In an unannounced climate-change ad running in upstate New York, the Hillary Clinton campaign declares allegiance with the anti-fracking movement, despite the candidate’s support for fracking. With images of dirty rigs and anti-fracking protest signs, the narrator promises that a President Clinton will “stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say no.”
The ad’s characterization of Clinton’s stance on fracking is technically accurate, though misleading, as Clinton will cede localities control over fracking, while supporting natural gas as a ‘bridge fuel’. One could say that Clinton will “stand firm” with other states supporting fracking, such as Wyoming, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Clinton has not taken a position on the Constitution Pipeline, a controversial fracked-gas pipeline being constructed through upstate New York from Pennsylvania. Clinton is on record supporting “new natural gas pipeline investment.”
Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, unequivocally opposes fracking nationally.
The television ad also credits Clinton’s work at the failed Copenhagen climate talks for “laying the groundwork” for the Paris climate agreement. The ad confusingly displays a photo of Clinton at Copenhagen under a Washington Post headline about the Paris talks six years later.
The ad began running in upstate New York communities on Wednesday, April 13, six days before the April 19th primary. It has aired over 200 times cumulatively on Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Elmira, Binghamton, and Utica stations.
The ad was not announced to the press by the campaign, allowing it to avoid scrutiny by fact-checkers or the public. Following New York, the election heads to Pennsylvania, where fracking is allowed.
NARRATOR: China. India. Some of the world’s worst polluters. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton forced them to the table, making real change by laying the groundwork for the historic global agreement to combat climate change.
As president, she’ll invest in a clean energy future, and the jobs that go with it. And stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say no. Because our future depends on getting this right.
CLINTON: I’m Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.
As climate change accelerates, it appears the Obama administration is in retreat. In an address on Thursday, the top climate negotiator for the United States rejected the administration’s formal commitment to keeping global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. This about-face from agreements endorsed by President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2010 indicates a rejection of the United Nations climate negotiations process, as well as an implicit assertion that catastrophic global warming is now politically impossible to prevent.
Speaking before an audience at his alma mater Dartmouth College, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern argued that treaty negotiations based around “old orthodoxies” of a temperature threshold ”will only lead to deadlock”:
For many countries, the core assumption about how to address climate change is that you negotiate a treaty with binding emission targets stringent enough to meet a stipulated global goal – namely, holding the increase in global average temperature to less than 2° centigrade above pre-industrial levels – and that treaty in turn drives national action. This is a kind of unified field theory of solving climate change – get the treaty right; the treaty dictates national action; and the problem gets solved. This is entirely logical. It makes perfect sense on paper. The trouble is it ignores the classic lesson that politics – including international politics – is the art of the possible… . These basic facts of life suggest that the likelihood of all relevant countries reaching consensus on a highly prescriptive climate agreement are low, and this reality in turn argues in favor of a more flexible approach that starts with nationally derived policies… . The keys to making headway in this early conceptual phase of the new agreement is to be open to new ideas that can work in the real world and to keep our eyes on the prize of reducing emissions rather than insisting on old orthodoxies… This kind of flexible, evolving legal agreement cannot guarantee that we meet a 2 degree goal, but insisting on a structure that would guarantee such a goal will only lead to deadlock. It is more important to start now with a regime that can get us going in the right direction and that is built in a way maximally conducive to raising ambition, spurring innovation, and building political will.
Stern is absolutely right that the political challenge of achieving a 2°C goal is extremely high, but what is the “flexible, evolving” regime he proposes?
Stern argued in favor of a treaty structure without any overall emissions or temperature goal, but one that allows individual countries to pick their own targets without a requirement that they be internationally binding. (This structure resembles what the Bush administration favored, although the non-binding Obama administration goal for the United States of achieving 1990-level emissions by 2020 is much better than the non-binding Bush goal of having US emissions peak in 2025.) He recognized that “the risk of a system like this is that the policies and targets countries submit prove to be too modest,” and admitted that “[h]ow to encourage ambition in an agreement that is broadly inclusive will be one of the fundamental challenges in designing a new system.” In other words, he has no idea how a climate emissions treaty with no target or enforcement mechanism would do anything to prevent catastrophic global warming.
Scientific organizations first began recommending a 2°C target in the late 1980s, based on risk assessments of the adaptive capability of forests, long-term sea level rise, and the climate history of the human race. (Our species has never experienced an Earth more than 2.5°C warmer than pre-industrial times.) The Kyoto Protocol established pollution reduction targets consistent with the warming limit, but political opposition in the United States, the world’s greatest carbon polluter, eviscerated the effectiveness of the treaty.
