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COP15 Copenhagen: A Road To Ecocide

By Ghali Hassan

27 December, 2009

The outcome of the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen was “a gross violation of the tradition of the United Nations”. We have been asked “to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries. It's a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces”, said Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese negotiator for the group of 132 developing countries, known as the G77. Copenhagen was exposed as a complicity to accelerate the threat of ecocide.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the leaked ‘Danish text’ “was intended by Denmark and rich countries to be a working framework, which would be adapted by countries ... It is particularly inflammatory because it sidelines the UN negotiating process and suggests that rich countries are desperate for world leaders to have a text to work from when they arrive [to the meeting in Copenhagen]”. It proposes that developing countries be forced to agree to specific emission cuts and measures, and for rich countries to emit nearly double that of poorer ones.

Sweden’s Environment Minister, Mr. Andreas Carlgren described the Copenhagen meeting a disaster that needed rescuing. Minister Carlgren blamed the U.S. and China for hijacking the meeting and agreeing to a “deal” without the support of the rest of the world. “The great powers, they are always able to live without an international system ... We expect them also to make sure that we can create an international common system with common rules and common tools to fight climate change”, said Minister Carlgren.

James Hansen, the world’s leading climate scientist, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and professor of Atmospheric Science at Columbia University in New York, was pleased that the talk at Copenhagen ended in failure. He told Amy Goodman: “They [Western politicians] were talking about having a cap-and-trade-with-offsets agreement, which is analogous to the Kyoto Protocol, which was disastrous. Before the Kyoto Protocol, global emissions of carbon dioxide were going up one-and-a-half percent per year. After the accord, they went up three percent per year. That approach simply won’t work”, said “We need an honest agreement which addresses the fossil fuels problem. And unless we address that and put a price on [greenhouse gas] emissions, we can’t solve the problem”, he said (See: Dr. Hansen interviewed by Amy Goodman on, 22 December 2009).

The U.S. contribution to the Copenhagen meeting was what everyone expected; a setback to avert serious climate disaster. It is best summarised by Bill McKibben of Mother Jones magazine: “The President of the United States did several things today with China, India, Brazil and South Africa:

(1) He blew up the United Nations. The idea that there is a world community that means something has disappeared tonight.

(2) He formed a league of super-polluters, and would-be super polluters. China, the US, and India don't want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way. It is a coalition of foxes who will together govern the henhouse.

(3) He demonstrated the kind of firmness and resolve that Americans like to see. It will play [brainwashing] well politically at home and that will be the worst part of the deal”.

“Just as George Bush did in the approach to the Iraq war, Obama went behind the backs of the UN and most of its member states and assembled a coalition of the willing to strike a deal that outraged the rest of the world. This was then presented to poorer nations without negotiation. Either they signed it, or they lost the adaptation funds required to help them survive the first few decades of climate breakdown”, writes the Guardian columnist George Monbiot.

Obama’s unilateral announcement of a “deal” has been rejected by the majority of world’s nations. The deal locks developing countries, particularly the poor of developing countries “into a cycle of poverty forever”. “Obama has today eliminated his differences with [George W.] Bush”, said Di-Aping. “What is Obama going to tell his daughters? That their [Kenyan] relatives’ lives are not worth anything? It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West we [Africans] are still considered ‘disposables’ “. “My good friends … we’ve got to get together and fight the fight”, he added.

To produce a flawed deal, the U.S. and its allies played their “divide and coerce” card well, manipulating and buying off fewer nations to back their detrimental action. With South African stooges and Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi at hand, unity among African nations proved to be fragile to stop the few who are willing to participate in Western-orchestrated ecocide. Even the Philippines, among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, succumbed to Western demand and money. “What we actually have to do is solve the problem, not pay people off. And that requires reducing emissions”, said James Hansen. In other words, all nations have to mutually agree to a binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. with 5 per cent of the world’s population consumes 25 per cent of the world’s energy. So, the U.S. as the second largest polluter doesn’t add up. The U.S. military is the worst polluter of CO2 and other highly toxic and radioactive pollutants in the air, water and soil (See: Sara Flounders, Pentagon's role in global catastrophe, International Action Centre, 18 December 2009). The U.S. military is the most destructive ecocidal/genocidal war machine on the planet, destroying ecosystems on massive scale the world over.

