High stakes in climate deal decision

U.S. Senator John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: No sooner was she off her plane in Copenhagen this morning, than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was trying to shake things up at the UN climate conference.

HILLARY CLINTON: The United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries.

Setting aside for a moment what exactly jointly mobilizing $100 billion might look like, it is pretty clear time in Copenhagen is growing short and stakes are getting high. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale has more on how the conference is playing on this side of the Atlantic.


JOHN DIMSDALE: President Obama wants a deal in Copenhagen, but he has few bargaining chips. Climate-change legislation is stalled in Congress. Without a U.S. commitment to cut carbon emissions, growing countries like India and China are refusing to be transparent and allow monitoring of their pollution reductions. Yesterday in Copenhagen, Senator John Kerry, sponsor of a Senate climate change bill, told the delegates that would be a deal breaker.

JOHN KERRY: Without an agreement here in Copenhagen that addresses this core issue of transparency, it will be exceedingly difficult to persuade already doubtful elected officials that they are safe in asking their citizens to go along.

Kerry reminded delegates that Congress refused to sign the previous international climate-change agreement. But businesses need to plan so they can invest in clean-energy technologies.

Kevin Fay, with a coalition of companies called the National Climate Change Partnership, says if the Copenhagen negotiations fail, businesses will pressure the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases -- China and the U.S.

KEVIN FAY: They also recognize not only the environmental importance of having everybody on board, but the economic importance as well.

So do a number of fossil fuel based industries, like coal. They've been lobbying Congress to resist any international deal. Senator Kerry warns that unless all nations agree to verifiable cuts in greenhouse gases, he'll never be able to persuade enough Senators to go along with the extra costs that could chase American jobs overseas.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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