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Copenhagen Blog 2: Dirty Tactics, from WTO to UNFCCC
Kirsty Wright, WDM climate justice campaigner, writes from Copenhagen.
Last night I went to the first briefing of Climate Justice Now, a network of campaigners mainly from the global south who are focusing on a just outcome on climate change. The discussion focused on sharing information from around the world on key climate justice issues within the negotiations: climate debt, the World Bank, forests, carbon trading and rich country emission levels.
Having long campaigned for trade justice, the kinds of dirty tactics used by rich governments at international negotiation to twist the arms of the global south shouldn’t come as any surprise, but I still found myself outraged to hear some of the reports from around the world.
Developing countries are facing considerable pressure from rich countries. There’s a lot of confusion around the process, and in spite of requests for clarity, the secretariat are not providing which is massively frustrating for the G77, which have nowhere near the negotiation capacity of rich countries. Rich countries are playing at politics of divide and rule, playing countries off against each other. Recently, the UK stated that rich countries should be providing $10 billion of climate finance, which was seen as little more than a bribe. One G77 official was heard stating “This isn’t even enough to pay for our coffins”. Last week, the Filipino Bernarditas de Castro Muller, the G77’s lead negotiator and one the strongest and most respected developing country government voices on climate talks, was left off the list of the Filipino delegation shortly after a visit by Hillary Clinton. Fortunately, Sudan as the G77 chair managed to get her in on their delegation, but it demonstrates once again the dirty tactics rich countries are prepared to use.
As hosts, the Danes are currently behaving in a particularly outrageous way. The protocol is that as hosts, they should be taking a neutral stance, not favouring any side. However, on the contrary, they have been pushing a position somewhere between that of the US and the EU, and convening WTO style ‘green rooms’; small meetings, with selective invites, where secret discussions take place before new text is imposed on the negotiations. This is of course, totally against tradition and spirit of the UN. Today, a draft document that came from the Danes was leaked. This document aimed to increase the power of rich countries, sideline the UN from the process and push all climate finance through the undemocratic World Bank, abandon the Kyoto Protocol and allow rich countries to emit at least twice as much as poor countries in spite of their historic responsibility to lead on emissions cuts. This has of course led to a furious reaction from the Developing country negotiators.
Yesterday evening I went for dinner with Dottie, a campaigner who works in Bangkok, but who is originally from the Philippines. Dottie told me that if the rich world continues to emit more than its fair share, it’s estimated that by 2050, three quarters of the seven thousand islands that make up the Philippines could be under water. Though the Philippines does not count as a small island state, it faces many of the same issues. Understandably for Dottie, one of the most important issues in the negotiations was around emissions cuts.
Currently, the only international binding treaty that exists internationally on emissions reductions is the Kyoto Protocol. Though the media spin would have us believe that the Kyoto Protocol is due to expire in 2012, this is not the case. On the contrary, 2012 is actually meant to be the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, where rich countries continue to lead with emission reductions. At the last preparatory meeting before Copenhagen, developing country delegations woke up to the realisation that rich world governments were trying to replace the Kyoto Protocol with something much weaker. They are not actively trying to kill it as such, this would be to obvious and cause too much outrage. Instead they are simply trying to take everything important out of it and walking away rendering it irrelevant and leaving it to die.
It’s fair to say, that at the outset of the Kyoto Protocol, there wasn’t much support for it, particularly from people focused on global justice. However, campaigners now find themselves in an ironic position where they are pushing hard to hold on to even this flawed agreement, an indication of how far of things are from where they need to be for a just deal. Of course, we will continue to push for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Period which is stronger, that isn’t reliant on flawed market mechanisms and that has justice at its heart. But there’s currently a long way to go.
The rest of my time has been spent meeting with activists from across Europe and the global south, planning towards activities that will send a strong message that we won’t stand by and let ourselves and the lives of the world’s poorest people be dragged headfirst into a climate catastrophe, further increasing the division between rich and poor whilst being used as a means to reinforce the power structures that got us into this situation in the first place.
Kirsty is senior campaigns officer at WDM. She campaigns to keep the World Bank out of climate finance and against loans for climate change.