Climate change is already causing considerable damage and hundreds of millions of poor people are suffering the consequences.
The most advanced research centers assure that very little time is left for avoiding an irreversible catastrophe. James Hansen, of NASA’s Goddard Institute, says that a level of 350 parts carbon dioxide per million is still tolerable; today, however, the figure is in excess of 390 and it is increasing at a rate of 2 parts per million every year, exceeding the levels of 600,000 years ago. Each one of the last two decades has been the hottest ever recorded. The above-mentioned gas increased 80 parts per million in the last 150 years.
The ice of the Artic Sea, the vast, two-kilometer-thick layer that covers Greenland, the glaciers of South America which feed its principle sources of freshwater, the colossal volume that covers Antarctica, the layer that covers Kilimanjaro, the ice that covers the Himalayas and the enormous frozen mass of Siberia are visibly melting. Notable scientists fear qualitative jumps in these natural phenomena that give rise to changes.
Humanity placed great hope in the Copenhagen Summit, after the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997, which entered into effect in 2005. The summit’s resounding failure gave way to shameful episodes that require due clarification.
The United States, with less than 5% of the world’s population, issues 25% of its carbon dioxide. The new president of the United States had promised to cooperate with international efforts to confront a problem that is affecting that country as much as the rest of the world. During meetings prior to the summit, it became evident that the leaders of that nation and of the richest nations maneuvered to make the weight of the sacrifice fall onto emerging and poor countries.
A large number of leaders and thousands of representatives of social movements and scientific institutions, determined to fight to preserve humanity from the greatest threat in its history went to Copenhagen, invited by the summit’s organizers. In order to focus on the political aspects of the summit, I will not go into details concerning the brutality of the Danish public forces, which attacked thousands of demonstrators and guests of the social movements and scientists who went to Denmark’s capital.
In Copenhagen, real chaos prevailed, and unbelievable things happened. Social movements and scientific institutions were not allowed to attend the debates. There were heads of state and government who were not even able to issue their opinions on vital problems. Obama and the leaders of the richest countries took over the conference with the complicity of the Danish government. The agencies of the United Nations were relegated.
Barack Obama, who arrived on the last day of the summit to remain there for only 12 hours, met with two groups of guests “hand-picked” by him and his collaborators. Together with one of them, he met with the rest of the highest delegations in the plenary hall. He spoke and immediately left via the back door. In that plenary session, except for the small group selected by him, the representatives of other countries were not allowed to speak. During that meeting, the presidents of Bolivia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela were allowed to speak, because the president of the summit had no alternative than to concede that in the face of the strenuous demands of those present.
In an adjoining room, Obama met with the leaders of the richest countries, several of the most important emerging states, and two very poor ones. He presented a document, negotiated with two or three of the most important countries, ignored the United Nations General Assembly, gave press conferences, and marched away like Julius Caesar during one of his victorious campaigns in Asia Minor, which prompted him to exclaim, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Even Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom, had affirmed on October 19, “If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement in some future period can undo that choice. By then it will be irretrievably too late.”
Brown concluded his speech with dramatic words: “We cannot afford to fail. If we act now; if we act together; if we act with vision and resolve, success at Copenhagen is still within our reach. But if we falter, the earth itself will be at risk… For the planet there is no plan B.”
Now he arrogantly stated that the United Nations cannot be taken hostage by a small group of countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Tuvalu, while accusing China, India, Brazil, South Africa and other emerging states of giving in to the seduction of the United States and signing a document that dumps the Kyoto Protocol into the garbage bin and contains no binding commitment whatsoever on the part of the United States and its rich allies.
I feel obliged to remember that the United Nations was born just six decades ago, after the last World War. There were no more than 50 independent countries at the time. Today, it is made up of more than 190 independent states, after the odious colonial system ceased to exist because of the determined struggles of the peoples. Even the People’s Republic of China was denied UN membership for many years, and a puppet government held its representation in that institution and on its privileged Security Council.
The tenacious support of a growing number of Third World countries was indispensable to the international recognition of China, and an extremely important factor for the United States and its allies in NATO recognizing its (China’s) rights in the United Nations.
In the historic struggle against fascism, the Soviet Union made the largest contribution. More than 25 million of its sons and daughters died, and enormous destruction ravaged the country. Out of that struggle, it emerged as a superpower, capable of countering, in part, the absolute dominion of the imperial system of the United States and the former colonial powers in their unlimited plunder of the peoples of the Third World. When the USSR disintegrated, the United States extended its political and military power toward the East, toward the heart of Russia, and its influence over the rest of Europe grew. There is nothing strange about what happened in Copenhagen.
