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Disarray wins out at 'Brokenhagen' climate talks

December 20th, 2009
11:05 AM ET

Copenhagen, Denmark - They came. They talked ... long into the night.

Activists deliver their verdict on the climate change summit in Copenhagen.
Activists deliver their verdict on the climate change summit in Copenhagen.

But in the end global leaders left the Danish capital practically empty handed.

After years of negotiation and two weeks of concentrated effort, the world agreed on a deal on climate change.

Whether it is a “meaningful” one, as U.S. President Barack Obama suggests, is up for debate.

The president’s flying visit did help salvage some success from the disorder ... but in the end a slow hand clap as he made his way to the stage mid-morning showed the depth of divisions that still exist between the haves and the have-nots.

Let's be clear: an agreement was brokered in what one commentator described as a "frenzied game of climate poker among the leaders of the United states, China, India, Brazil and South Africa and major European countries." They’d been chosen by the conference chair Denmark as the summit looked set to end in chaos.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon admitted the agreement had failed to win global consensus and would disappoint many who demanded stronger action against climate change. But, he said, at least it had not been strangled at birth. "Many will say that it lacks ambition," Ban said. "Nonetheless, you have achieved much."

China’s resistance to monitoring carbon emissions was a key sticking-point for the West. It’s still not clear whether that issue is fully resolved.

Late on Friday night, Greenpeace international executive director Kumi Naidoo spoke for many when he said the deal’s loopholes were big enough to fly Air Force One through. "The city of Copenhagen is a climate crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport."

So, while global leaders stood shoulder to shoulder smiling for the inevitable class photo, they effectively left shaking hands on nothing more than a commitment to agree to agree to something more substantive in the future.

It was by anyone’s standards a valiant effort by the Danish hosts. But it was the disorganisation and disarray both inside and outside these halls that eventually won out.

What had been billed "Hopenhagen" as delegates and activists arrived here just two weeks ago will perhaps be best remembered as "Brokenhagen" by many.

For more information go to cnn.com/environment

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Filed under:  General
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Gus

    It's not a bad outcome to see leaders of big nations paying attention to a real problem. At least they did come for short time.

    December 20, 2009 at 11:40 am | Reply
  2. Dan Talboy

    Sounds like it was a useless agreement, what a waste. The Thai Primeminister here, called it the same, very weak.
    Too bad for the World, we all suffer.

    December 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  3. Antonio

    How can they expect to have legitimacy, the event had to import limos from Germany to serve the world leaders. The COP15 had a huge carbon finger-print. Not to talk about the "Climate-gate" scandal. It might have been a Brokenhagen but only for the globalist. China knows this, that's why the changed the words on the deal so it would be less invasive to the national severity of the developing countries. People should also read the Brazilian President's speech, right before Obama's on the last day of the COP15.

    December 20, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  4. Michael Farman

    It's no good expecting world leaders to come to agreement on climate change strategy. They have demonstrated that they can't put the common interest of nations before the selfish interest of their own corners of the globe.The only way we can save the future from disastrous consequences is to lead from below, in other words to form a global ground roots movement for conserving energy and exerting overwhelming pressure on providers to convert to renewable energy.

    December 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  5. sinna mani

    In Copenhagan people laboured like a mountain and produced a mouse. Whether it is useful or not remains to be seen. One lesson America should learn from this is that they are no longer the masters of the universe and there are many other players whose needs must to be taken into account. The west singularly lacks any moral authority on this matter. Hundreds of billions for the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan but only ten billion to save the planet. If reduction in co2 to a level compatible with the current scientific knowledge is not achievable in the west why badger poor countries in the world to come up with goodies. The leadership in this matter rightly belongs to newly developing countries and they must unite to frustrate the aims of the west and demand that they reduce their emissions to below 1.5C. Ofcourse this will cause major economic dislocation but not anywhere near what they have done to the rest of the world to maintain an unnecessarily bloated existence.

    December 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  6. Lissy

    Why are they holding that poster obama with head it not all his fault that the climate is like this

    PS Sorry for my English it not so good

    December 20, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  7. NOrm

    Don't worry,
    once we go extinct from screwing up the earth, the planet will fix itself.

    December 20, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  8. adam Black

    Looks like were screwed! Actually were not, we are going to be long gone and everyone else is screwed. kids nephews nieces and all those pesky young folks in asia.

    Global warming means 50 million refugees invade india and china from Bangladesh, Africa is cordoned off & the biggest dust bowl in history hits in mid america. Massive flooding in China and slightly interrupted customer service calls to Indian service centers as people swim to their telephone scripts in Mumbai

    Oh and a few dead polar bears and colorless barrier reef, not much to worry about. On to other business how are we doing with that Afghanistan thing? and please check my stock on Citigroup, thanks

    December 20, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  9. Gerard

    Copenhagen will be remember by historians(if they still exist) in 2050 as the conference when the Western nations who have lead the world for 500 years capitulated when the Chinese Communist Empire showed its unwillingness to cooperate with others democratic nations and started to show its strenght based on 30 years of economic developments without respect for the environment and social security of its people. Time is running out for the world democraties unless they impose heavy environmental taxes on products made in China. Otherwise within 10 years the Middle Empire will impose its will to the rest of the world.
    ALL PRODUCTS MADE IN CHINA SHOULD BE BOYCOTTED IMMEDIATELY.

