Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:53 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:53 | SYDNEY

Copenhagen: The Indians at the airport

22 December 2009 12:52

Fergus Green is co-author of the Lowy Institute’s Guide to the Copenhagen Conference. He is about to leave Copenhagen for a holiday but will blog on the conference and its implications in the new year.

For those interested in the political machinations that produced last Friday's Copenhagen Accord, the White House has released a fascinating account of the frenetic events leading up to the fateful meeting between US President Barack Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa that sealed the deal.

The account, which reads like something out of a certain episode of The West Wing, details the extraordinary efforts made by President Obama to meet with the leaders of these four high-emitting emerging economies in a last-ditch effort to bridge the abyss dividing the developed and developing worlds over their preferred approaches to tackling climate change.

Much has been said about the failure of Copenhagen and President Obama himself has copped a ton of criticism – undeservedly, in my view. President Obama and his world-class team of energy and climate change officials have done more in the last 10 months than any US administration in the last 20 years to shove the US and the rest of the world towards a lower-carbon future.

From legislating, regulating and investing heavily in clean energy solutions at home, to an unrelenting diplomatic campaign to engage leaders from emerging economies, Obama has invested an extraordinary amount of political capital in his concerted quest to tackle climate change – and all of this despite presiding over an unforgiving electorate that is deeply divided over the science of climate change, to say nothing of the response to it.

Those who stand aghast at how difficult it was to agree to even such a weak political compact in Copenhagen might consider this question: what would have happened in Copenhagen if it weren't for Obama’s leadership? Now that's a scary thought.

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