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WashPost: Copenhagen Climate Deal Shows New World Order May Be Led by U.S., China

December 20, 2009

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In a Washington Post analysis, Anthony Faiola, Juliet Eilperin, and John Pomfret explain why the Copenhagen talks are an indication that a new world order may be forming with increasing power given to China.

COPENHAGEN -- If the talks that resulted in an imperfect deal to combat global warming provided anything, it was a glimpse into a new world order in which international diplomacy will increasingly be shaped by the United States and emerging powers, most notably China.

Friday's agreement, sources involved in the talks said, boiled down to President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao personally hammering out a pact both could live with, even if many other leaders could not. Wen even squelched his own negotiator's protests.

What Obama heralded as a "breakthrough" -- after getting India and other rising powers to sign on -- was decried by some nations as too little, too late. The leaders of Europe, Japan and other countries at the summit were largely left to rubber-stamp the deal. The Swedish prime minister's office dubbed it "a disaster."

Ever since the concept of a G2was proposed this year by former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the idea that the United States and China together are going to solve all the world's problems has been pooh-poohed by both American and Chinese officials. China hated the notion because it put too much responsibility on a country that has done very well rising in the shadows. Many U.S. officials opposed the idea on the grounds that the best way to influence China was through multinational partnerships.

So, more than anything else, critics said, Friday's climate agreement reflected the domestic political realities in Washington and Beijing. Both nations, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, remain more cautious than, say, the governments of Europe about establishing a strict set of international rules to combat global warming. Not coincidentally, the agreement allows nations to set their own emission reduction targets and provides no deadline for signing a binding international accord.

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