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From The Times

Quote:December 15, 2009

World leaders 'could boycott failing Copenhagen talks'

[Image: copers_1_660088a.jpg]

(Christian Charisius/Reuters)
Protesters hold banners during a demonstration in Copenhagen
Philippe Naughton in Copenhagen
European ministers worked to salvage a deal at the Copenhagen climate summit today as fears grew that some world leaders, scenting failure in the negotiations, could decide to stay away.

The past several days have been marked by increasingly bitter exchanges between the world's two biggest polluters, China and the United States, and a five-hour walkout by African delegates. The conference chairwoman, Connie Hedegaard of Denmark, today asked a group of European ministers to lead "informal" negotiations on the key blockages.

"It's just like schoolchildren," Ms Hedegaard said today. "If they have a very long deadline to deliver an exercise they will wait for the last moment ... it's basically as simple as that."

It was a remark unlikely to endear her to delegates after a ham-fisted Danish attempt to impose a draft accord at the start of the negotiations.

Gordon Brown is due to arrive in Copenhagen tonight, two days earlier than originally planned, hoping to help break the deadlock. Also arriving in the Danish capital is Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, who has been asked by the Danish premier Lars Rasmussen to act as a "friend of the chair", an intermediary to help keep negotiations moving.

One climate change expert warned, though, that other world leaders could change their travel plans unless there was some progress soon in the ministerial negotiations.

"These are the critical eight hours," said Nick Mabey, chief executive of the UK-based non-profit group E3G. "If they don't make progress people might stop their heads of state coming and that would be a disaster."

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who has also been co-opted as a "friend of the chair", arrived in Copenhagen this morning having warned that "time is running out" for a deal.

The summit reaches its climax on Friday when 120 heads of state, including President Obam, meet in the Danish capital.

The main stand-off at the conference is between major emerging economies such as China and India, whose emissions are expected to soar over the coming decades, and the United States, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and is insisting that any deal must involve sacrifices by newly industrialised economies.

A new draft text released today showed the scale of the deadlock: it lacked any figures on emissions targets nor did it propose a firm date for the "global peaking" of emissions. Britain argues that emissions must start falling by 2020 if a global temperature rise of above 2C is to be averted.

Delegates say that behind-closed-doors negotiations have been marred by bitter exchanges between the Americans and Chinese, with Beijing accusing Washington of "playing tricks". African and many Asian delegates have complained that they have been virtually excluded from the negotiations as China and India throw their weight around inside the developing country bloc.

One Western diplomat said that Ms Hedegaard, the former Danish Climate Minister, was moving too fast for a painstaking, consensus-forging process.

"We shouldn't try and dance ahead of the music. We've got to go a bit more slowly so that the negotiations can move on from the ministers to the heads of state, otherwise we'll get a repeat of yesterday," he added, referring to the African walkout.

The hosts have also been shown up by organisational failures, with thousands of people stranded outside the conference venue for up to eight hours because their accreditations could not be processed quickly enough.

Inside the Bella Centre the consultations began this morning with the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, teaming up with the Ghanian Environment Minister, Sherry Ayittey, to co-chair talks on the long-term financing agreements that are needed to form part of any deal.

Other groups focused on the emissions cuts that developed countries must make under a seven-year extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the action that developing countries should take to play their part in averting catastrophic global warming.

Despite an unfortunate intervention yesterday by Al Gore, who was criticised by a US scientist for exaggerating his research on the melting of Arctic ice, there is a broad international consensus on man-made global warming and its knock-on effects on sea levels and delicate ecosystems.

Meanwhile, the chief US negotiator, Todd Stern, went out of his way today to defend President Obama's offer to start cutting emissions against European complaints that it did not go far enough. Mr Obama offered to cut US CO2 emissions by 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020 — which the EU says equates to a cut of just 3 per cent on the 1990 levels used as a baseline in the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr Stern said that by most measures the US offer was more ambitious than what the Europeans have offered, especially as it increases its emission cuts between 2020 and 2030.

"It's only in the hermetically sealed world of climate change negotiations where a baseline year of 1990 would be treated as sacrosanct," he told reporters. "The US is doing a lot."
AMY GOODMAN: This is Climate Countdown.

PROTESTERS: We are watching you! You know what to do! The number has been set! Pay your climate debt!

NAOMI KLEIN: We are seeing a redefinition of “environmentalism.”

NNIMMO BASSEY: Resist, mobilize, transform!

YVO DE BOER: Well, I think the fact that we’re talking here about very significant money…

SABER HOSSAIN CHOWDHURY: We are suffering the most, but we have not caused the problem in the least. So, for us, it’s a justice issue. It is also a human rights issue.

PROTESTERS: We are watching you! You know what to do! The number has been set!

CONNIE HEDEGAARD: Most speakers who took part in the discussion today emphasized the importance of the Kyoto Protocol.

ASHWINI PRABHA: One-point-five degrees, that’s enough for our little islands in the Pacific to drown. So, people, wake up! Climate change is real!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Climate Countdown. Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” is the unofficial anthem of the COP15 conference here in Copenhagen. Yes, this is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman. And we’re broadcasting from inside the Bella Center, what some might call the Bella of the beast, in this exclusive two-week series on the climate summit.

Negotiations are back on track here at the summit after a walkout yesterday by developing countries highlighted the growing divide between rich and poor nations. African delegates led the walkout, accusing the UN chair of the conference of trying to “kill” the Kyoto Protocol by merging it with a separate negotiating track on a new agreement. Kyoto is the only legal treaty that requires rich nations to slash their greenhouse gas emissions. In a victory for developing nations, it was agreed after several hours that informal talks would proceed along two parallel tracks.

Meanwhile, a group of more than fifty non-governmental organizations are accusing the UN of “undemocratic behavior” for not letting in thousands of NGO representatives into the Bella Center to attend the summit. On Monday, thousands of people already registered to attend waited in line for hours before being turned away. The number of NGO representatives allowed in will be limited to 7,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday, falling to 1,000 on Thursday and just ninety on Friday, as more than 110 heads of state arrive for the talks.

Meanwhile, outside the Bella Center, Danish police are intensifying their crackdown on climate justice activists. Late last night riot police raided Copenhagen’s autonomous community of Christiania as it played host to a party organized by protest groups. More than 200 people were reportedly arrested. This follows the arrest of some 1,200 people over the weekend. That was amidst a march of 100,000 people in Copenhagen.

Bill McKibben was among those marching at the mass protest on Saturday. He is the co-founder and director of Twenty years ago, he published The End of Nature, the first general audience book about global warming.

We’re also joined by the Kenyan global justice activist Wahu Kaara.

And we welcome you both to Democracy Now!

Bill, talk about what’s happening inside, before we talk about major protests planned for tomorrow once again.

BILL McKIBBEN: Most of what’s happening inside, we could have predicted. There is no agreement in sight. Everything’s up in the air. Everybody’s waiting for heads of state to arrive and cut a deal.

