The world leaders who showed up for the final stretch of the Copenhagen climate summit, perhaps assuming that their lesser representatives would have paved the way for a relatively easy finale, were in for some long hours and tough talks lasting into the night. Things didn’t go as planned, it seems, and rifts between countries weren’t being resolved in time Friday to strike the deals they sorely needed to make. —KA
Update: The New York Times has filed this report, describing some drama that went down Friday, as well as the pared-down agreement that the assembled leaders eventually reached.
Enter Barack Obama. All week long, negotiators at the Copenhagen summit have been expressing hope that Obama would harness his personal charm and his authority as leader of the world’s biggest economy to ease the divisions between rich and poor, and old and new superpowers, and come to a deal.
Air Force One touched down in Copenhagen at around 9am yesterday morning, and Obama immediately went into a huddle with 18 other world leaders. But there was one significant absence. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, sent his vice minister for foreign affairs, He Yafei, in his place.
Amid the sense of rising dread, the United Nations machinery moved ahead, opening the gathering of world leaders which was supposed to be a showcase for a global action plan to keep the world from warming beyond 2C.
The air of desperation was almost palpable. “I implore you,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN-general, pleading with world leaders to find a way out of the chaos. Exercise your conscience, he said. You hold the fate of future generations in your hands. “It will be your legacy for all time.”
But the leaders seemed incapable of thinking of the global good. Instead, the second fissure of this summit - China versus the industrialised countries - opened up even further.
Whither the bears? Things weren’t looking so great as the Copenhagen climate summit drew to an end.