On July 9, 2009, after a decade was lost under the climate denial of the Bush administration, the member nations of the G8 officially recognized the 2°C goal: “We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2C.” The Cancun agreements in 2010 codified the 2°C goal: “[W]ith a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above pre- industrial levels … Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal.”
Last year in the Durban round of international climate talks, Stern hinted at this new stance when he described the 2°C target as just a ”guidepost.” His comments last week make clear that the Obama administration has fully abandoned the president’s commitments made just two years ago.
Meanwhile, the impacts of global warming are coming faster than scientists predicted when the 2°C threshold was set. With only 0.8°C of warming, Arctic sea ice and polar ice caps are melting decades ahead of predictions, oceanic warming and acidification are degrading ecosystems in unforeseen ways, and extreme weather has increased in stunning fashion. Civilization itself is at risk from the exponentially accelerating decline of the planetary support system.
Politics may be the art of the possible, but climate change is an inflexible reality. With its new stance on international climate policy, the administration has abandoned slim hope for none.
Senate Watch, Post-Copenhagen: Bennett, Bond, Casey, Durbin, Graham, Inhofe, Kaufman, Kerry, Levin, McCain, Murkowksi, Nelson, Rockefeller, Voinovich
Kit Bond (R-Mo.)
E&E News I don’t think they got anything in Copenhagen that encourages anyone. Except Jim Inhofe.
Bob Casey (D-Penn.)
E&E News on developing countries: They are going to continue to develop the energy they need. They’re not fools.
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Politico The reality for states like Pennsylvania is, even as we move forward with any kind of climate change legislation, there are going to be cost impacts. We want to make sure we’re not adding yet another cost impact that other countries don’t have to shoulder.
The Hill We’re going to move forward on it. I hope we can get it done this coming year.
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Politico We have a responsibility to deal with this issue. We have to acknowledge the obvious. China, one of our great competitors in the world, is taking the green leap forward, as they say. They are committing themselves to this new energy-efficient economy, and they are building companies even in the United States that will make those products. Will the United States stand by the sidelines or will we be part of this leap forward? I don’t want to lose those jobs.
The Hill I want to work with this administration, but this healthcare proposal has made it very hard for Republicans to sit down at the table with these guys, because of the way they have run over us. But at the end of the day we have more problems than just healthcare.
I want to help solve hard problems, but this healthcare bill has made a hard problem worse.
When [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez got a standing ovation in Copenhagen it made me sick to my stomach, but the only way he is relevant is because of the oil revenues.
I think in many ways it is going to be seen as ineffective, but it is some transparency that we don’t have today.
James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Politico If we don’t do it by then [pass legislation by spring], we’ll have a hard time doing it.
Ted Kaufman (D-Del.)
E&E News Speed things along? You’ve got to be kidding me, surely you jest. ... Nothing was done, another total failure, just like all the rest of them.
John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Politico If China will not let us verify, we’re going to have a heck of a time here. An agreement’s no good if you can’t verify.
Politico Clearly, senators and congressmen were not going to do something if other people are not going to do something — so that’s a start. There’s still going to be people who resist, there’s still going to be naysayers, there’s still going to be people who doubt the science.
E&E News Now the proof will be in our willingness to do some things we need to do, and assuming we step up, I think that’s going to set an example to a lot of other countries. I think you had to have some deal where the major emitters are beginning to reduce. Having China at the table was the most critical thing because most of our colleagues are saying, ‘Well what about China? What about China? If they don’t do it, it won’t make any difference.’ The less developed countries, the truly less developed countries barely emit. And so we have some time to work with them to bring them to the table.
John McCain (R-Ariz.)
E&E News Unless India and China are bound and we know what the details are—I don’t think necessarily that their agreeing to goals or whatever it was they agreed to will have an effect on cap and trade. If there was a binding agreement that tied them into limits that were meaningful, then I think that would have advanced the legislation. From what I understand of this, it’s more of agreeing to goals.
The Hill I think that the fact it has no binding provisions to it whatsoever is a rhetorical attempt to cover up what was obviously a serious failure.
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
E&E News “It’s a nothingburger,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), adding that while he had not read the actual language that was slowly emerging from Copenhagen, he had been told by others not to expect much.
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
E&E News Whenever you have developing countries, and certainly China and India stepping forward and indicating that they have a willingness to be a participant, I think that’s a strong indicator that we’ll have opportunities to be working and I think that that is progress.
Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
E&E News Look, I don’t succumb to international pressure. Honestly, I think it’s something that we need to work with other countries on, but I don’t expect other countries to pressure us. This is not the United States’ responsibility to please the world, secure the world, or enforce against the world with these kinds of requirements. We need to participate to the extent we can and to me that’s our role.
George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
E&E News I think that the Chinese are perfectly capable of being on board for something and then not doing it.
E&E News I know for a fact that even though the government of China says they are committed to X and Y, the economy in China is run by the governors of the state. . . We know that if we commit to something, we will do it.
In this official transcript of a briefing delivered on Air Force One on the way back from Copenhagen, Denmark to Washington, D.C., a senior administration official (evidently Press Secretary Robert Gibbs) describes the unusual process President Obama took to craft the Copenhagen Accord with the leaders of China, India, Brazil, and South Africa at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
11:46 P.M. CET
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So I just want to make sure everybody is cool with the rules here. We’re going to have probably a couple of these on this flight. What I want to do though, on background as a senior administration official, I want to go through a series of events that led up to the President going into what we had set up as a bilateral meeting with Premier Wen. So I just want to get—I want everyone to be clear on this set of events. So let me go through this timeline and then we can go through questions. And bear with me because I sometimes can’t even read my own writing.
At the first bilateral meeting with Premier Wen, the President, as we have done over the past several days, was pushing quite hard on transparency language. And we had given some transparency language to them and negotiators on our side had gone to work with their side on the notion of transparency.
Q The language was before the meeting, though? Was given to them before the meeting?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m sorry, say again.
Q When you said, “we had given language to them,” you meant before their bilat?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This was during the bilat. So this was at the end of the bilat and the President says to Wen that he thinks our negotiators should get together, spend about an hour seeing if we can make some progress – because in all honesty, rhetorically, we were hearing what we wanted to hear about steps that they were willing to take on transparency, but wanted to make sure that we would have something to agree on that wasn’t just them agreeing to agree.
So the President at that point – you guys will have some times in your email to go through – but remember there comes a point in which you should have gotten from Kevin Lewis, via an update from me, that says the President has gone to the multilateral meeting and representing the Chinese was their climate change ambassador in the ministry of foreign affairs, who was in this meeting – to put it, I guess, accurately – as to speak for the entire Chinese government.
It’s at this point that the President, before our Medvedev bilateral, the President said to staff, I don’t want to mess around with this anymore, I want to just talk with Premier Wen. So we were trying to do that before the Medvedev bilat. Our advance team called their advance team to try to set this meeting up, and in all honesty make one more chance, make one more run at getting something done. The Chinese say they need to call our advance guys back. So it’s clear that it’s going to take some time to get this Wen meeting done, so we’re going to go ahead and do the Medvedev bilat earlier than was on the schedule.
And as the President waited for Medvedev to be – to move the delegation down into the room, the President also says to staff, we should meet in a group of three with Lula of Brazil, Singh of India, and Zuma of South Africa. All right. So, let’s get a meeting with Wen, let’s get a meeting with these three guys.
We get a call back from advance that Wen is at the hotel and the Chinese staff are at the airport.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t know what level of staff, but some of their staff – a decent chunk of their staff was at the airport.
Q So they had all left the Bella Center?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.
Q Including Wen – and that was news to you guys -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Wen was at the hotel.
Q Oh, he was at the hotel.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Indians – when we called also about Zuma, Lula and Singh, we were told Singh was at the airport.
Q Do you consider that a walk-out?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think they thought the meeting was done. I think they thought there wasn’t anything left to stay for, in all honesty.
Q That was around 4:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’d have to – my sense is probably closer to 4:00 p.m. So we basically – we set times for when we want to have these meetings. We called the advance for each of these countries. We want to do – we had given the Chinese to a certain point before we were going to lock in first the other meetings. So we hadn’t heard back from the Chinese so we lock in first the notion at 5:30 p.m. we’d like to meet with the three, Zuma, Lula and Singh. And then at 6:15 p.m. – the Chinese called back – we didn’t know if they were going to call back, at 6:15 p.m. we lock in that we’re going to do a bilateral meeting with Premier Wen.
Zuma originally accepted this 5:30 p.m. multilateral meeting. Brazil tells us that they don’t know if they can come because they want the Indians to come. The Indians, as I just said, were at the airport. Zuma is under the impression that everybody is coming. Advance basically tells the South Africans that at this point the Brazilians are unclear about meeting without the Indians, the Indians are at the airport, and Zuma at that point says, well, if they’re not coming I can’t do this.
