The Copenhagen Speech I Would Have Written

Here’s the speech that I would have written for Obama to give at Copenhagen, if I had been asked:

“Greetings fellow delegates.

We are here to confront the issue of global climate change. For me, I must admit, I am not a climatologist nor a scientist, and there are many things that I don’t understand about the science. But the most essential element appears to be the connection between the emission of carbon dioxide and an increase in global temperatures. There is increasing uncertainty about how closely coupled those two factors are.

But there is no doubt that carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere, and that as societies industrialize, they tend to use more and more fossil fuels that emit more carbon dioxide. We are having this conference in large part because people want the benefits of fossil fuels without wanting the effects that the emissions might cause. And no one wants to give up the benefits of using fossil fuels if they think that everyone else is still using them.

I am here with very good news for all sides involved. Consider a single barrel of crude oil, that might sell for 50 to 100 American dollars, depending on the mood of the market at the time. Our American scientists, nearly 60 years ago, figured out how to extract a hundred times more energy from an equivalent volume of common rock as from this barrel of oil. Everyone has lots of common rock in their country, and so this discovery means that every nation can be energy independent. The best news is that this technology can produce this energy without emitting greenhouse gases.

Based on this innovation, I declare that the intent of the United States is to decarbonize its economy while making it more powerful and more competitive. Rather than making energy more expensive, we’re going to make it less expensive. We plan to do this regardless of what other nations plan to do, because it will be in our economic self-interest. Thus, our need to negotiate joint reductions in CO2 so as to not unfairly hurt our own economy has largely gone away. We do this in order to increase our economic competitiveness.

We have made available this research online for years. Other nations are free to follow this compelling research as well. But make no mistake, the United States plans to lead and succeed at this thrilling effort.

Thank you, and my best wishes for your futures.”

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