RSS
Copenhagen: 7 memorable snafus
 
Former Vice President Al Gore had his fair share of foul-ups at Copenhagen.
Former Vice President Al Gore had his fair share of foul-ups at Copenhagen.
Corbis

Publications around the world have referred to the Copenhagen Climate Conference as the "last chance to save the planet." But with the event drawing to a close, delegates had yet to produce an agreement on how to effectively curb greenhouse gas emissions and much of the conference's media coverage focused a string of minor mishaps, flubs and controversies. Here are seven of the most notable:

1. The taint of "Climategate"
The hacked emails scandal re-invigorates climate change skeptics, and changes the tone of the debate leading up to the conference. Some commentators even predict the scandal will derail the whole summit.

2. The summit's embarrassingly massive carbon footprint
With more than 16,500 delegates, politicians, activists and journalists scheduled to attend the conference, UN estimates that the 12-day summit would create 40,584 tons of carbon dioxide — roughly the same amount of CO2 produced by the entire country of Morocco during 2006.

3. Al Gore's mysteriously canceled grip-and-grin
Citing only "unforeseen changes" in his schedule, Gore calls off a book signing and speaking engagement where holders of special $1200 tickets would have had an opportunity to take a photo with the former vice president. The cancellation leaves 3,000 people scrambling for refunds.

5. Poor country leaders stage a boycott
When a draft copy of proposed agreement written by wealthy countries leaks, African leaders stage a three-hour walk-out, edging the stalemated negotiations to the brink of collapse.

6. China proposes worldwide one-child policy
China, which produces more greenhouse gases from human activity than any other nation, proposes that the rest of world adopt a one-child policy to help curb global warming. Invoking the prospect of forced abortions, critics describe this scenario as "chilling."

6. Al Gore's controversial north pole prediction
A climate scientist claims that Al Gore is taking liberties in his assertions about melting polar ice. Climate change skeptics jump on the story, while Gore defends the claim.

7. A glut of 1200 limos and 140 private jets
The UN endures a "PR nightmare" as newspapers report on the massive fleets of gas-guzzling private jets and luxury cars ferrying VIPs to, and around, Copenhagen. To meet conference demand, limos are brought in from as far away as Sweden and Germany.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week