WikiLeaks Cables Reveal How US Manipulated Climate Accord

Published on Ciranda.net, by Damian Carrington/The Guardian, Dec. 5, 2010.

Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord.

Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage … // 

… US determination to seek allies against its most powerful adversaries – the rising economic giants of Brazil, South Africa, India, China (Basic) – is set out in another cable from Brussels on 17 February reporting a meeting between the deputy national security adviser, Michael Froman, Hedegaard and other EU officials.

Froman said the EU needed to learn from Basic’s skill at impeding US and EU initiatives and playing them off against each in order “to better handle third country obstructionism and avoid future train wrecks on climate”.

Hedegaard is keen to reassure Froman of EU support, revealing a difference between public and private statements. “She hoped the US noted the EU was muting its criticism of the US, to be constructive,” the cable said. Hedegaard and Froman discuss the need to “neutralise, co-opt or marginalise unhelpful countries including Venezuela and Bolivia”, before Hedegaard again links financial aid to support for the accord, noting “the irony that the EU is a big donor to these countries”. Later, in April, the US cut aid to Bolivia and Ecuador, citing opposition to the accord.

Any irony is clearly lost on the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, according to a 9 February cable from La Paz. The Danish ambassador to Bolivia, Morten Elkjaer, tells a US diplomat that, at the Copenhagen summit, “Danish prime minister Rasmussen spent an unpleasant 30 minutes with Morales, during which Morales thanked him for [$30m a year in] bilateral aid, but refused to engage on climate change issues.”

After the Copenhagen summit, further linking of finance and aid with political support appears. Dutch officials, initially rejecting US overtures to back the accord, make a startling statement on 25 January. According to a cable, the Dutch climate negotiator Sanne Kaasjager “has drafted messages for embassies in capitals receiving Dutch development assistance to solicit support [for the accord]. This is an unprecedented move for the Dutch government, which traditionally recoils at any suggestion to use aid money as political leverage.” Later, however, Kaasjager rows back a little, saying: “The Netherlands would find it difficult to make association with the accord a condition to receive climate financing.”

Perhaps the most audacious appeal for funds revealed in the cables is from Saudi Arabia, the world’s second biggest oil producer and one of the 25 richest countries in the world. A secret cable sent on 12 February records a meeting between US embassy officials and lead climate change negotiator Mohammad al-Sabban. “The kingdom will need time to diversify its economy away from petroleum, [Sabban] said, noting a US commitment to help Saudi Arabia with its economic diversification efforts would ’take the pressure off climate change negotiations’.”

The Saudis did not like the accord, but were worried they had missed a trick. The assistant petroleum minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told US officials that he had told his minister Ali al-Naimi that Saudi Arabia had “missed a real opportunity to submit ’something clever’, like India or China, that was not legally binding but indicated some goodwill towards the process without compromising key economic interests”.

The cables obtained by WikiLeaks finish at the end of February 2010. Today, 116 countries have associated themselves with the accord. Another 26 say they intend to associate. That total, of 140, is at the upper end of a 100-150 country target revealed by Pershing in his meeting with Hedegaard on 11 February.

The 140 nations represent almost 75% of the 193 countries that are parties to the UN climate change convention and, accord supporters like to point out, are responsible for well over 80% of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

At the mid-point of the major UN climate change negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, there have already been flare-ups over how funding for climate adaptation is delivered. The biggest shock has been Japan’s announcement that it will not support an extension of the existing Kyoto climate treaty. That gives a huge boost to the accord. US diplomatic wheeling and dealing may, it seems, be bearing fruit. (full long text).

Links
:

COP 16 – Cancun 2010;

Qu’attendre de Cancun?

Ciranda Newsletter;

… see also this video: Mexican Police Stop COP16-Bound Caravan from Hosting Religious Ceremony at Chichen Itza, 5.31 min, on Real News Network.

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