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Copenhagen Day 1: Goodbye, Optimism

Today was the first day of the Copenhagen climate change conference, an international gathering of governments to find a solution to climate change. In the world of politics, Copenhagen (or COP15, for short) is one of the biggest events ever.

That means more press coverage than anyone can digest. While you can visit the conference's own web page here to see its decidedly rosy coverage of itself, the real action is on thousands of blogs, newspapers and magazines. For the duration of the conference, BNET Energy will be running a daily linkblog of the best daily coverage and commentary, to help wade through it all; this is the first installment.

And as you'll see from the selection of news below, the attitude on COP15's first day was not one of overwhelming confidence.

A long history of climate change science (Daily Telegraph)
Most leaders have accepted the idea that anthropogenic climate change exists; the question is how large the effect is, and how fast.

Quotes from the first day (Reuters)
From China's climate change ambassador: "The reason I am not using the word optimistic is that from the proceedings today you must have recognized that the parties are still pretty much wide apart, particularly on some of the critical substantive issues."

Calls for urgent action, but not much more (New York Times)
The pledges so far are "not going to get us as far we need to go, to really stay within the two-degree limit," said Koko Warner, an observer with the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany. "We don't want to admit it, because the consequences are so bad," she said.

World leaders arrive in gas guzzlers (Fox News)
Eat my carbon footprint: 140 private jets, 1,200 hired limousines and jam-packed luxury hotels.

Failure is a given, but not the end (AlertNet)
"Exactly how climate will change, at what speed, with precisely what impacts still remains uncertain... We have to explore and advocate at the same time. It is a new way of doing politics and a new way of advocacy for a problem the world has thus far shown that it does not know how to handle."

Breaking the barriers (CNN)
Protestors are demanding action and threatening to take over the conference for a "People's Assembly".

Climate negotiators could learn from Hamlet (Grist)
"Is it stretching too much to suggest that international climate negotiations have their own sort of formulaic genre? And that this genre is due for an overhaul too?"

Copenhagen could strengthen corrupt leaders (The American)
Aid dollars have a way of ending up in the pockets of dictators.

France: Levy a tax on finance for poor countries (Khaleej Times)
Spare change for climate change? France unveils its big idea to fund climate efforts in developing countries.

Is oil the wrong villain? (Aleklett's Energy Mix)
Oil is going to run out before severe climate change, so don't focus on it at Copenhagen, advises a European scientist.

Don't forget about Climategate, says Saudi Arabia (LGF)
The oil-spewing theocracy calls for reason, of sorts.

Climategate is still one-sided in all the wrong ways (CNN)
"The global warming controversy has been pervaded from the start by the human instinct to divide the world into "us" and "them"... It was the same weakness in themselves that led the advocates to cheat and twist and betray scientific standards."

The conference looks like it will pick up speed as it goes, so stay tuned for our coverage through the rest of this week.

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