Environmental campaigners will be grateful that President Obama has agreed to attend the Copenhagen climate change conference despite a growing sense in recent weeks that the meeting will fail to deliver binding legal commitments from world governments. The White House will hope that this visit to the Danish capital will be more successful than ther President's last, when he travelled in support of a bid to win the Olympics for Chigaco. America was eliminated from the contest for the 2016 Games in the first round of voting.
US Senator John Kerry welcomed the President's commitment to the climate change gathering:
“The fact that the president will attend the Copenhagen talks underscores that the administration is putting its money where its mouth is, putting the president's prestige on the line.”
Furthermore Mr Obama has pledged to reduce total US emissions by 17% by 2020 (based on a 2005 starting point). That ends US isolation - previously America was the only developed country without an explicit target. Climate change campaigners hope that the American President's commitment will encourage China and India to make similar commitments and that those commitments will, in turn, encourage a sceptical US Senate to pass the stalled Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.
The possibility of sceptical American legislators passing climate change legislation declined further this week, however, after Congressional Republicans "started investigating climate scientists whose hacked emails [from the University of East Anglia] suggest they tried to squelch dissenting views about global warming". There is a full Wall Street Journal report here into the investigation. In an editorial the WSJ considered the importance of the leaked emails:
"We do now have hundreds of emails that give every appearance of testifying to concerted and coordinated efforts by leading climatologists to fit the data to their conclusions while attempting to silence and discredit their critics. In the department of inconvenient truths, this one surely deserves a closer look by the media, the U.S. Congress and other investigative bodies."
In a further blow to the climate change industry, the BBC has highlighted the fact that money promised under the Kyoto Treaty by developed to developing nations was never delivered. The failure to deliver the money meant to help poorer countries deal with climate change will not increase trust between the first and third worlds in Copenhagen.