists blamed China for derailing the talks by refusing to cut emissions.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently tried to defend the Copenhagen talks that took place while she was secretary of state. Clinton argued Copenhagen was a success because Obama got China to sign its first international climate agreement — not a legally binding one.
“When we met in Copenhagen in 2009 and, literally, President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese, going throughout this huge convention center, because we knew we had to get them to agree to something,” Clinton said in an October Democratic presidential debate. “Because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless China and India join with the rest of the world.”
“They told us they’d left for the airport; we found out they were having a secret meeting,” Clinton added. “We marched up, we broke in, we said, ‘We’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s sit down and talk about what we need to do.’ And we did come up with the first international agreement that China has signed.”
Others argued it was Obama’s fault the talks fell apart. Even Obama was disappointed with the summit’s outcome.
“I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen,” Obama told PBS’s Jim Lehrer in 2009. “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.”
The failed Copenhagen summit resulted in several countries pulling out of plans to extend the Kyoto Protocol. Russia, Japan, Canada and others argued their CO2 cuts would be rendered useless as long as China was not also forced to curb emissions.
Obama is again optimistic he can get U.N. members to sign a global climate treaty in Paris. But, like last time, the president faces staunch opposition from Senate Republicans who have already passed legislation to block Obama’s global warming agenda.
“I, along with my Republican colleagues, am not willing to let him or any other United Nation’s bureaucrat circumvent the Constitution in an attempt to imbed climate change policies whose net effect will do nothing more than undermine America’s outlook for success,” Inhofe said.
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