Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Immense déception"

Read Alain Juppé's account of Copenhagen. This is about as frank as a politician ever gets.

And then there's this from Laurent Joffrin:

"Quelle chienlit ! ... Il est manifestement plus facile de sauver la finance que de sauver la planète."

But The New York Times plays it cool. After highlighting Obama's characterization of the "agreement" as an "historic breakthrough," John Broder writes: "The agreement addresses many of the issues that leaders came here to settle. But it has left many of the participants in the climate talks unhappy, from the Europeans, who now have the only binding carbon control regime in the world, to the delegates from the poorest nations, who objected to being left out of the critical negotiations."

Perhaps it's just differences of tone and house style, but I think it goes deeper (cf. the Washington Post). Climate change just doesn't have salience as an issue in the United States, even in the columns of a liberal newspaper, let alone in the country at large. The failure of the negotiations means that we will now be spared the spectacle of a ratification debate in the Senate, but it's not hard to imagine the rhetoric that would have been forthcoming.

In the meantime, Obama's reputation in Europe, hitherto almost inoxydable, has, I think, taken a severe hit. There was open dismay at the tenor of his speech, and his decision to negotiate separately with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa may have made pragmatic sense but alienated Europe, whose friendship he needs. Obama's political instincts are sometimes puzzling. Man does not live by charisma alone, and charisma, in any case, is not a renewable resource.

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