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Obama To Outline U.S. Goals At Climate Summit

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

The White House announced today that President Obama will attend the big international conference on climate change in Copenhagen next month. Moreover, he will offer to make significant cuts in greenhouse gas emission, even though Congress hasn't taken final action yet.

NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama's first trip to Copenhagen didn't work out so well. He made a last minute dash there in September to support Chicago's Olympic bid, but came home empty handed. This time, the president is hoping for better luck when he takes his place at the starting line of an international climate conference aimed at combating global warming.

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists thinks the president's attendance will give a needed boost to climate negotiations.

Mr. ALDEN MEYER (Director of Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists): What the world needs from the United States is two things -clarity and confidence about what we're prepared to do.

HORSLEY: The White House says Mr. Obama will put on the table a proposal for the U.S. to cut its emissions of heat trapping gasses by about 17 percent from their 2005 levels over the next decade. That's in line with cuts narrowly approved by the House of Representatives. But the Senate hasn't voted on it's version of the climate bill. So, Meyer says the president is, in a sense, going out on a limb.

Mr. MEYER: I think he also will need to assure the world that he is personally committed to work with the Congress to get this job done back home so the world will have the confidence that will carry through on the commitments he makes.

HORSLEY: And if, say, Mr. Obama decided to attend the Copenhagen meeting after constructive talks in recent days with leaders of China and India, he's hoping to produce a tentative agreement that will ultimately lead to a legally binding treaty.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.