Copenhagen moment of bitter truth

Thank goodness for some old fashioned power brokering to dramatise the issues of Copenhagen – US-China deadlock, EU standing apart, Third World accusing the First world of planning a Holocaust to come. You have to make some allowances. Everyone’s very tired and emotional. The crucial omission? Without a strict timetable for verifiable cuts, the 20% goal for 2020 lacks backbone. The BBC accepts there was a climate deal of sorts; the Guardian proclaims failure, the Times, a poor fudge. (At least there’s no holding back on the breaking news on this one in the MSM’s web editions.). US reaction in Huffpost in the middle of the night is sparse and fairly muted- but then Americans are cool on climate change anyway. Inevitably, the sophisticated analysis comes in the NY Times but it’s more detatched than Americans need to be. It’s easy to throw blame in the direction of the high profile. But whatever chances remained for a meaningful deal, Obama blew it on the podium by openly clashing with Chinese premier Wen. In that one speech, the charisma degenerated into arrogance. After that, any deal was about saving face and surviving for another day.The dream of world harmony was put into words by Tennyson a century and a half ago.

From Lockesley Hall
Till the war-drum throb’d no longer
and the battle-flags were furl’d,
in the Parliament of man,
the Federation of the world”.

From Idylls of the King
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new.”

But not yet, alas. It may have been too much to hope for that a single hothouse UN conference was going to produce a re-ordering of the world’s economy in a recession. At least after all the shuffling and warm words before Copenhagen, nearly 200 states are now facing reality. They know they have to keep buggering on. That’s what we all have to live with.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London