Copenhagen posturing

Obama-meets-with-UN-SecretaryThe last round of negotiations prior to the Copenhagen Summit in Barcelona fizzled to a message of decreased expectations.  This has set the table for rapid political posturing from the US.  On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal quoted several key Senators, including climate bill sponsor Sen. Kerry, with various statements postponing the possibility of US domestic climate legislation until next year.  Thursday the Washington Post broke a story that the Obama administration is feeling out the possibility for interim agreements in lieu of a formal treaty in December.  This morning the first official news of President’s Asia trip is of an agreement with Japan that both countries will commit to decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 with global reductions of 50% by mid century.  With China and India on schedule for later in the trip it is probable that climate will come up again, although balance of trade and Yuan/$ exchange is likely to dominate the conversation (for more on expected China content check out Robert Borosage on Huff Post).

It seems to this writer that Obama is guarding his international reputation more than setting a clear signal that the US is ready to engage in international climate agreements.  Continue reading

Obama Sets Energy Innovation as International Competition

I had the very good fortune to attend President Obama’s clean energy speech at MIT yesterday.  I was extremely excited to be in the room, yet left disappointed in the lack of new commitments and jingoistic tone set by President Obama.

The theme of the speech was innovation, geared toward the research oriented host, MIT.  Much was made of the pioneering identity of Americans, and our capacity for discovery and leadership.  The frontier for the 21st century is the transition to clean energy.  Obama expressed a certainty that the US has not lost its capacity to lead innovation, and that we can maintain world economic dominance by investing in clean energy.  He referred to clean energy as a “peaceful competition” that will determine the leaders of the global economy.  His belief that clean energy technology is the key to economic prosperity was inspiring and reassuring to me.

My concern is that the speech set Americans apart from the rest of the world in a competition, rather than affirming the need for global cooperation. Continue reading