December 20th, 2009
10:55 AM ET
6 months ago

Obama aide: Copenhagen accord 'a great step forward'

David Axelrod spoke out Sunday about the non-binding agreement that five countries, including the United States, agreed to at the Copenhagen climate talks.
David Axelrod spoke out Sunday about the non-binding agreement that five countries, including the United States, agreed to at the Copenhagen climate talks.

Washington (CNN) – A top White House adviser said Sunday that the limited, non-binding agreement between the administration and four other countries was a step in the right direction in the battle to control climate change that lays the groundwork for more independent efforts by the United States.

“Nobody says that this is the end of the road,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said Sunday of the agreement which calls on countries to identify their own voluntary commitments to reducing climate change so that compliance can be internationally monitored.

“The end of the road would’ve been the complete collapse of those talks [in Copenhagen],” Axelrod added. “This is a great step forward,” he said of the limited agreement reached just as the 12-day meeting in Copenhagen was ending in what many observers predicted would be failure.

Related: Climate change deal reached, U.N. Chief says

Axelrod pointed out that as part of the agreement China and India have set goals for combating climate change. “We’re going to be able to review what they’re doing. We’re going to be able to challenge them if they don’t meet those goals,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

Axelrod also said Sunday that the administration intends to pursue efforts to lessen greenhouse gas emissions even in the absence of making a binding international commitment to do so.

“We’re going to pursue this anyway because the president understands that our future lies with a clean energy economy,” Axelrod said, adding that the administration does not want to put the United States at a competitive disadvantage relative to the world’s other large economies. “Now the Chinese, the Indians, the other major economies are coming along and this is the result of [Obama’s] strong leadership.”

While the White House has sought to tout the Copenhagen accord as a success, many environmentalists and political observers view it as the administration’s last ditch effort not to leave the closely watched Copenhagen talks completely empty-handed.

On the domestic front, a Democratic bill for a cap-and-trade system governing carbon emissions has passed in the House but a similar bill has been stalled in the Senate, which is focused on passing health care reform by year’s end.


Filed under: David Axelrod • Energy • State of the Union
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Carole

    Great article!

    I gringe to think of where we would be if Dubya and Shooter were still in office.

    More Dems need to get the courage as Speaker Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi is a true politician looking out for the people not a popularity contest. The White House could take lessons from Speaker Pelosi.

    December 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. GI Joe

    I like clean air and drinking water. Sure would be nice if we could keep it this way for our grand-children.

    GOP wants to muddy the waters, fill the air with crap from gas-guzzling vehicles, up our insurance rates, and allow the insurance companies to NOT pay for our care (that we pay for).

    December 20, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. southern cousin

    All of you libertards need to read what the European newspapers are saying. This conference although a socialist wet dream, was a montersous, expensive and colassal failure (one more) for Hussein Obama and the traitorous people he has in his administration.

    December 20, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "The battle to control climate change" is in fact a battle to extend government control over peoples lives.

    The East Anglia email leaks proved two things. The first was that even the climate change fanatics, who would use even the most ambiguous, slanted, real data to "prove" that "climate change" is a real threat, couldn't come up any real data and had to fake it. The second is that these fanatics will stop at nothing to impose the climate change myth on the world.

    That present-day "climate change" is occurring at all is questionable; that human activity is responsible for it, if it exists at all, is an utter fraud.

    December 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. sensible Cape Coral FL

    The Repuiblicans must be very proud of themselves. They have made our great country into the laughing stock of the entire world.

    December 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Coleman R. Brice

    It seems to me, that we've reached a critical moment in history where living up to the full potential of our moral decency isn't just a nice aspiration, but a necessary imperative for our literal survival.

    Aside from a small handful of genuinely good people elected to office, there are not many true world leaders, it appears to be more just an assemblage of hired goons, smooth talkers, and court jesters employed and directed by the world's elite to pacify and distract us all as the world's wealth and limited resources are shoveled hand over first into the consolidated hands of the few.

    The recent U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was a cruel joke – a circle of jerks making empty promises about hitting abstruse targets and vague objectives that won't make much difference anyway. Many have praised President Obama's pragmatism during this conference, but what we require now is his passion and purpose.

    I'm not a scientist or an economist, but common sense informs me that the continual accumulation of and exploitation of material goods at the expense of a sustainable environment just doesn't make sense to anyone concerned about a real future for their children's children or anyone else's.

