One of the things I’ve been working on over these past few weeks is sifting through the cables in Wikileaks, searching for information about how different countries were dealing with the post-Copenhagen situation. I’ve been passing this information on to Doreen so that her colleagues can work on bringing these to a larger audience. Along the way I’ve found some pretty disheartening stuff. It seems as though over the past year, the US and the EU have totally lost interest in any kind of genuine transparent diplomacy on Climate Change. The French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said that it would be up to the major heads of state, (specifically of eight or ten, from Germany and France for Europe, the US, China, India, Brazil, Algeria, and Ethiopia* and possibly South Africa) “Once these leaders, working through their sherpas or personal representatives agree on an implementation plan for Copenhagen, it will be largely acceptable to, and accepted by, the rest of the world, and can then be returned to a UN forum to be finalised.” If you take a close look at this list, you’ll notice that the interests of least developed countries and small island states are not taken into account. Ethiopia is also now known to have been bought out by the US through diplomatic pressure and development aid in order to support the Copenhagen Accord, fragmenting a united voice from the African Group.
The initial fear about Wikileaks here in Cancun was that they would come to overshadow any real negotiations going on about things that mattered, much like ‘Climategate’ wasted everyone’s time last year. What Wikileaks has revealed however, is extremely relevant to the way the negotiations are going on, it speaks to the major issues of transparency that have been raised and are still ongoing as small, high-level, ‘green room’ discussions continue. Evo Morales, President of the wonderfully titled ‘Plurinational State of Bolivia’ just addressed the COP a couple of hours ago, and Bolivia is calling for a return to party-driven negotiations.
When you read the Wikileaks cables related to climate, what you see is a classic picture of American politics. On the surface, the US claims that they are leading the way to a realistic climate deal that everyone can work together on. Once you get anywhere underneath this superficial veneer, you notice that the US develops a position that is in their immediate economic best interest, and bullies other countries until they concede. The US and its climate allies (Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and now Russia and sometimes the EU) have developed this strategy so that the blame for climate change is placed anywhere but on them. They have tried China, Bolivia, civil society, and the UN processes, all in the hope that people don’t notice that they are the ones blocking progress for everyone else, simply because there is a lack of political will domestically. Wikileaks cables have clearly shown that by buying out countries like Ethiopia, the Maldives, and nations in the EU they are no longer world leaders but are dragging their heels and don’t want to be caught doing so. If the US isn’t ready, so be it, but it would be nice if they let everyone else get on with their jobs and didn’t spoil these negotiations for everyone else. It is time that the US took a backseat in climate negotiations, where they belong, and let the real agents of change do the negotiating.