New Hopes Dashed US Disappoints at Doha Climate Talks (excerpted from http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/obama-disappoints-expectations-of-climate-change-action-at-doha-summit-a-871193.html ) President Obama's comments in the wake of the Hurricane Sandy disaster raised hopes across the world that the US was finally willing to act on climate change. But America's refusal to make concessions at the Doha climate talks shows just how little its position has really budged. Shortly before the US delegation boarded the plane to Qatar at the end of November for the global climate summit, Jennifer Morgan, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute, offered a bit of unsolicited advice. "I think there will be expectations from countries to hear a new voice from the United States," she said. But Morgan's appeal would seem to have gone unheeded. When US President Barack Obama's climate envoy Todd Stern stood before reporters in Doha for the first time, he did what he has been doing for years: He lowered expectations. He said he doesn't believe there is a "different tone" in Washington when it comes to efforts to combat climate change. The US, he then claimed, "has done quite significant things" on the climate front "in the president's first four years." As examples, Stern cited improvements in building insulation as well as federal support for promoting renewable energies. But the message was clear: The US is unwilling to make significant concessions in the final days of this year's global climate conference. For environmental activists who have spent the last week and a half at the Doha conference center waiting for a sign of progress, Stern's comments were only the most recent of many bitter disappointments. They had placed great hopes in the US delegation -- hopes that had been awakened by no less that Obama himself. Climate change played virtually no role at all in the US presidential campaign -- until, that is, Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast of the US just days before Election Day. Obama also seemed to recognize the issue's sudden relevance. Immediately after his re-election, he emphasized more than once the importance of a far-sighted approach to addressing climate change. Activists around the world interpreted his comments as meaning that the US -- the world's second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after China -- might finally end its blockade of a climate deal at Doha, and that Washington might finally commit itself to ambituous emission-reduction targets. They were wrong. No Progress After 18 Rounds Stern's comments were greeted with disbelief and anger. The US is refusing to budge, and other counries are hiding behind its inaction, said Samatha Smith of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). David Waskow, from Oxfam, accused Obama of saying one thing and doing another. Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo says that Obama has come down with a "severe case of cognitive dissonance." Comments coming from the US delegation, he went on, show a "fundamental ignorance of public opinion in the US and the rest of the world."