The Chinese then call and say, can we move our 6:15 p.m. bilateral back to 7:00 p.m. And we said – we put them on hold, talked a little bit, the President walked up, the President said, move it to 7:00 p.m., I’m going back to the multilateral. The President goes to the multilateral and we had been getting emails at this time from those in the European delegation about – because the President had left that first multilateral – or the previous multilateral after the deputy foreign minister for climate change had been there representing the Chinese and saying, I’m going to go find and talk to Wen. All right, we’re going to do this Wen thing. So the Europeans are wondering sort of where we were with Premier Wen.
He spent about 45 minutes in the bilateral meeting -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL #2: In the multilateral.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m sorry, in the multilateral meeting; thank you. That’s with the Europeans, that’s with Ethiopians. At the very -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So this would have been, quite frankly, leading up to about 7:00 p.m.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL #2: After Medvedev.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, after Medvedev. We said – a couple of us start to walk up to the room where the multilat is because we had sent advance to look at the room, the room where we were going to have the China bilat and realize the room is occupied by what we think are the Chinese and we can’t get into the room to look at it.
So they come back and it sort of got our antennae up a little bit. So by the time several of us, including Denis McDonough and I, got into the multilateral room we’ve now figured out why we can’t get into that room: because that room has Wen, Lula, Singh and Zuma. They’re all having a meeting.
Q So they weren’t at the airport?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Or they came back.
Q And you guys didn’t know this.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We did not know this. We are getting – I can show you some of the emails that we’re getting saying – because truthfully I asked one of the advance guys, did you see anybody else in the hallway? And he said, just clearly Chinese.
Q So Wen -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Wen, Lula, Singh and Zuma. But we’re starting to get emails one by one, hey Zuma is in this room, too; hey, Singh is in this room, too. So all of a sudden that’s when we start to make sure we’re walking up to the multilateral room. The President is beginning to leave. He spends time right before he leaves – this would have been right before 7:00 p.m., the President is talking with Chancellor Merkel and Gordon Brown about going for this bilateral meeting with Premier Wen, that they had rescheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Again, we thought we were still on for a bilateral meeting. That’s when our delegation walked over. We held and I think Ben moved the pool because we had heard at this point previous to this that the pool for the Chinese had been assembled outside of this room. And we had the President wait for a minute while Ben moved the pool so that – we had heard that they were going to pre-set without any of us. So we had the President hold.
That’s I think when many of you start to pick up this story. This is when I think you, in the pool report, said, you know -
Q When he said, are you ready, are you ready?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Are you ready for me? We were going to -
Q You were going to crash their meeting.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, no, no, no, no. We weren’t crashing a meeting; we were going for our bilateral meeting.
Q And you found those other people there.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We found the other people there. We found this out as we were going -
Q So as you walked in you realized it -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We found this out – remember, we found this out as Denis and I are walking up to the room to go with the President, because the delegations were the same for the Wen bilat, Denis, Ben and I were both in the delegation for the original Wen bilat. That’s when the President walks in – Helene has in the pool report, you know, “Are you ready for me?”
Q Is it correct to say that when he walked in he didn’t know?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t – I think it’s safe to say they did not intend to have that meeting with four of them; they intended to have that meeting with one. The President walks in – and by the time I finally push through I hear the President say – there aren’t any seats, right, I mean, I think if you’ve seen some of the pictures, there were basically no chairs. And the President says, “No, no, don’t worry, I’m going to go sit by my friend Lula,” and says, “Hey, Lula.” Walks over, moves a chair, sits down next to Lula. The Secretary of State sits down next to him.
And that leaves us at a series of events that Doug and others covered where there’s pushing and that would have been at 7:00 p.m. local time, so 1:00 p.m. sort of East Coast Time.
Q When the President -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just – I want to do a couple things now. They’re still meeting back in Copenhagen. We’re going to get some regular updates, and as we get some updates, our hope and goal is to provide you then a little bit more context. Then we’ll start then at 7:00 p.m., or 1:00 p.m Eastern, because there’s several more twists in this road before we get to I think my notes have it at about – that whole meeting concludes about 8:15 p.m.-8:20 p.m. But there’s a whole lot of fun in between.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me take a few -
Q Can I clarify two just sort of factual points. You said at one point that the President left the multilateral because of the level of Chinese representation – is that right, that he – basically he said, I’m out?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me say this – I think the President realized, based on a meeting that – meetings that he’d had in Beijing with Premier Wen and the bilateral, he felt like he had a very good relationship with Premier Wen, and quite frankly, if the Chinese were going to make – if the Chinese were going to move on transparency, it wasn’t going to be through the deputy mining minister – right?