    December 20, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  10. Paulo Borges

    Even another frustration MADE IN USA!
    Americans should AT ONCE agree their preponderant responsibility for the situation that the world CO2 pollution has reached and the inconceivability that America denies to participate financially in the reduction and cleaning AS ENERGETICALLY AS it have been dumping pollutants in the planet’s atmosphere for the last several decades.

    December 20, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  11. michael dominic rosato u2, im angelo ss on grd

    i am in a similar situation here. the pope is someone who needs to be considered. the resources are really in his hands. he has the moral integrity on this issue.

    the vatican has mike rosatos full faith and credit

    to move from that spot mike would have to be there himself.

    untitled.xls got rid of most authority at home but a man of similar stripes exists.
    the greater problems would be mikes geopositioning in u ss r o boy a

    December 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  12. Newsman

    So why is the sign over Obama's head? Where are the other leaders? This seem a little stupid and unfair, Why can you people in the media not get your arguments right?

    December 20, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  13. Bill

    THANK GOD it FAILED.

    December 20, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  14. Wayne

    Is it a good deal? Sadly, it doesn't really matter.

    Our home, "mother Earth", is going through a cycle and, like every other living thing, evolving. Humanity is just a part of that evolution. What we do will affect her just like a virus will affect humanity. The real difference is that the earth will survive either way.

    We cannot save the planet. The planet will be just fine with or without us and it really doesn't care one way or the other. What we need to save is ourselves.

    Here are a couple of basic facts:
    1. We have a growing population.
    2. We have an increasing demand for polluting devices.
    3. We have a limited food and fresh water supply.
    4. We have a planet that is going through a normal climate cycle.
    5. We have diverse peoples unable to agree on the problems, let alone possible solutions.
    Take this information to a Las Vegas odds maker. Well, maybe not.

    What will really come from all the talk? Probably nothing. We, the global we, will continue to be distracted by religious and political differences until our ability to feed ourselves is gone and then we will blame everyone and everything else, except ourselves, and will fight our neighbors for bottle of water.

    Happy New Year.

    December 20, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  15. A. Smith, Oregon

    Any small step in curbing a Global Climate extreme warming change is going to be beneficial.

    The current problem is that Big Oil has ruled and dictated thru its Republican lawmakers the present disorder of technology which greatly favors Big Oil, go figure!

    World Leaders lack the adequate and full alternatives to Big Oil at this time, both in their infra-structure as well as in the implementations.

    Current alternatives to Big Oil such as electrical motors have been around for 100 years, and are vastly more efficient that Big Oil's natural gas, gasoline, diesel and hydrogen powered engines.

    The worlds and especially America's Electrical Grid isn't setup for a rapid sweeping switch from fueled vehicles to solely electric vehicles.

    Hence the wavering, World Leaders do not have adequate alternatives to entirely phase out toxic spewing Big Oil's products. Specifically because Republican lawmakers have blocked, obstructed and gutted any and all funding for start-up company's alternative's to Big Oil.

    December 21, 2009 at 12:02 am | Reply
  16. Roger Manky

    Valiant efforts by the Danish hosts? Hosts Denmark were caught completely unprepared and in over their head from the very beginning. Their brash and tactless diplomatic style and complete failure to anticipate the massive differences between the different blocs caused the conference to deadlock the moment it started. This ended up being Obama's conference – it was only with his clout that anything was achieved. Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen spent most of the conference in an open panic. The world failed in Copenhagen, but none so much as Denmark.

    December 21, 2009 at 2:06 am | Reply
  17. A. Smith, Oregon

    Big Oil is trying to confuse the public in their attempts to directly shift liability and blame stemming from its cause.

    Just like Big Tobacco did previously, Big Oil is trying to shift blame and liability aware from its toxic spewing power plants and vehicles. The dots are being connected and Big Oil's liability to what is happening now in Africa, other nations and island people needs to be addressed in the European Court system that has real teeth against American Corporations abuses.

    December 21, 2009 at 2:25 am | Reply
  18. Bruce Grant

    COP 15

    They went on in strange paradox, deciding only to be undecided.
    They were resolved, only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity.
    They were all powerful to be impotent.

    Sad really!

    Time for families to look ahead for survival strategies for their younger generations..

    December 21, 2009 at 9:26 am | Reply
  19. Lars Nielsen, Denmark

    It's right what NOrm wrote on the 20th December. 'The earth has time, it will fix itself once we're gone ...' The only problem is my children and grand children, where will they stand with water to their knees and nuclear waste in the cellars? No other generation has made so much harm to the world as we are doing right now. What should we do about it?

    One of the "deals" in Copenhagen was to use up to 1% of the GNP to lowering the CO2. Why not use 'all that money' on developping clean energies. We're talking Billions of $, and if America alone (in the 60's) could arrange a moon-landing – the world today can make cars driving on batteries and power stations on clean energy! I'm certain!

