The president was scheduled to appear at the climate change summit on Dec. 9, ahead of his trip to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. The summit takes place from Dec. 7 through Dec. 18. Mr. Obama will now attend the end of the conference.
"Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the President believes that continued U.S. leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th rather than on December 9th," the White House said in a statement. "There are still outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached, but this decision reflects the President's commitment to doing all that he can to pursue a positive outcome."
The United States will have representation in Copenhagen throughout the negotiating process by State Department negotiators and Cabinet officials, the White House said. The officials will highlight ways the U.S. has moved toward a clean energy economy. The House of Representatives passed a climate bill in the summer, but the legislation has stalled in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration made significant clean energy investments in its stimulus package. The White House has also committed to cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 to about 17 percent below 2005 levels, as well as cutting emissions by 83 percent by 2050.
Mr. Obama has also engaged in discussions with other world leaders the White House says is contributing to progress "towards a meaningful Copenhagen accord in which all countries pledge to take action against the global threat of climate change." China and India have, for the first time, set targets to reduce their own carbon levels, the White House points out.
This week, the president discussed the status of global climate negotiations with leaders from Australia, Germany, France and Britain. There appears to be an emerging consensus, the White House said, that nations involved in the Copenhagen accord should commit $10 billion a year by 2012 to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.