The one thing we couldn’t have predicted a few months ago was just how strong and how courageous poor nations, small nations, vulnerable nations are being here. They’re under intense pressure, and yet they’re standing up to it, so far, with great courage.

The flashpoint, really, has been this number 350. People—about a hundred delegations now have endorsed that target and are trying very hard to get it put back into the main text where it was taken out.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain what 350 means, what’s written down your tie right now.

BILL McKIBBEN: Three-fifty is the most important number in the world, though we didn’t know it two years ago. It’s what scientists tell us is the most carbon we can have in the atmosphere, if we want a world that works. We’re already at 390 parts per million CO2. That’s why the Arctic is melting. It’s why Africa is drying up. And it’s why we need this conference to be treating this not as another problem to be dealt with in some incremental, easy fashion, but as the emergency that it is.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you have that sense? You’re from the United States. Do you have that sense among the US delegation, which is being called the key obstructionist country here?

BILL McKIBBEN: No. The US is—I mean, the Obama administration has committed very little political capital to this. The offer that they’ve put on the table, four percent reductions from 1990 levels of carbon by 2020, is less than the agreement—less than the amount we agreed to cut in Kyoto a dozen years ago. It’s a pathetic offer, but it reflects just how little political attention the administration has been willing to pay for it. They’re hiding behind the skirts of the Senate, saying, “Oh, we couldn’t get anything more ambitious through the Senate,” but they haven’t made any effort to do it.

AMY GOODMAN: The Senate, there are several bills now. Explain the difference from “cap and trade” to “cap and dividend.” I think it makes people’s eyes glaze over. Already, global warming presented in the United States is still a debate, whether it is human-made.

BILL McKIBBEN: So, we’re going to have to cap carbon, if we’re ever going to deal with this climate crisis. We’re going to have to cap carbon and bring down the amount we produce. That’s going to make carbon more valuable. It’s going to make fossil fuel more expensive. There are many ways that you could go about doing this. The way that the main bill—the Waxman-Markey, Kerry-Boxer, Lieberman-Graham bill, whatever—does it—

AMY GOODMAN: And I should say, in one hour after this broadcast, Senator Kerry is going to be speaking right here. In fact, for the Democracy Now! viewers who watch on television, right through this glass, in a few minutes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, is going to be speaking here. But, yes, the Kerry-Boxer-etc. bill?

BILL McKIBBEN: That’s the effort to, in essence, cap carbon and round up sixty votes by giving everybody a little piece of the action, every interest group a little piece of the action. Some serious money for nukes, for clean coal, for—we’re kind of buying votes one at a time. It’s one tactic, and—but it’s a pretty messy and ugly process. And it’s not at all clear, with the number of loopholes in that bill, how much it would accomplish.

This other bill introduced last week by Senator Cantwell and Senator Collins is, in its architecture, more interesting. It would take the fees to put carbon in the atmosphere directly from, say, Exxon Mobil, at the very top of the stream, and return them every month via a check to every person in the US. Your price at the pump would go up, as Exxon paid off the cost of this permit to produce carbon, but you’d be getting the check to make you whole every month. It’s a kind of interesting architecture. And there’s, I think, some hope that if it had strong targets attached to it, it could do pretty interesting things.

AMY GOODMAN: Wahu Kaara, as you listen to what’s going on in the United States, from where you live, in Kenya, why are you here, and what are you hoping will be accomplished this week?

WAHU KAARA: I am here because it’s important for the kind of work I work, in organizing and mobilizing social movements for social agency in transformation, to come here and link up with others. And that’s why much of my work has been at Klimaforum. However, I’m also here at Bella Center, because it’s also important to follow up what is happening, even if I find that not much—not so much will be done, like the African people expressed yesterday.

But we have to be here, because the world belongs to us, and we are the people who have alternatives. We are the people to continue reminding the policymakers that we do not have any more time for negotiations, and in particular us from the South, because the more they negotiate, the more we die. And every life is valuable. So, for us who are very much interested in the question of the dignity of human life and human dignity and self-determination and human progress and prosperity, where we are convinced each and every global citizen has a right to participate in making that human prosperity, that’s why I’m here.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. And I want to ask you how you move from working on debt issues around poverty to climate debt, and how they’re connected. Our guests are Wahu Kaara—she is a Kenyan global justice activist. She’ll be one of those on the outside tomorrow in a major Reclaim Power protest. Bill McKibben is with us. He’s inside and outside the Bella Center, as well, co-founder and director of After we speak with them, we’re going to go to the tar sands in Alberta and learn about where the United States gets most of its oil and, finally, a debate on cap and trade. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Angelique Kidjo has been in Copenhagen for the past week in her role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. On Saturday, I had a chance to sit down with the singer just after she spoke before thousands of demonstrators in the front of the Danish Parliament. We went into her trailer.

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: [singing] Agolo, Agolo.

That song, Agolo, means, “Please pay attention.” I wrote this song in 1993. I was talking about the planet, climate change. And here we are in 2009, and nothing has changed. How long are we going to die while the leaders of this world stand by and look at us dying? How long are we going to wait for floods to come and flood away our cities? I haven’t seen snow in Denmark since 1996. That is a sign. Don’t they see it? Where are they living? Which planet are they living in? Are they living on the same planet we are living? What is wrong with our leaders?

My name is Angelique Kidjo. I’m a singer from Benin, West Africa. And I’m here today in Copenhagen because, as a citizen of the world and a child of Africa, I’m a witness of what is going on with the climate change. Farmers in Africa, desperate to have food, to have a crop that is decent enough to be sold and to feed their family. Today it’s getting harder and harder for the families in Africa basically to have a regular life. Rain comes when it’s not supposed to come. And when it comes, it comes so much that it floods everything away. Climate change is not a fantasy; it’s a reality. And I want, from the leaders of the world in this summit, this is the momentum they have to seize.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the big messages coming out of the African nations, the small island nations, the developing world, is this issue of climate debt. And I’m wondering if you could comment on that, kind of reparations to countries that didn’t cause the pollution but are devastated the most by it.

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: Climate debt is something that has to be put in the agreement, because most of the people that are paying a higher cost for the climate change are the countries that have no money and have no say and no action in the climate change. They don’t—they are not the one that pollute the most. Why should they pay the cost? They’re already paying a big and high cost in lives. What do they want from them again? What can we lose more? I mean, what is it going to take for the rich countries to realize that not only that they are jeopardizing the global economy, but they are jeopardizing the lives of the very people that vote for them and put them in offices everywhere around the rich countries.

AMY GOODMAN: Angelique Kidjo, people might say, you have this magnificent voice; why don’t you save it for music? Why get involved with politics?

