Confident that governments will reach a climate change deal next month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading to Washington Tuesday to ensure that the United States is on board.
Ban plans to meet with key senators and White House officials to discuss how governments are approaching the climate negotiations "and what those governments expect, in terms of the role of the United States," the secretary-general's top adviser on climate change said Monday.
Ban and Janos Pasztor, the director of his Climate Change Support Team, were originally campaigning for agreement on a new treaty at Copenhagen. But in the past month, both have scaled back expectations, focusing instead on getting a political deal on the key elements that can be turned into a treaty, hopefully next year.
At the final round of negotiations in Barcelona that ended last week, the United States was universally seen as the linchpin to a political deal, but it has been unable to present its position or pledge emissions targets because of the slow progress of climate legislation in Congress.
Last week, Senate Democrats sidestepped a Republican boycott and pushed a climate bill out of a key committee _ but at least five other committees still must weigh in, and the partisan antics early on threatened to cast a pall over the measure _ one of President Barack Obama's top priorities.
Despite the likelihood that there will be no final action in the U.S. Congress before the 192 U.N. member states meet in Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18 to try to reach a deal, Ban believes the major outstanding issues can be resolved at Copenhagen.
"The secretary-general is confident that governments will reach agreements in Copenhagen on the fundamental issues that will form the substance of a legally binding international agreement, which is the end goal for guiding action on climate change," Pasztor told a news conference.
Pasztor said Ban's confidence in reaching a political agreement is based on his talks with world leaders, who all want to have a deal in Copenhagen.