Fairly harsh criticism here. What do you think? Should Obama have done as she suggests? Could he have done these things -- legally or politically? I'm not sure what my opinions on this are. - DG

Copenhagen's failure belongs to Obama
The American president has been uniquely placed to lead the world on climate change and squandered every opportunity

Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone's fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China's fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn't use it. If Barack Obama had come to Copenhagen with a transformative and inspiring commitment to getting the US economy off fossil fuels, all the other major emitters would have stepped up. The EU, Japan, China and India had all indicated that they were willing to increase their levels of commitment, but only if the US took the lead. Instead of leading, Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.

Read the rest here.

Tags: CO2, Copenhagen, Obama, carbon, climate change, emissions, environment, global warming

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Replies to This Discussion

Not a single person can be blamed for such a global issue.

"I understand all the arguments about not promising what he can't deliver, about the dysfunction of the US senate, about the art of the possible. But spare me the lecture about how little power poor Obama has. No president since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the US into something that doesn't threaten the stability of life on this planet. He has refused to use each and every one of them" -Naomi Klein

Well, he isn't the supreme overlord over the US so the lectures do matter. We have multiple branches of government to prevent any single person(s) from ruling with impunity. While in some ways I would like see the reigns of total power given to person promising of changes, I know humans better than that.
No single person could or should make large scale decisions all on his/her own.
I understand why she started the article off that way, but it nearly turned me off from reading the rest.

Fundamentally, I agree with her that Obama has dropped the ball several times, just not as far as she says.
It saddens me soooo to agree.

As a non-citizen, I have always stated to my friends that I hope people give him a couple of years of change things. I mean, the US is not Canada, and certainly not Québec. You see in 1972, Québec got itself and idealist of a Premier and he actually changed things, within the first year. But back then, there freakasoid-money-grubbing-society-controlling-capitalists had not perfected the art of controlling government, so when this idealist journalist stepped into the Premier shoes, he simply put his foot down and said whoa!!!!! But Québec was only 6 million people back then.

The sheer sizes of the US population and it's economy make it a huge whale to change direction and to expect Obama to accomplish this in a year is unrealistic. If the democratic party wasn't so ridiculously divided, it wouldn't be an issue. But the Democratic party is infested with Republican values and so even within he has a fight.

One must remember he is also both the poorest ever president and the least "connected" of them. He is still so young, he has not had time to become completely entwined in the system. During his campaign his worth was something like 1.5 millionaire? This is hundreds and thousands of times poorer (and less financially connected) than all other presidents. Democratic citizens must do like Republican citizens, hit up their reps constantly in order to ensure the reps know they have the citizenry's support for major changes. I get the feeling Republicans accomplish this task more effectively than Democrats.
First a qualifier: I really haven't followed Copenhagen enough to speak specifically on what happened there.

That said, didn't Obama even make a speech to the world earlier this year that America can't hold the world's collective hand every time it needs to cross the street or go potty?

Yes, Obama and America have more pull than any other leader or country. If Obama goes into an international forum with enough gusto he probably has more influence than anyone else there.

But not unlimited, impenetrable influence (See: Olympic committee).

And it's not Obama's specific responsibility to march in and shape global policy. If the rest of the world's leaders can't do it without Obama leading the charge, that isn't Obama's "fault." It's the rest of the world being a collective pussy.

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