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: As a singer, I have a voice to tell people, together, we can make a change. I’ve written a song in 1993 about the environment. And that song, the video of that song has been nominated in the Grammy, competing with the Rolling Stones, Pet Shop Boys, Jurassic Park, and so on and so forth, because I realized at that time, as I was pregnant of my daughter, that three times a day my garbage cans were full. Why do we need to consume so much?

I care for people. I care a lot and have been [inaudible] that since I was born, because I believe in life. I believe in us as humanity, within our diversity and unity, to be the future, the today and the yesterday. And we have to do that by preserving Mother earth. She nourishes us. She nurtures us. If we don’t take care of Mother Earth, there’s no more humanity. We think otherwise is arrogant and is deadly arrogance.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama only mentioned climate once in his Nobel Peace address, though he was using it to justify the war in Afghanistan.

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: I think that President Obama comes to power in a very difficult time. And I think he will have to take step by step and make sure that the decision that he made will last long and will become a legacy for the next generation to come. He was at the Nobel Peace Prize to receive a prize, and it’s up to him to say whatever he wants to say.

What I want Mr. President Obama to do is to think about his two daughters, because we’re talking about their future. If there’s no more safe planet for Sasha and Malia, then there’s no more place for my daughter Naima. And as a parent, I urge him to do everything in his capacity, because he loves dearly his daughters and his wife. Just those three people in his life have to make him go back to bed and think about it again and press whoever need to be pressed for something to be done. And I have hope and faith in him.

AMY GOODMAN: The name of the song you wrote about the environment?

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: It’s called “Agolo,” which means “Please pay attention.”
VANDANA SHIVA: This is what earth democracy looks like: the diversity, the integrity, the joy, the beauty. That’s what we are going to build on. What’s happening at COP15 is the death of democracy. It’s an attempt to undo twenty years of work on a legally binding agreement. People are not in Copenhagen to bury the climate treaty; they are here to implement it, with an acceleration.

To the governments who would like to cheat the world, cheat the earth, cheat their own people, like the Danish government, which comes with a mysterious text out of nowhere, or the United States government that is playing games with India and China to undo the international obligations, we want to tell you from before, when you arrive for your political service circus, we will not be supporting you. We will not be cheering you.

We know we need climate action now. I come from the Himalaya. I just had an office in Delhi; I don’t live in Delhi. It’s a polluted city. The automobile has taken over. I come from the Himalaya. Our glaciers are melting. Our villages are getting flooded out or drying up. Agriculture is collapsing. Ninety percent of the food production in my area has collapsed in this year. Seventy percent of the streams have dried up. And that is not happening because of what the local people did. My journey in the environment movement began with Chipko, where women came out to hug the trees. We are now hugging our mountains and telling the polluters, “You’ve got to stop polluting, because you are stealing our water, you are stealing our food, you are stealing our snows.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from Saturday’s protests in Copenhagen, produced by Jacquie Soohen. That last voice, Vandana Shiva, the world-renowned environmental leader and thinker from India.

On Sunday, I caught up with her at Klimaforum, the People’s Climate Summit, which is taking place across Copenhagen from the Bella Center, where the official talks are taking place. I asked Vandana Shiva for her assessment of President Obama and what he represents at the climate change talks.

VANDANA SHIVA: I think President Obama represents a captive White House, captive to the industrial interests and the corporate interests of America. I would like to see President Obama represent Michelle’s organic garden. But he doesn’t bring the organic solution to Copenhagen. He brings, first and foremost, the juggling of figures, a reduction that will be of four percent, which is announced as a 16 percent reduction, but, even more, the juggling of politics, where, behind all this, he tries to say we don’t need the UN treaty, we don’t need to sign onto the Kyoto Protocol. During his elections, he talked a lot about joining the Kyoto Protocol. I think the most important thing President Obama could do would be sign the Kyoto Protocol and then shape it democratically.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your message to him as he comes this week to Copenhagen?

VANDANA SHIVA: My message to him is, do not destroy the international treaty; abide by it, and enlarge and deepen it. But do not dismantle it, because you will be dismantling the only legal framework the world has to make the polluters pay, to create a system in which we can start shifting from a fossil fuel-driven civilization to a renewable energy-driven civilization.

AMY GOODMAN: Who are the interests you say he is captured by in the United States?

VANDANA SHIVA: He’s captured by agribusiness, which wants to sell more fertilizers, like Cargill. He’s captured by the Monsantos, who would like to continue industrial agriculture and take the GMO way. He’s captured by the automobile industry, that will continue to—continue to sell new automobiles. What’s it called? “Chunkers for Cash”? Cunker?

AMY GOODMAN: Clunkers.

VANDANA SHIVA: Clunkers for Cash. Keep making more cars. Keep destroying them. Plunder the planet. And somehow the planet will get saved. And, of course, the oil industry. All of this.

AMY GOODMAN: For those who debate in the United States, still the issue is, is global warming caused by human beings? What message do you have to them? Very concretely, the evidence of this around the world?

VANDANA SHIVA: I don’t think we should talk about what’s happening only as global warming. What’s happening is climate instability, and it is threatening lives. I’ve just shown a film this morning of what climate instability is doing to peaceful communities of the Himalaya, who never use fossil fuels. But today their glaciers are disappearing. Today, instead of snow, they’re getting rainfall that washes away their villages in flash floods. We have climate instability.

And to the climate skeptics, I would say, just look around you. Look at the season. Remember Katrina. All these extreme events are part of climate instability and climate uncertainty. That is happening; no one can deny. And we’d better be prepared to deal with it.

AMY GOODMAN: There is a big campaign here called “Hopenhagen.”


AMY GOODMAN: Among the corporate sponsors are Coca-Cola.


AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the global effects of Coca-Cola?

VANDANA SHIVA: Yeah, my heart just sank, because when I got off the flight, the first thing I saw was a Coca-Cola bottle, “Hopenhagen.” Well, if you’ve been to Plachimada, India, where 1.4 million liters, 1.5 million liters were extracted by Coca-Cola every day, and—

AMY GOODMAN: Liters of water?

VANDANA SHIVA: Liters of water to make these soft drinks and to do the bottling of water. The women had to rise up against Coca-Cola. The women had to say, “Shut this plant down, because we are having to walk ten miles to get clean and safe water.” That would not be Hopenhagen. The women of Plachimada would not see hope in a Coca-Cola bottle.

AMY GOODMAN: Where is Plachimada?

VANDANA SHIVA: Plachimada is a little village in Kerala where the women organized and shut down a Coca-Cola plant, and this triggered a movement across India. Three plants have been shut down. Coca-Cola does not bring hope, and Coca-Cola should not be the symbol of finding solutions for the climate crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the effect of climate disruption on cultures?

VANDANA SHIVA: The most important disruption of climate havoc on cultures is fear. Peaceful communities start becoming scared. For example, this year, as the monsoon failed in India, and its failure was much more extreme than normal droughts, farmers have waited to get a crop, and they haven’t got a crop. They become afraid.

