Climate leaders: The rhetoric vs. the reality

COPENHAGEN, December 19, 2009 (AFP) – They had been urged to side with the angels but ultimately, base political instinct seems to have prevailed among the world’s most powerful leaders as they sealed a climate pact among themselves, sparking fury elsewhere. From the eve of the 12-day marathon right until its finale, the overwhelming message in Copenhagen was that it was time to put aside national self-interest for the greater good of saving the planet for future generations.

But a survey of the wreckage from the negotiations indicated that none of the world’s economic powerhouses was willing to make the leap of faith.

Instead, they opted for a lowest common denominator accord — devoid of targets for greenhouse-gas emissions cuts and not legally binding.

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said a delay in wide-ranging action to limit emissions had “condemned millions of the world’s poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life.”

An editorial published in 56 newspapers around the world as the gathering kicked off nearly a fortnight earlier, invoked Abraham Lincoln by imploring the leaders to embrace “the better angels of our nature”.

“The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history