The run up to the Copenhagen Summit has been fraught with controversy. For two weeks delegates and ministers have thumped their policies as better than others or criticized plans that do not meet their respective leader's goals. Demonstrators arrested, countries wanting a free ride or exemption for those that emit CO2 at ratios that they believe is what they can achieve. Others are simply ignoring the issue altogether. And then there's East Anglia, the single largest black eye to the global science community in decades. Right or wrong, this incident threatened the outcome of any deal that could happen. Connie Hedegaard, President of the Copenhagen summit said it best prior to the start of the talks: to get an agreement it's a political solution and not a scientific one.
A deal needs to be signed, global leaders know that it must -- or face consequences back home. As the opening gambit in the negotiations began to take hold, to get the text of an agreement done the real deal making started to make the public rounds - money. Japan offered $8 billion to help countries that need it. The script was soon followed by other nations, with the EU offering billions more.
As the second week of the conference began in earnest, the bickering continued with leaders not concentrating on the science or the naysayers at all, but instead the money and who was going to contribute what. Then a new carrot and stick was brought to the table: The United States announced $100 Billion. That woke every delegate up, but would it work and get talks moving in the right direction? For a few hours it did as government leaders from around the world started showing up. Cards were being laid on the table and it was time to call any bluffs and get a deal done. Some countries however don't want to spend any money on emissions controls or technology.
China, the single largest emissions (per tonne) target in the world, knew that it was going to be at a disadvantage no matter what they did or do coming into Copenhagen. The arithmetic was not going to work in their favor; population ratios, manufacturing output, and the sheer volume of anything industrial in the country was going to hurt China's economic interest, let alone what emissions technology was going to cost. China wants a ratio of reduction based on existing industrial indicators. The world wants reduction based on previous stated tonnes produced in either 1999 or 2004. China has flat out rejected such a model. Such a static model would be impossible to achieve for them, and other nations should recognize this and haven't.
For many countries, particularly in the United States, Canada, and the U.K. the Copenhagen Treaty is the perfect instrument that conveys to China, that it should no longer be the low cost provider of manufactured goods. Everyone thought that the WTO would help equalize imbalances and it backfired. China's solution was to fix its currency, which has prevented any equalization occurring.
Lost in all this is the work that scientists around the world have been trying to tell leaders, the world is getting warmer and climate change is happening. There is hope that the noise can be eliminated and a true emissions treaty can be signed. Scientists know all about politics, the question is, can they get around the economic rhetoric? At Copenhagen probably not, but if the nations can sign a deal of ANY kind, they can get a foothold that starts in the right direction.
Perhaps the biggest news coming out of Copenhagen: Presidents and Prime Ministers recognize that greenhouse gases are a problem they have to deal with. The naysayers of global warming are finished. As of 6:00 P.M. Copenhagen time, no deal has been signed and the talks continue with none of the world leaders indicating immediate departure.
Update 5:00 P.M. EST: A deal may have been reached between the U.S. China, India and South Africa. No official announcement has been made as of yet.