Some Call Copenhagen a Failure, but Maybe It's Just a Beginning

Copenhagen Climate Talks: An Astonishing Picture

Then the loudspeaker suddenly announced that Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," would give a last press conference and we all filed one last time into the Center's enormous press briefing room.

De Boer painted an astonishing picture, one that tended to confirm my observation to Lars about pheromones.

De Boer specializes in a unique brand of global conference diplomacy and appears to hold a black belt in this non-violent art.

With his usual dry but faintly bemused delivery of ideas both circumspect and exact, he recounted for us what he had experienced just the day before -- the last tumultuous day of the summit which produced the non-binding American-brokered Accord that had no specific emission targets and had even dropped the requirement that the parties make it all legally binding by 2010 or any given year.

He said he'd spent 10 hours Thursday in a somewhat stuffy room "with [President] Obama, [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, [U.K. Prime Minister] Gordon Brown, [Mexican President Felipe] Calderon and some 20 other heads of state" who were -- to his apparent amazement, now that he recalled it -- "getting into the nitty gritty" of the deal.

'They Worked Very Hard'

"They worked very hard," he said, noting that in all the other conferences and summits he'd worked on, the heads of state and government leave the "nitty gritty" for the aides, and then simply offer final thumbs up or down.

He made it sound almost as if these world leaders were getting into it, almost enjoying the fact they could now do their own negotiating with each other, rather than having to stay aloof.

And after all, as de Boer and others had reiterated after that remarkable Thursday, they had all publicly stated and demonstrated their understanding about how much was at stake. They had a cause worthy of their positions -- a cause sometimes loosely but seriously referred to these days as "saving the world."

Copenhagen Climate Talks: Stubborn Scientific Fact Helps Humanity Organize

And as Obama has stated in passing over the past couple of years: "Everybody knows we've got to do this."

Or as others have put it, "Half a boat can't sink."

What was it really like to see that select high company deal and haggle so directly with each other?

Perhaps the stories of that day-long historic gaggle and confusion of so many of the world's leaders will filter out some day, worked loose by historians.

And it may never happen again.

By Science, by Business, and by Society

Yvo de Boer was asked if he thought that, in order to get all the many outstanding issues settled in a year's time at the climate summit expected in Mexico City, he'd need to have all those world leaders assembled again.

"Frankly, I don't see that many leaders happening again," he said. "I think it will now be driven by science, by business, and by society."

It may also be that, with the gravity of the climate crisis so newly stated by world's national leaders in such a unified voice, it will be psychologically helpful to have a little time for the sobering declaration of that fact to sink in around the planet.

Perhaps we weren't ready yet.

In any case, differences between national interests were surfaced -- and surfaced dramatically -- as the world watched.

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