Fun with fossils

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It began 10 years ago as a small-scale touch of satire: a wee plastic T. Rex and a lump of coal, awarded to the nation deemed to have done most to have held up, diluted or sabotaged world climate talks.

Now the "Fossil of the Day" award has developed Oscars-style glitz, with red velvet curtains, evening dress, a podium and gleaming trophies... but, true to its roots, the little dinosaur and lump of coal are still there.

The mock presentation is staged every day at the two-week annual conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Its organisers are Climate Action Network (CAN) International, an umbrella group of more than 450 green groups.

Before a friendly crowd several hundred strong at the Bella Center, the first Fossil of the Day presentation of the Copenhagen talks began on Monday to the swelling strings of the theme music to "Jurassic Park."

"Fossil of the Day / Fossil of the Day / Who is bad? / Who is worse?" sang the throng.

Award emcee Ben Wikler of, dazzling in tuxedo, pleated white shirt and button studs, asked a fellow activist - a young woman delightfully clad in blue silk as Denmark's "Little Mermaid" - to withdraw the winners' envelopes from a safe.

The day's winners (roll of drums...) were, in third place: Canada, for lagging on tackling carbon emissions; second: Sweden, Finland and Austria, for backing "a devious EU proposal" allowing them to increase logging; and, in first place, all the industrialised countries, for having "a profound deficit of ambition for cutting carbon."

Saudi Arabia picked up a "dishonourable mention" for saying Climategate - the controversy surrounded hacked emails exchanged among climate scientists - sowed public doubt about the evidence for global warming.

The daily awards will climax on December 18 with the announcement of the "Grand Fossil" - the country that CAN activists say has tallied most points in climate thuggery.