Q Is that what the guy is, deputy mining minister?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I was just – sort of a joke. But, no, he’s the – I think we sent it around – he’s the -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL #2: Climate change ambassador.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: – climate change rep for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But in all honesty, it’s a position lower than the person that was in the original multilateral when we got there -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right, yes. So I think at that point, the President – I think the President understands that he wants to make one more run at this, but he wants to make one more run at this with Premier Wen.
Q And later in the – when he was going up to the meeting that turned into the multilateral, is it your thought that they meant to have a meeting with each other to exclude the United States, or get their ducks in a row, or what was going on?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I will assume that their meeting was to get their ducks in a row. Because at this point, though our – certainly our impression was that a number of these people were either at or on the way to the airport. We had confirmed with the Chinese before he went to the multilateral the second to last time – the last time being right before the press conference – but the second to last time, that we had just then agreed to move the bilateral meeting that we wanted to set up with the Chinese to 7:00 p.m. So we believed, up until about two minutes before Denis and I walked into the multilateral, before moving to the 7:00 p.m. meeting, that we were having a bilateral meeting.
Q But it’s not – it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise because those four countries have been working as a negotiating team on this issue, right?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Certainly no surprise. Again, we were trying to put together a similar meeting, but found the logistics to be hard to do. And I think I know now why the logistics proved somewhat challenging. They were busy; they were meeting.
Q Was it logistics, or were they trying to have their own separate meeting without the U.S. involved?
Q Were they trying to scuffle the deal and get together and -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t know that they were trying – I don’t know where they were on the deal. I know that the – again, the President’s viewpoint was I’m going to make one last run. When it appeared we couldn’t get the Chinese earlier in the day, the President said, well, if we can’t get the Chinese then let’s get the next three that are – absolutely they’re working as a team. They’ve got similar interests, there’s no doubt about that.
Again, the only surprise we had, in all honesty, was we did not know at 6:15 p.m., when we moved our meeting from 6:15 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., that in that room wasn’t just the Chinese having a meeting about their posture going into the 7:00 p.m. meeting, but in fact all four countries that we had been trying to arrange meetings with were indeed all in the same room.
Q Well, when did that become clear? When the President goes to that meeting does he think he’s going to meet Wen, and walks in the door and is, like, oh, everyone is here?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no. Denis and I had told him that – we had told him -
Q That they were all in there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: – that the room that the meeting is being held in for our bilateral currently contains the leaders of those four countries. And he said, “Good.”
Q That was his thought – good?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And we were off.
Q Can I ask one logistical -
Q So he said, “Good,” and, I’m going to go up there at 7:00 p.m. for my prior appointment with Wen -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He said, “Good,” on the way to walking to the meeting. I mean, we had a 7:00 p.m. meeting and we were walking on our way to meet our 7:00 p.m. meeting. We briefed him that our 7:00 p.m. meeting is in a room currently occupied by not just the Chinese, but the three other countries. And the President’s viewpoint is, I wanted to see them all and now is our chance.
Q Were they waiting for him there? Is that why they were all there, because they knew he was coming?
Q Was there surprise when he walked in?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, the Chinese were waiting for us. I do not believe they anticipated that the meeting that we ultimately had would actually include all the countries. There’s no doubt -
Q They thought you guys would wait until they were done?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t know whether they thought we would – there really wasn’t anybody to – actually I think we were shown into the room, in all honesty. I think we were shown which direction to go to the room and I think there was no doubt there was some surprise that we were going to join the bigger meeting.
Q I’ve got to ask why you didn’t have better intel – and I don’t mean in the CIA sense – on where all these people were? I mean, it’s not -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We did. We thought they were at the airport.
Q Right, exactly.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I mean, that’s what we were told.
Q But, you know, you’re all sort of in a close area there. Why didn’t anybody from the administration know where all these people were? I mean -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, it’s not our job to know where Prime Minister Singh is if his – if we’re told he’s at the airport.
Q But usually at these summits there’s a lot of Sherpa-tracking going on and that sort of thing, you know.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, look, I – I mean, we were – we were told they were at the airport. We were told delegations were split up. We were told they weren’t going to meet – Zuma wasn’t going to come unless he was under the impression that the other two were going to come.
Q Do you think that’s all part of the brinksmanship and the sort of horse-trading and maneuvering?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I honestly think that they – well, my gut instinct tells me that they knew they had to make one more run at this.
Q One more?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: One more run at this.
