President Barack Obamaâ€™s global warmingagenda isnâ€™t about the environment, according toSen. Jim Inhofe , itâ€™s about saving face fromthe â€œembarrassmentâ€ the presidentsuffered when trying to get countries to sign a climate treaty in2009.
â€œThe presidentâ€™s so-calledâ€˜Climate Action Planâ€™ hasnever been about saving the environment or the world from impendingglobal warming doom,â€ the Oklahoma Republican said in aWednesday hearing on a potential United Nations climate treaty.â€œIt is about making up for the embarrassment ofCopenhagen and solidifying his environmentallegacy.â€
Obama and other world leaders will meet in Paris later thismonth to kick off U.N. climate talks. Delegates are expected tocome up with an agreement for countries to cut carbon dioxideemissions in the coming decades.
The White House has hyped up the summit as a pivotal moment inthe fight against global warming, but the climate talks could easily become a major disappointmentlike the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Obama himself went to Copenhagen in 2009, convinced he could getthe world to sign a global agreement to cut emissions. The climatesummit, however, quickly broke down amid disagreements over whichcountries would cut emissions and over how much money richcountries would give poor countries for development.
There was no agreement on a legally binding treaty and supportfor the Kyoto Protocol â€” theworldâ€™s only binding climate treatyâ€” fell apart. Obama officials andenvironmentalists blamed China for derailing the talks by refusing to cut emissions.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently triedto defend the Copenhagen talks that took place while she wassecretary of state. Clinton argued Copenhagen was a success becauseObama got China to sign its first international climate agreement— not a legally binding one.
â€œWhen we met in Copenhagen in 2009 and,literally, President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese,going throughout this huge convention center, because we knew wehad to get them to agree to something,â€ Clinton said in an October Democratic presidential debate.â€œBecause there will be no effective effortsagainst climate change unless China and India join with the rest ofthe world.â€
â€œThey told us theyâ€™d leftfor the airport; we found out they were having a secretmeeting,â€ Clinton added. â€œWe marchedup, we broke in, we said,â€˜Weâ€™ve been looking all overfor you. Letâ€™s sit down and talk about what weneed to do.â€™ And we did come up with the firstinternational agreement that China has signed.â€
Others argued it was Obamaâ€™s fault the talks fell apart.Even Obama was disappointed with the summitâ€™soutcome.
â€œI think that people are justified in beingdisappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen,â€ Obamatold PBSâ€™s Jim Lehrer in 2009.â€œWhat I said was essentially that rather thansee a complete collapse in Copenhagen in which nothing at all gotdone and would have been a huge backward step, at least we kind ofheld ground and there wasnâ€™t too muchbacksliding from where we were.â€
The failed Copenhagen summit resulted in several countries pulling out of plans to extend the KyotoProtocol. Russia, Japan, Canada and others argued their CO2 cutswould be rendered useless as long as China was not also forced tocurb emissions.
Obama is again optimistic he can get U.N. members tosignÂ a global climate treaty in Paris. But, like lasttime, the president faces staunch opposition from SenateRepublicans who have already passed legislation to block Obamaâ€™s globalwarming agenda.
â€œI, along with my Republican colleagues, amnot willing to let him or any other UnitedNationâ€™s bureaucrat circumvent the Constitutionin an attempt to imbed climate change policies whose net effectwill Â do nothing more than undermineAmericaâ€™s outlook for success,â€Inhofe said.