Beyond a point, as the water disappears, because your groundwater hasn’t being recharged, your rivers and streams haven’t been recharged, beyond a point, conflicts emerge in local communities, which is why the G-77 constantly refers to Darfur as linked to climate change with the disappearance of water from Lake Chad.


VANDANA SHIVA: As the rainfall has failed in the sub-Saharan Africa, Lake Chad has shrunk. The communities that used to be supported in a very generous way by that lake are having less and less water. Pastoralists and settled agriculturalists have come in conflict. It so happens they belong to different religion. This has been presented as a religious conflict. It’s really a conflict that emerges from climate change and climate change degradation of already degraded environments.

AMY GOODMAN: What is a climate refugee?

VANDANA SHIVA: A climate refugee is someone who has been uprooted from their home, from their livelihoods, because of climate instability. It could be people who’ve had to leave their agriculture because of extended drought. It could be communities in the Himalaya who are having to leave their villages, either because flash floods are washing out their villages or because streams are disappearing. We’ve just finished a participatory study that’s showing that 70 percent of the water in my region of the Himalaya, from where the Ganges emerges, has gone. The streams are dry. It could be a cyclone victim—30,000 one time, 100,000 one time. They never go back home. This number will continue to increase.

There are ways we can deal with it: stop the pollution of the atmosphere that’s leading to it, which is why COP15 becomes so vital; and secondly, recognize we’re all citizens of an earth family, and we need to start giving shelter to each other in times of distress. There is an attempt to turn this into a Security Council issue, into a defense issue, into an issue of the Pentagon. That would be the most dangerous way to go.

AMY GOODMAN: The US climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing—


AMY GOODMAN: —said that the donor countries only have so much largesse.


AMY GOODMAN: What is your response to that?

VANDANA SHIVA: I think it’s time for the US to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognizing itself as a polluter, a polluter who must pay, a polluter who must pay compensation and pay their ecological debt. This is not about charity. This is about justice.
traveled to Copenhagen this weekend to urge world leaders to tackle the climate crisis by signing a binding treaty. The longtime anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate spoke on Saturday at a candlelight vigil to a group of children just outside the UN climate summit.

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: We want to remind you that they marched in Berlin, and the wall fell. They marched in Cape Town, and apartheid fell. They marched in Copenhagen, and we’re going to get a new deal.

I want to say a big thank you to all of you, especially you beautiful young ones. We oldies have made something of a mess of the world. And we want to say to the leaders who are meeting, look in the eyes of your grandchildren.

Climate change is already a serious crisis today. But we can do something about it. If we don’t—if we don’t, hoohoo!, there’s no world which we will leave to you, this generation. You won’t have a world. You will be drowning. You will be burning in drought. There will be no food. There will be floods. We have only one world. We have only one world. If we mess it up, there’s no other world. And for those who think that the rich are going to escape, ha! ha! ha!, we either swim or sink together. We have one world. And we want to leave a beautiful world for all of these beautiful, wonderful young generation. We, the oldies, want to leave you a beautiful world.

And it is a matter of morality. It is a question of justice. Haha, ha! Haha, hahahaha! Isn’t it? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! If—if—if—if you are responsible for most of the mess, then you are responsible for getting rid of that mess. That’s justice. That’s justice. If you are responsible for most of the emissions, which are—look—look—look at the ozone layer. People are now suffering from all kinds of skin diseases, because we are thinning the ozone layer. Whoa! Whoa-ho!

So, you, wonderful rich people, you are wonderful! You are wonderful! You really are wonderful! But—but remember, if—if you are responsible for most of the emissions—it’s not “if”; we know it is the case—then you’re going to have to be responsible for any adjustments. We, too, who are poor, want to become rich. And if you are able to bail out the banks—they gave [inaudible] billions and billions and billions and billions and billions! They just throw billions! Now, please, just give us a few billions to enable the poor to use alternative fuels. They can’t do it if you ask them to pay for it. Please—actually, for your own sakes, OK? For your own sakes, rich people, please, for your own sakes, for your children’s sakes, for the sake of our world, be nice. Be nice, and pay up. Pay up, please. Please, for your own sake.

The world, the world, we, the world, expect a real deal. Eh? Now, let us say that all of us – [with crowd] we, the world, expect a real deal. One. Two.

CROWD: We, the world, expect a real deal.


CROWD: We, the world, expect a real deal.


AMY GOODMAN: South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at a candlelight vigil Saturday just outside the Bella Center. Afterwards, I caught up with him.

AMY GOODMAN: Archbishop, Archbishop Tutu, your message for Barack Obama, for President Obama?

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Please, please help give the world a real deal. Give the world a real deal. Help, help, help. Make sure that there is enough money to help developing countries make the adjustment. OK?

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. Bishop Tutu, do you think President Obama is following through on climate change?

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: We hope. We hope he will, yes. He has given the world a great deal of hope. And we—I have said he’s now a Nobel laureate—become what you are. Come on, bye-bye, bye-bye.
AMY GOODMAN: At the heart of the Obama administration’s effort to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions is a market-based system to trade carbon. Known as a “cap and trade,” the system sets carbon emissions limits of companies and doles out allowances that can be bought and sold to meet the emission targets.

In Washington, the House approved a cap-and-trade system earlier this year as part of the Waxman-Markey bill. The Senate is considering adopting a similar provision in the Boxer-Kerry bill.

But the issue of cap and trade has split the environmental and progressive movements. Last week in the pages of the New York Times, NASA scientist James Hansen published a piece called “Cap and Fade.” He argued carbon trading will do little to slow global warming or reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Hansen went on to say cap and trade will allow polluters and Wall Street traders to fleece the public out of billions of dollars. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman responded by describing cap and trade as the only form of action we have to take against greenhouse gas emissions before catastrophe becomes inevitable.

In a moment, we’ll host a debate on the subject. But first I want to turn to a new animated film that premiered here in Copenhagen, or at least it was played here. It’s called The Story of Cap and Trade. It’s directed by Annie Leonard, who’s best known for her web video The Story of Stuff.

ANNIE LEONARD: So how does cap and trade work? Well, pretty much all serious scientists agree that we need to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, if we want to avoid climate disaster. In the US, that means reducing our emissions by 80 percent, maybe even more, by 2050. Eighty percent?

Now, the problem is that most of our global economy runs on burning fossil fuels, which releases carbon: the factories that make all our stuff, the ships and trucks that carry it around the world, our cars and buildings and appliances, and just about everything. So how are we going to reduce carbon 80 percent and not go back to living like Little House on the Prairie?

Well, these cap-and-trade guys are saying that a new carbon stock market is the best way to get it done. The first step would be getting governments around the world to agree on a yearly limit on carbon emissions. That’s the cap. I think that part is great.

