The hopes of many have been dashed, when over the last weekend President Obama and the assembled leaders of the APEC 2009 meeting in Singapore expressed doubts that any breakthrough towards arresting climate change can be made during the Copenhagen Summit next month. It was generally hoped that measurable targets for all countries would be agreed in Denmark, which would at the latest by 2050 cut the present global emission of greenhouse gases into half.

Even the Danish Prime Minister, main host of the UN’s Copenhagen meeting, addressing the APEC Summit as a guest speaker did not stem the growing tide of delayers, ditherers, and ponderers from among the APEC leaders. In the end, he expressed his disappointment before his flight home and made it clear he no longer expected a major accord resulting from the global meeting.

The Asian leaders, including those of nations with the most to lose if compelled to give way and accept measurable reductions in carbon emissions, did little to conceal their relief over this development. The former US administration of George W. Bush was notorious to pull away from the Kyoto Agreement agreed to by the Clinton administration, and China and Russia, both also Pacific nations, have ever since been more than just reluctant to join honest negotiations towards a deal in Copenhagen. However, even India has been on the go-slow towards Copenhagen, shying away from contributing their own goals to a global climate rescue deal in favor of keeping and stepping up further their own industrial development pace. One of the most controversial issues for discussion, is an agreed reduction of carbon output by all nations, in particular the industrialized world, plus China, India, and Russia, and the demand by the African Union member countries to get compensation for the fallout of climate change caused by Europe, America, and Asia to the detriment of Africa.

The now proposed two-step approach, floated by the APEC participants, leaves one to wonder what these countries have been doing in recent years in regard to their preparation for the Copenhagen meeting and it has taken them until the very last moment to admit they are either not prepared or ill prepared to come with hard facts to the meetings, while the less well-facilitated and financially poorly-equipped African countries were holding meeting after meeting in recent months to prepare a joint position. In fact, there are growing murmurs that several of the APEC countries have acted in bad faith up to this point and led the rest of the world on about their honest participation, using the APEC Summit in Singapore to throw the proverbial spanners into the works at this late stage.

The US and China alone are responsible for more than 40 percent of global emissions, and when Russia and India are added to this list, these four big contributors to carbon emissions are also the most reluctant countries to engage in concrete measures and make specific proposals towards their own fair share of the reductions necessary to help the world mitigate the worst fallout of the present climate change.

France and Brazil have already reacted with anger over the developments and made it very clear that they are not prepared to engage in an agreement with other countries only to have those four tell the rest of the world to wait until tomorrow, which may never come. A reaction from the African countries about these delaying tactics is expected in due course, but in eastern Africa, consternation spread among governmental circles when the news broke.

Meanwhile, as the spoilers are hard at work to end all reasonable chances for a full agreement in Copenhagen and seem to get away with yet another postponement of an urgently-needed global deal, the ice caps of the east African mountains keep shrinking; drought and flood cycles continue to wreak havoc on populations, livestock, and wildlife; and the burden on Africa from the fallout of global warming and climate change is getting worse. There is speculation now that Africa may hit back by holding the Doha trade negotiations in equal suspense until a climate change agreement is within reach and a new timetable and acceptable compensation package have been agreed to after key African leaders, including Ugandan President Museveni, met in Addis Ababa during the week to discuss their strategy for the Copenhagen Summit and formulate their demands on the industrialised nations to help Africa mitigate climate change and adopt green technologies.