The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference will fail to realize its goal of creating a legally binding commitment to reduce CO2 emissions.

This was the only reachable conclusion Tuesday night in Barcelona at the UN Climate Change Conference after the Pew Center on Climate Change, an American NGO, explained in detail the official U.S. position on global warming.

Pew Center panelists gave a Government 101 presentation, explaining just how the Kerry-Graham Climate Change Bill would become law, while the Europeans in the room sat frustrated with America’s continued exceptionalism.

Pew Center panelists said negative political consequences, ones that might make long-term emissions goals more difficult to achieve, are America’s reasons for not making specific commitments to emission reductions in Copenhagen. Just why American political considerations trump global goals still confound many participants at the Barcelona Climate Change Conference.

By all accounts, the Kerry-Graham bill will not reach the Senate floor until well after the Copenhagen Conference. Senators Kerry and Graham laid out their arguments in a New York Times editorial back in October.

Manik Roy, speaking for the Pew Center in Barcelona on Tuesday, gave five necessary conditions for passing climate change legislation in America.

  • Passage of healthcare reform
  • Steady economic growth
  • A bipartisan spirit
  • Personal leadership from Obama
  • Positive steps by other nations in Copenhagen

Meanwhile, the U.S. can only hope to use an ill-suited Clean Air Act to make small CO2 reductions (greenhouse gas emissions were declared as air pollutants by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA in 2007).

The message in Barcelona on Tuesday night was that any consensus on emission reductions will occur on America’s terms, not on the international community’s.

While the U.S. may spoil the party, it’s not the only guest. Here are some other events that took place Tuesday.

Robust measures for enhanced energy efficiency in shipping, hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Delivering climate security: defining a risk management approach to security threats associated with climate change, hosted by the International Coastal and Ocean Organization (ICO).

Funding approaches for early action against deforestation in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Amazon, hosted by Greenpeace International (GPI).

Analysis of national climate action plans of emerging economies, hosted by the Republic of Germany.