President Barack Obama and other world leaders agreed on Sunday that next month's much-anticipated climate change summit will be merely a way station, not the once hoped-for end point, in the search for a worldwide global warming treaty.
The 192-nation climate conference beginning in three weeks in Copenhagen had originally been intended to produce a new global climate-change treaty. Hopes for that have dimmed lately.
But comments by Obama and fellow leaders at a hastily arranged breakfast meeting here on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit served to put the final nail in any remaining expectations for the December summit.
"There was an assessment by the leaders that it is unrealistic to expect a full internationally, legally binding agreement could be negotiated between now and Copenhagen which starts in 22 days," said Michael Froman, Obama's deputy national security adviser for international economic matters.
The prime minister of Denmark, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the UN-sponsored climate conference's chairman, flew overnight to Singapore to present a proposal to the leaders to instead make the Copenhagen goal a matter of crafting a "politically binding" agreement, in hopes of rescuing some future for the struggling process.