Wikileaks, not surprisingly, turned up some not-so-diplomatic and not-so-scientific goings-on in the political race to steer power and dollars.
The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial “Copenhagen accord“, the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.
Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilisation but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected.
The wrangling behind the scenes involve the usual offerings of pork-barreling type funding for piddling little projects — like $50 million dollar projects in the Maldives, or $30 million in aid for Bolivia — to win support for the weak non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which suited the US. Thus the $2 trillion market was being made and unmade by votes bought with the spare change from carbon trades during morning tea.
Even the Saudis were asking for a handout:
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 Saudi’s were worried they might have missed the gravy train:
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”.
In the end, it’s mostly what we all suspected anyway. Call me a cynic, but did anyone believe that atmospheric research really affected the political decisions?
The political wheeling and dealing behind the scenes is where the big moves occur:
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 wikileaks material shows again that voting at these COP meetings is nothing to do with the science put forward in the IPCC reports (which in turn are not based on the scientific method, or what wide body of the worlds scientists actually said anyway).
It all merely proves that the best protection for the people of Planet Earth is to have many competing democratic governments, none of which can gain too much power over many of the others. The UN process of mock democracy plays a dangerous game, where buying off single officials in tin-pot countries is a cheaper form of pork barrelling than the domestic politics of large Western election campaigns.
More sordid details are exposed in The Guardian:
Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats, and promises of aid to get support for a Copenhagen accord.
WikiLeaks cables show US admiration for how emerging economies work together to achieve common short-term goals.
Herman van Rompuy dismisses the Copenhagen climate summit as ‘incredible disaster’ and expects Cancún to be no better.
The third article implies this all could be just another incarnation of the long silent trading war going on for power between the EU and the USA.