Our guest blogger is Andrew Light, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of International Climate Policy, Center for American Progress.
Barack Obama is now the third sitting president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is an enormous honor, awarded in part for “playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting.” The timing on this for those following the future of a new international climate treaty could not be more critical. The Peace Prize is presented in Oslo on December 10th. The UN climate talks, where the agenda will feature decisions on replacing the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012, start in Copenhagen on December 7th. The expectation that President Obama will now go for at least part of the UN climate talks is enormous as he’ll already be in Scandinavia.
Remember that Al Gore went immediately to the UN climate meeting in Bali after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Gore’s speech at the Bali meeting, and closed door sessions with climate negotiators for two days following, is credited by some as having saved those talks from failure. Before Gore arrived the EU was about to walk out over protests that the US was holding up progress on the “Bali Action Plan,” the document that set the parameters for what success at Copenhagen is supposed to look like this December. It’s hard to imagine a more directed appeal for President Obama to come to Copenhagen and achieve a similar success.
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica congratulated President Obama for his “commitment to tackle profoundly important issues and re-engage the world community” but said “it is important to note the United States is still playing a counter-productive role in the ongoing climate negotiations. At this moment U.S. negotiators are in Bangkok attempting to undermine existing agreements and shirk wealthy nations’ responsibility to lead the way in solving the climate crisis.”