President Obama will not be attending the United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainability. He will be sending a strong surrogate in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who will lead the American delegation. Clinton will be joined by Lisa Jackson Head of the EPA and the White House environmental official Nancy Sutley as well as state department envoys in charge of international climate change negotiations.
Can't say I'm surprised that the President will not attend as politically it adds another deeply polarizing issue to the 2012 campaign. Though in an ideal world he would attend which would encourage Merkel and Cameron and some others who have said they will not attend to rethink. He would then give global leadership to the conference, commit the US to sustainable goals and upon his return the republicans would be so impressed that the congress would pass legislation to finally commit the US to a sustainable future. Yep, I'm in major fantasizing mode because we all know none of that will happen.
I do think that sending Clinton is a good move as she will be pushing for her new Clean Air and Climate Coalition which is promoting the global reduction of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP). This is actually a solution that can work to reduce emissions rapidly. As we now know C02 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years so even if we eliminated all carbon emissions tomorrow there would still be the damaging remains of the past use of C02 lingering in the atmosphere preventing us from stopping the most damaging effects of Climate Change. So reducing the SLCP can buy us the time to reduce C02
The fact that Clinton has been involved in stressing solutions to climate change makes her the ideal representative at this time. We all know that Clinton is a tough negotiator so I'm hoping that she will have success in developing her Coalition. This can make a positive outcome to the meeting and our fight against the worst effects of climate change.