A surprisingly impactful front page of The Guardian today, given that the headline is a non-screaming quote from their own editorial and the only picture an unrelated head and shoulders shot of Helen Mirren advertising Christmas wrapping paper. 

Back in my day (writes a middle-aged old fart) front pages were hidden away till as late as possible – even from colleagues – because sales depended on impact on the news-stands the next morning.

In the 24 hour TV age, no sooner is the front page drawn up than it is being pinged over to the broadcasters in the hope of a bit of free marketing. The Guardian deserves plenty today for its front page editorial on the Copenhagen Summit, which is being published simultaneously in newspapers in 45 countries.

It was seemingly The Guardian’s idea and in the toing and froing over the text, which went on for more than a month, they will have had at least some idea of what it is going to be like at the Summit. Only an idea though. Newspapers merely have to express a view. What the leaders and delegates at Copenhagen have to do is reach decisions which will then have to be translated into legislative and other changes in a host of different political systems and environments.

Throw in the recent mini-surge in voices suddenly (and irresponsibly in the case of most) questioning the science, questioning even the question – is climate change man-made? – and you have a very difficult event for the politicians to handle.

The Guardian rightly points out that we are all going to have to face up to change in how we lead our lives. Seeing that is easy. Making it happen in all the countries of the world is the hard bit. Really hard.

Inside the paper is an article by Gordon Brown, also reflecting on the scale of the challenge, and the neccessity of the leaders to rise to it. Britain has performed an important leadership role in the build-up to Copenhagen, just as John Prescott and his team did pre-Kyoto. GB, and everyone else, has been cheered by Barack Obama’s decision to be there when the talks get down to the nitty-gritty. It is another reminder of the enormous responsibility the US President carries.

‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation’ is the Guardian quote in the headline. Ok, a bit of hyperbole maybe. But not much.

This matters.