The New Yorker:

The latest round of international climate negotiations is being held in a petrostate. What could go wrong?

By Elizabeth Kolbert

Cop1 was held in 1995 in Berlin’s International Congress Center, a massive, metal-clad complex that looks like the set for a dystopian movie. Around nine hundred government delegates attended the weeklong negotiating session, along with about a thousand observers from non-governmental organizations. Daimler-Benz brought some electric cars to show off, while young activists brought a steamroller, to convey their opposition to cars. Delegates were invited to take a trip along the River Spree in a solar-powered boat.

Since cop1 was the first of its kind, there were no procedural rules in place, and all decisions had to be made by consensus. Presiding over the negotiations was a young Angela Merkel, then Germany’s minister for the environment. At the last plenary session, when it came time to adopt the session’s final communiqué, a delegate from Saudi Arabia rose to voice an objection. According to one journalist who was present, Merkel simply ignored him. “I think it’s all agreed,” she said, bringing down the gavel.

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