U.S. officials take stage at Copenhagen climate summit

Copenhagen, Denmark, December 16, 2009 — From former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. officials are taking center stage at the Copenhagen climate summit.

Schwarzenegger told conference delegates that the world need not wait for world leaders and representatives at the summit to come up with a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when there is still much that can be done to combat climate change on the local, state and regional level.

“The world’s national governments cannot make the progress that is needed on global climate change alone,” Schwarzenegger said. “California has shown that a sub-national government can lead the way to national change.”

California, which is the globe’s seventh-largest economy, has used government subsidies for renewable energy projects, vehicle emissions standards as well as renewable energy generation standards.

For more coverage on the Copenhagen conference and other policy issues, check out our policy and regulation topic center.

In a speech Tuesday, Gore pressured U.S. lawmakers and President Barack Obama to pass a major climate change bill that is currently in Congress.

“Join me in asking President Obama and the U.S. Senate to set a deadline of April 22 for final action in the U.S. Senate,” Gore said, referring to the date of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. “I do not believe we can wait until next November or December.”

Opponents of the bill question whether the bill’s expense should keep it from being passed at a time when the U.S. is still reeling from the economic turndown and lack of job growth.

Gore said cap-and-trade mechanisms could be an imperfect solution for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, adding that a carbon tax could be more effective.

In prepared remarks for the conference, Sen. Kerry underscored the political realities getting in the way of such a bill being passed.

“Some of my colleagues in Washington remain reluctant to grapple with a climate crisis ” when they’re confronted every day with the present pain of hard-working people in a tough economic time,” Kerry said.

“To pass a bill, we must be able to assure a senator from Ohio that steelworkers in his state won’t lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measurable, reportable and verifiable.”

Next up for the conference will be an address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton December 16, followed by remarks by President Obama within the next day.


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