As a drippy day dawns in Washington, Team Obama is suiting up for a full-court press on climate change. Three cabinet secretaries — from Energy, Transportation and Interior departments — the head of the EPA and the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Five — are headed for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the first of three full days of hearings.
As those hearings go forward, President Barack Obama is announcing a $3.4 billion program to build a “smart” electric grid, which would among other things carry solar and wind power, which are free of carbon emissions.
It’s all meant to convince international climate negotiators that Washington is serious about tackling climate change. A global gathering set for Copenhagen in December aims to set up a system to curb climate-warming carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. For months, environmental activists have looked to the Copenhagen meeting as a deadline for action. But now, the deadline is looking a bit blurry.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appeared to acknowledge this when he told business leaders in Seattle on Monday, “We will do our best and try to have a substantive agreement (in Copenhagen) … After Copenhagen we may not expect … to agree on all elements. But we should have a broad agreement.”
Ban’s climate adviser made clear the secretary-general was planning for “post-Copenhagen” talks.