The world looks to Copenhagen "to witness what I believe will be an historic turning point in the fight against climate change," says Yd vo de Boer, United Nations organizer of the two weeks of talks opening on Monday.
It may witness, instead, history put on hold.
The change in US administrations a year ago had aroused hopes the long-running climate talks might finally produce an all-encompassing package in 2009 to combat global warming and help its victims.
Too little time and too little agreement, however, especially between rich and poor countries, mean the 192-nation Copenhagen conference is likely to produce, at best, a framework - a basis for continuing talks and signing internationally binding final agreements next year.
Image: Two men roll a green globe during a climate change demonstration in Brussels on December 5, 2009. Nearly 10,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Saturday to call for urgent action against climate change prior to the opening of upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen.