Conservation Group Sees a Win for Obama on Climate Change

World Wildlife Fund says Copenhagen climate deal will spur Senate into action.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Despite pessimistic signs on Capitol Hill and internationally regarding action by the United States on climate change initiatives, the head of the World Wildlife Fund today predicted that the December climate summit in Copenhagen will draw up a framework for action that will prompt Congress to move on the critical issue. "It's time for us step up and play a leadership role," says Carter Roberts, CEO of the WWF, one of the first conservation groups in the nation to begin pushing for action to curb global warming.

Roberts held out hope that the Senate will send a signal to Copenhagen that the chamber is ready to act on the cap-and-trade legislation before it. And he said that the agreements that come out of the December 7-18 U.N. Climate Change Conference should goose the Senate to wrap up work on the long-stalled legislation. "Progress in Copenhagen will stiffen the resolve in the Senate," he says. And that could lead to an unlikely victory for President Obama, who has made curbing global warming a priority.

Laying out his predictions, Roberts said that Copenhagen should produce a framework that locks in carbon reduction commitments from developed and developing nations, which will lead to Senate approval of the Obama legislation. That will be followed by a final global climate treaty that includes various enforcement mechanisms. While Roberts says it is "fashionable" to be cynical about action, he says, "I actually don't predict disappointment." He concedes that the issue has become partisan, despite the GOP's long support for conservation and environmental issues from Teddy Roosevelt's days to Nixon's creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. But he says that in "private conversations," Republicans are ready for the "right kind of compromise."

His staff provided Whispers with a list of what the WWF hopes to see out of Copenhagen. "Rather than another political declaration," says the WWF, "we need an agreement from Copenhagen that captures important progress that's been made to date and creates a clear path toward a final treaty. The agreement must include the following key elements: outline what legal form the final deal will take; contain new, ambitious, legally-enforceable commitments from industrialized countries to reduce emissions and provide international support for developing country actions; in the context of that support, highlight what developing countries will do to reduce their own emissions and standards for how they will measure and report on those actions; a framework to protect tropical forests (deforestation represents 15 percent of global emissions); show how clean technologies will be supported and distributed globally; help for vulnerable countries and communities around the world to adapt to the climate impacts we already face."

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