Initially he was only going to go the first week and put in some face time, a.k.a. vote “present,” but China and India have come to the table so he’s rescheduled for the big finale. Not that anyone seriously expected him to change his plans because of Climategate, which is now being (perfunctorily) investigated by the UN, but in case you harbored even the tiniest hope, let go.

Following bilateral meetings with the President and since the United States announced an emissions reduction target that reflects the progress being made in Congress towards comprehensive energy legislation, China and India have for the first time set targets to reduce their carbon intensity. There has also been progress in advancing the Danish proposal for an immediate, operational accord that covers all of the issues under negotiation, including the endorsement of key elements of this approach by the 53 countries represented at the Commonwealth Summit last weekend…

Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the President believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th rather than on December 9th. There are still outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached, but this decision reflects the President’s commitment to doing all that he can to pursue a positive outcome. The United States will have representation in Copenhagen throughout the negotiating process by State Department negotiators and Cabinet officials who will highlight the great strides we have made this year towards a clean energy economy.

Needless to say, if no deal results from a personal appearance by Holy Barry, Father of God, the great hope of the “international community,” it’ll be an even bigger blow to his prestige than the Olympics debacle. As for the terms of the prospective deal, sounds like we’re going to fight this war with half-measures too. Which, if you agree with The One’s Afghanistan critics, is getting to be a habit:

[T]he U.S. will propose a cut in emissions over the same time period in the range of 17 percent, regardless of the growth of its economy. For the U.S. to achieve the target it proposes, however, Congress will have to pass legislation to curb greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The Senate has said it will not take up the measure until next year.

And even if it does, a 17 percent reduction by 2020 is lower than what scientists say is needed to avert the dangerous consequences of climate change.

Scientists say the industrial countries must slash carbon emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 below 1990 levels to prevent the Earth from warming 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6F), the maximum to reduce the worst risks. Obama’s proposal — which matches a bill that passed the House in June — translates to a 4 to 5 percent reduction from 1990 levels.

Harry Reid’s going to sell the Senate on the urgent need to prevent global warming by reducing emissions to a level that … won’t prevent global warming? What am I missing?