COP16 - Saturday

Elizabeth May

For a meeting that the media ignored, that governments down-played and that even environmental groups thought would be a snoozer, COP16 in Cancun is off to a far more interesting start.

The good news is the continued commitment from Norway, a strong initial proposal from developing countries, with this year’s lead nation Grenada putting forward a strong commitment to the continuation of Kyoto. Meanwhile the EU and UK say that they would sign on to a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, as long as others do as well.  Venezuela and Bolivia are calling for 1.5 degrees as a maximum global average temperature increase.  The bad news is that initially Japan, and now Russia and Canada identified as supporters, calling for no new phase of Kyoto.

The scandalous news is from Wikileaks of the US government using extortion, bribery, spying on other countries and twisting arms to get agreement for the useless “Copenhagen Accord.”   As I rode in on the bus from the airport tonight with a Danish journalist, we both agreed that the arm-twisting was evident last year in Copenhagen.  Even the bribery was not all that well disguised.   But the effort to find embarrassing domestic climate trades, the engagement of the CIA in gathering dirt on other countries, has caused shock.  The blatant content of the leaked cables makes it clear that the US has used the offer of funding to extract support for the Copenhagen Accord.

Only informal talks take place tomorrow with full negotiations to resume on Monday.  Canada got another fossil award today.  Canada’s efforts to undermine Kyoto are no surprise, but our chief negotiator has ducked a clear answer whenever he has been asked.  

Meanwhile, the green-washing and save the world rhetoric from the Obama administration last year in Copenhagen has been significantly exposed a fraud by Wikileaks.  While the climate denier front went to town attacking scientists who had done nothing wrong at the University of East Anglia, totally ignoring the fact that burglars broke into a computer and stole documents, somehow the Wikileaks episode is treated entirely different.  It is a witch-hunt against Wikileaks, while largely ignoring the content of what was exposed.

Double–standard?  The global media and national political figures did not call for an investigation of the burglaries.  They only called for a public inquisition of the scientists.  Theft is theft.  Secret documents are generally secret for a reason.  For instance, I applaud of Ambassador to Afghanistan for raising concern about Canadian funds being used to line the pockets of members of the Afghan government. 

Wikileaks poses huge ethical issues.  Journalist or burglar?  But, unlike the criminals who broke into the East Anglia computers, Wikileaks is out in the open. The organization exists to publish government materials that are leaked, and while protecting their sources, Wikileaks founders’ identities are known. The same cannot be said for the East Anglia burglers.   The individuals involved are transparent, as they want governments to be.  And while hypocrisy from political leaders is not earth-shaking news, the fact that the US under Obama is pressuring countries to line up against the Kyoto Protocol, just as George Bush did before him, makes me wonder what happened to “hope and change”?