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The U.N climate delegate from Bangladesh says 'the world expects a lot from President Obama.'

Dec 05, 2009

COPENHAGEN — Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, a U.N. climate conference delegate from Bangladesh, says “the world expects a lot from President [Barack] Obama” and that he “should make sure he does not disappoint the world.”

 

But it will be almost impossible for Obama not to disappoint the world when he arrives here next week — in large part because the world keeps ratcheting up the expectations on him.

 

When Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it was declaring global warming a danger to human health, the administration might have hoped it was merely providing a catalyst — a sense of U.S. commitment — on the first day of two weeks of talks here.

 

But leaders from the United Nations and the European Union insist that the EPA endangerment finding is something bigger — proof positive that Obama must have another rabbit to pull from his hat.

 

“We expect that he’s bringing a more ambitious commitment than he has presented right now,” said Alicia Montalvo, chief negotiator from Spain, next in line for the EU presidency. “We are sure that this is his intention — otherwise, we think that he would have not come to Copenhagen.”

 

The climate community bit as hard as anyone on Obama’s message of hope. And while the Nobel Committee will award Obama a peace prize in Oslo this week based mostly on his potential and promise, the delegates here aren’t interested in giving any A’s for effort.

 

“Part of the message he’s receiving obtaining this prize is also to invest in political decisions that could be difficult — decisions that affect the whole planet, not just the immediate political interests in the United States,” Montalvo said.

 

“What people here care about is what the United States commits to in terms of targets and financial support, and they will hold President Obama to his word,” said Yvo de Boer, the head of the United Nations climate agency convening the conference. “For this process, what counts is the word of the president.”

 

But Obama really can’t commit the United States to much in Copenhagen because the senators he needs to pass a climate bill aren’t on board with the kind of greenhouse gas restrictions that the EU and others expect. 

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