Much has been written about the Copenhagen Climate Summit, as the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference—including the 15th Conference of the Parties [COP15] to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] and the 5th Meeting of the Parties [MOP5] to the Kyoto Protocol—has come to be called.
Hundreds of millions of US Dollars were spent on this chaotic, disastrous nightmare of a frantic summit. That is a hell of a lot of money to burn for bickering and filibustering to finally take note of the “Copenhagen Accord“, which no spin-doctoring can mispresent as anything use- or meaningful.
But it’s not the failed negotiations that upset me most.
It is two other aspects – it is how we were ridiculed by power twice.
Firstly, I am upset about the unashamed and disgusting display and abuse of state power. More than 122 million US Dollars—$122.000.000,00—were spent to secure Copenhagen, and none of it was pretty.
The tip of the iceberg: protests were undermined by deployed undercover officers, phones of activists were tapped, meetings were infiltrated…
Protesters were kettled and arrested in vast numbers—thousands—to be wagoned off to steel cages in a former beer warehouse especially constructed for the climate conference apparently called “GuantÃ¡namo Junior”. It’s difficult to see how this could not be called mass repression.
While there is hope that most of this shit will turn out to have been violating the European Convention of Human Rights, we would be lying to ourselves if we continued to praise existing channels of participation as meaningful if even our most basic democratic and human rights are violated so shamelessly.
Secondly, I am upset by the idiocy of the civil society movement. Most NGOs were quick to blaim Obama and claim that the US had wrecked the climate negotiations by demanding too much while offering too little, a sentiment speedily reproduced in the media. But as Mark Lynas—a British author, journalist and environmental activist—points out, many developing countries have much more to lose by legally binding agreements because it would impact their coal-driven growth more directly and more quickly.
Lynas, who was advising the Maldives delegation during the summit, argues in his eyewitness account of the final negotiations behind closed doors that “China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful ‘deal’ so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Mark observes that
“the NGO movement is ten years out of date. Theyâ€™re still arguing for â€˜climate justiceâ€™, whatever that means, which is interpreted by the big developing countries like India and China as a right to pollute up to Western levels. To me carbon equity is the logic of mutually assured destruction. I think NGOs are far too soft on the Chinese, given that itâ€™s the worldâ€™s biggest polluter, and is the single most important factor in deciding when global emissions will peak, which in turn is the single most important factor in the eventual temperature outcome. Too many leftist activists are therefore tending to side with the big polluters because they think theyâ€™re standing in solidarity with the worldâ€™s poor.”
Meanwhile India has confirmed that it co-operated with China and other nations to torpedo any legally binding targets at the talks – and while I love the new video of the global youth climate movement, I would much rather hear a well argued response and, more importantly, see a shift in logic and argumentation that leaves antiquated sentiments behind.