Saturday 7 November 2009

Why Obama may yet go to Copenhagen

Barack Obama could yet decide to attend the Copenhagen climate summit, Jennifer Palmieri of the Center for American Progress told the Fabian Change We Need conference in London.

The Center for American Progress is an independent progressive think-tank, which is seen as probably the most influential with the Obama administration.

Asked from the audience whether Obama should attend, Palmieri was sympathetic to the call and said she was surprised that the White House said he did not plan to attend: her view was that the possibility remained an open debate within the administration, which remained strongly committed to progress being made at the summit.

Palmieri stressed that there was an awareness of the importance of progress at Copenhagen for winning a central US domestic political argument about the importance of climate change, as well as to promote an international deal.

"If people see Copenhagen as a failure, that will really set us back politically", she said.

"But last time he went, it didn't turn out so good", she noted, referring to Chicago's failed bid for the Olympic Games decided in the same city.

Shifting opinion on climate change and healthcare needed to be seen as part of a much broader task shared by the Obama administration and the broader US progressive movement:

"We just came out of a conservative era. It ended with Hurricane Katrina and with the reaction to the Iraq war. But this was a thirty year arc. It started with Nixon. Clinton was a brief respite. There is a really big argument about how progressives start a new progressive era, not eight years of

That means engaging the American people in a totally different frame of reference - and that is how we need to embark on a long-term change".

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