Coming from cold and snowy Copenhagen and braving the snowstorm and delayed trains, we are sad to report that the so-called Copenhagen Accord leaves us with business as usual and no legally binding commitment to reduce emissions in the world. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized the process of passing the accord as undemocratic. The Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA) composed of nine Latin American countries sharply pointed out that the so-called Copenhagen Accord did not undergo the normal negotiating procedures.
They lamented that the media was first to be informed of a “meaningful agreement” in Copenhagen, through US President Obama, who held a press conference on the eve of the last day of the conference.
He surprised everyone when he announced that the US and BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) have already reached a consensus and that 25 other heads of states already concurred on a draft Copenhagen agreement. The draft deal was, however, being developed by a small group of 26 countries, dubbed as “Friends of the Chair.” At 3 a.m., Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen, the Chairman of the COP15, hurriedly convened the COP/CMP to present it and adjourned the meeting almost disregarding the protests of the ALBA countries.
Tuvalu, Costa Rica, Venezuela, El Salvador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Egypt, Sudan and Tuvalu strongly opposed the deal.
For years before the Copenhagen talks, the G77 group has been solidly pushing for a legally binding agreement and significant carbon reduction commitments from rich industrialized countries. Yet cracks developed in this group of developing countries as COP15 drew near and climate funds were dangled by developed countries. Some countries did a quick turnaround when US Secretary Hillary Clinton announced a few days before the end of the conference that the US would help shore up $100-billion annually to developing countries by 2020.
Reports later came from different head of states of developing countries that they had received calls from the leaders of G-8 members before the conference assuring them of financial assistance if there would be a deal in Copenhagen. The White House said President Obama on December 15 talked on the phone with Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh to support a climate deal in Copenhagen.
It seems that the Philippines also were treated to such “midnight calls,” from US Secretary of State Clinton when she visited the Philippines in November and announced that the US government does not expect a binding deal in Copenhagen. Two days before her arrival in the Philippines, the government took the cue and issued a statement that we “need not insist on deep and early cuts in carbon emission.” Later on, perceived mavericks and progressive individuals in the Philippine delegation, notably Ms. Bernarditas Muller who had been the chairperson of the G77 + China in the climate negotiation, were taken off as official delegates of the Philippines.
Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Philippines were the first among developing countries to sign the Copenhagen Accord. In the deal the US and capitalist countries committed to create a climate fund to “aid” developing countries worth $30 billion over three years and to work toward a $100 billion a year by 2020. The fund will come both from public and private institutions.
More market based-mechanisms were also included in the deal. The REDD Plus (reducing emissions from forest degradation and deforestation in developing countries) seeks to award governments, companies or forest owners for keeping their forests intact. The financial rewards will come from carbon credits or financial payment by carbon emitters. Critics of this market-based solution to climate change fear that the pretext of forest protection will make way for greater access of private corporations to public domain.
The importance of REDD Plus was highlighted several times in the deal. Under point # 7 of the Copenhagen Accord one of the primary mitigation initiatives that the rich countries would finance are mechanisms that will establish REDD Plus in developing countries. Carbon trading and finance will be the primary sources of funding of REDD Plus.
The Copenhagen Accord has failed to define a legally binding commitment to reduce global carbon emissions that the people from vulnerable communities have demanded. It was reached undemocratically, in the tradition of “divide and rule tactics,” at the expense of the welfare and interest of the majority of the world’s peoples. Lastly, it carries new market based climate solutions that see the climate crisis as an opportunity to earn more profit for rich countries and their private corporations. –CLEMENTE BAUTISTA JR., Manila Times
Clemente Bautista Jr., a founding member of AGHAM and coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE,) participated in the mobilizations and the COP 15 talks in Copenhagen.