So, how do they want to ensure that carbon emissions stay under the cap? Well, governments would distribute a certain amount of permits to pollute. Every year, there would be fewer and fewer permits, as we follow the cap to our goal. Innovative companies will get on board building clean alternatives and getting more efficient.

As permits get scarcer, they would also become more valuable. So, naturally, companies who have extra will want to sell them to companies who need them. That’s where the trading comes in.

The logic is that as long as we stay under the cap, it doesn’t matter who pollutes and who innovates. We’ll meet our climate deadline, avoiding catastrophe, and, oh, yeah, these guys take their fee as they broker this multi-trillion-dollar carbon racket—I mean, market—save the planet, get rich. What’s not to like?

Some of my friends who really care about our future support cap and trade. A lot of environmental groups that I respect do, too. They know it’s not a perfect solution, and they don’t love the idea of turning our planet’s future over to these guys, but they think it’s an important first step and that it’s better than nothing. I’m not so sure. And I’m not the only one.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt from the online short, The Story of Cap and Trade by Annie Leonard. We’ll link to the full video on our website.

We’re joined now by two guests. Larry Lohmann is the author of the book Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatization and Power. He works at the British non-governmental organization, NGO, called The Corner House. We’re also joined by Frank Ackerman. He’s an economist at the Stockholm Environment Institute. He’s part of Tufts University, author of Can We Afford the Future?: [The] Economics [of] a Warming World.

The Story of Cap and Trade that Annie Leonard did is very critical of cap and trade. Professor Leonard, you are for cap and trade—or Professor Ackerman, you’re for cap and trade. Explain why, and do it in basic terms.


AMY GOODMAN: You’re used to teaching students.


AMY GOODMAN: Think of us as all your students.

FRANK ACKERMAN: I’m not exactly for it. I don’t think either Hansen or Krugman got it right. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s certainly not the only thing that we need. There’s undoubtedly a role for having a price on carbon, which can be done either through a tax or through cap and trade.

The big mistake in this debate, I think, is to pretend that a price on carbon is all that we need. Any time a price incentive like this has worked, it has needed many, many other things to be working with it. The image of a level playing field that economists sometimes suggest is exactly wrong. We need to be doing everything we can to tilt the playing field in the direction we want it to go. Then a price, either through cap and trade or through a tax, might actually make it a little easier. But no chance at all it’ll do the job alone.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Lohmann, you’re opposed to cap and trade, so you feel strongly about this. Why?

LARRY LOHMANN: For some of the same reasons, actually, that Frank was referring to. I agree completely with Frank that there is no magic bullet in terms of a carbon price which is going to solve the climate problem.

What we need is massive reinvestment away from fossil fuels, putting subsidies—instead of putting subsidies into fossil fuels, putting them into renewable energy. We need to overcome our addiction to fossil fuels in industrialized societies.

And the problem with cap and trade is, is that it stands in the way of doing that, in many ways. It’s a way of providing pollution rights to some of the worst polluters, so that they can delay the kind of structural change that’s necessary.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain how that works.

LARRY LOHMANN: Well, it happens in—it happens in a number of ways. First of all, the cap and trade proper is a system by which those who are unable or do not want to reinvest in the long term away from fossil fuels—I’m talking about big industries like electricity generators highly dependent on fossil fuels, chemicals, steel, cement, and so forth—instead of investing in structural change away from their dependence on fossil fuels, they can simply buy pollution credits or pollution rights from other sources.

Now, there are two sources, two sources of pollution rights they can buy to keep doing business as usual. One of those sources is to buy pollution rights from other companies in the same country who have reduced their emissions beyond, beyond the requirements, and they have extra pollution rights to sell. Another and very dangerous source of pollution rights that they can buy in order to continue business as usual is from so-called carbon offset projects instituted abroad. For example, you might invest in a tree plantation, which supposedly absorbs your pollution abroad, and that enables you to continue business as usual. The problem with this is that it enables industrialized countries to continue their addiction to fossil fuels.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to this issue of carbon offsets and then get Frank Ackerman’s response and play another clip from Annie Leonard’s online video called The Story of Cap and Trade.

ANNIE LEONARD: Devil number two is called offsetting. Offset permits are created when a company supposedly removes or reduces carbon. They then get a permit, which can be sold to a polluter who wants permission to emit more carbon. In theory, one activity offsets the other.

The danger with offsets is it’s very hard to guarantee that real carbon is being removed to create the permit, yet these permits are worth real money. This creates a very dangerous incentive to create false offsets, to cheat. Now, in some cases, cheating isn’t the end of the world. But in this case, it is.

And already there’s a lot of cheating going on, like in Indonesia, Sinar Mas Corporation cut down indigenous forests, causing major ecological and cultural destruction. Then they took the wasteland they created and planted palm oil trees. Guess what they can get for it. Yep, offset permits. Carbon out? No. Carbon in? You bet.

Companies can even earn offsets for not doing anything at all, like operators of a polluting factory can claim they were planning to expand 200 percent, but reduce the plans to expand only 100 percent. For that meaningless claim, they get offset permits, permits that they can sell to someone else to make more pollution. That is so stupid.

The list of scams go on and on, and many of the worst ones happen in the so-called third world, where big business does whatever it wants to whomever it wants. And with lax standards and regulations on offsets, they can get permits for just about anything.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Annie Leonard’s Story of Cap and Trade. Frank Ackerman, are you concerned about this?

FRANK ACKERMAN: Sure. I think any policy can be done well or badly, and there’s plenty of reason to worry about the US doing things badly in this area. The three things I can think of you could do wrong with cap and trade is you could give a fixed cap that doesn’t go down—that was the problem with the sulfur emissions cap and trade in the ’90s, that there was a fixed cap guaranteed forever instead of a declining cap—

AMY GOODMAN: And that was particularly related to acid rain.

FRANK ACKERMAN: Exactly. That was the poster child for the success of cap and trade. It’s always quoted. That was a big mistake in that case. That’s the one mistake that I think we have made progress on, that the Waxman-Markey, all those bills, have a declining cap.

Problem number two, where we don’t get nearly as good a grade, is giving away the allowances to the incumbent polluters. If you give away allowances to the companies which are already emitting pollution, you give a huge transfer of wealth to the people who were already causing the problem. The sulfur trading in the ’90s did that. Waxman-Markey mostly does that, with sort of gradually phasing it out. The much superior alternative of auctioning the permits so that the money returns to the public to be used for environmental purposes, for income redistribution, for whatever, is what’s been advocated, the Cantwell bill that was mentioned earlier—

AMY GOODMAN: Which is sort of being called “cap and dividend.”

FRANK ACKERMAN: Yeah, the cap-and-dividend idea returns the money to the taxpayers, rather than giving it to the original polluters. So Waxman-Markey and those bills start out giving most of it to polluters, with a promise that it will gradually decline.

