If Obama is going to Copenhagen to push Chicago’s Olympic bid this week, he has to go in December to push a climate deal, yes?

President Barack Obama, who initially planned to let First Lady Michelle Obama represent the United States in Copenhagen this week, when the International Olympic Committee chooses a site for the 2016 summer games, plans to travel there too….

“There is no greater expression of the support our bid enjoys, from the highest levels of government and throughout our country, than to have President Obama join us in Copenhagen for the pinnacle moment in our bid,” said Chicago 2016 Chairman and CEO Patrick G. Ryan.

This is the best news I’ve heard in a while.

After all, if the president is going to Copenhagen for something that is relatively inconsequential both substantively and politically — it’s not like Illinois is in great jeopardy for the Dems — then I can now predict with high confidence he will be go to Copenhagen in December for the climate talks, which w

ill be crucial for helping achieve a global deal.

Success in Copenhagen this week gets Obama the Chicago Olympics in the final year of his presidency, a tiny, but fleeting, salute (if he gets a second term).  Success in December — not a final deal, of course, but moving the ball forward to achieve such a deal next year — ensures that Obama is not seen as a failed president historically and that he is not viewed as a failure internationally for however long he is president.

14 Responses to If Obama is going to Copenhagen to push Chicago’s Olympic bid this week, he has to go in December to push a climate deal, yes?

  1. Tim R says:

    Four reasons that why the US position on an international climate deal is inexplicably weak:

    1) The US proposal seeks to replace hard economy-wide targets with weaker nationally appropriate mitigation actions, and therefore destroy the Kyoto Protocol.

    2) The US proposal requires all commitments to be “in conformity with domestic law” which calls the concept of policytough international compliance into questions and trades forward-looking commitments for a backward looking list of laws already passed.

    3) The US has proposed neither an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol nor a new protocol, but rather an “implementing agreement” — an undefined legal concept that calls into question its own enforceability.

    4) The US target is embarrassingly weak.

    If the rationale for all of this is that this is all that Obama can get out of the US Senate, then the Obama strategy appears effectively to cede leadership on the issue to Senate Republicans – the one group the world we cannot let be in charge of global climate policy. Please Mr. President, lead with all your might and skill on the most important issue of our era!

    [JR: The U.S. approach is both inevitable and necessary given the impossibility of getting 67 votes in the Senate for an international treaty. Enviros will simply need to get over that. All the speeches and arm-twisting in the world by Obama will not change that. Look at healthcare. Heck, look at the stimulus bill — we were near a depression and the urgent need for action was obvious to all, and there were no House GOP votes and precisely 3 Senate ones, and one of those is now a Dem. Yes, the target is embarrassingly weak, as I’ve said many times, but sufficient for a global deal, especially if we keep the deforestation stuff.]

  2. Leif says:

    I continually hope that once the path to sustainability is opened even a crack, the benefits will be so obvious that even the last of the GOP holdouts will be ether eating crow or more likely spinning sustainability as their owen idea all along. “Creation care” anyone.

  3. Tim R says:

    If it is inevitable that the US Senate will only approve an extremely weak international treaty, wouldn’t it be far better to let the rest of the world negotiate a strengthened Kyoto Protocol and give up on the US, since it is apparently prevented from acting sensibly by Senate Republicans? Why drag the rest of the world down to their level?

    [JR: Not how the world works. The entire point of the U.S. position is to allow the strongest possible treaty — but that will certainly require the Senate to pass a climate and clean energy bill in the next few months.]

  4. jcwinnie says:

    Our choice of language indicates our thoughts and effects our thinking. I see a problem with talking about new pollution standards as “dealing”. It smacks too much of Stage Three in the Kubler-Ross Model…

    Have we got a deal for you, Gaia! We will eliminate fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 with the expectation that this could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by ten percent. We sincerely hope that this somehow will postpone or delay catastrophe after catastrophe about which those doom and gloom climate scientists keep yapping.

