It seems that with Copenhagen, we get one step forward then drop one back. The question now is, where does this leave us?

Let’s look first at the good to come out of the last week. There was a HUGE shift in the commitment of global leaders to attend the talks. The Danish Prime Minister formally announced he's invited all heads of state to Copenhagen. Previously the summit was not really configured to cater for talks at the highest level. Some heads of state have been ducking the question about going to Copenhagen by saying no formal invitation has come from Denmark. That excuse is now gone. The table has been officially set for Prime Ministers and Presidents.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed she’s going. In total, 40 heads of state are now committed to attending the talks. What’s more, Obama conceded he’d go if needed.  It’s a bit like Facebook. The more important people who RSVP the more important people who RSVP.

But just when you thought all things Denmark were rosy, Obama shatters hope at APEC, announcing “time has run out to secure a legally binding deal” in December. He has thrown his support behind plans to delay a formal pact until next year at the earliest. 

So is he right? The media certainly seem to think so. It jumped on this pronouncement as a declaration of Copenhagen’s failure before it’s even started. But this isn’t about time; it’s about political will. The articles for a legally binding outcome have already been drafted. All we need is industrialised countries to take their fair share of the global effort.
If industrialised countries are not ready to do their fair share now, why should we trust on them doing it half a year or a year later?

If the Danes, Obama and others who’re buying into this delay plan were honest in saying that they still intend to solve the key issues in Copenhagen, in an ambitious manner, then their main message would NOT be that the deal cannot be done in Copenhagen and that they need extra time. The message would be "Copenhagen can and must agree on all the key issues and write them into legally binding language". They would have no reason to downplay expectations.
Obama, Danes and their allies are simply trying to build a cover story about lack of time, in order to carry out an escape plan in Copenhagen. And of course time will run out if they spend more time downplaying expectations than solving the crunch issues.

They say it’s not over til the fat lady sings. Global leaders need to stop practicing their scales and start prioritising planet saving over reticence.