    Maybe we're getting what we deserve. Most of what I continue to personally observe is my fellow human beings still desperately pursuing their wants, desires, and addictions. Very few people are making the changes in lifestyle necessary to achieve true sustainability. I'm certainly no angel, a good proportion of my utility bills are associated with playing electric guitars and taking long, hot showers – pretty greedy stuff for a true environmentalist.. But hey, at least I'm trying! I rarely eat meat becuase it is so resource intensive to produce and I ride a bike or walk to work and gigs about 80% of the time. I do sincerely try to be resource efficient. My wife shops in thrift shops and we also purchase green and organic products whenever we can afford to. I'll spare the reader from further self righteous inignation, because I know its not nearly enough.

    At least I'm conscious of it? Is there any redemtion in that? How many people do I know that just don't care? Too many.. Then there are the people who do actuall care, but are increasingly desperate to survive in a society with a rapidly evaporating middle and working class. For instance, how many single working Mothers can really afford to worry about anything other than taking care of the immediate needs of her family? Sadly it is often those who can afford to do something that are most likely to do the least.. GREED 1 + COMPASSION 0 = the same old story of man's inhumanity to man. The only caveat here is that now there is no turning back, there's no new world, and there's no escape. We're all rats in the same cage.

    Tragically, humanity has known about the potential for catrastrophe due to negligent stewardship of the natural environment for over a century. We've had multiple warnings, time and time again.

    I used to be a person who really believed in the probability of positive transformation on this planet. I've always fallen short on a personal level and will not likely experience perfection in this or any other lifetime, but I've engaged in a persistent effort to progress. I sincerely believe that's all we can do.

    No one is gonna save us but us. Our government is not for the people or by the people anymore. We were sold out a long, long time ago. President Obama appears no different.. He seem's to be a lap servant of Wall Street and his administration is completely influenced and infiltated by fat cats who are no more redeeming than those of the previous administration.

    If anything, President Obama's betrayal of the American people is worse, because he spoke aloud to the inner convictions and slumbering truths hiding in the deepest part of our souls. He appealed to the long suppressed reason and decency of so many of us!

    Yet, how can there be "change we believe in", when there's been no real change?

    December 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Inhofe did not get much respect in Copenhagen. His group of three were going to make the case against climate change, but Barasso and his pal backed out. Inhofe used a lot of jet fuel to go to Denmark to be called crazy by a German reporter.

    December 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Honest Abe

    The Democrats are slowly and systematically destroying this country. God has a special place waiting for these soulless fools!

    Forget about "We The People."
    For Democrats, it's all about power, power, and more power

    December 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. Death Panel Sarah

    Hey southern cousin......

    I agree with you! These climate scientists have no proof of global warming(aside from mountains of data) They are just trying to make money...how they are making money on this deal, I don't know, but, as a reptilicon, I know everything is about money, somehow(how's that for a 'Palin' sentence!).
    They are also saying the Mayon volcano in the Phillippines is about to erupt!! Those crazy climatologists!! Always trying to scare us!! I don't believe that, either. They have no more proof of that happening than global climate change!!!
    I tell you what, let's go to the Phillippines and I'll take your picture standing next to that silly old volcano to prove those greedy climatologists wrong. That will show them.
    Then we can go to the north pole(in a rowboat) and I'll take a picture of you there, too(bring a swimsuit).
    Doesn't making the greedy climatologists look silly sound like fun???

    December 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. nick

    Copenhagen was a complete waste of time. 15,000 bureaucrats, with thousands of hangers-on, turned up in private jets and limousines to make pious speeches to each other and to eat caviar. Predictably all came away congratulating themselves on the progress that was made simply as justification for the enormous cost of the meeting and to rationalize the only thing that was actually achieved..........setting a date for the next meeting!!

    Whether or not there is a real climate problem, and whether or not we can do anything about it may be open to debate..........the only thing we know for sure is that these clowns will not find solutions any time soon.

    December 20, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Paul from Phoenix

    What was accomplished? A non-binding resolution? Countries don't follow binding nuclear weapon resolutions. How can a non-binding resolution be considered a success? Oh wait, we can't allow Obama to fail.

    Guess what, it is too late.

    December 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. bobby

    At best it is only a tiny little step forward...Kyoto was legally binding I believe on those who signed it and did they live up to their legal commitments? Not!

    December 20, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Larry

    China talks a good game. Their people are wearing masks because of pollution so thick you can cut it with a knife. They're going to destroy this planet in ways all other countries never could.

