"For months the United States and China, by far the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have been warily circling each other in hopes of breaking a long impasse on global warming policy.
They are, as President Obama’s chief climate negotiator puts it, 'the two gorillas in the room,' and if they do not reach some sort of truce, there is no chance of forging a meaningful international treaty in Copenhagen later this year to restrict emissions.
As a senior American team arrived in Beijing on Sunday for climate talks, the standoff was taking on the trappings of cold-war arms control negotiations, with gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions replacing megatons of nuclear might as a looming risk for people across the globe.
Both sides are demanding mutually assured reductions of emissions that are, in the current jargon, 'measurable, verifiable and reportable.' In the background hover threats of great retaliation in the form of tariffs or other trade barriers if one nation does not agree to ceilings on emissions."