I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by – Douglas Adams

In one month it will all be over. The conference to crack climate change, the summit to save the world, the last chance saloon for planetary well being.

Except we, er, probably won’t actually manage all that.

The Copenhagen climate conference in December has been billed as ‘perhaps the most important meeting since the end of the second world war’. Rewind to earlier in the year and governments were raring to go, insisting that come December a momentous deal would be signed safeguarding the planet’s future.

But via a series of high level discussions during the year, doubt was cast on that early optimism. Expectations have been chipped away at, until finally someone official said something out loud. In late October Yvo de Boer, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that sealing a comprehensive climate treaty at the December meeting would be ‘impossible’.

This seems to have opened the floodgates somewhat, with US officials saying that the nation is unlikely to sign a treaty in Copenhagen, and world leaders now recasting the summit as the first of a two-step programme: agree the political essentials in Copenhagen, sort out the niggly legal details at some point next year.

Pffft. Oh well. At least it didn’t come as a huge surprise. Fingers crossed that the extended deadline means firm figures will eventually be agreed, and that whatever is decided during those weeks in Denmark is based on sound science as well as politics.

Anna Lewcock

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