Copenhagen Climate Summit: A farce in the making?


The hopes of many have been dashed, as US President Barack Obama and the assembled leaders of the APEC 2009 meeting in Singapore recently expressed doubts that any breakthrough towards arresting climate change can be made in the Copenhagen Summit next month.

It was generally hoped for that measurable targets for all countries would be agreed in Denmark that would, by 2050, cut the present global emission of greenhouse gases into half.

Even Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, main host of the UN’s Copenhagen meeting, addressing the APEC Summit as a guest speaker did not stem the growing tide of delayers and ditherers from among the APEC leaders. In the end, the Danish prime minister expressed his disappointment before his flight home and made it clear he no longer expected a major accord resulting from the global meeting.

The Asian leaders, including those of nations with the most to lose if compelled to give way and accept measurable reductions in carbon emissions, did little to conceal their relief over this development. The former US administration of George W. Bush was notorious to pull away from the Kyoto Agreement entered into by the Clinton administration, and China and Russia, both Pacific nations, have ever since been more than just reluctant to join honest negotiations towards a deal in Copenhagen.

Even India has been on the go slow towards Copenhagen, shying away from contributing their own goals to a global climate rescue deal in favor of keeping and stepping up further their own industrial development pace.

One of the most controversial issues for discussion is an agreed reduction of carbon output by all nations, in particular the industrialized world plus the China, India and Russia, and the demand by the African Union member countries to get compensation for the fallout of climate change caused by Europe, America and Asia to the detriment of Africa.

The now proposed “two-step” approach, floated by the APEC participants, leaves one to wonder however what these countries have been doing in recent years in regard of their preparation for the Copenhagen meetin, and why it took them to the very last moment to admit they are either not prepared or ill prepared to come with hard facts to the meetings, while the lesser facilitated and financially equipped African countries were holding meeting after meeting in recent months to prepare a joint position. In fact, there are growing murmurs that several of the APEC countries have acted in bad faith up to this point and led the rest of the world on about their honest participation, and using the APEC Summit in Singapore to throw the proverbial spanners into the works at this late stage.

The US and China alone are responsible for more than 40 percent of global emissions, and when Russia and India are added to this list, these four big contributors to carbon emissions are also the most reluctant countries to engage in concrete measures and make specific proposals towards their own fair share of the reductions necessary to help the world mitigate the worst fallout of the present climate change.

France and Brazil have already reacted with anger over the developments and made it very clear that they are not prepared to engage in an agreement with other countries only to have those four tell the rest of the world “to wait until tomorrow” that may never come. A reaction from the African countries about these delaying tactics is expected in due course but in Eastern Africa consternation spread amongst governmental circles when the news broke.

Meanwhile, as the spoilers are hard at work to end all reasonable chances for a full agreement in Copenhagen and seem to get away with yet another postponement of a global deal, the ice caps of the East African mountains keep shrinking, draught and flood cycles continue to wreak havoc on populations, livestock and wildlife and the burden on Africa from the fallout of global warming and climate change is getting worse. There is speculation now that Africa may hit back by holding the Doha trade negotiations in equal suspense until a climate change agreement is within reach and a new timetable has been agreed to.