And the third big problem is the offsets. That has happened. What that film described has happened with a lot of offsets. On the other hand, if they were verified, if you actually did honestly prove that somebody else had reduced carbon somewhere else, what’s wrong with that? Carbon is completely fungible. It’s the same commodity. You emit carbon in Brazil, Bangladesh, Boston, it doesn’t matter; it’s the same carbon in the atmosphere. So if you can confirm that you honestly did reduce it in Brazil or Bangladesh or Boston, it’s the same reduction. The question of dishonesty in the offsets is obviously a real problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Lohmann, what about that?

LARRY LOHMANN: I agree it’s—I agree that dishonesty is rife throughout the carbon offset market. I mean, our experience in the Durban Group for Climate Justice in studying dozens of these carbon offset projects around the world, in countries like Uganda, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and so forth, is that this is just a universal aspect of carbon offset—carbon offset projects.

I think the problem goes a bit deeper, though. And that is that, actually, it’s not possible to distinguish between fraud and non-fraud in this market. It’s not possible to prove that you’re actually saving carbon. I mean, the example from Annie Leonard’s film, I think, shows this, where the factory owner simply says, “Well, I was planning on expanding 200 percent, but now I’m telling you that I’m going to expand only 100 percent, and therefore I’m saving 100 percent. Therefore, I should be allowed to sell pollution rights to the industrialized countries in the North, so that they can continue business as usual.” Obviously there’s no way of verifying the claim of the factory owner, whether that was going to be business as usual or not. The consultants who come into this system to make that claim actually can say pretty much anything they want to and claim that they’re making any carbon savings they want to. So I would go a little bit further than Frank in saying that the system is not only open to abuse, the abuses cannot be corrected, even in principle.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Larry Lohmann, about a figure that’s being thrown around here, 17 percent, that the US is pushing for, a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Explain.

LARRY LOHMANN: Well, I think that that claim has been flying around, but there are two really misleading things about that claim. First of all, under the Kyoto Protocol, for example, emissions reductions are generally reckoned from 1990 levels. So, under the Kyoto Protocol—

AMY GOODMAN: So, for the rest of the world, they’re using 1990 standards.

LARRY LOHMANN: That’s the conventional baseline here. So, you know, the question is, you know, by 2020, how much are you reducing from your 1990 levels? The US is being a little slippery by saying, “OK, well, actually, we’re reducing 17 percent.” But what they don’t mention is they’re reducing that from, not 1990 levels, but from 2005 levels.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Frank Ackerman, the equivalent in 1990 terms of 17 percent?

FRANK ACKERMAN: I think it’s something like four percent.

AMY GOODMAN: So it’s actually four percent. And Larry Lohmann, is it actually even cutting four percent?

LARRY LOHMANN: No, it’s actually worse than that. Even the four percent figure is misleading, because that four—those four percent of reductions probably would not be made within the United States itself. In other words, the fossil fuel polluters in the United States would continue business as usual. What they would do instead would be buy pollution rights from outside the country, from these carbon offset projects outside the country. I think the International Rivers organization in Berkeley has calculated that, actually, under the Waxman-Markey bill, the US would not have to reduce its own fossil fuel emissions until 2026 under the Waxman-Markey provisions.

AMY GOODMAN: Frank Ackerman?

FRANK ACKERMAN: I think there are all kinds of things that ought to be fixed, that certainly offsets should be limited, but the problem is that the debate about setting a price on carbon has been set up as cap and trade versus tax. And we’ve had thirty years of teaching Americans to froth at the mouth when taxes are mentioned. And so, there’s no chance whatsoever that a carbon tax will be passed. I think some of the big companies that are advocating a carbon tax are probably conscious of that and doing it with dishonest intent in the attempt to destroy the entire idea of climate legislation. From that, I deduce that, sadly enough, we’ll have to figure out how to patch up the holes in cap and trade, of which there are many. There are a lot of things to patch up.

AMY GOODMAN: What if the carbon market collapses?

FRANK ACKERMAN: I could tell the world how to reduce carbon emissions. People seem even more allergic to the idea of command and control. The problem is not describing how to reduce American carbon emissions; the problem is creating incentives that will make people feel like they have been allowed to do it in a free market way. It’s the inefficiency of making this all happen through the market, rather than simply saying we’re not going to drive cars like that, we’re not going to waste electricity like that. It would be very easy to tell people how to reduce emissions. But if you want to do it through the market so people make choices, you have to set a carbon price.

AMY GOODMAN: Goldman Sachs have a big role here, Larry Lohmann?

LARRY LOHMANN: I’m afraid so. In fact, just last month, JPMorgan, another firm like Goldman Sachs, actually bought one of the biggest carbon offset consultancy and accumulator firms, EcoSecurities. And I think that indicates the interest of Wall Street in buying—in getting into this market, so that they can speculate, so that they can make money out of it.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both very much for being with us. Larry Lohmann, researcher at the NGO The Corner House, he’s based in Britain, editor of the book Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change. And Frank Ackerman, he is an economist at the Stockholm Environment Institute at Tufts University. His book, Can We Afford the Future?: [The] Economics [of] a Warming World.
I dislike the phrase FOSSIL FUELS.

Coal is a Fossil Fuel.

Oil and Gas have never been proved to be FOSSIL fuels.

Coal is known to be compressed vegetable matter under the earth.

Oil has been claimed to be LIQUIFIED ANIMAL MATTER under the earth.
I disagree with this definition.

In my opinion, oil and its byproducts are liquified CARBON that comes
from UNKNOWN SOURCES under the earth. It has never been proved
to come from animals (fossil). Oil has been discovered in solid rock
layers where there is no indication of plants or animals. Oil may be a
continuing activity within the earth which continuously uses carbon from
unknown sources to produce petroleum.

I am for getting rid of the term FOSSIL FUELS. A more appropriate
term might be CARBON FUELS.

Connie Heddegger (sp?) just resigned as IPCC COP15 chairwoman and promptly went out to tell the world media it means nothing. The forecast is for snow flurries by Friday with a "light snow" falling in Copenhagen right now, but some kind of record temperature low. News of riots, but not much talk about anti-AGW protests anywhere.
Wed Dec 16, 2009 at 06:33:29 AM PST

There was a massive non-violent direct action this morning at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, as protestors attempted to make their way into the conference center to deliver a message that stronger action on climate change is necessary. Police beat back the chanting protesters with batons, tear gas, and pepper spray, making hundreds of arrests. At the same time, the police also beat back several hundred delegates who were attempting to leave the conference center to try and meet with the protesters!

More beneath the fold.

* Zack23's diary :: ::

According to a surprisingly decent New York Times article, the action successfully disrupted the morning's routine at the conference. Many conference delegates were forced to walk a mile to enter the conference center passing by hundreds of arrested protesters:

Authorities were restricting access to the rail station serving the Bella Center, forcing many conference attendees to walk a mile or more in cold drizzle and biting winds.

