In a move meant to disrupt the momentum gained in public support for climate change reduction, republican representatives Joe Barton, the highest ranking Republican on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has chastised the talks in Copenhagen and attacked the science behind the rhetoric. Refuting the science outright, has set him apart from what he calls “sycophants” that “say climate change is the biggest problem facing the world and we need to do all these draconian things that cost jobs.” He is joined by Representative James Sensenbrenner, who will head the Republican House delegation to Copenhagen, in attacking Obama’s suport for a commitment in green house gas reductions. Barton’s main point of contention, as of late, has been the leaked emails that he says validate skepticisim of global warming in general. In refuting the science, he offers no counter evidence to suggest his stance.
Barton does however bring with him a significant love affair with the oil industry, according to source watch, “In the 2007-2008 period of the 110th Congress, Joe Barton has accepted $196,040 from oil companies and $135,549 of those dollars were from industry political action committees. In addition to that, he has accepted $834,386 from oil companies between 2000 and 2007. Also, he has accepted $121,050 from the coal industry, and $119,800 of those dollars were from industry PACS. And without a counter argument offering any credibility to his attacks, he will find few friends in Copenhagen.
In a bizarrely ironic statement, Representative James Sensenbrenner has chastised Obama for expecting the congress to ratify any agreement made in Copenhagen specifically saying that, “America lost a lot of credibility when then-vice president Al Gore promised the international community in Kyoto something that he knew could never be passed by the Congress.” Does that mean he will restore credibility to the US when he visits Copenhagen as a climate change denier?
Don’t let the headlines fool you, the road to Copenhagen is as rocky as ever. In a seemingly promising statement, China has stated that it wants to see no-change results from the December meetings on climate change. Li Gao, China’s top climate change negotiator, said that as world pressure mounts on an outcome in Copenhagen, “”We will try to make the summit successful and we will not accept that it ends with an empty and so-called political declaration,” Yet in a display of realpolitik, Gao said that all parties involved would have to operate under the dozen year old Kyoto Protocol “”or else the conference would end futile,” as China “will not accept any separate legal document”.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, there are zero requirements for green house gas reductions on behalf of China and other developing nations. Since Kyoto’s inception in 1997, China has grown to become the single largest green house gas emitter.
It is easy to see China’s motivation in sticking with the past document, despite their cheer for a successful conference. Progress as China defines it would be to” create a framework that would be worked out later, in next year’s delegations”. In the meantime, China said that their role in the talks as a developing nation is to reach out to other developing nations to share each other’s concerns and look to negotiate collectively.
Hundreds of demonstrations erupted on October 24th, 2009 as part of the International Day of Climate Action. The group responsible for the day, 350.org, asserts that under scientific studies, safe levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere must be capped at 350 parts per million. The main goal of the day is to raise awareness for the upcoming Copenhagen summit on climate change, which currently does not yield an emissions cap at this level.
Public display ranged from over a thousand protesters in Portland, Oregon to a rally held by Students for Environmental Concerns in Champaign-Urbana, IL, all championing awareness for climate action both domestically as well as in Copenhagen. The demonstrations occur a day after US Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the text for the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733). Highlighting America’s desire to participate domestically in achieving goals of a global climate change treaty.
While having no direct connection to the Copenhagen summit, the goal is rather to garner public awareness, education and support for citizen’s countries’ participation at the Copenhagen talks. Fostering a positive dialogue and raising the public’s reception to a global climate treaty is imperative for success, especially in the US.