WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As a top American diplomat accused developing countries of inaction on global warming, a coalition of senators on Wednesday stepped up efforts to break a political deadlock that has choked U.S. steps on climate change.
Todd Stern, President Barack Obama’s top climate negotiator and envoy to next month’s international climate summit in Copenhagen, used blunt language in testimony to Congress when he zeroed in on developing countries’ participation in talks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the “green patriarch” who leads 300 million Orthodox Christians, spoke with President Barack Obama on Tuesday about the fight against climate change.
“We view with alarm the dangerous consequences of disregard for the survival of God’s creation,” His All Holiness told a gathering at Georgetown University after his White House meeting.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – To protect penguins on the rapidly warming Antarctic peninsula, regulators need to ensure the survival of shrimp-like krill, the base of the food chain at the bottom of the world, marine experts said on Wednesday.
Whales and seals also depend on krill for food, the experts said in a telephone news briefing.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent the weekend in Switzerland and Ireland, but landed on the morning talk shows on Monday, fending off questions about whether she has been marginalized in the Obama administration. It’s not considered a good sign when people start asking this question in Washington, because the implication is that the answer is “yes.”Clinton had no comment when newscaster Ann Curry on NBC’s “Today” program asked whether she should be more visible on such hot-button issues as Iran and Afghanistan. But she responded fully when asked about concerns that the “highest-ranking woman in the United States needs to fight against being marginalized.”"I find it absurd, I find it beyond any realistic assessment of what I’m doing every day,” Clinton said. “I believe in delegating power. I’m not one of those people who feels like I have to have my face in the front of the newspaper or on the TV every moment of the day. It would be irresponsible and negligent were I to say, ‘Oh no, everything must come to me!’”She had a theory about why she’s comfortable working this way. “Maybe this is a woman’s thing. Maybe I’m totally secure in that I feel absolutely no need to go running around in order for people to see what I’m doing. It’s just the way I am.”But aren’t there moments, she was asked, having campaigned so hard for president against Barack Obama, that you just want to make a decision yourself?No. “I am part of the team that makes the decision.”On another front, Clinton said flatly she would not run for president again. She said she’s looking forward to retirement “at some point.”For more Reuters political news, click here.Photo credit: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton (Hillary Clinton in Dublin, October 11, 2009)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Protection for polar bears’ shrinking icy habitat is the subject of a proposed rule sent to the White House by the Interior Department.
The proposed rule, “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat Designation for the Polar Bear” is the latest step in a long process aimed at shielding the big white bears from the effects of climate change.
This is one of those Washington days that seems to defy a theme. Consider:Iran is the topic at the Senate Banking Committee, where officials from the State and Treasury departments are set to testify on economic sanctions against Tehran.Afghanistan is expected to be front and center when President Barack Obama briefs congressional leaders about his Afghan strategy.Pakistan‘s foreign minister has a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.The Dalai Lama is in town, too, meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and getting a human rights award.In the background is the steady drumbeat of the healthcare debate, the fight over climate change legislation and defense spending.Serious subjects, all of them. And what was the top story on the morning network newscasts? Ten points if you guessed the natural choice: David Letterman’s sex life.What does this say about Washington? The U.S. media? The public appetite for scandal? Let us know what you think.Click here for more Reuters political coveragePhoto credits: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi (exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Montreal, Canada, October 3, 2009) REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (U.S. President Barack Obama and David Letterman at a taping of the comedian’s show, New York, September 21, 2009)
OK, so President Barack Obama’s lightning jaunt to Copenhagen last week was less than successful. Even with Oprah along, the Cheerleader-in-Chief couldn’t clinch the deal for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. It happens.But now that he knows the way to Denmark, might the American president consider arguing the U.S. case at international climate meetings in Copenhagen in December? The White House said he might, if other heads of state showed up.”Right now you’ve got a meeting that’s set up for a level not at the head of state level,” presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One last week. “If it got switched, we would certainly look at coming.”Those climate talks might need a bit of a boost from the United States. White House climate czarina Carol Browner has said it’s unlikely Obama will be able to sign any U.S. legislation to curb climate change before the December meeting. And that sets up a familiar Catch-22: if there’s no U.S. law in place before Copenhagen climate talks, can the United States commit to anything? And if there IS a U.S. law in place, does the United States have the flexibility to maneuver in these international negotiations?Climate negotiators already know the answer to the first part of that conundrum; they agreed to the Kyoto Protocol without backing from the U.S. Congress and came home to find no support for this 1997 carbon-capping deal. The United States is still the only industrialized nation not to ratify it.After the Olympic disappointment — Chicago was the first city of the final four to be cut from the running; Rio won — is Obama’s presence something that U.S. climate negotiators actually want? The global environmental community cheered his election last year after eight years of the George W. Bush administration, but he may not be the rock star on climate that he was then.And let’s just face it: arriving at climate change talks aboard a fuel hog like Air Force One could send a mixed message — unless the White House commits to offsetting the big plane’s emissions by investing in windmills or tree-planting in a friendly developing country.So today’s question: would an Obama visit to the Copenhagen climate talks help or hurt the chances for a global deal? Let us know what you think.Photo credits: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (demonstration against Barack Obama and other world leaders outside UN climate change talks in Bangkok, Oct 5, 2009)REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Obama shakes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after addressing a U.N. summit on climate change, Sept 22, 2009)