Groups of delegates and members of nongovernmental organizations continued to stream on foot past subway stations that had been closed to prevent demonstrators from converging. They passed groups of detained protesters seated in neat rows, their hands tied with plastic police strips.

The protesters acted using non-violence guidelines which allowed for the removal of physical barriers placed in the way of demonstrators (such as fences and barricades), but which prohibited violent action against people (including the police).

According to Danish Indymedia:

Multiple marches tried to make their way to the Bella Centre where the COP15 is held. The group meeting at Orestad station (Green) was surrounded by police and some arrested, but other managed to move towards COP15. A second block (Blue), of more than 1000 people, made their way to the Bella Center whilst resisiting attempts from the police to break it [Video 1 | 2]. Police have been repeatedly attacking the crowds with batton charges and pepper spray, as well as arresting protesters throughout the morning [police line], and arresting medics.

Meanwhile at the COP15 Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina were refused entry despite aquiring a second accreditaton. Delegates staged a sit-in protest [pic], whilst 200 others from NGOs, indigenous people and the Global South marched out [Pics 1 | 2 | 3 | video] but police with battons and pepperspray prevented them from reaching the People's Assembly.

Much more extensive coverage, including pictures, video, and timelines can be found at Danish Indymedia:
Police target CJA spokes people

Icon_article Udgivet / published: Wednesday 16 December 2009 18:38 af / by Manos

Tagget som / tagged as: cja cop15 repression
Område / neighbourhood:

Following yesterday's arrest of CJA spokesperson Tadzio Muller after the Climate Justice Action press conference, about four more spokespeople were violently snatched out of the crowd today. At 18:00 a CJA press conference will address the arrests of the media spokespeople that aim to limit their freedom of speech.

[Video of undercover snatch squad making arrest | petition for release of "climate prisoners"]


As was reported yesterday, a CJA activist and spokes person, Tadzio Muller was violently snatched by plain clothes police minutes after he left a Climate Justice Action press conference [pic] at the Bella Centre, where COP15 is held. The conference presented the rationale behind today's Reclaim Power! action, which aimed to take over the climate conference for one day and turn it into a people's assembly. Some mainstream media have since branded Tadzio as the "leader" of CJA, which is blatantly rubbish, while others relay a more balanced view and echo fears that the police are trying to silence dissent by targeting spokes people.

These fears seem to have materialised: at todays action, Reclaim Power!, up to four additional CJA spokes people seem to have been arrested in a targetted manner by plain clothes police using pepperspray and plenty of muscle. Another arrest in the morning is unconfirmed. At 9:19 am the 6 plain clothes officers arrested one of the CJA spokes people at the Tornby station as the Green Block was assembling. Later in the day at 11:43pm, the police attacked the Blue block, took over the van, and arrested a further 2 CJA spokes people, it seems in a targeted fashion (YouTube video).

Following these arrests CJA called a special press conference at 6:00pm to denounce the deliberate targeting of spokes people. This targeting has stopped people from being able to express the opinions of CJA to the public and journalists, without having any operational impact on the actual actions. This is a narrow attack on the freedom of speech of activists, after many days of attack on their freedom to protest.

Today many activists were again arrested in a preventive maner, before doing anything, while others trying to make it to the Bella Centre were charged with batons and pepper sprayed to prevent them from holding a people's assembly there. In a perverse twist, the police even threated to arrest the assaulted delegates and accredited COP15 participants who tried to join the assenbly from inside the negotiations.
Tough Love in Hopenhagen

Icon_article Udgivet / published: Wednesday 16 December 2009 08:09 af / by Imcfeatures

Tagget som / tagged as: cop15 rpa rtp
Område / neighbourhood: amager bella_center copenhagen
Udgivet af gruppe: GroupCop15 Reporting

Indymedia action timeline | live radio stream | icop15 agreggator.

Today's Reclaim Power action held a people's assembly outside the COP15 Bella Centre calling for Climate Justice. Police tried to disrupt marches from outside reaching the COP15, with baton charges, pepper spray and preventive arrests (call for action, press release, video). Despite the COP15 pretence of democracy and inclusion of the global south, the police threatened delegates with arrest, and assaulted with batons when they tried to march out to the joint assembly.

Blue bloc

The blue bloc (courtesy of Modkraft)

People in Bella Centre moving towards main gate

Blue bloc approaching Bella Center

Delegates sit-in protest at the Bella Centre

Early in the morning, multiple marches tried to make their way to the Bella Centre where the COP15 is held. The group meeting at Orestad station (Green) was surrounded by police and some were arrested [pic], but others managed to move towards COP15. A second bloc (Blue), of more than 1000 people, made their way to the Bella Center whilst resisiting attempts from the police to break it [Video 1 | 2 | 3 | 4] [Pics 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5] The bike bloc was blocked by police and redirected away. At the same time a group of protestors managed to get into the area of the COP15-Summit with a raft [pics]

Police have been repeatedly attacking the crowds with baton charges and pepper spray, as well as arresting protesters throughout the morning, and arresting medics [pics]. Corporate media report 200 to 250 arrests [viedo] Following yesterday's arrest of Tadzio Muller after the Climate Justice Action press conference, at more spokespeople were violently snatched out of the crowd today. At 18:00 a CJA press conference will address the arrests of 4 media spokespeople that aim to limit their freedom of speech.

Meanwhile at the COP15 Friends of the Earth, Avaaz and Via Campesina were refused entry despite aquiring a second accreditaton. Delegates staged a sit-in protest [pic, video], whilst 200 others from NGOs, indigenous people and the Global South marched out [Pics 1 | 2 | Videos 1 | 2] but police with batons and pepper spray prevented them from reaching the People's Assembly. An hour later, a protest broke into the COP15 plenary with the slogan "Climate Justice Now!", and the Indian delegation burned its badges [vid].

The People's Assembly took place at midday outside the Bella Centre [Pics 1], without those from inside the Bella Centre - they were prevented from getting out. After speeches, the assembly decided to move towards the centre [vid] of town, while the police have been snatching people, and blocking progress intermittently.

Timelines Indymedia DK (castellano) | (dk | en) | (se, en) | Global Project (it) | (dk | en) | Lahaine (castellano)
Previous days' COP15 reporting: 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th December 2009

Today is the first day of the ministerial phase of the COP15 summit, that so far has made little progress. The Reclaim Power! Action, aims to take over the summit for this one day to turn it into a people assembly (call for action, latest press release). Similar assemblies have already been taking place outside the UN summit for a week, as part of the Klimaforum09 people's climate summit with an estimated 25.000 people having taken part in discussions.
Copenhagen, Denmark. Leaders of the world are currently huddled around in the Bella Center, but I’m back at the hotel. Not because I don’t want to be in the Bella Center with them, but because I couldn’t get in today. Protesters have been assaulting the Conference since early morning and the surrounding area has turned into a virtual warzone. All of the carefully planned city-wide shuttles have stopped service and, as of about noon, no one has been allowed to enter or leave the Bella Center. The outskirts of the center have transformed from a pleasant transportation depot, to a maze of fencing and rioting demonstrators. Armed guards are employing water cannons, dogs and even tear gas. The last report I heard (from CNN) stated that 250 had been arrested. I did attempt to make it to the Center midday today, but was abandoned by my bus midway and left stranded on the now snowy and quite frigid streets of Copenhagen. With no empty taxis in sight, I ended up walking more than an hour to get back home.

