What Would Frank Luntz Do with the Copenhagen Climate Treaty?

When I’m trying to unravel public relations spin, I frequently find myself asking WWFLD (What Would Frank Luntz Do)?

As you’ll recall Frank Luntz is a chief Republican spin-doctor famous for his memo on climate change.

We have seen a lot of spindoctoring at the Barcelona climate talks underway this week in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate treaty summit to be held in mid-December.

As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, the most egregious spin has been the attempts by politicians to re-frame a successful outcome in Copenhagen as being a “politically binding” deal as opposed to a “legally binding” one.

“Politically binding” is great Luntz-speak. The term looks impressive, but is completely meaningless.

So WWFLD?My guess is that his communications memo would look something like this:

MEMO: Copenhagen Agreement “legally binding” language recommendation

Situational Analysis:

There is heavy pressure on the United States and other countries like the EU, Denmark, Canada and Australia to deliver a “legally binding” agreement at the upcoming UNFCCC summit in Copenhagen, Denmark scheduled for mid-December.

Many developed nations are not in a position to deliver a legally binding deal due to various reasons. At the same time there is great pressure being put on politicians by civil society, grassroots organizations and environmental groups for there to be a successful outcome at the Copenhagen meeting.

In order to consolidate the opposing goals of a “legally binding” and the need for the public to perceive a successful outcome in Copenhagen, I would recommend reframing the definition of what is considered a success. To do this, political leaders must shift the perception of success as being a “politically binding deal as a opposed to a “legally binding” one.

Key Messages:

We are committed to seeing a successful outcome in Copenhagen that is politically binding.

We are working towards a deal with a strong commitment by all nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The political pressure may be somewhat active in mainlan europe, although in Britain,Canada,US the political pressure is non existent. Until the recession and employment figures are back to normal no real pressure exists for a legally binding treaty that will cost jobs and money. You can google some of the polling if you want to see for yourself. Global warming is seen as a problem that can wait, or not a problem at all.

In the US the recent gubernatorial elections have shown congressmen one thing. Don’t go out on a limb on policy for Obama as he can’t help you win your seat.
In Canada the indecisive Liberal party makes it impossible to have any public pressure on the issue.
A politically binding agreement is about all that can be expected out of coppenhagen so that is why the Europeans tossed out that concept. As to really push the idea now would kill global warming.

Since global warming has always been more political that scientific in natur expect different countries around the world to model their position to suit their political needs.

IE USA has 250 years of coal so you can expect clean coal to be acceptable while oil dependdency on the mid east is not, so expect global warming policy in the US to be alligned in this manner.
For Canada global warming has nothing but upside. A shipping lane to rival the panama canal, longer growing seasons, milder winters and since Canada is a net energy exporter expect only superficial support. Canada will onl sign on to an international treat if it benefits industry through increased trade etc…

Look for leaders like Imhoff to gain political capital out of Coppenhagen and leaders like Obama to take it on the chin.

To awnser your question frank Lundtz would be pointing out the fact that the coppenhagen deal would be anothe layer of taxes and government. Something no American wants.

only gave you one uptick because the guys here at desmog don’t let me give 2.

Shorter “RalphNader”: Global warming is beneficial, and global warming is a real problem only if industries can make money out of this problem, and we should stop global warming but that should really want until the economy is revived back to the SNAFU state it was – woohoo, mortgage-backed securities!

– bi, http://frankbi.wordpress.com/

But it isnt waiting. Happening now – lots of bizarre record weather in line with the predictions of climate science.
Fires in California cost a lot of money late this summer, not to mention health problems to many people. Floods in the southeast U.S. And globally, weird weather increasing.

As to clean coal, I bought a lump and I scrubbed and scrubbed it and it is still black!

P.S. DeSmog – why is your apostrophe stuck?

“Politically Binding” is not spin, but rather it is the best (yet disappointing) outcome that can be foreseeably achieved given the state (too many incomplete sections and too long) of the draft treaty documents and the time remaining before Dec 18. It is also not surprising. In international environmental law, nations do not agree to binding commitments unless they are confident they can deliver. Diplomacy is a very very conservative business. A politically binding commitment is better than nothing, and we should accept it and make the most of it in 2010 and try to convert it to legally binding. How can the U.S. delegation agree to the scientifically agreed necessary mid-term targets (40% reduction from 1990 CO2E levels in developed nations by 2020) if the best Congress is willing to offer is 20% reduction from 2005 levels? (BTW, recommended last-minute amendment is changing the reference year, most tin-foil hatters don’t understand the difference.) Those of us in the US should focus attention on changing the reality as to what “politically feasible” targets are (Climate Cover Up helps change that reality), and ensure that we get the most ambitious possible legislation passed this Congress. In my (non-expert) estimation, the mitigation targets that the US puts in legislation will likely be the lowest common denominator focal point that forms the basis of international agreement. Who knows, backlash from failed Copenhagen talks combined with El Nino assisted record winter temperatures might induce better legislation in Spring/Summer 2010.

Just as many climate realists have been saying, climate alarmism has all the attributes of a faith-based religion.
And now a a Judge in the English High Court has ruled this to be the case, by allowing the plaintiff to sue his employers for unfair dismissal on the grounds that his environmental beliefs were akin to religion and hence protected under Employment Law (Religious Beliefs).
Needless to say the Brit. press is having fun- I thought this particularly funny.
“Al Gore who art in thy fully offset private jet
Nobel-prized be thy name
Thy carbon-free Kingdom come
On planet Earth, or Gaia as it should be after Copenhagen
Give us this day our meat-free diet
And forgive us our emissions
but not those fat Americans who emit against us
Lead us not into exotic holiday flights
And deliver us from climate change denial
For the science is settled. Amen.

I’m giving you an uptick Frank, because I want to encourage more of these well thought out exchanges here. That post meant so much to all sides. First there’s the name Al Gore, planet saver. then you slip in the words All, Goo and Ore which brings so much more to the table.

Clearly, the deeper meaning you are expressing is that the oil industry is just so completely focused on it’s gooey product that it’s “all goo” at the expense of the far greater value of the planet itself with it’s treasure trove of “ore” containing hidden nuggets that no oil exec could begin to understand.

And you did it all in 2 words. Bravo Frank!

anada will onl sign on to an international treat http://games.bbzones.com