Consequences of Copenhagen Forget the Club of Rome, This is the Club Of Losers

The coast of the Funafuti Atoll: A rise in sea levels could have catastrophic consequences for island nations like Tuvalu or the Maldives.

The coast of the Funafuti Atoll: A rise in sea levels could have catastrophic consequences for island nations like Tuvalu or the Maldives.


Part 2: The Europeans: Defeated by Their Own Ambitions

The Europeans wanted to show that they were leaders in the fight against climate change. Yet they couldn't even come to an internal agreement about their offer to raise CO2 reductions from 20 percent to 30 percent. European efforts for an ambitious accord at the end of the summit were in vain.

And then the EU had to stand by and watch as initial efforts toward a minimum consensus were watered down even further. Among other issues, they watched the European suggestion that a legally binding agreement for emissions reductions be reached by the end of 2010 at the latest, evaporate. Now Germany wants to rescue what it still can at a meeting of ministers this coming year, before all of the nations meet again in Mexico in November of 2010.

Photo Gallery

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Photo Gallery: How Germany's Climate Is Changing

United Nations: Overwhelmed by the Process

The United Nations has always maintained that climate protection can only be effective if it's administered globally -- and that the issue cannot be solved by smaller groups like the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. It was actually former US President George W. Bush who initiated this kind of forum but at the time many observers were skeptical that it was Bush's way of circumventing a broader, more global consensus on climate change. This most recent effort, featuring 16 major economies, was launched by President Obama in April of this year and was meant to augment the UN talks in Copenhagen.

And although UN chief Ban Ki-moon seemed almost euphoric during his concluding statements in Copenhagen and at a press conference, it seemed that almost the opposite emotion would have been more appropriate.

The chaotic Copenhagen summit showed up the UN's shortcomings more clearly than ever -- non-governmental organizations felt that they were shut out, small nations believed they were overlooked and some of the larger nations -- and the Chinese in particular -- showed exactly how unwilling they were to compromise.

These are all bad omens for next year's negotiations -- and even worse signs for the formulation of any sort of legally binding agreement on climate change by the end of 2010.

The Danish Hosts: From Saviors to Traitors

Denmark would have liked to announce that the world was saved -- and to have that announcement be associated with Copenhagen for ever. But now the city's moniker is shorthand for the fact that the world has failed, and continues to fail, to reach a genuine climate agreement.

The hosts actively contributed to that outcome, firstly by not taking the concerns of smaller nations seriously enough and then later because of Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's awkward and unwise leadership of the negotiations. In fact, he gave up the chairmanship of the summit early on Saturday morning before the summit had even reached its real conclusion.


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