The United Nation's climate change summit has been billed as the last hope to save the world from itself. Brought on by a rise of man-made greenhouse gases, the earth is slowly inching towards a man-induced climate disaster, urgent for coordinated action...or so the saying went.
But as over 15,000 delegates from over 190 countries convened in Copenhagen Monday to forge a global warming policy consensus, action is likely to be derailed as rifts divide rich and poor nations and popular support wanes amid a shaky economy.
Developing countries, already suspicious of their counterparts, demanded that that rich countries take on even deeper emission cuts, and fund more development in non-industrialized nations.
Tuesday's proceedings also fueled developing nation anger as leaked documents suggested leaders would be asked to sign an agreement that hands over power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in future negotiations, according to UK's Guardian which obtained a copy.
The United Nations played down the importance of such a text, saying it was an informal text distributed for the purposes of consultations, but the damage was already done, with some nations characterizing the talks as the rich strong arming the poor.
Popular support is also waning as the idea of carbon taxes on top of a struggling world economy seems less attractive as it was during boom times.
The Australian Senate last week defeated Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's cap-and-trade legislation, largely due to its job-killing potential in the coal-producing continent. Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, said Thursday there is no question of India accepting a legally binding emission reduction cut.
This all comes as evidence surfaced late November that even the science behind warming was massaged to show that warming was happening more aggressively than data might dictate.
Dubbed climategate, emails leaked from University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) -- long considered an authoritative center of temperature data, modeling and forecasts -- are replete with talk of blacklisting dissenting scientist and journals and manipulating peer review.
It's no wonder support is waning.
Just 51 percent of US adults questioned said they believed carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would cause the Earth's average temperature to increase. Two years ago, fully 71 percent of respondents linked greenhouse gases directly to global warming.