Obama to Lay Out Emissions Goals in Copenhagen

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:

President Obama will travel to Copenhagen and address a UN Climate Change summit in December.

While not originally expected to attend the event, Mr. Obama will take the opportunity in an international venue to lay out his roadmap to achieving the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission 83 percent by 2050, with benchmarks of achieving a 30 percent reduction from 2005 emission levels in 2025 and a 42 percent reduction off those levels by 2030, according to officials and a memo released by the White House.

The more immediate goal of what level goals should be reduced to by 2015 remains up for debate – the legislation that would mandate the cuts has not yet passed Congress.

The House passed a bill in June that would mandate a 17 percent cut by 2020. But no bill has passed the Senate. Republicans boycotted a markup session for Sen. Barbara Boxer's Environment and Public Works committee. That committee passed a more ambitious bill that would seek to cut emissions 20 percent by 2020. The White House seems to endorse the more modest House approach by saying the President will announce the US will reduce emissions by "in the range of 17% below 2005 levels."

What is ultimately debated in the Senate (and that not until next year after the health debate wraps up) is more likely to be written in bipartisan negotiations outside the committee process.

Democrat John Kerry, Independent Joe Lieberman and Republican Lindsey Graham announced earlier this month that they would work to write their own bipartisan proposal.

But that legislative fight will come after what is sure to be a long battle on health reform and amid the ongoing debate on Afghanistan. Republicans have effectively assaulted Democratic bills to cap emissions for companies and allow for trades between companies as a "climate tax."

CBO found the legislation passed by the House would cost the average family of four about $175 per year when it is fully implemented in 2020.

The meeting in Copenhagen also comes amid a scandal in the British press regarding the hacking of emails by climate change officials that appear to show a desire to make the climate change situation seem more dire and also to stifle scientists who disagree with the prevailing opinion that climate change is an issue.

Climate change doubters have seized on the emails to question whether emissions should be cut and whether global warming is an issue.

President Obama's top foreign policy adviser, Carol Browner, said today at a briefing with reporters, that she had not read all the hacked emails, but she rejected the notion that climate change legislation is in any way unnecessary.

"There have been for a very long time a very small group of people who continue to say this isn't a real problem," Browner said.

"On the other hand you have 2,500 of the world's foremost scientists who are in absolute agreement that this is a real problem and that we need to do something and we need to do something as soon as possible. What am I going to do, side with the couple of naysayers out there or the 2,500 scientists. I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists. These people have been studying this issue for a very very long time and agree that the problem is real."

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