Naomi Klein: US Lowering the Bar in Copenhagen, Doing More Harm Than Good

Negotiations at COP15 are entering into the final few days and things are clearly getting more heated as heads of state are arriving. But most activists feel not enough has been accomplished and the agreement taking shape will not match up to what scientists say we need to accomplish -- and not by a long shot.

And worse, the U.S. is gumming up the process. So many of us concerned with the future of the planet breathed a sigh of relief when Obama was elected and we were relieved by his desire for strong action on climate change, but so far the words he's been way more talk than action.

Katherine Goldstein for Huffington Post interviewed Naomi Klein and Klein's assessment of the U.S. involvement is grim:

The US negotiators have squandered a tremendous amount of goodwill. Tremendous ... the Democrats have squandered so many opportunities. We've seen these huge outpourings of support of the US -- we saw it after 9/11 and we saw it when Obama was elected. So many were so happy about the US re-engaging in the climate process. But I think it has done way more harm than good. It's given countries the opportunities to weaken the targets they are putting on the table, like Japan. The US has lowered the bar and set goals so low, it's been destructive. I think it would be better if the US had continued to stay out of it. I don't see any point in US politicians coming here.

When chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing offers for the US to pay $1.5 billion to help with climate change and says, "the US only has so much largesse," Americans have no idea [how insulting this is to the rest of the world.] US emits so much and has caused this problem. This is NOT about charity. This is about moral responsibility.

Obama arrives on Friday. And while I don't agree with Klein's assessment that the U.S. should just stay home, I think we need to demand that he live up to his promises and the U.S. live up to its international responsibilities.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.