When President Barack Obama addresses delegates in Copenhagen on Friday, will his promises about U.S. emissions cuts be credible? Bolstered by climate legislation passed by a narrow margin in the House of Representatives in June, Obama will say he hopes to cut U.S. emissions by 17% by 2020. But that would require similar action in the Senate, where success requires 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber.
In a special Web feature appearing today, “The Climate in the Senate," ScienceInsider explores the political prospects for passing climate legislation next year, and the factors that might restrict Obama's ability to deliver on his pledge. The package features a graphic that shows the difficult arithmetic facing cap-and-trade supporters seeking to get 60 votes. It contains interviews with three senators considered key swing votes and a fourth almost definite supporter. There are also miniprofiles of other key senators, and an analysis of the even more daunting task of gaining 67 votes in the Senate to ratify any treaty that the international community may adopt next year.