Barack Obama was “visibly angry” when he addressed a COP-15 plenary session today, as part of this week’s climate conference. “I have to be honest, as the world watches us … I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt and it hangs in the balance,” he said. “The time for talk is over, this is the bottom line: We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward. We can do that and everyone who is in this room will be part of an historic endeavor or we can choose delay … The question is whether we will move forward together, or split apart We know the fault lines because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years.” The president was irritated because all indications are that the countries in Copenhagen will emerge from the conference with little more than a symbolic declaration.
Obama spent much of the day today in an unscheduled meeting of leaders from twenty major countries and organizations, including heads of state from Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, India, and Russia. China, the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases, elected not to send prime minister Wen Jiabao, but instead a vice foreign minister — a snub that the Times reported left American and European officials “seething.” Jiabao did meet with the president for nearly an hour after Obama’s speech, and a White House official said the pair “made progress.” “There are big problems, it is moving very slowly,” French president Nicolas Sarkozy said. “China and India are blocking.”