Recording reveals dramatic Copenhagen closing

German newspaper Der Speigel has obtained a secret recording of a meeting between heads of state on the final day of the Copenhagen climate-change summit last December. The recording appears to confirm suspicions that China, India and the United States played a wrecking role at Copenhagen. In the recording, Chinese and Indian representatives make it clear that they will not accept any deal that includes concrete global reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions for 2020 and 2050. The United States then uses this as an opportunity to move towards the non-binding approach to reducing emissions that it favours.

The recording features an angry disagreement between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a Chinese Foreign Minister, He Yafei – who attended the meeting in place of Premier Wen Jiabao – in which Sarkozy accuses the Chinese of hypocrisy. The intervention of US president Barack Obama, who is heard to propose seeking “..opportunities for its resolution outside of this multilateral setting” then effectively ends any chance of reaching a global, legally binding deal at Copenhagen.

The United States, China and India, with assistance from South Africa and Brazil, would go on to craft the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding, political agreement, in a separate meeting later that evening.