Democracy and Transparency under Siege at COP 16

WikiLeaks reveals how unilateralism jeopardizes a fair, equitable deal on climate change

By: Shannon Gibson

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Miami

Recent release of confidential cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveals that the United States used conditional funding promises, spying and threats by their Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and cyber warfare in order to overwhelm and strong-arm countries opposing the controversial “Copenhagen Accord”, an unofficial document whose text was negotiated by a small subset of the 194 member countries to the Convention in the final days of the Copenhagen conference in 2009.

The US diplomatic cables once again reveal that the altruistic, earth-saving rhetoric of many developed countries is merely a façade, as they consistently pursue inadequate mitigation commitments, shady funding practices and unrestricted access to developing nations’ economies via carbon markets and offsets.

One secret cable from July 2009 indicates that the US state department was seeking intelligence prior to the negotiations.  Specifically, the CIA requested that US diplomats report back on evidence of environmental “treaty circumvention” and efforts by treaty secretariats to influence negotiations.  Additional cables include threats to African governments, attempts by the EU to silence criticism of the US’s role in Copenhagen, and several that link future funding to support of the Copenhagen Accord.

Full transparency and access to decision-making and text negotiation is once again in jeopardy in the UNFCCC climate change negotiations.  Secret consultations and Notes by Chairs submitted to the Convention are clearly methods to subvert democratic decision-making and squelch dissent around the form of the future agreement and the role of carbon markets.

For example, in the two ‘Notes by the Chair’ on the possible elements of an outcome in the LCA negotiation track that were distributed so far in the negotiations, the Chair has removed multiple elements in the original negotiating text that referred to proposals from developing countries and the Cochabamba People’s Agreement.

Though developing countries, such as Bolivia, continue to decry the siege on democracy within the UNFCCC, developed countries continue to pursue unilateralism without impunity.   Already, the US has rescinded finance from Bolivia and Ecuador for refusing to support the Accord.

One can only hope that civil society and developing countries will be successful in making their voices and demands heard throughout the duration of the conference.

Shannon Gibson is working with Global Justice Ecology Project during COP16/CMP6 to provide daily negotiation updates and policy analysis.  She is a Ph.D. candidate in International Studies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, where she researches issues pertaining to global environmental politics and global civil society.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>