I would like to emphasize the unjust and offensive nature of the statements of the prime minister of the United Kingdom, and the yanki attempt to impose, as a summit agreement, a document that was never discussed at any time with the participating countries.
At a December 21 press conference, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez stated a truth that is impossible to deny; I will use some of his exact paragraphs: “I would like to emphasized that in Copenhagen, there was no agreement whatsoever of the Conference of the Parties; no decision whatsoever was made with respect to binding or non-binding commitments or international law; there was simply no agreement in Copenhagen.
“The summit was a failure and a deception of world public opinion…. The lack of political will was laid bare….
“It was a step backward in the actions of the international community to prevent or mitigate the effects of climate change….
“The average world temperature could rise by 5 degrees….”
Immediately, our foreign minister added other interesting facts about possible consequences according to the latest scientific investigations.
“From the Kyoto Protocol to date, the emissions of the developed countries have risen by 12.8%… and 55% of that volume comes from the United States.
“One person in the United States consumes, on average, 25 barrels of oil annually; one European, 11; one Chinese citizen, less than two, and one Latin American or Caribbean, less than one.
“Thirty countries, including those of the European Union, consume 80% of the fuel produced.”
The very re
al fact is that the developed countries which signed the Kyoto Protocol drastically increased their emissions. They now wish to replace the base of emissions adopted starting 1990 with that of 2005, with which the United States, the maximum issuer, would reduce its emissions of 25 years earlier by only 3%. It is a shameless mockery of world opinion.
The Cuban foreign minister, speaking on behalf of a group of ALBA countries, defended China, India, Brazil, South Africa and other important states with emerging economies, affirming the concept reached in Kyoto of “common, but differentiated responsibilities; meaning that the historic accumulators and the developed countries, those responsible for this catastrophe, have different responsibilities from those of the small island states, or those of the countries of the South, above all the least-developed countries….
“Responsibilities means financing; responsibilities means the transfer of technology under acceptable conditions, and then Obama makes a play on words, and instead of talking about common but differentiated responsibilities, talks about ‘common, but differentiated responses.’
“He leaves the plenary without deigning to listen to anybody, nor had he listened to anybody before his speech.”
At a subsequent press conference, before leaving the Danish capital, Obama affirmed, “We’ve made meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough in Copenhagen. For the first time in history the major economies have come together to accept their responsibility…”
In his clear and irrefutable statement, our foreign minister affirmed, “What is meant by ‘the major economies have come together to accept their responsibility?’ It means that they are shrugging off an important part of the burden signified by the financing for the mitigation and adaptation of countries — above all the entire South — to climate change, onto China, Brazil, India and South Africa; because it must be said that in Copenhagen, there was an assault on, a mugging of China, Brazil, India, and South Africa, and of all of the countries euphemistically referred to as developing.”
These were the resounding and irrefutable words with which our foreign minister recounted what happened in Copenhagen.
I should add that, at 10 a.m. on December 19th, after our Vice President Esteban Lazo and the Cuban foreign minister had left, there was a belated attempt to resuscitate the corpse of Copenhagen as a summit agreement. At that point, virtually no heads of state or even ministers were left. Once again, the exposé of the remaining members of the Cuban, Venezuela, Bolivian, Nicaraguan and other countries’ delegations defeated the maneuver. That was how the inglorious summit ended.
Another fact that cannot be forgotten was that, during the most critical moments of that day, in the early morning, the Cuban foreign minister, together with the delegations that were waging their dignified battle, offered UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon their cooperation in the increasingly difficult battle that is being waged, and in the efforts that must be undertaken in the future to preserve the life of our species.
The environmental group WWF warned that climate change will become uncontrollable in the next 5 to 10 years if emissions are not drastically cut.
But it is not necessary to demonstrate the essence of what is being said here about what Obama did.
The U.S. president stated on Wednesday, December 23 that people were right to be disappointed by the outcome of the Summit on Climate Change. In an interview with the CBS television network, the president noted, “Rather than see a complete collapse in Copenhagen, in which nothing at all got done and would have been a huge backward step, at least we kind of held ground and there wasn’t too much backsliding from where we were…”
Obama, according to the news dispatch, was the one most criticized by those countries which, virtually unanimously, believe that the outcome of the summit was disastrous.
The UN is now in a predicament. Asking other countries to adhere to the arrogant and antidemocratic agreement would be humiliating for many states.
Continuing the battle and demanding at all meetings, particularly those of Bonn and Mexico, the right of humanity to exist, with the moral authority and strength the truth affords us, is, in our opinion, the only way forward.
Fidel Castro Ruz
December 26, 2009