18 December, 2009

Obama said yes, but…

Obama’s speech all about two paragraphs

Sergio Abranches

President Obama came to the Plenary of COP15, to do a very basic, yet very difficult political operation: say yes to something his country has been saying no for more than a decade. That is progress enough.

However, he can only approve an accord that falls short of what is needed to meet the US “global responsibilities”, and is not near enough to “act boldly, and decisively, in the face of this common threat.”

The problem with Obama’s speech is that its two crucial paragraphs do not match the objectives he sets forth in the opening paragraphs. Obama’s speech adds up to two crucial paragraphs:

Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments, and to exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon sovereignty. They must, however, ensure that an accord is credible, and that we are living up to our obligations. For without such accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page.

Third, we must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least-developed and most vulnerable to climate change. America will be a part of fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion in 2012. And, yesterday, Secretary Clinton made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize $100 billion in financing by 2020, if – and only if – it is part of the broader accord that I have just described.

And they don’t match the challenges and objectives with which he opens his statement:

We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you – like me – were convinced that this danger is real.

So the question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge – the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective action hangs in the balance.

I believe that we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of this common threat. And that is why I have come here today.

Moreover, on Obama’s first condition, or proposal for a deal, the closing sentence:

I’m confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation.

does not match the opening ones:

First, all major economies must put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions, and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I’m pleased that many of us have already done so…

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