Q But there’s this – what they call a taxicab strategy, when you always threaten to walk out. I mean, do you think that’s what -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, they didn’t threaten to walk out. When we tried to set up the meetings we were told they were gone. I mean, if they employed that strategy they didn’t lay down the threat.
Q Can I ask a logistical question just about when – I mean, because we’re all on the plane and we land at 1:00 a.m. in the morning -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If we’re lucky.
Q If we’re lucky.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If somebody wants to type this up and call it in, I will tell them that that’s fine to do – largely because I want to be – I want to make clear, we did not break into what we thought was a secret meeting, okay? Again, the reason that we appeared at the room – the reason we appeared at the room was at – in the 5:00 p.m. hour the Chinese wanted to move their 6:15 p.m. meeting back to 7:00 p.m. in the room that they had for their meetings. We said, fine. We were walking to meet our 7:00 p.m. appointment.
Q Well, you guys want – I mean, can we – because are we going to try and get this in for tonight? Or – I just want to make sure that – the one thing I just want to make sure doesn’t happen is a transcript lands and some – and we don’t somewhere -
Q I’m more interested in what happens between 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It’s a good story, my friend, and with a little luck we’ll be able to tell that at a little bit later leg on the flight.
Q That’s what I mean. So we, like hold – are we holding everything until we land? Or are we trying to, like -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I just want to make sure – I don’t want to be – just again, I just want to make sure that – the reason I gave you this series of events is because to accurately portray just sort of what is happening and when. We did not – again, our presence at that room at 7:00 p.m. was expected based on the meeting that we had set up. Whether or -
Q With Wen.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. Whether or not the other – fair enough we did not know the other three were there until at a point at which we were about to go and walking to that meeting.
Q And you and Denis told the President?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Denis and I -
Q Was anybody mad about it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. We thought this was a great opportunity to finish four meetings.
Q The other guys.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know, it’s hard to tell because the truth is – and we’ll get into this on the next leg of this – there were – quickly dove into about an hour and 20 minutes worth of negotiating that – I want to do this part off the record.
- * * * *
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, the President believed that he needed to talk to Wen, they needed to make one more run at getting an agreement. So he’s in this meeting – this is the group of leaders that we first visit in the very beginning of the morning. So it is comprised of – obviously you’re going to take the four out that are already in the different meeting. So you’ve got a pretty decent cross-section, first, of – you’ve the Europeans – you’ve got Merkel, Brown, Sarkozy; you’ve got Rudd from Australia; you’ve got Rasmussen from Denmark. You’ve also got Meles from Ethiopia; you’ve got Mexico, Norway – so you basically have the smaller developing countries, Europe, Australia, Scandinavia – so you basically have the larger group minus the four that he ultimately sees.
This larger group had come to the conclusion that the agreement would either – they needed to make one more run at two main points. One of them was the percent reduction by 2050 and the temperature change, as well as the transparency; that they had to do that with Wen or they were not going to get an agreement.
So, at this point – so the President went around to – went around the table, physically walking around the table, talking to Ethiopia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, the Maldives – all these countries to talk about what they were going to go – what he was going to go do in making a last run at Premier Wen. And they talked about the fact that if they didn’t – if they went to Wen and they couldn’t get an agreement, that basically they would still try to structure something for those that would sign on in order to continue to make progress toward something in the future.
So essentially the President has – is working with Europe, Asia – I’m sorry, Europe, Australia, and others in the developed – of the developed economies, in addition to the smaller developing countries minus India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, which is essential in ensuring that, in all honesty, the other four realized – this is where I think the other four realized that they’ve got to make one more run at this, too, because what they were – what the President was discussing along with this group was, if they couldn’t get something that included China, India, Brazil, and South Africa on transparency and temperature mitigation, that they would get what they could with who they could get it with.
So you basically have – you’ve got – you’ve now got two different coalitions. All right.
Q I just don’t understand your last sentence – they would get what they could with who they could get it with.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, basically if the Chinese were unwilling to do transparency, and the Indians and the Brazilians and the South Africans followed the Chinese, then the President and those in that multilateral group would try to get something that all they could agree on, and we would go out with all of that.
I mean, look, I think it’s safe to say at that point in the day, China had real – they were balking at transparency. The President thought at the very least we could get – we can make progress on something by putting together a coalition of those that were agreeable to having some sort of declaration or agreement.
Q And that coalition included both developing and developed countries?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, and that obviously is the key to -
Q Like you could create leverage against the four outstanding.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, yes. I think that’s why people stowed their luggage in their overhead bins and decided to come back to the negotiating table. Came back from the airport.
All right? Thanks, guys.
