Finally after the birth of Wikileaks there has finally been some leaks on climate cables and what has been said behind closed doors. Leaked U.S. cables have been put onto Wikileaks which finally answers the question on why did Copenhagen horribly fail?
The cables revealed that the two giant polluting countries, China and the U.S. joined forces together in a bid to stop all climate action and agreements by the European Union. In May 2009 the chairman of the Senator of Foreign Affairs Committee, John Kerry met with the Deputy Prime minister of China Li Keqiang. John Kerry told the Deputy Prime minister that Washington could relate to “China’s resistance to accepting mandatory targets at the United Nations Climate Conference, which will take place in Copenhagen.”
The cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing outlined that there was an opportunity for major cooperation between China and the U.S. on climate change. The cooperation first began under the reign of George W. Bush in 2007, his senior climate negotiator Harlan Watson organised a 10 year agreement with China that focused on energy and the environment. They also organised “Strategic and Economic” talks that they are both having some difficulty admitting to.
Once Barack Obama was inaugurated as the new President of America, Hilary Clinton was the one who took control of these dialogues. Her first visit to Beijing led to a new agreement of the ‘partnership on energy and climate change.’ The purpose of this was to make sure that COP15 would end favourably for both Chinese and U.S. interests.
Apparently on one of John Kerry’s trips to Beijing he told the Chinese leaders that the European Union wanted a binding agreement on reducing concrete cuts of emissions for the U.S. and all other industrialised countries. The cables also revealed that this was not only for Washington’s best interests but also in the interest of money. The U.S. embassy drew plans for Kerry showing that China would invest a estimate of USD$175 billion dollars in environmental protection in the next five years and also that U.S. companies would mostly benefit from this investment. Westinghouse, a American company estimates that several thousand U.S. based job are retained each time China orders a nuclear reactor.
During all this planning the EU were not completely oblivious to what was going on behind their backs. A U.S. Ambassador from Canberra, Australia sent a note entailing that the EU were well aware of what was going on between the U.S. and China. The note was a summary of a conversation that a embassy employee had with an Australian climate negotiator. The negotiator stated that the EU’s observations of the China and U.S. relationship has led them to doubt that they will reach a climate change agreement that all will benefit from.
September 2009 was the launch for a fierce PR campaign from U.S. Embassies in Europe ordered from U.S. state department to explain that Obama was taking the U.S. on a new direction in in the push for climate action. It also stated that Obama wanted a decisive 17 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions. This campaign was targeted specifically at governments, NGO’s, the press and other opinion leaders.
The Europeans were not ignorant at what the Americans were trying to pull off and they noticed that Washington had used 2005 as a baseline rather than 1990 which all of Europe uses as a baseline for their greenhouse gas emissions figures. Despite all this the U.S. embassies tried to persuade the Europeans that the governments targets “are consistent with keeping the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.”
When all the leaders and representatives of 192 countries came together at Copenhagen for COP15, there was optimism for a new binding agreement. Nevertheless China, the U.S., Brazil, India and South Africa held a private meeting in a hotel conference room reaching to a final draft of a Copenhagen agreement. That draft is now known as the Copenhagen accord and does not have any binding agreement. After a month of the release of this accord German negotiators complained to the U.S. that “Europeans were unhappy that they had not been included in important negotiations between the US and China.”
To get more backing for this accord the U.S. government offered an incentive to the poorer countries that took the shape of ‘development aid.’ An ambassador from the Maldives was to a certain extent forced into accepting millions of dollars to agree to the accord. All he needed to do was state how much the Maldives needed and there was a likelihood that congress would authorise the amount to be given to them. A memo from the Americans was also noted to say that “Other nations would then come to realize that there are advantages to be gained by compliance.”
My personal opinion is that these Wikileaks could not have come at a better time. We now have a better understanding of what is going on especially with China and the U.S. Will they be able to get away with this for a second time?