Meanwhile, inside the Bella Center, things seem equally chaotic. Now referred to as one of the biggest summits in world history, governments seem to unable to come to anything close to consensus. NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are being roughly expelled from the main plenary, the Kyoto Protocol seems to be in perpetual limbo and Connie Hedegaard, the former Conference Chair, has resigned. [Video of her resignation talk] The official line is that this was a matter of protocol, allowing for the Prime Minister of Denmark to precede over the COP with world leaders present. However, with comments from her such as “in the end, you cannot make the deal in that plenary”, the true motive of her resignation remains in question.
I wish I knew what exactly is going on. This past day has been mayhem. As I write this all is not well.

Let me just have a moment of honesty with you all. I am tired, really tired. 12 long hard days have taken their toll on me and many others in this process. People are frustrated, confused and despairing at the direction these talks are taking.

To paraphrase George Woods, the Climate Action Network Australia coordinator here (who may I add is doing an amazing job):

“There have been all sorts of wildness here today, in the negotiations and in the NGO community. People with passes were refused entry because of the growing number of spontaneous and unpredictable protests springing up. There is a lot of frustration — protestors and other NGOs have been treated badly by police, security and the UN, everyone has been confused about who is allowed to do what, and the UNFCCC process has hit a dark moment, with a great deal of uncertainty about whether an effective and binding agreement can be secured.”

Oh dear.

So far in my blogs I have avoided going into detail around the different negotiating streams and texts… for the simple reason that it is confusing!

But, if you will spare me just a small moment of your time I will some of explain some of it here so you can grasp what is happening.

There are 2 different treaties being negotiated here. Yes, that’s right two.

The first is the Kyoto Protocol (KP). At the moment this treaty is set to finish in 2012 and they are trying to extend it further. But…because this treaty does not involve the US (and also doesn’t place binding emission reductions on the major growing economies such as India and China) they are also negotiating a second treaty. This second treaty, which would involve the US, is called LCA or Long-term Cooperative Action.

Now, you will have heard in the media a lot about countries trying to kill the KP. If KP did end and the LCA agreement did pass this would be called a ‘one-track’ treaty. However, developing countries generally do not want the KP to end because it is arguably stronger than a potential LCA treaty and provides more protection for developing countries. So, this then leaves us with what is call a ‘two-track’ treaty with both LCA and KP.

For the past two years countries have been negotiating the texts that would comprise these treaties. This has been broken into several smaller groups to work on specific sections of each of the treaties, such as adaptation, mitigation, finance, forests etc. These texts have been notoriously long and complicated with numerous different options within the text.

During the past ten days the different groups tried to bring all this text together. They have tried to find consensus. They have tried to find common ground. They failed.

Yesterday the chairs of the two working groups were supposed to pass on the proposed treaty text to the Ministers and Heads of State to finalise over the next 2 days.

Amidst much confusion these meetings were scheduled for 5pm then postponed till 6pm then 7pm then 8pm and so on and so on as negotiators grappled (behind closed doors of course) with what their final proposals would be.

The final KP plenary started at 11pm and finished after midnight.

The final LCA plenary started at 5am and finished at 730am.

The Australian negotiating team looked really tired this morning.

Meager offerings

In short, the text in both the treaties seems almost as contested as it was 2 years ago. It seems just as complicated…and there are still far too many different options within it. Today, I have not met a member of any country delegation that was happy with either of the texts. There has been dissent and there has been public argument.

It is these texts that have now been passed onto Ministers and Heads of States. It is still possible that they will be able to bring it all together…. But to be honest it is unlikely. There are MAJOR disagreements both between countries and within negotiating country groups.

This I hope, provides some idea of what has been happening here. I encourage you all to check out the other blogs on AAN to hear different stories and perspectives on all the days action (and inaction!). Also, you should take action on A Climate for Change to tell Australia’s leaders to increase the ambition of their targets.

I have many thoughts and reflections on this process, however, I will reserve these for a later date as this blog is already too long and I need sleep…. Which is of course, contingent upon me leaving here.

Tracking for you in Copenhagen, T-minus 48 hours.
Copenhagen delegates joining protesters
Wed Dec 16 2009 8:35 am
by Bob Morris. photo. Article photo. Article

An array of civil society, delegates and negotiating parties representing a global alliance of both north and south civil society groups, people’s Movements, indigenous representatives and even some governments have begun a dramatic protest today disrupting the inside of the Bella Center.

Scores/Hundreds of representatives gathered in the central hall and loudly marched out of the Bella Center in protest.

The police apparently are tear-gassing and clubbing anything that moves while inside, negotiations are deadlocked.

The walkout by delegates was to protest many members of NGOs (who are legitimate delegates) not being allowed in because of supposed space limitations. Gosh, you mean the event organizers just couldn’t figure out in advance now many people were coming or couldn’t just grab extra chairs and make more room? How incompetent of them.

Well, of course the real reason is the NGOs would be pressing for an actual agreement, something with teeth.

“The surgical removal of non-governmental organizations underscores the lack of democracy inherent in these negotiations,” said Michael Dorsey, a member of the Climate Justice Now! Network, which is helping organize the protest. “The United Nations process has systematically failed the world’s marginalized countries and consistently excludes those that would dare support and fight on behalf of those countries.”
Delegates, peaceful protesters, even medics were arrested....

During the first night of arrests a few nights back, police allegedly told "Eskimos" to leave the area and then began arrests, according to Greenland Public Radio, This was in the former anarchist enclave of Christiana in Copenhagen, I got the impression. Right before the COP15 klimaminister Connie Heddegger (sp?) feted Greenland PM Kuupik Kleist, meeting him in Greenland, travelling back to Denmark with him and generally giving the impression to Greenlanders they were tighter than two peas in a pod.
The Public parts of the Conference can be see live here.

Sadly, it looks to me as it is collapsing because those with the most power want it to. They are, at the same time, slipping out of the Kyoto Protocol [a very weak effort]....leaving things worse, not better. There is another world climate meeting in Mexico next year, but if this one fails, I personally think we can kiss the Planet goodbye - it is only a matter now of a short time.....shorter than most think...and not a quick nor pretty ending...I don't even like to paint the picture of how it would be the last decades. Human hubris et al. has finally caught up with us en toto.
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