    It all a question on political will.

    Greeting from the cold Denmark – we now have minus 7 degrees celcius (19.4 ºF). We should be happy for the global heating (joke : – )

    December 21, 2009 at 10:05 am | Reply
  20. save

    they are leaders. we are leaders.
    so we have to make a leadership .

    December 21, 2009 at 11:44 am | Reply
  21. Timothy Mazorodze

    Your article has south Africa with a small letter s.

    December 21, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  22. Ian Gouws

    The earth existed for million of years, and we are destroying it over a period of 50 years – a small fraction in the time history of our planet. We do not have a right here not to come to an agreement. It is not a right not to agree and not to take responsibility. Who do they think they are. It is not the USA's and China's right to negotiate about this – the earth belongs to all people and all future generations from all countries. They have no right to keep on doing what they are doing.

    Countries responsible for this disaster should be brought before the International Court in Den Haag and responsibility should be forced onto them by an International Court. This is not a case of negotiations or conferences – legal action should be taken against these countries responsible for the destruction of our planet that belongs to all of us. It is the first time in human history that a property that belongs to everyone (and future generations) is being destroyed (by greed), and International law should be amended and changed to deal with this effectively.

    Taxes should be levied on all products that are manufactured in factories that are destroying the earth, making them more expensive than green products. Factories and Countries responsible for the destruction should be heavily taxed and fined by an International Court constantly – the atmosphere is not their property and they have no right to destroy it. The International Court should set a final date that all countries should comply to green requirements. Sanctions should be introduced to Countries who do not comply.

    A global Green trust should be established where all taxes and fines will be contributed to. This trust should be used to subsidize Green projects all over the world and to plant millions of trees.

    This is a legal matter, no more conferences please.

    December 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  23. Rose Santos

    I'm a Dane and I'm so disappointed by the fact that nothing useful was achieved in Copenhagen to remedy the ailing climate. It is correct to say that the Danish chairmanship did not live up to its responsibility but then again, it was very confident that the it had an agreemnt with China and the US and therefore not interested in listening to the smaller countries who are in fact the worst stricken by the climate change. The president is the new kid in the class and did not know the rules and therefore leaned to the big bullies like the US, China and the EU. The good thing with this COP15 is that we saw how (although lacking in elegance and courtesy) the so-called developing countries made themselves heard and understood that they have to be included in the efforts to find a common and sustainable solution to the global warming. But it is indeed sad to realize that no solution has been found.

    December 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  24. Dodie ~ Ca

    With regards to the climate change conference in Copenhagen, we are a world of many nations with many varying opinions. Just because the conference did not emit global acquiescence of agreement, is no cause for tantamount to failure. The first step towards change is awareness! This was accomplished even though many may disagree. At least it is being discussed.

    We are getting ready to take our first step into the 22nd century with the advent of National Ignition Facility (NIF) which was finally completed in March, 2009. Once we, can control and stabilize this new technology, there will be NO Need for Co2 emissions resulting from factories, hydro-plants, etc. This will irradiate our world as we know it. This incredible technology will set precedence for mass new technology far beyond our wildest dreams.

    NIF uses powerful lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.
    NIF’s aim is to create a single (500 terawatt) ~whew~ flash of light that reaches the target from numerous directions at the same time, within a few picoseconds. It uses 192 beams that will direct nearly two million joules of ultraviolet laser energy in billionth-of-a-second pulses to the target chamber’s center. NIF seems to be similar to a neutron star by design. NIF can generate unprecedented temperatures of more than 100 million degrees and pressures more than 100 billion times Earth's atmosphere in the target.

    The understanding, stupendous. The implications, unfathomable

    December 21, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  25. Ryan Up In Texas

    Lordy Lordy – yall bunker down and pray for daylight.

    I think the earth should do a quick shake, that similar to dogs after they've had a bath or jumped into a pond or a faster than normal spin – similar to that of a disco ball. Those that remain, are friends of mother Earth and those that end up floating in space – well enjoy the lack the oxygen.

    December 21, 2009 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  26. Martha Sim, Rio de Janeiro

    I'm not trying to belittle the REDD, but in truth ,and practical, COP15 was able to generate (in addition to wasted time and fuel, of course) two important grammatical changes:

    – the term BRIC becomes BASIC (when the issue is climate change ) and the phrase "meaningful agreement" shall be used whenever there is nothing significant to be said.

    December 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  27. Rob

    Thank goodness they never entered into some sort of binding deal.

    A massive transfer of wealth from western countries to tin-pot dictators in the developing world with no oversight is a recipe for corruption on an unprecedented scale.

    Do you really think countries like Nigeria and Zimbabwe would be spending that money on preserving rainforests or environmental projects? More likely buying weapons to supress their own citizens and attack thier neighbours....

    This whole global warming thing has a lot of similarity with Pope Leo X introducing the sale of indulgences in the Middle Ages after spending all the churches money on wine women and song... Don't question us or the policy or you'll all burn in hell...

    December 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  28. V. Clausewitz

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    December 25, 2009 at 2:14 am | Reply
  29. MJH

    Jokenhagen is more like it.

    December 25, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Reply

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