Friday, December 18, 2009

Going down in flames

The statements by heads of state this morning all staked out fairly hard line positions largely defending their own interests - positions that you would expect at the beginning of negotiations, but not at the conclusion of a successful meeting.

  • Wen Jiabao (China) said that China is making great strides in developing toward a low carbon economy, but as a poor (Annex 2) country, does not have the same obligations as the industrialized nations
  • Lula de Silva (Brazil) made the case that while climate change is critical, the goal of poor people having 3 meals a day is still in the future for many areas, and should not be sacrificed.
  • Barack Obama (US) argued that the US is doing its part, but everyone else (read China) must also do their part before they commit to more stringent targets
  • Pakalitha Mosisili (Lesotho) maintained the position of least developed countries that the Kyoto Protocol must remain as the foundation of a climate change agreement. He said that LDCs are willing to adapt, but developed countries must lead the effort at mitigation and financing
  • Alvaro Uribe (Colombia) heralded their forest preservation efforts in the Amazon, spending a lot of his time linking drug trafficking to environmental change
  • Manmohan Singh (India) held out hope that while the agreement likely to come out of Copenhagen will probably fall short of expectations, it may be a useful benchmark for future attempts to reconcile the widely divergent interests at stake. He said that differentiated responsibility must still be bedrock of agreement, following prior agreements to uphold Kyoto and Bali, and must respect the need for development to continue in poor regions
  • Dmitry Medvedev (Russia) plugged climate justice and differentiated responsibility, and suggested that everyone must do more than what is on the table, with Russia is ready to take a leading role
  • Myung-Bak Lee (Korea) said that they (& several others, like Mexico and Switzerland) are trying to bridge the gaps between rich and poor nations with new initiatives, and criticized the "me-first" attitudes of many of the parties
  • Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia) argued that it's time to make the necessary decisions, and act accordingly, re-iterating the principles that have already been negotiated since Rio & Kyoto
  • Jacob Zuma (South Africa) developed countries must sacrifice emissions so as not to further harm developing countries, while allowing LDCs to develop
  • Yukio Hatoyama (Japan) chided that world leaders are falling short of their responsibilities, and must rise above their national interests to save the future
  • Tillmann Thomas (Grenada), speaking for small island states, expressed disappointment at the inadequate level of ambition shown in the negotiations, urging full implementation of Kyoto-track actions
  • Fredrik Reinfeldt (Sweden), for the EU, which he held up as an example of compromising in coming to their position to make strong emissions targets, saying that they have delivered - it is time for others, particularly the US and China, to similarly take responsibility.
  • Nafie Ali Nafie (Sudan), for the G77, focused on extending the Kyoto Protocol as basis for agreement
  • Jose Barroso (European Commission) summarized that it's "obvious that we would not get what we hoped for" but are making progress. A main step is toward funding agreements
  • Evo Morales (Bolivia) decried the lack of action and transparency in the negotiations among the largest powers. We are debating whether we will live or die - if we can not depend on the presidents to agree, we should put this to the people to decide and take responsibility.
  • Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) brought things to a colorful conclusion, making fun of Obama's appearance through the back door (and immediate departure through it after his few minutes of speaking) - 'that is how the Yankee empire is going to lead us - through this undignified back door.' He said a secret paper through the back door, produced by countries who feel they are superior to others, is fraudulent and lacks transparency. "If the climate system were a bank, it would be saved by now... Capitalism is the way to the destruction of the planet."
They all paid lip-service to the grave collective threat of climatic change, but it is abundantly clear that for most, individual economic interests are still at the forefront of this discussion, with little progress was made toward reconciling them.

Here is a link to the video if you would like to listen to any of these speeches.

1 comment:

  1. I was directed to your blog yesterday and have managed to catch up quite a bit. I appreciate both the information and commentary; well done. From a completely non-technical but citizen-of-the-world view, this conference has been highly frustrating and sometimes baffling. It's embarrassing when Hugo Chavez makes the most cogent statement: "If the climate system were a bank, it would be saved by now."


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