Will the Senate Sink Copenhagen?

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With the Senate signaling that it won’t pass a cap-and-trade bill this year, the Obama administration is now dropping major hints that UN climate talks—which were supposed to culminate in a new international agreement at Copenhagen in December—will also need to be pushed back to 2010. US climate envoy Todd Stern previously told Congress that climate legislation was crucial for the “credibility and leverage” the Obama administration needed to persuade other countries at Copenhagen to cut their emissions. Yesterday, though, he had lowered his sights considerably: “The mission is to get the most ambitious, most far-reaching accord that we can in Copenhagen, and to the extent that there’s some things that need to be completed after that, then that will happen,” he told reporters, according to Climate Wire.

While Stern and Energy Secretary Steven Chu have been putting a brave face on the delay, some foreign officials are telling it like it is: “The United States is just one of the 190 countries coming to this Conference. But the United States emits 25 percent of all the greenhouse gases that the Conference is trying to reduce,” said the EU’s ambassador to Washington, John Bruton, in a statement. “Is the US Senate really expecting all the other countries to make a serious effort on climate change at the Copenhagen Conference in the absence of a clear commitment from the United States?…I submit that asking an international Conference to sit around looking out the window for months, while one chamber of the legislature of one country deals with its other business, is simply not a realistic political position.”

 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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