Wednesday’s Headlines: Hundreds Arrested, Issues Linger in Copenhagen

BY Jason M. Breslow  December 16, 2009 at 8:00 AM EDT

Danish police and protesters clash Wednesday in Copenhagen; Photo by Adrian Dennis/Getty Images.

–Police push back protesters in Copenhagen on Wednesday, the 10th day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Danish police fired tear gas and arrested more than 200 activists, who accuse negotiators of ignoring their voices. (Photo by Adrian Dennis/Getty Images.)

As international climate talks in Copenhagen enter their final phase, Danish police fired tear gas, wielded batons and arrested 250 people Wednesday during clashes with demonstrators.

Inside the city’s Bella Center, representatives from nearly 200 countries appeared close to completing an agreement that would help compensate countries for preserving forests, as well as other natural landscapes, including swamps and fields.

Yet just as the conference should be making a fresh start with the arrival of more than 110 heads of state over the next 48 hours for the summit’s last stages, pessimism seems to be taking over. The Danish chairwoman of the conference, Connie Hedegaard, announced she was stepping down, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said a new deal over global warming may not happen.

For his part, President Barack Obama, who will appear at the conference Friday, and the U.S. delegation in Copenhagen, is still holding out hope for an accord.

The biggest sticking points remain the amount of money rich countries will offer to help poorer nations cope with climate change, and whether major developing countries, such as China, will agree to binding, verifiable emission reduction targets.

“Privately, people are saying they just can’t believe that everything can be wrapped up by Friday,” Ray Suarez told Jeffrey Brown from Copenhagen on Tuesday’s NewsHour. “And the talk now is shifting to what an acceptable posture would be for the world’s leaders to leave this place with something, rather than nothing, what the something would be, and how preferable that would be to, in effect, shrugging your shoulders, admitting failure and going home.”

We’ll have more here throughout the day, as well as on tonight’s broadcast, on the climate talks from Ray Suarez and the rest of the NewsHour team on the ground in Copenhagen.

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