Nightly News   |  December 17, 2009

A moment of truth in Copenhagen

Dec. 17: The U.S. and China moved closer to a climate deal at the international summit on Thursday, but critics are asking how effective an incomplete deal will be. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.

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>> son. andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington.

>>> in what a lot of people see as the moment of truth at that big climate meeting going on in copenhagen , if there is going to be a deal on how to save the planet, according to organizers, and who is going to pay for it, it's got to happen soon because the meeting is almost over. president obama leaves for copenhagen tonight to try to get a deal done. already, secretary of state clinton is there. seems to be having an impact. our anne thompson has been there since the start of this and joins us again tonight from denmark. anne, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. you could call it a game of climate chicken between the world's two biggest emitters, the united states and china. but what happened today at these stalled talks gave a jolt of momentum just before president obama comes tomorrow. secretary of state hillary clinton walked into the bella center and made the first dramatic move.

>> the united states is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries .

>> reporter: this offer is only good, she said, if there is a strong deal, and one that includes cuts in carbon emissions the world can verify, especially in china.

>> i have often quoted a chinese proverb which says that when you are in a common boat, you have to cross the river peacefully together. well, we are in a common boat. all of the major economies have an obligation to commit to meaningful mitigation actions and stand behind them in a transparent way.

>> reporter: china countered in the afternoon, saying deal or no deal , it could cut its carbon intensity 40% to 45% by 2020 , and seemed to give a little on having its emissions monitored.

>> we can also consider international exchange dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive, that does not infringe upon china's sovereignty.

>> reporter: observers concede it is far from complete.

>> i am more optimistic than yesterday that we can come out of here with a fairly solid deal.

>> reporter: now, if they can agree on verification and financing, united nations officials say there is already consensus on two other issues before a station in green technology transfer, all which could be rolled into one big deal . first, there is one more long night for negotiators.

>> a snowy night, at that. anne thompson in copenhagen , thanks.

>>> also overseas, the u.s. today