Do Carol Browner’s Comments Mean Copenhagen is Doomed?

There was a great deal of hand-wringing this weekend over climate czar Carol Browner’s comment at The Atlantic’s “First Draft of History” conference that President Obama signing climate change legislation before the Dec. 7 Copenhangen summit is “not likely to happen.”

The Atlantic itself didn’t think this detail was important enough to lead with, choosing instead to note the, frankly, not very newsy news that “the United States must act now to limit greenhouse-gas emission.”

The Guardian saw Browner’s pessimism about getting a bill passed as a signpost on the road to failure in Copenhagen. The New York Times thought Browner’s remarks were important, too, but left out the “Copenhagen is doomed” analysis.

Joe Romm of Climate Progress was enraged by the tandem of stories by the nominally liberal outlets, and lashed out in a 9:47 p.m. post on Sunday (which means he was too furious to wait until Monday morning), framed as a “memo to status quo media”:

“Your desperation to file this as-yet-unwritten story is unbecoming and also perverse, since, as I’ve argued, prospects for a global deal have never been better.”

Without wading too far into this debate, we agree that The Guardian’s story would be bolstered a bit by some evidence that negotiators will just give up and spend the whole conference at the hotel bar if the U.S. has no deal.

She quotes only one source and his statement is pretty soft:

“If there is no serious US legislation in place then we will have delegations arriving and getting increasingly frustrated with nothing happening,” said John Bruton, the European Union’s ambassador.

But, hey, who are we to judge. Watch the video of Browner yourself, courtesy of The Atlantic.

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