U.S. President Barack Obama has changed his Denmark travel itinerary and now plans to attend the final stages of the U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Copenhagen when the majority of world leaders will be there and when the most critical negotiations will take place.
Obama's earlier plan was to stop by the climate conference for a few hours on December 9, the third day of the 12-day conference, on his way to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, Obama will be attending the conference on December 18.
The schedule change is more significant than it may seem at first glance, because it is generally agreed that no effective global agreement on climate change is possible without U.S. leadership.
Obama has already announced provisional U.S. targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions--targets that won't become enforceable until Congress confirms them--so his decision to take an active part in negotiations at the international climate summit is being hailed as an important step toward a global climate treaty.