A Night at Hamlet's Castle: Much Ado About ... What?

Saturday night brought one of the plum events of Copenhagen, at least for the business crowd assembled in this city: a conference held at Kronborg, also known as Hamlet's Castle, in Elsinore, about 50 kilometers from Copenhagen's city center. The 250 or so well-coiffed business executives who made the trek here did so in large part by the efforts of Danish media magnate Erik Rasmussen, a Michael Bloomberg sort whose business publication, Monday Morning, is the hub of a influential think tank that has placed Rasmussen at the center of the Danish business world.

Rasmussen created the Copenhagen Climate Council, a global collaboration between business and science, the host of tonight's event, cheekily titled, "To be, or not to be? New leadership for a sustainable economy" -- a rather ironic title, perhaps, given that this is a moment calling for bold, unequivocal decisiveness from the business community, not Shakespearean dithering.

It's hard not to be drawn to the Bard's quotes while sitting in this storied building, built in the 1420s and considered one of northern Europe's most important Renaissance castles. Will a climate agreement by any other name smell as sweet? Will a departure from business as usual be such sweet sorrow? Is all that glitters here truly green? Okay, I'll stop now. All's well that -- oh, never mind.

Where was I?

Saturday night's nearly four-hour program brought an impressive array of speakers, mostly chief executives of companies from around the world: utilities and energy companies, high-tech giants, finance powerhouses, and the odd multinational (Diet Coke, anyone?). It was well orchestrated -- brief speeches followed by discussions and audience questions (which were mostly underhand softballs), blissfully devoid of droning monologues and PowerPoint slides. Impressive stories: how China Power has closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants and installed 3,000 gigawatts of clean power, about 15 percent of its total capacity; how a Danish dairy is creating carbon-neutral milk; how a U.S. utility is reducing emissions at coal-fired power plants in China.

And then dinner, held in King Frederiks II's Wine Cellar in the basement, where the discussion continued to flow.