Obama Decision on Copenhagen Summit Attendance “In the Coming Days”

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: President Obama will make a decision if he will attend the December Copenhagen climate change summit in “the coming days,” a senior administration official said today.

“What the president has always said is that if it looks as though the negotiations have proceeded sufficiently that going to Copenhagen would give a final impetus, a push, to the process, then he would be willing to go,” the senior administration official, briefing reporters off camera said. “We're making the judgment as to whether it makes sense for him to go.”

Once the decision is made, the White House is anticipating they will let that decision be known immediately.

The White House says that in Copenhagen their delegation will propose an emissions reduction target, but stress that the number will be in align with proposed domestic climate change legislation being drafted at home.

“The one thing the president has made clear is we want to take action consistent with the legislative process,” an administration official said. “[We] don’t want to get out ahead or be at odds with what can be produced through legislation. And so whatever number we put on the table will be with reference to what can come out of the legislative process.”

The White House says they are in “close consultation” with the bipartisan team working on climate change in the Senate.

While the White House insists that they are going into Copenhagen “with a good hand,” they openly admit that the domestic progress on climate change has been stalled by the health care debate.

“We would have obviously preferred that health care be done a long time ago and that we’d be in an energy debate, but that isn’t what happened,” a senior administration official said.

When 191 world leaders from the United Nations member states take part in the summit, which runs from December 7th to December 18th, they will be talking to reach a final, legally-binding agreement sometime next year. Yet, many only anticipate an accord that has an “immediate operation impact” coming out of the December summit.

While in Singapore last week President Obama attended an unscheduled and last minute meeting on climate change – in which the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the conference’s chairman, flew in to brief a small group of 129 APEC leaders about the status of the negotiations. During that meeting, Rasmussen laid out a “one agreement, two steps” proposal, realizing that there will not be an agreement coming out of Copenhagen and more negotiations would be necessary.

The White House says Copenhagen will be an important step and “building block” towards a final agreement despite their anticipating not reaching a final agreement.

A senior administration official says the accord expended out of Copenhagen will not be “a partial accord, not just a political declaration, not an agreement to seek an agreement, but an accord that immediate operational impact cross the array of issues being negotiated.”

-Sunlen Miller

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