  5. Joe Public says:

    […]gets Obama the Chicago Olympics in the final year of his presidency […]

    Last time I checked, US presidential terms are only four years long.

    2009 + 4 = 2013.

    Obama’s term will be well over by 2016.

    Surely you aren’t so delusional as to assume he has even a chance of re-election, let alone believe its a certainty.

    On a related note, the earth has been warming and cooling in cycles for billions of years. It will continue to do so for billions more, regardless of what humans do. Ditto on the extinction of some species, and the evolution of others to survive in their place.

    [JR: Oh, I’d take bets he’ll be reelected.]

  6. President Obama now has no choice but to go to Copenhagen.

    If he’s willing to go to secure a deal for a meaningless egocentric corporate sporting show, then he either goes to Copenhagen to secure that climate deal in December or you can stick a fork in him… and us.

    And I believe your focus on how these events will affect Obama’s legacy and how he is “seen,” as opposed to the impact on climate change and how badly the shit hits the fan in 2020, is off base.

    Today’s Hadley Center report makes Obama’s ratings and style points moot.

  7. Sasparilla says:

    Its a very good point Joe. One would wish that if the President goes to the Olympic selection, he would logically go to Copenhagen in December since its much more important, that only makes sense…however we’re dealing with political animals here and logic plays very small roles in their choices.

    The polls may have recently indicated to his handlers that if President Obama goes to the Olympic thing for Chicago it would look good to most americans or some silly thing like that and since things are looking down at home, off we go “to fight for the home team”.

    How likely is it that the President is going to go Copenhagen in December if the cap n trade bill still hasn’t shown its face (or has become significantly weakened from the house version) and it doesn’t look like the Senate can get the job done? I doubt the polls would look good for that…and I doubt our President would go.

    A little grumbling here, the administration’s choice of doing healthcare, when headway could have been made in many other important places that were easy winners while the time was right (including climate legislation and financial industry regulation just to name two – before their foes could marshal their forces) was truly short sighted, now we’ll be lucky if the Dems don’t deregulate our financial services industry further and/or weaken the climate legislation further in the Senate when all is said and done. What an absolutely corrupted system. JMHO…

  8. Michael says:

    I wonder how this trip’s (and possibly the one for the climate conference) carbon footprint will go down with the tree huggers.

    I suspect they won’t mind.

  9. Russ says:

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  10. Anonymous says:

    5 Joe Public: The problem is that one of the species that will surely go extinct happens to be Homo Sapiens. Sorry, but that upsets me.

  11. Anonymous says:

    See the new book: “Climate Code Red” by David Spratt and Philip Sutton:

    Long term warming, counting feedbacks, is a least twice the short term warming.
    We have already warmed the planet 1.4 degrees F since 1750, short term.
    The long term effect of the warming we have already done is at least 2.8 degrees F, maybe much more.
    The limit set by the president is 2 degrees F. We have already exceeded it, long term.

    560 ppm CO2 gets us 6 degrees C or 10.8 degrees F. We will hit 560 ppm before mid century. 6 degrees C is the for-sure extinction point for Homo Sapiens. See “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas for some of the kill mechanisms.
    Per this book, we need ZERO “Kyoto gas” emissions RIGHT NOW and we also need geo-engineering because we have already gone way beyond the safe CO2 level of 300 to 325 ppm. We are already at 455 ppm equivalent and we have tripped some very big tipping points. We aren’t dead yet, but the planet needs critical intensive care if we humans are to have a chance of survival.

    Looks like we are not going to make it.

  12. Joe Public says:


    I tend to think we will evolve. Yes, that means *some* groups that choose not to adapt, and perhaps instead try to desperately prevent the inevitable change, may well die out. But other people, instead of wasting their time, will find ways to cope.

  13. Rockfish says:

    Might be a good time for an update, seeing how Obama got his a$$ handed to him in Copenhagen…
    The last thing he need was something else in the “L” column.