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Obama to travel to Copenhagen for United Nations climate change conference

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U.S. president Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen next month for the United Nations climate change conference to deliver a speech promising widespread emissions reductions.

U.S. president Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen next month for the United Nations climate change conference, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.

Obama had previously not committed to making an appearance at the summit. He is now expected to deliver a speech on Dec. 9 as he makes his way toward Oslo, Norway, where he will accept the Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10.

The decision comes under great pressure on the world stage. Other world leaders and environmental advocates urged Obama to make the trip as a statement of American commitment to the climate change negotiations.

The conference, which involves more than 190 nations, is expected to produce at the least, a political declaration, and at most, a binding international treaty.

Obama is expected to tell climate conference delegates that the U.S. intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions "in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020," according to a White House official quoted by the New York Times.

Until now, the administration resisted offering a firm promise on emissions reductions. That's because Congress has not yet acted on global warming legislation.

Based on Congressional work done thus far, Obama is expected to offer a tentative figure.

The House passed a bill in June 2009 calling for greenhouse gas reductions of 17 percent below 2005 levels. A Senate committee passed a measure last month calling for a 20 percent cut, but that measure hasn't yet made it to the floor, where it will likely be weakened.

Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure