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Viewing cable 10COPENHAGEN69, SBU) DENMARK: GOVERNMENT WEATHERS COP-15 AFTERMATH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10COPENHAGEN69 2010-02-05 07:07 2010-12-10 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Copenhagen
VZCZCXRO0171
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHCP #0069/01 0360703
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050703Z FEB 10 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5478
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COPENHAGEN 000069 

SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 

DEPT FOR S/SECC, OES, EUR/NB 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KGHG PGOV PREL DA
SUBJECT: (SBU) DENMARK: GOVERNMENT WEATHERS COP-15 AFTERMATH 

REF: A) 09 STATE 132367 
B) 09 COPENHAGEN 537 

COPENHAGEN 00000069 001.4 OF 003 


(U) SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED--NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION. 

1. (SBU) Summary: Unrealistic public expectations for the outcome 
of COP-15 and initial confusion over how to interpret the Copenhagen 
Accord led to intense media and opposition questioning of Denmark's 
role as host of the conference, in particular focused on PM Lars 
Loekke Rasmussen's performance as President of the COP. In 
response, the Government has defended the Copenhagen Accord as the 
best outcome possible at COP-15 and a positive step forward toward a 
legally binding agreement, and public interest appears to be 
shifting to other issues. 

2. (SBU) While it remains publicly committed to pursue a legally 
binding accord under its COP presidency (which ends in December when 
Mexico assumes that role at the next COP in Cancun), we note signs 
that the Government seeks to play a less exposed role in 
international negotiations this year, preferring to work privately 
with the UN, Mexico, and the EU in search of a way forward. Denmark 
will continue to be a useful partner on climate, especially on 
Copenhagen Accord implementation, and we will continue to work 
closely with the Government and others in pursuit of shared 
interests. End Summary. 

3. (SBU) The Danish Government (like the USG) admits that the 
Copenhagen Accord did not fulfil all its hopes for COP-15, but 
defends the Accord as an important outcome of the COP-15 climate 
conference. Critics, including the parliamentary opposition, have 
criticized the Accord for its non-binding nature and criticized PM 
Lars Loekke Rasmussen for a weak performance as President of the 
15th Conference of Parties (COP-15) climate conference held in 
Copenhagen December 7-18, 2009 (for a complete description of the 
COP-15 endgame and results, see Ref A). 

4. (SBU) National media have fully aired opinions about the 
handling and results of this historic event for Denmark, to the 
point where public interest is beginning to reach saturation levels. 
Most awkward for the Government has been a focus on the PM's 
performance during COP-15. Danish conservative daily 'Berlingske 
Tidende' cites an unnamed Foreign Ministry source who reportedly 
witnessed an angry Prime Minister dressing down his leading climate 
advisor, Bo Lidegaard, in front of Danish delegates during COP15 
after feeling himself humiliated by foreign diplomats when he 
assumed the chair of the conference as it entered the crucial final 
days. Press have also highlighted procedural errors made by 
Rasmussen while in the chair, and the opposition has criticized the 
PM for "throwing in the towel" by giving up the chair in the waning 
hours of the conference after being thwarted by stubborn opposition 
from the ALBA countries to COP approval of the Copenhagen Accord. 
One anonymous analyst charged that the PM was unprepared to assume 
leadership over this international event, and letting him do so was 
equivalent to "throwing him to the sharks." 

Defending the Accord 
-------------------- 

5. (SBU) In several public appearances since COP-15, PM Rasmussen 
and new Climate Minister Lykke Friis have answered pointed questions 
from the press and the opposition on the significance of the 
Copenhagen Accord and the way ahead before Parliament. While freely 
admitting the Accord was not ideal, they have defended it as the 
best agreement possible at COP-15, and an important step forward 
towards a binding international agreement to address climate change. 


6. (SBU) In an appearance before Parliament on January 26, the PM 
was faulted by the opposition for his inability to push through a 
legally binding agreement. Social Democrat climate spokesperson 
Mette Gjerskov criticized a "much too close" Danish alliance with 
the U.S. in the lead-up to the COP, saying "it was not enough just 
to get Obama to town and hope to then buy the votes of developing 
nations." Gjerskov said the PM had chaired COP-15 "as though it was 
a village hall discussion, not a gathering of world leaders," and 
urged the government to admit its mistakes and assume greater 
responsibility for the negotiating process in the lead-up to COP-16 
in Mexico. Continuing, she declared that "it is now over a month 
since delegates saw their COP15 chairman throw in the towel and walk 
out of the conference and nobody has seen or heard from him since. 
No meetings have been called, no strategy has been laid out. 
Where's the leadership? Our Prime Minister seems to be suffering 
from a climate coma." 

