A diplomatic dance ensued. "Ghafoor referred to several projects costing approximately $50m (£30m). Pershing encouraged him to provide concrete examples and costs in order to increase the likelihood of bilateral assistance."
The Maldives were unusual among developing countries in embracing the accord so wholeheartedly, but other small island nations were secretly seen as vulnerable to financial pressure. Any linking of the billions of dollars of aid to political support is extremely controversial – nations most threatened by climate change see the aid as a right, not a reward, and such a link as heretical. But on 11 February, Pershing met the EU climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, in Brussels, where she told him, according to a cable, "the AOSIS [Alliance of Small Island States] countries ".
The pair were concerned at how the $30bn was to be raised and Hedegaard raised another toxic subject – whether the US aid would be all cash. She asked if the US would need to do any "creative accounting", noting some countries such as Japan and the UK wanted loan guarantees, not grants alone, included, a tactic she opposed. Pershing said "donors have to balance the political need to provide real financing with the practical constraints of tight budgets", reported the cable.
Along with finance, another treacherous issue in the global climate negotiations, currently continuing in Cancún, Mexico, is . Hedegaard asks why the US did not agree with China and India on what she saw as acceptable measures to police future emissions cuts. "The question is whether they will honor that language," the cable quotes Pershing as saying.
Trust is in short supply on both sides of the developed-developing nation divide. On 2 February 2009, a cable from Addis Ababa reports a meeting between the US undersecretary of state Maria Otero and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who leads the African Union's climate change negotiations.
The confidential cable records a blunt US threat to Zenawi: . Zenawi responds that Ethiopia will support the accord, but has a concern of his own: that a personal assurance from Barack Obama on delivering the promised aid finance is not being honored.
US determination to seek allies against its most powerful adversaries – the rising economic giants of Brazil, South Africa, India, China (Basic) – is set out in another cable from Brussels on 17 February reporting a meeting between the deputy national security adviser, Michael Froman, Hedegaard and other EU officials.
Froman said the EU needed to learn from Basic's skill at impeding US and EU initiatives and playing them off against each in order "to and avoid future train wrecks on climate".
Hedegaard is keen to reassure Froman of EU support, revealing a difference between public and private statements. "She hoped the US noted the EU was muting its criticism of the US, to be constructive," the cable said. Hedegaard and Froman discuss the need to "neutralize, co-opt or marginalize unhelpful countries including Venezuela and Bolivia", before Hedegaard again links financial aid to support for the accord, noting "the irony that the EU is a big donor to these countries". Later, in April, the , citing opposition to the accord.
Any irony is clearly lost on the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, according to a 9 February cable from La Paz. The Danish ambassador to Bolivia, Morten Elkjaer, tells a US diplomat that, at the Copenhagen summit, "Danish prime minister Rasmussen spent an unpleasant 30 minutes with Morales, during which Morales thanked him for [$30m a year in] bilateral aid, but refused to engage on climate change issues."