The climate is anything but warm in Copenhagen today, but the Danish capital is finally heating up for the start of its much-hyped climate change conference.

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will bring together delegates from 192 countries in an effort to find an international consensus on strategies for fighting global warming.

Kevin Rudd, Barack Obama and more than 100 world leaders will be joined by an expected 20,000 environmental activists, journalists and more than a few protesters.

The world eagerly awaits news from Denmark.

The New York Times reports that delegates are rolling in for the two-week conference.

Leading climate economist Nicholas Stern argues in the Financial Times that Copenhagen is the most important international summit since the end of World War 2.

Let us not allow mistrust, pessimism and lack of ambition to take us stumbling into profound dangers. Now is not the time for red lines and exits. Let us have two weeks of real vision and leadership in both developing and developed countries, which seize the opportunities on offer at Copenhagen.

The Age reports on what Yvo de Boer wants for Christmas.

De Boer, executive director of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change, said his Christmas wish was that politicians and officials “keep it simple”.

“What I want to see at the end of this conference is a list of rich country targets that are ambitious, clarity on what major developing countries will do to limit the growth of their emissions and a list of financial pledges that will make it possible for the much broader developing nation community both to change the direction of their economic growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change — that’s what I’m asking Father Christmas for,” he said.

The Times of London believes there is no chance of a treaty in Copenhagen but that Barack Obama is the key to any future international action.

The central figure in all of this is the American President. The world is waiting on the United States passing its own domestic Bill, which will not happen until the spring of 2010 at the earliest. However, a legally enforceable agreement could follow within six months of Copenhagen.

George Will, writing in The Washington Post, expects the conference’s carbon footprint will be the only impressive outcome.

Copenhagen is the culmination of the post-Kyoto manoeuvring by people determined to fix the world’s climate by breaking the world’s — especially America’s — population to the saddle of ever-more-minute supervision by governments. But Copenhagen also is prologue for the 2010 climate change summit in Mexico City, which will be planet Earth’s last chance, until the next one.

The National Times has Mikhail Gorbachev arguing the climate change deadlock needs to be broken in Copenhagen.

The phrase ”the day after” is most commonly associated with the word “hangover”. The absence of a binding agreement could mean a global hangover, and not just for a day. Fed up with apocalyptic predictions, people wanted a miracle in Copenhagen. So a perceived failure may cause a massive, perhaps irreversible, loss of confidence in our politicians. No surprise, then, that governments have sought to manage our expectations carefully.

Bjorn Lomborg writes in Time Magazine that Copenhagen can succeed only by failing.

For years, we have been spinning our wheels on what I call the Rio-Kyoto-Copenhagen road to nowhere, slavishly following the notion — first endorsed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and then extended in Kyoto 13 years later — that the only way to stop global warming is by means of draconian reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. All we have to show for this devotion is a continuing series of unmet targets, along with a startling increase in the number of people who no longer think climate change is worth worrying about.

And finally, just in case you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, check out the Copenhagen cheat-sheet from The BBC.

Peter Fray

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