    December 20, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. jh

    Why are international news sources claiming that Copenhagen was a failure?

    December 20, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Scott, Tucson

    In the 70's these climate change nuts were telling us we are coming into an other Ice Age within 20-30 years...now it's Global Warming which has been shown to be another hoax put out by loony fear mongers and tax hungry politicians.

    For those who believe this claptrap from the likes of Al Gore and his climate change scientific wizards, than go right now and junk your vehicles and walk, move out of your carbon polluting homes and live in a tent or find a cave. Close out all your bank accounts and happily turn over all your money to Gore and obama because they know what's best for you.

    December 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Death Panel Sarah

    Hey southern cousin....
    Where in the south do they SELL Eurpoean newspapers?.... I would like to pick some up.
    From what I have been gathering, most Europeans are more educated on the climate than the 'average' American. That's why Eurpoean nations have been trying for years to get America to go along with the Kyoto accord. I imagine 90% of Eurpoeans and East Asians believe the scientists on this one.(If you want to learn, you naturally go to someone with knowledge of the subject.)
    It is sad that many pompous Americans cannot stomach the fact that Europe, or any foreign country, can be ahead of us in anything.
    Europe is 'ahead' of us in many fields. They recognize global climate change, they ALL have better(government run) healthcare, and they live longer than us.
    Maybe we (some of us, anyway) can 'swallow our pride' and learn something from the Europeans.

    December 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. nick

    I have to agree with Carole...........Nancy Pelosi is a "true politician". She cut-off business in the House so that she, and 21other "true politicians", could fly to Copenhagen, at enormous cost to the taxpayer and to the atmosphere, for a 24 hour visit to meetings in which she took no part. All these "true politicians" are so passionate about global warming that they hightailed it back to DC before any form of agreement was reached, so that they could beat the snow storm and make sure that our hero Nancy could get on another military aircraft to be flown home (non-stop of course) again at great expense to the taxpayer and to the atmosphere.

    Unwittingly, Carole has identified the problem........we have a Congress infected with a large majority of "true politicians".

    December 20, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. Jimmy James

    Wasted tons of fuel and tax payers money for a " non binding agreement" which means absolutely nothing. Fix our economy. Don't pledge to give more aid to other countries . We need jobs and people are losing homes but he is pledging more money to other countries. Stop all foriegn aid till this country is fixed.

    December 20, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Senator James Inhofe(R) of Oklahoma is a total embarrassment to the Republican party which proves people like him with no further education have no business talking on subjects like science, he should have stuck to selling real estate.

    December 20, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Chris

    To all those Right Wingers who have been saying that since we still get snow storms in winter that is "proof" that climate change is all a sham - that's sort of the equivalent of someone pointing to a flying plane and saying "See, I told you there was no such thing as gravity!"

    December 20, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Beth

    Correct.. a complete failure would have been to come away from the talks with nothing. Instead, Obama came away from the talks with just more talk that means nothing.

    'Non-binding agreements' are just that. Empty words been to please only those that want to continue lying to themselves. Yet another spin victor for the President.

    Now he can get back to trying to destroy healthcare.

    December 20, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Marwan

    "We are going to be able to challenge them if they don't meet those goals" what part of non-binding this guy does not understand?

    You know that things are really bad for this president when his top adviser and the rest pf his administration start to drink the Kool Aid that was set intended for the American people.

    Really sad and arrogant. Every time they fail at anything they lie to themselves and us by claiming that there plan is going just like they intended. Before too long, everyone on the left will start jumping this sinking ship. It just started in the House of Representative with few democrats not seeking new terms in 2010.

    December 20, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. Sniffit

    @southern cousin

    Do you like proving to the rest of us that the south is still full of ignorant inbred racists?

    December 20, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. Death Panel Sarah

    TO jh....
    Because they wanted a BINDING resolution to actually get results!!
    Please think a bit and stop listening to all that talk radio garbage!

    December 20, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. Keith in Austin

    To Carole:

    I read your comments and your misguided praise for Nancy Pelosi. Question, how's that crack you're smoking?

    It is remarkable just how naïve people like you can be.

    I bet you have entitlements running amuck in your pitiful little life! Let's get out of those jammies before Noon tomorrow and try to find a job! Nancy won't be there anymore to nursemaid you this time next year! Hilarious!

    December 20, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
1 2 3