The International Conference on Climate Change concluded on the 19th of December. UN Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon offers a more compromising position on the meeting’s outcome:
We have sealed the deal. This accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning.
Finally, a rather harrowing defamation from Lumumba Di-Aping, chairman of the G77 group of 130 poor countries:
[This] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces. (Guardian.co.uk)
Wow — the man evokes a Holocaust analogy. That’s quite inflammatory, but with 300,000 people dying every year from climate change, and considering the wealthy nations’ responsibility for causing global warming, is Di-Aping so far off? Di-Aping’s main complaints are that the so-called “Copenhagen Accord”, not to mention much of the negotiations themselves, largely omits the voices of the world’s poorest countries (grouped together in what’s known as the Global South).
What’s the take-home message here? Well, clearly this man was infuriated with the lack of progress at Copenhagen, and rightly so. He’s an African himself, intimately aware of long-standing power inequities between the rich, industrialized, mostly Western nations of the global north, and the poor, post-colonial, so-called “developing” nations of the global south. As an African, he understands that the Global North accrued the vast majority of its wealth at the expense of the South, via such oppressive systems as slavery, racism, and colonialism. (Why is Africa such a mess? Why has it taken so long for South America to provide basic necessities for its people? Why is India still gravely impoverished? Simple: the peoples of these continents have been subject to the global capitalist model – a model that benefits the few at the expense of the many. South American and African countries have had to weather the violent economic conditions set up by wealthy countries via structural adjustment programs; agricultural subsidies in the West have for decades forced small-farmers everywhere into poverty, and even suicide.)
At the same time the West has wrested the natural resources of the Rest, white countries have been spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an ever-accelerating rate. The United States, for example, is largely responsible for global warming – yet still its leaders, including Obama, are reticent to pay the country’s “climate debt.” Indeed, wealthy nations owe a massive debt to poor countries. Centuries of oppression, colonialism, and exploitation take form in climate change, as the poorest nations are most vulnerable to the phenomenon, and, of course, least capable to adapt to changes. The West’s hubris has never been stronger, it seems. And no surprise, for the governments of Europe and North America spawned the capitalist system, along with its oligarchs: the multinational corporations (MNCs), the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Wall Street, etc.
Another interesting tidbit from the conference: behold, the slogan of the G77 nations:
One Africa, one degree. Two degrees is suicide.
What do they mean by degrees? The G77 countries created this slogan after a leaked document exposed secret meetings between Danish officials and other rich countries – two others, in fact: the United States and the UK. According to the Guardian, this text is
…a very dangerous document for developing countries. It is a fundamental reworking of the UN balance of obligations. It is to be superimposed without discussion on the talks.
The Bottom Line
It seems as if those who represent a majority of the world’s population – leaders of peasant movements, landless people’s movements, and others in the Global South – stand irked at the Copenhagen Accord. The agreement is not only legally vacuous, it doesn’t even acknowledge the voices of the majority of humanity.
Wait, what about the argument that this was an important first step? If the leaders of industrialized nations were seriously committed to the welfare of all, they would have (1) admitted that a 2 deg. Celsius increase in global temperatures will wreak havoc on Africa, and (2) listened with an open mind to the sentiments of poor countries.
What’s in store this year?
What passed in December was the Cop15 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Another UN Conference, the Cop16, is set to be held in Mexico City during Fall of this year. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.