Sensing Possible Achievement at Copenhagen Climate Conference, President Obama Shifts Date of Appearance

By Jennifer Parker

Dec 4, 2009 5:06pm

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report: Originally scheduled to appear at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next week, on Wednesday, December 9, at the beginning of the conference, President Obama will change his schedule and appear instead more than a week later on Friday, December 18, on the day of its conclusion, officials said.

A statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that based on President Obama’s conversations with other world leaders as well as the “progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations” he believes that his presence will be most productive at the end of the conference.

Specifically, recent moves by China and India announcing carbon emission reduction goals have made the conference more likely to achieve a substantive agreement, the White House said, for which Gibbs seemed to give his boss much credit.

“Following bilateral meetings with the President and since the United States announced an emissions reduction target that reflects the progress being made in Congress towards comprehensive energy legislation, China and India have for the first time set targets to reduce their carbon intensity,” Gibbs said. “There has also been progress in advancing the Danish proposal for an immediate, operational accord that covers all of the issues under negotiation, including the endorsement of key elements of this approach by the 53 countries represented at the Commonwealth Summit last weekend.”

The United Nations Climate Change Conference officially kicks off in Denmark on Monday, December 7.  The original schedule had the president on the ground in Copenhagen for roughly five hours, a brief stop on his way to Oslo, Norway, to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday, December 10. Deputy National Security adviser for international economic affairs Michael Froman said on November 25 that the president’s appearance would “give momentum to the negotiations.”

This week, President Obama discussed the Climate Change Conference with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Those discussions seemed to indicate to the president an “emerging consensus” that the Copenhagen accord can provide $10 billion a year for developing countries to try to deal with climate change issues while also growing their economies.

Gibbs allowed that there remain “outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached.”  The Obama administration will have Cabinet officials and State Department representatives in Copenhagen throughout the negotiating process.

The president is still headed to Oslo next week to accept his Nobel Peace Prize.

– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller


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