The Climate Action Network has issued the following letter to protest the removal of Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world, and Avaaz, the largest online activist organization in the world. Download the letter.
On behalf of Climate Action Network International, and our 500 member organizations, I would like to register our strong concern about the limited NGO access to the second week of the Copenhagen climate negotiations. In particular the removal of badges from Avaaz and Friends of the Earth International.
The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development affirms that “non-governmental organisations play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of participatory democracy.” Civil society has played a constructive and vital role in the climate negotiations since their inception. Civil society brings insight, oversight and connection to people around the world who depend on the work of NGOs to pursue the credibility of the process and integrity of the outcome.
Excluding civil society is not only inconsistent with UN Principles. It is profoundly counterproductive to the spirit of the conference and the practical value of its outcome. To launch the world toward a sustainable future, the process over the critical next few days must be accountable and transparent so that the result will have the power of broad ownership by all sectors. Nothing less than the full and active participation of civil society can produce such an outcome.
On Saturday more than one million people at four thousand events in one hundred and forty countries called for world leaders to agree a fair, ambitious and binding agreement at Copenhagen. One hundred thousand marched on the streets of Copenhagen. Environment and development groups provide a conduit for the world’s people to engage in the climate negotiations. And many of the world’s people will look to civil society to judge the outcome of Copenhagen. It is essential that civil society is allowed to participate in these negotiations.
I urge you to reinstate participants from Avaaz and Friends of the Earth International, and to ensure the plenary sessions are open to NGO attendance.
I am happy to work with you and your teams to ensure the full and fruitful participation of civil society in these historic talks.
Yours sincerely, David Turnbull Director Climate Action Network International
The sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are open to Parties of the Convention and Observer States (Governments), the United Nations System and observer organizations duly admitted by the Conference of the Parties. In addition, accredited press is allowed to cover the proceedings of the Convention.
Participation in COP15 is restricted to duly nominated representatives of Parties, observer States, admitted observer organizations and accredited press/media. The sessions are not open to the public.
COP 15 comprises a number of sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies of the Convention, its Kyoto Protocol, bilateral and multilateral meetings as well as side events and exhibits.
Five Parties have recently made proposals for a protocol under the Convention pursuant to Article 17 of the Convention.
The secretariat has also received twelve proposals by Parties for amendment to the Kyoto Protocol pursuant to Articles 20 and 21 of the Protocol.
Senate Watch, China: Bingaman, Cantwell, Casey, Dorgan, Klobuchar, Lugar, Murkowski, Rockefeller, Whitehouse
Senators respond to China’s recent emissions reduction announcement of lowering greenhouse gas intensity by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Several senators continue to move away from the legislative structure passed by the House of Representatives, and supported by President Obama and most industry advocates of reform.Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
E&E News Bill Wicker, a Bingaman spokesman, said the chairman supports the economywide cap-and-trade approach for reducing emissions but also sees some merits in the other ideas. Additionally, several panel members on both sides of the aisle have signaled interest in legislative options beyond the cap-and-trade bill approved earlier this spring in the House and now up for debate in the Senate. “We thought it’d be a good idea to step back and put all of the different policy options into a single hearing,” Wicker said.
E&E News By the time we’re done with financial regulatory reform, everybody’s head is going to be spinning and they’re going to be saying, “Oh my gosh, how can you prevent this from happening again?”
Robert Casey (D-PA)
People are moving more toward something that’s much more streamlined. The bottom line is you don’t want to have added volatility to the market when trying to solve [the emissions] problem. And that’s clearly what the futures trading does. It adds volatility. What you want is a predictable price so that people can move forward and diversify.
E&E News There’s a lot of verification we’re going to have to see before I’d embrace it [China’s announced GHG commitments] and say it’s as positive a development as the Chinese would hope we’d say it is. I’m a little skeptical is maybe the fastest way to say it.
Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
So if we’ve got problems here in terms of working that out and making sure there are enough emission allowances for us to do what we need to do here, you can imagine how much more complicated it gets internationally.
E&E News Some will make the case that if you do financial reform that setting up a Wall Street trading system on carbon securities is less dangerous. I am not interested in setting up a trillion-dollar carbon securities market to tell us what the price of energy is going to be.
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
E&E News It’s pretty clear to me that our nation is going to continue to use our most abundant resource, which is coal, but we’re going to use it differently. And the question is how do we do that. How do we find the science, technology and research capability to allow us to continue to use coal in a manner that would decarbonize it or use it in a much lower manner? This [CCS funding report] was a unique exercise and a unique product of thought, where several stakeholders have come together on a single issue. . . [It will provide] beneficial pathways for future legislation.