Meanwhile, China which is considered the world’s largest emitter of CO2 despite more than 25 per cent of China’s emissions are generated by Western-owned sweatshops manufacturing cheap goods for Western markets, has been used to provide Western politicians with a scapegoat. China is doing far more to reduce emissions than any other polluter. For example, in November 2009, China announced that it would decrease its carbon emissions by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels. In contrast, the U.S. announced in November 2009 that it would reduce its carbon emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 levels (Euromonitor International, 14 December 2009).

The poor and least developed countries, which will carry the burden of climate change, demanded that the maximum global temperature rise to be limited to but to 1.5°C (Celsius) not to 2°C. Because a 2°C increase in global temperature, which requires an emission cap of no more than 1 trillion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, means a 3°C to 3.5°C increase in African temperature. This will be a disaster for millions of people in Africa alone. However, according to leaked document, the plan put forward by rich nations is to increase the temperature not by 2°C, but actually by 3°C.

For Small Island nations, like Tuvalu and the Maldives, “[t]hat would mean that we won’t be around. That would mean the death of us. And that’s really not acceptable for us. We cannot survive with that kind of temperature rise. Sea levels would rise. We are just 1.5 meters above the water. And if we have sea levels rising to seventy, eighty centimetres, that’s going to eat up most of our country. So we won’t be around”, said President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives.

The island nation of Tuvalu, which is the most threatened by global warming, and most of the South American countries have already rejected the accord. Tuvalu representative Ian Fry said the agreement amounted to Biblical betrayal. “Our future is not for sale. I regret to inform you that Tuvalu cannot accept this document”.

Most civil societies and environmental groups were unhappy with the deal. Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said: “World leaders failed to avert catastrophic climate change. People everywhere demanded a real deal before the summit began and they are still demanding it. We can still save hundreds of millions of people from the devastation of a warming world, but it has just become a whole lot harder.”

Friends of the Earth International chair, Nnimmo Bassey, has called the outcome of the Copenhagen meeting: “an abject failure”. He said: “By delaying action [and ignoring global warming destructive impact on the Earth life support systems], rich countries have condemned millions of the world's poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates”.

Meanwhile, in Australia – the OECD's biggest per-capita polluter –, Australia’s everything “scientist” and the establishment mouthpiece, Dr. Tim Flannery was in exiting mood: “[I]f I was to sum it up in a single phrase I'd say this has been a good, successful meeting. I think that our prime minister has played an outstanding role. He has been working very hard for the last few months ... and he has just been fantastic all the way”. Flannery, who studied English and Kangaroos at university, rose to fame in 1994 by blaming Aborigines (as “The Future Eaters”) for the destruction of Australia’s flora and megafauna. His “research” is descriptive and lacks any empirical data.

The Australian Greens Deputy Leader, the Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne, a passionate advocate of the environment, described the deal agreed by few politicians at the Copenhagen meeting, a “superficial last-minute statement … with no substantive progress made on any of the critical issues”. She said: "Kevin Rudd should be held personally responsible, as he said he would be, not only for refusing to do what everyone knows is necessary, but also for trying to bully those who wanted real deal into accepting his greenwash”. The Australian delegation, the world’s largest, went to Copenhagen without a coherent policy on climate change, but with access baggage full of empty rhetoric.

Greenpeace's Steve Campbell said the ‘deal falls far short of what scientists say needs to be achieved to arrest climate change’. "This deal fails on both tests. So really it's a deal that's worse than no deal and it's certainly not the outcome that we expected from our political leaders this week", he said.

On the last day of the Copenhagen meeting, a disappointed Lumumba Di-Aping said: “This deal will definitely result in massive devastation in Africa and Small Island nations. It has the lowest level of ambition you can imagine. It’s nothing short of climate change scepticism in action”. “The architecture of this deal is extraordinarily flawed. What has happened today has confirmed what we have been suspicious of – that a deal will be superimposed by the United States ... on all nations of the world.” And “I am absolutely convinced that what Western governments are doing is NOT acceptable to Western civil society”, he added.

COP15 Copenhagen has failed because the intransigence of few rich polluters to commit to an honest and science-based goal to reduce global temperature in an international binding treaty. It was self-serving ignorance that will condemn the entire planet to climatic oblivion.

The only way to avert the threat of ecocide is for the rich and developed countries to recognise that reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on economic development and protection of the environment is of paramount importance for the future of humanity.

Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.


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