Tag Archives: Copenhagen
Published on December 22, 2009.
COPENHAGEN—THE QUESTION IS THIRD ON a list of eight, proposed in a fit of charity by the Washington Post last Friday, on the last day of the contentious UN Climate Conference. I think it captures nicely the easy, often unremarked assumption of the governments of the developed world, and reflected in coverage of much of the Western press, that China was the stumbling block to the ultimate success of the climate talks.
It wasn’t. China was certainly a crucial player, one of only two countries in my view with an effective veto on the entire process, but to suggest that the United States or the European Union served the world’s needs, while the Chinese acted merely to protect their national interest, is to grossly misrepresent reality. Continue reading
Published on December 15, 2009.
COPENHAGEN—IT SEEMS LIKE A NO-BRAINER. If the prevailing scientific consensus points to human responsibility for much of global warming, then mankind must do something to stop it. That is the hope that animates summits like the 15th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, now on its second and crucial week in this sunlight-starved, metal-gray city.
But humanity is divided, or organized, into nation-states, and it is a truism that nations negotiate with their national interests in mind. This is the reality that makes the negotiations in the Bella Center, the sprawling conference venue, both necessary and intricately difficult.
The United States is a nation-state, only more so. Continue reading
Published on December 8, 2009.
Something I read in an earlier column written by Neal Cruz continues to rankle. On Nov. 30, he discussed a conspiracy theory two distinguished Muslim leaders had raised to help explain the Ampatuan massacre. Amina Rasul and Nasser Marohomsalic had told him, he said, that they did not believe Andal Ampatuan Jr. was the true mastermind behind the massacre.
The key quote: “These two Muslim leaders think that the implications of the carnage may be deeper than it looks. For in the Muslim culture, women, children, the elders, the weak and the sickly, are accorded the highest respect. And yet they were among those machine-gunned and buried in the mass graves beside the roadside in Maguindanao. That is ‘un-Islamic,’ the two said. So it is possible that the real masterminds are not Muslims.” Continue reading
I thought this letter to the editor, from Antonio Hill of Oxfam, deserves all the boost it can get. Met Hill, the group’s senior campaigner on climate change issues, at the newsroom two weeks ago, and then again at the ADB head office, before his keynote at the closing plenary session of the Clean Energy Forum. (He was sitting at the back of the hall, typing away at his laptop, working on his speech.)
The letter, a response to an earlier news story in the Inquirer (which, unfortunately, I cannot find online), reveals something about both the Philippines’ negotiating tack, and Oxfam’s language of assertive diplomacy.
Oxfam clarifies RP’s role in climate talks
I write in response to the article “RP urged to join alliance to reduce carbon emissions” (Inquirer, 6/16/09) to clarify Oxfam’s position, and to provide background information that is essential for understanding the performance and positions of the Philippine government delegation to the intergovernmental climate change negotiations, going on under the auspices of the United Nations.
First, I wish to emphasize Oxfam’s general view that the Philippine government played a positive and progressive role in the negotiations. What is not clear from the article—and what citizens need to know—is that the Philippines was the first country to put forward a concrete proposal (early this year) for the mid-term emissions cuts necessary from each individual industrialized country. This proposal reflected an even higher level of ambition than the proposal from South Africa, Brazil, China, India and other developing countries in the most recent negotiation session. Having such a bold proposal on the table early in the negotiating process has helped embolden the position of other developing countries, and also has filled a critical gap by setting out for industrialized countries such as the European Union, Japan and the United States the level of ambition that they need to be aiming for.
Second, Filipinos need to know that their delegation has consistently played a central role in the alliance of developing countries known as the G77 & China—another point that doesn’t come through clearly in the article. Like all countries negotiating for a stronger international climate regime, the Philippines forges its strategies, tactics and alliances on specific issues based on its specific national circumstances and interests. No doubt, the choice not to join the specific bloc of countries pushing for a 40-percent cut from industrialized countries by 2020 at the recent round of talks in Bonn reflects carefully considered judgment. More importantly, it is not necessarily incompatible with wider alliance-building efforts with these or other developing countries that work under the G77 & China bloc in the run-up to Copenhagen.
The negotiations are far from over, and much remains to be done. Securing a fair and safe agreement in Copenhagen is critical to reduce risks and increase support for poor people, who are already suffering most the climate impacts despite being least responsible for them. The Philippines is playing a critical role and should continue to do so.
senior policy adviser on climate change,