barcelona climate talks

U.S. Climate Envoy Slams Inhofe's Attempts To Influence Copenhagen

At the U.S. delegation press conference this afternoon on the final day of the Barcelona climate talks, I asked U.S. deputy climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing what effect, if any, Senator James Inhofe (R-Denial) might have on the process in Copenhagen, and whether GOP intransigence is hurting Obama’s ability to come up with a firm number on U.S. emissions reductions.

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.

A politically binding climate change agreement is great... if you're a politician

The biggest news coming out of the Barcelona climate talks being held this week is the re-framing of a successful climate change treaty as being one that is “politically binding” as opposed to “legally binding.”

With all the long hours I’ve been putting into to covering these climate talks, I’m sure my wife is wishing our marriage was a politically binding agreement, as opposed to a legal one.

This double-speak-aganza started earlier this week with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen telling Reuters that, “it is a challenge for every single industrialised country in the world to deal with the climate change issue and that’s why we are working very strongly to reach a politically binding agreement in Copenhagen…”

President Rasmussen said he was optimistic that a politically binding deal could be reached in Copenhagen. No kidding he’s optimistic. Who wouldn’t sign on the dotted line to an agreement that has absolutely no ramifications if the terms are not met?

Barcelona Climate Talks: US Congress, Science and International Treaties

I’m in Barcelona, Spain for the last round of climate negotiations prior to the big show set for mid-December in Copenhagen. I just touched down, so pardon any poor grammar, I’m a little bleary eyed at the moment.

The goal of the Barcelona meeting is to whittle down the final document that will be presented to leaders at the Copenhagen international climate summit. This document will ultimately become an international treaty that will be the road map for worldwide greenhouse gas emission cuts over the coming decade.

The Barcelona meeting is also a time for political brinkmanship between nations to begin. First out the gate this morning was Yvo de Boer, the man in charge of the entire United Nations treaty negotiation process, who had choice words for the United States.

“We need a clear target from the United States in Copenhagen,” said de Boer. “That is an essential component of the puzzle.”

De Boer’s words were chosen carefully, as most are in such negotiations. By singling out the United States he is setting the tone for the week.

This isn’t surprising given that it is still unclear what the US is willing to commit to - either domestically with their clean energy bill currently making its way through the US Senate, or internationally with the US negotiating team continuing to waffle on the important issues of financial support for developing nations, and a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Lofty rhetoric and no details is the name of the game for the US negotiating team.

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