In Copenhagen’s final private negotiations, Obama, Brown, Sarko and Merkel sat down with He Yafei, the Chinese vice-minister of foreign affairs. There is a tape of this meeting at Der Spiegel
He Yafei was the smartest guy in the room. Wen Jiabao refused to attend most of the negotiating sessions.
Given the choice of walking out or sitting down with a vice-minister, they chose humiliation. One response of Obama was:
It would be nice to negotiate with somebody who can make political decisions.
There were still two important placeholders, X and Y, in the draft agreement. They marked the spots where the percentage targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, for the industrialized nations and emerging countries respectively, were to be entered.
China and India were unwilling to make that commitment. They had reached their own agreement with Brazil and South Africa.
“We have all along been saying ‘Don’t prejudge options!,’” said a representative of the Indian delegation*, prompting Merkel to burst out: “Then you don’t want legally binding!”
The entire discussion at Der Spiegel in multiple parts should be read while listening to the tape.