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National Interests Supersede Global Obligations

How Copenhagen betrayed Africa

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Dec 23, 2009

China remained the main culprit in the cross hairs of climate change advocates, as the Copenhagen Summit drew to a close without the urgently required binding consensus. The US, India, Russia, Brazil, and a few other countries are also not far behind on the list of those offering more pretense than resolve to find the agreement needed to save planet Earth for future generations.

It became increasingly clear, when following the discussions and arguments advanced by the various delegations, that national interest superseded the global obligations every nation has to look after our common planet, and calling demands for accountability and responsible transparency “meddling in internal affairs” or suggesting a “loss of sovereignty” is enough of a giveaway of their intransigent and stubborn stone walling, which already emerged at the recent summit of the Pacific Rim countries in Singapore. Huge resources were poured into the meeting by the UN and those countries which went to Denmark with an honest agenda, and to make matters worse, Sky News and other global news channels showed footage of Danish police beating up protestors with a real passion, including young women already lying on the ground, while elsewhere they were clobbering protesters with gusto.

Many climate change advocates and some of the more enlightened world leaders have expressed their dismay and disappointment in strong terms while others are trying to put on a brave face, peddle the political declarations as a victory or progress, and will be hoping for a better outcome in the form of a binding treaty for the planned follow-up meetings, one arranged impromptu in Bonn, Germany in six weeks and one later next year in Mexico. It is expected and hoped for that the Bonn meeting will see the 192 countries table targets of green house emission cuts, which could then lead to a universally-binding agreement in Mexico – but as said before, do not hold your breath just yet.

More outspoken and acid critics now speak of the “Floppenhagen” summit in clear reference of the meeting failing the world and allowing national interests to override measures, which can only be taken on a common approach if it is to be effective, and that measurable reduction of emission output, compared to the benchmark year of 1990, has been substituted by a “keeping our fingers crossed” approach. Individual countries may well, as sections of the media report, have put some targets on the table, but those are largely unenforceable, not binding, and can in many cases not be monitored, as it should be if all of it were to make any sense. The high hopes for the summit, already talked down by leading participants when the potential failure loomed, were certainly dashed, and in particular, the developing world can rightly feel betrayed that they and their people’s future are being sacrificed on the table of national greed and retaining the rich and powerful nations’ lifestyles and commercial clout.

Africa can do little relying on luck and hope, as the equatorial ice caps keep melting ever faster, drought and flooding cycles chase each other, extreme weather impacts worsen, hunger spreads, and the Sahara desert marches on. Africa is considered as one of the prime victims of climate change, together with Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations, several of which will end up submerged under water if the global warming is not halted and the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland ice keep melting at an ever-increasing pace. Many experts say that even the 2 degrees centigrade increase in average temperatures permitted by the Copenhagen Accord of the “notorious five,” as it is now apparently being called, would condemn millions upon millions of Africans to certain death while inhabitants of Pacific and Indian Ocean islands face drowning unless they are offered a climate refuge elsewhere.

Meanwhile it was also learned that the Sudanese chief negotiator, who was also representing the Group of 77 and the China Block of 130 poor nations, caused anger and outrage in some quarters when calling the indecisive end to the summit a climate holocaust and accused the rich nations of asking Africa “to sign a suicide pact.”

How Copenhagen betrayed Africa
Ed Miliband, Climate Change Secty., blames China for disappointing summit results/

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