Sheeran agrees. Failure at Copenhagen means technical change continues, albeit in fits and starts. It will remain confined mostly in the developed world, continuing the global technological divide.
It also likely won't force the breakthroughs that can bring the steep emissions cuts necessary to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 350 parts per million - a threshold the globe passed in 1987 and that is seen simultaneously as impossible to reach yet crucial to maintain to avoid the worst climatic effects.
"The faster we can get a price signal the faster we can get across that the era of carbon emissions is coming to an end," she said.
A taste of that new era can found out here on the Colorado prairie, where Weld County Road 4 has been renamed New Energy Drive.
Right now it's the taste of dust. Vestas' two plants are going up faster than Weld and Adams counties can pave the roads to the site, and truck traffic combined with winds whipped the grit across the landscape on a recent autumn afternoon.
But soon it will be the taste of money, or so city leaders hope.
Vestas is bringing 2,000 jobs to the region, and Brighton civic leaders anticipate the creation of another 4,000 as the plant draws ancillary suppliers.
The city spent $40 million in infrastructure improvements last year alone, including $8 million delivering sewage, water, utilities and other upgrades to the Vestas site.
Raymond Gonzales, president of the city's Economic Development Corporation, grew up in Brighton before leaving for Washington, D.C., and a stint in Albuquerque as then-Gov. Bill Richardson's labor secretary.
He remembers when Brighton was a farm town with nothing but a K-Mart distribution center on its outskirts. That's still there, except now it is landlocked by neighborhoods and shopping centers. The city is booming, having evolved from farms to a bedroom community to a live/work place of its own. It has a new hospital, new City Hall, new $5.5 million library. The old Armory re-opened last month as an arts center, the first time Brighton has had such a center since the opera house burned on July 25, 1955.
"Having a federal framework is critical to the success of this," Gonzales said. "Federal policy, state policy has to be in favor of attracting these kinds of investments."
Colorado wants that economy and has put the state policy in place, said James Martin, executive director of Colorado's Department of Public Health and the Environment. Federal and international policies will eventually follow. But in the meantime, he added, there's plenty of work for states and local governments to do.
"I don't think you'll see any retrenchment in Colorado" if federal or international climate mitigation efforts collapse, he said. "These are very large markets that will exist no matter what."
"Copenhagen is tremendously important for a host of reasons," he added. "But our commitment to renewable energy and natural gas are independent of the climate debate in many respects."
"You'll see that across the country," he said. "As industry leaders break out of the pack and demonstrate it can be done, everybody follows."
"It's a new paradigm, but it's a fairly painless paradigm shift."
This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.