Hillary Clinton makes Copenhagen an offer

The Secretary promises big bucks for poor countries, China remains unimpressed, and Hugo Chavez unloads a zinger

Published December 17, 2009 2:14PM (EST)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Copenhagen and promptly announced that the U.S. supported the creation of a $100 billion annual fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change. The money would be raised together with other major economies from both public and private sources.

As the Secretary noted, "$100 billion is a lot," and the number matches up with what poor countries have loudly been demanding. But while the last few remaining optimists that anything substantive might be achieved at Copenhagen are calling the news a "bombshell" that could unlock the current stalemate, there appear to be at least two major obstacles to any such progress: China, and the U.S. Congress.

Clinton declared that the fund would be contingent, reported the Washington Post, "on whether the nations gathered here could reach a substantive pact that includes 'transparency' on tracking emissions cuts." But that's precisely what China has steadfastly refused to do all along. It's no wonder that press coverage of the climate talks has become steadily more negative, day by day.

Furthermore, with deficit hawks occupying more and more of the rhetorical high ground in Washington, and President Obama's ability to push his agenda apparently weakening by the day, it is difficult to see where any significant sums of money are going to come from.

Which brings to us the best line delivered so far in Copenhagen, concerning the U.S.'s commitment to meaningful action.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing standup comedian Hugo Chavez! (From Politico's Glenn Thrush):

"If the climate was a bank they would already have saved it."

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

MORE FROM Andrew Leonard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Global Warming How The World Works