Denmark's Queen Margrethe, centre, gives a toast to German chancellor Angela Merkel, third left, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, left, China's premier Wen Jiabao, third right, South Africa's president Jacob Zuma, second right, Mexico's president Felipe Calderon (R) and other guests during a dinner at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, December 17 2009.
High-level "intensive" talks were underway in Copenhagen on December 18 2009 to try to achieve a deal at the close of the United Nations climate change summit, according to those involved in the talks and international news agencies.
A draft political agreement drawn up by a small group of countries including the UK, US and Australia was rejected during overnight discussions. Delegates described the situation as "confusing" and "desperate", the BBC said.
Sweden, current holding the presidency of the European Union, said that the heads of state and government who met late on December 17 to resolve some problems in the climate negotiations continued their meeting on the morning of December 18.
US president Barack Obama joined the meeting at about 10am Copenhagen time and intensive discussions were underway.
"We have had good, constructive discussions tonight. We hope to be able to reach a political umbrella agreement," Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said after the December 17 late-night talks ended.
Reinfeldt, representing the Swedish EU Presidency, called the December 17-18 meeting, together with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. The talks were chaired by Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
Those attending the meeting included French president Nicolas Sarkozy, German chancellor Angela Merkel, UK prime minister Gordon Brown, South African president Jacob Zuma, Brazilian president Lula da Silva and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.
CNN said that Obama hoped that he could help bridge the divide that has hampered a climate change agreement.
Obama was scheduled to meet premier Wen Jiabao of China, Russian president Medvedev and Brazilian president Da Silva.
The Voice of America said that the remaining question what sort of compromise countries’ leaders could agree on to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to help the most affected and less developed nations of the world cope with global warming.
For the past two weeks thousands of delegates have been meeting in a conference centre on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Their task was to come up with a global plan to deal with climate change.
But, agreement has been elusive. Many of the sessions were taken up with finger pointing and rhetoric of who's to blame for global warming, who suffers most, and who needs to do more, VOA said.
Addressing the conference, Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said that, as he put it, no one has come here with "clean hands."
"The inescapable truth is that we, the developed world, carry the overwhelming historical responsibility for the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Rudd said.
Rudd's message was that the developed world must set things right. But, he also admonished emerging economies to not continue to spew out greenhouse gases.
There have been major differences here at the conference between developed and developing nations and with major emerging economies.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced a major funding initiative with a promise to contribute to a global fund of $100 billion annually to help poor nations deal with climate change, VOA reported.
But, Clinton said that could only happen if all major economies agree on emissions cuts and on proper monitoring of implementation. She made a clear reference to China, with whom the US has been at odds over the issue.
Rudd told delegates that everyone has a stake.
"The truth is that unless we all act together because we are all in this together there will be limited prospects of development because the planet itself will no longer sustain development," Rudd said.
That was much the message from Sarkozy, who admonished his fellow world leaders that failure is not an option.
He warned them they would all have to answer before global opinion and public opinion at home if they failed to act. Science has told us what must be done, he said, and we are the last generation to be able to do it.
In an impassioned speech, Sarkozy said everyone would have to compromise, VOA reported. He appealed to world leaders to sit down and work out their differences and suggested a serious working meeting after Thursday's dinner to do just that.
Initial hopes had been the Copenhagen conference could come up with a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandates emission cuts for most developed nations.
Developing countries are adamant that they want Kyoto extended beyond its 2012 expiration date.
Leaders at the summit have indicated they are looking for a political framework agreement from Copenhagen, with another summit to be held in about six months to work out details and turn it into a legally binding accord.
On December 17, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced optimism that a new agreement would be reached.
Ban acknowledged that negotiations had been proceeding slowly in "one of the most complex and complicated and most difficult processes that you can imagine," but emphasised to journalists that he believes "we can seal the deal, still," in Copenhagen, according to the UN News Service.
All the major players have made important commitments for mitigation and all of the key financial elements needed for a new agreement are on the table, Ban said.
With more than 130 heads of state and government gathered in Copenhagen, "if they can’t seal the deal, who can?" Ban asked, exhorting the leaders to use their common sense, courage and ability to compromise to ensure a new accord is reached.
"We do not have any more time to waste," Ban said.