7. (SBU) In response, PM Rasmussen defended the accord as the best 
possible outcome and a reflection of "the art of the possible" and 
"the reality of the situation." The PM said the Copenhagen Accord 
was an important step forward towards a binding agreement that 
remains the end goal of the Government. While acknowledging the 

COPENHAGEN 00000069 002.4 OF 003 


opposition had a right to try to label the outcome of the COP a 
'disaster,' the PM said that view displayed "a very modest 
understanding of what was--and is--at stake in the international 
climate debate." On forming alliances, the PM dismissed the 
criticism and indicated that he sees a much broader alliance behind 
the Copenhagen Accord. The accord, he said, was supported by 
countries responsible for more than 80 percent of global 
CO2-emissions. 

Friis to the Front--Still Ambitious 
----------------------------------- 

8. (SBU) Climate and Energy Minister Lykke Friis, who assumed her 
ministerial duties when her predecessor, Connie Hedegaard, stepped 
down just before COP-15 (see Ref B), told Parliament on January 26 
that Denmark was committed to pursuing international collaboration 
on climate change along all tracks (i.e. UN, Kyoto, Copenhagen 
Accord). 

9. (SBU) To do so, she said, Denmark will specifically: 
--Work with EU and other developed countries on delivering the 
finance outlined in the accord; 
--coordinate its efforts with the UN, Mexico, Germany (for the June 
UNFCCC meeting in Bonn); 
--keep working through diplomatic channels, via its embassy climate 
attaches in strategic countries (adding a new one in Mexico City and 
extending its current attache in South Africa, in anticipation of 
South Africa's hosting of COP-17 in 2011); 
--the Minister said she would attend the World Economic Forum in 
Doha January 26-27, and would subsequently visit Delhi (Feb 5-6, 
coupled with a visit to Beijing). 
(Note: Friis' staff told REO on January 26 that she is also 
considering whether and when to continue her predecessor's 
"Greenland Dialogue" process.) 

But Not Too Ambitious 
--------------------- 

10. (SBU) PM Rasmussen has flatly rejected calls from the 
opposition and - intriguingly - from some within the governing 
coalition (specifically from the Conservative Party of former 
Climate Minister and EC Commissioner-designate Connie Hedegaard), 
for more ambitious international leadership by Denmark on climate 
issues in the wake of COP-15. On January 13 during another 
appearance before Parliament, the PM was denounced by Social Liberal 
Party leader Margrethe Vestager for "trying to lead from the back 
seat." Instead, she said, "Denmark could do something on its own. 
We should say: first we will go for 30 percent, and we are willing 
to go even further." 

11. (SBU) Rasmussen responded that "we could say 100 percent. We 
could declare that we will end the consumption of fossil fuels by 
the end of the year, then we would have made a marginal, marginal 
contribution to the fight against global warming. Because even if 
we did, even if the whole EU did, even if all developed nations of 
the world did it, it would still not be enough to reach the 2 
degrees target. We would then probably have set ourselves some 
challenges that are...very challenging financially. It's about 
balance. And I accept that there is a positive competitive effect 
of being a frontrunner, but there is also a competitive disadvantage 
by being too much of a front-runner, and therefore the right place 
for this discussion right here and now is (within) the EU." 

Comment 
------- 

12. (SBU) COP-15 was certainly a disappointment to the Danish 
Government in that it did not provide the public relations boost it 
had hoped for. Yet neither was it a bust--the opposition has not 
been noticeably boosted, and recriminations over COP-15 seem to be 
losing public interest, especially as implementation of the 
Copenhagen Accord gathers steam. Instead, Danes seem eager to leave 
the mixed results of COP-15 behind, choosing to move on to focus 
political debate on other issues. Polls show a slight opposition 
lead over the government, but that edge was not significantly 
affected by COP-15. That said, emerging disagreements within the 
governing coalition and with the opposition over international 
climate negotiations have the potential to play out further, with 
electoral implications. 

13. (SBU) While the outcome of COP-15 is not directly destabilizing 
the Rasmussen Government in the short term, the PM appears chastened 
by his experience and unlikely to risk further high-stakes 
appearances on the international stage. We expect Minister Friis to 
now assume a more visible role enunciating Danish climate policy, as 
Denmark transitions to a more modest role in international 
negotiations. As COP-15 president for the remainder of 2010, 
however, Denmark will remain an important player in international 
climate negotiations, and we will continue to work together with the 

COPENHAGEN 00000069 003.4 OF 003 


Government on shared interests in encouraging full implementation of 
the Copenhagen Accord and building support for an effective 
international agreement. In coordination with the Department, we 
will engage with Minister Friis to exchange views on the best way 
forward. 

FULTON