"President Obama and I were looking for Premier Wen Jiabao in the middle of a large international conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark," she recalls. "We knew that the only way to achieve a meaningful agreement on climate change was for leaders of the nations emitting the most greenhouse gases to sit down together and hammer out a compromise, especially the US and China," she said.
When one considers that the essence of U.S. diplomacy in Asia involves pushing China and India into opposition, forcing these two rivals into an alliance is a remarkable if dubious achievement.
India, for its part, was frank about its identity of interests with China, at least on the issue of climate change India has come out quite well in Copenhagen: Ramesh (Lead):
[Environment Minister] Ramesh said: “A notable feature of this conference is the manner in which the BASIC group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) coordinated their position.
“BASIC ministers met virtually on an hourly basis right through the conference; India and China worked very very closely together.”
“Despite relentless attempts made by developed countries, the conference succeeded in continuing negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol for the post-2012 period”, when the current period of the protocol runs out.
Unfortunately for the United States, the $100 billion gambit and shouldering its way into the PRC/Brazil/India/South Africa confab did not isolate China; instead, the BASIC alliance stepped forward to share the political heat and finesse the creation of a pro forma accord that put the West and Japan on the hook for the $30 billion in immediate aid but accomplished nothing else on the key issues of binding emissions targets or transparency.
"During the last day of the summit (18 December) when the talks had reached an impasse, it was the intention of European Nations and the US to announce the breakdown and hold the four Basic nations (India, China, Brazil and South Africa) accountable for its failure," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said addressing the Aspen Institute of India recently.
Speaking about the talks on the concluding day of the Summit, he said the US President (Barack Obama) kept on saying to the head of state of Bangladesh and Maldives that "you are not going to get money (for climate steps) unless these four guys (BASIC nations) sign the Accord."
He (Obama) made it categorically clear that any money flow to the developing countries will be linked to the Accord provided the four countries of BASIC group come on board, Ramesh said.
"Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did ask me whether India will deny her country this money. This was the line taken by UK and Australia as well.
"Against this background, none of the heads of the four states wanted to be responsible for the breakdown of the talks. China was particularly wary being world's largest green house gas emitter," Ramesh recalled.
This "was the moral line taken at the summit and against this background the Accord was noted," he added.
In an article entitled US envoy rejects suggestion that America bribed countries to sign up to the Copenhagen Accord, the Guardian reported:
Stern added: "We can eliminate any cause or accusation of bribery by eliminating any money."
Post-Copenhagen, the US and China have held continual meetings on MRV and it appears that there isn't too much practical difference between the two sides.
The Guardian reported a WikiLeaks cable with this exchange between the EU's top climate change official and the lead US negotiator:
"I'm actually more concerned about the US's transparency," said Jennifer Morgan, who heads the World Resources Institute's climate and energy program.
One leading US analyst said every time countries make progress on an issue, the United States reminds countries that it might all mean nothing unless China agrees to transparency rules.
"The US is the problem here," the analyst said. "Everybody is so pissed off. Here we are with nothing back home, and acting like bullies."