Richard G. Lugar
E&E News The idea would be while the body is working on financial regulation, then during that same time we’ll be getting the energy, the bipartisan group working on energy.
Lisa Murkowski (D-AK)
E&E News I’d not be comfortable if the Copenhagen progress report relied on billions of dollars [in international assistance] anticipated from the U.S. budget that we’ve not debated and will be very contentious.
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
E&E News Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), offered Bingaman praise for keeping an open mind to alternatives. “Everyone assumes cap and trade is the only way to go,” Dillon said. “There’s been a demonization or marginalization of anyone raising other options.” As for Murkowski, a onetime supporter of cap-and-trade legislation, Dillon said, “She’s not promoting one idea over another yet. She’s exploring the options.”
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
E&E News The Chinese are a mystery that way. They enter negotiations always with an advantage because nobody knows what they’re going to do, what they’re going to say, or whether they mean it.
E&E News Unfortunately, we start from a position where there’s fairly considerable basis for skepticism on the enforcement side [for China emissions reductions], which means the administration has got to come up with a pretty solid program. It doesn’t matter what their numbers are if they don’t have to prove them.
Politico If we don’t provide those other technologies a level playing field, we provide an unfair advantage to the nuclear power industry at the expense of the American economy at large.
On Wednesday, December 9th, President Barack Obama will participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15).
For the first time, the U.S. delegation will have a U.S. Center at the conference. U.S. delegates will keynote a series of events highlighting actions by the Obama Administration to provide domestic and global leadership in the transition to a clean energy economy. Topics will range from energy efficiency investments and global commitments to renewables policy and clean energy jobs. The following keynote events and speakers are currently scheduled:
- Wednesday, December 9th: Taking Action at Home, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
- Thursday, December 10th: New Energy Future: the role of public lands in clean energy production and carbon capture, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
- Friday, December 11th: Clean Energy Jobs in a Global Marketplace, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
- Monday, December 14th: Leading in Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Energy Secretary Steven Chu
- Tuesday, December 15th: Clean Energy Investments: creating opportunities for rural economies, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
- Thursday, December 17th: Backing Up International Agreement with Domestic Action, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and Assistant to the President Carol Browner
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose envoy Todd Stern is in charge of U.S. climate negotiations, was not part of the announcements.
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and lead author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a joint press conference following a meeting on global climate change. They will discuss the steps leading up to December’s international negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark.
CONTACT: Jodi Seth/Whitney Smith, 202-224-4159
Speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit, President Barack Obama said “the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.” E&E News interviewed Senators on their schedule for action.John Barrasso (R-WY)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
“Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are looking for work. President Obama’s scheme is for less American energy production. Less energy production will mean fewer jobs for Americans.”
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also said yesterday that he is still planning a markup for key pieces of the climate bill that deal with international trade and allocation of allowances. “I’m going to take my cues largely from leader Reid to see what his schedule is, and how quickly climate change is moving this year. If it looks like it’s clearly moving, we’re going to mark up.”
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
For her part, Boxer would not give any specifics when asked about her timeline for moving the bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We’re going to mark up shortly. As soon as we’ve held the requisite number of hearings.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was also circumspect about Obama’s call for moving the climate bill. “I want to get to all of these issues this year, as the president has asked us to. But I think Senator Reid is reflecting the reality of the calendar, and we just have to see what we end up with. Senator Boxer is preparing for the debate. She’s ready. But the question is whether we have the time to treat this issue as it should.” “The Europeans are our friends and allies and we need to work with them and the rest of the world on this climate change issue. But unfortunately, the European Union doesn’t have control over the Senate calendar. And Senator Reid, I think, is being honest that this is becoming problematic the longer it takes for us to get to health care.”
John McCain (R-AZ)
Boxer and Kerry are still aiming to release their legislation before the end of the month, though Kerry yesterday tried to give himself a little bit of wiggle room for its formal unveiling. “That’s our current plan. But we’ve got a lot of drafting to do between now and then. But we’re working on it.”
Harry Reid (D-NV)
“I’ll take second place to no one on climate change. I introduced the first cap-and-trade bill on the Senate floor. I introduced the second. All of them had nuclear power as a component. The radical environmentalists are driving the agenda. And for someone to say that they have a robust nuclear element, I’d love to see it. There’s been no indication of it.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday sidestepped a question about whether he would hold a vote before the end of the year on the Boxer-Kerry legislation. “We’re going to push climate as hard and as fast as we can.”
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