Shifting the blame
To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China's representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil's representative too pointed out the illogicality of China's position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord's lack of ambition.
Secretary Clinton made it perfectly clear that the US was ready and willing to support the global effort to control, and mitigate, the effects of human technological growth. It was widely reported that China's primary reason for eschewing any real commitment here was simply this - Transparency of process.
The US and Europe along with, albeit to a lesser degree, Japan and South Korea have proved over the last decades a willingness to take action on a national and regional scale. Why - because quite frankly there is enough openness in these societies that the common sense of 'the people' does exert pressure and over time form policies.
Why would China, the government of China, be so fearful of openness, of transparency to be willing to flout their nose to the people of the world? Why would India be so willing an accomplice?
Does anyone really wonder why the last great communist totalitarian government on our planet would fear openness? I doubt it. India? Well, guess they are just hedging their economics bets.
A lack of an international treaty does not release individual governments from their responsibilities to be good stewards of the ecology, of course. What this summit should do however is to be a clarion call to those in the developed world, interested in actually affecting a change, to focus on China and India as the true battle grounds.