From Cancun to cataclysm

By Ameen Izzadeen

Delegates from around the world cheered and congratulated each other for coming close to a deal on climate change after days of hectic talks, arm twisting and offers of bribes in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Only Bolivia was sceptical or had the nerve to say the meeting was largely a farce and it would not help achieve the objective – to keep the global temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The rich nations are happy because the deal permits them to continue with their pollution of the environment. The poor nations are also happy, because they will get paid by the rich for not excessively polluting the environment. This is a trade off which environmental activists slammed as the Cancun circus.
At the Cancun talks, delegates agreed to create a Green Climate Fund that would dole out 100 billion US dollars to poor nations over the next six years – a big increase from the US$ 30 billion bribe the rich nations agreed to pay the poor nations at last year’s Copenhagen climate talks.
For the poor nations to get money from the climate fund, they have to protect their tropical forests and adopt green technologies. The scheme is called REDD – Reduced Emission from Deforestation and (forest) Deregulation Scheme. The greener the poor nations become the bigger the licence for the rich nations to pollute the environment.
The poor nations will have to forego industrialization unless they have access to the so-called “green” technology. The poor will also not be able to expand their agriculture lands because the REDD Scheme prevents them from clearing forests. Cancun, in other words, will make the poor poorer and the rich richer. It will also allow the rich nations to plunder the minerals of the poor nations by providing them financial aid to plant trees elsewhere in the country.
An ardent critic of the Cancun talks was Tom Goldtooth, a high-profile indigenous people’s rights activist, who was denied entry into Cancun by the United Nations and Mexican security guards. He slammed the outcome as a “betrayal” because the agreement implicitly promotes carbon markets unproven technologies, and land grabs.
“Industrialised nations, big businesses and unethical companies will profit handsomely from the Cancun Agreement while our people die,” Goldtooth said.
Besides, the agreement is non-binding. It won’t be like the Kyoto protocol, a binding treaty, which the US refused to ratify.
The unstated rule at the Cancun talks was that the poor nations could have their say but the rich would finally have their way. With money being thrown about, what is not impossible? Green backs can buy green issues and mother nature has become a commodity.
An article in the Guardian newspaper which has been carrying US diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks, claimed that US embassy dispatches showed that Washington used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for last year’s Copenhagen climate accord.
According to US diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks, the United States bribed the Maldives to buy its silence or get its support for the US position at the Copenhagen summit.
The cables indicate an EU official told the US that the Alliance of Small Island States, which includes the Maldives “could be our best allies, given their need for financing.”
Teh cables say the Maldives which was seen to be leading a global campaign to save small islands from sinking, changed track, apparently because US deputy climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing offered a $50 million aid package.
The Maldives’ US ambassador, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed told Pershing that if ‘tangible assistance’ were given his country, then other affected countries would realise ‘the advantages to be gained by compliance’ with the US agenda.”
Needless to say, the cables embarrassed Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed, who was recently ranked among the world’s best 100 thinkers of this year by the Foreign Policy Magazine.
The Maldivian government dismissed the WikiLeaks cables as a “smear” campaign “by some parties” and insisted that there was no relenting in its campaign to save small states from global warming.
The Cancun circus and the WikiLeaks exposés show that there is no real commitment on the part of some nations to save the planet.
They have not been awakened to the reality that if no action is taken to address the issue, a 7 degree Celsius rise in global warming is inevitable by the end of the century. This will mean that the Maldives will be history and perhaps a third of Sri Lanka, too. Experts say that the non-binding nature of the Cancun agreement will not be able to stop a cataclysmic 4-5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures.

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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