The recent climate change talks in Copenhagen were billed as a last ditch attempt to save the world from the catastrophic consequences of global warming. They ended with an attempted coup d’etat by the most powerful governments in the world – those who are responsible for the environmental destruction that has been wreaked on the planet.
What Barak Obama and the other leaders of the rich world were prepared to sign up to would have resulted, in the words of Sudan’s chief negotiator, in the “incineration of the African continent”. This environmental and political coup was resisted by progressive governments and the G77 group of impoverished nations. Below, Fidel Castro gives an account of what transpired in Copenhagen.
The truth of what happened in the Summit
Young people, more than anybody, are interested in the future.
Until very recently, there was discussion as to the kind of society in which we might live. Today the discussion is about whether human society will survive.
These are not dramatic sentences. One has to get used to real facts. The last thing that human beings can lose is hope. With the truth in their hands, men and women of all ages, especially young people, have waged an exemplary battle at the Summit, offering the world a great lesson.
The principal issue now is that as much is known in Cuba and in the world as to what happened in Copenhagen. The truth possesses a force which overcomes the mediatized and frequently misinformed intelligence of those who have the destiny of the world in their hands.
If something important was achieved in the Danish capital, it was that, via the mass media, world public opinion could observe the political chaos created and the humiliating treatment of heads of state and government, ministers and thousands of representatives from the social movements and institutions, who traveled to the Summit venue in Copenhagen full of illusions and hopes. The brutal repression of peaceful demonstrators on the part of the public force recalled the conduct of the Nazi assault troops that occupied neighboring Denmark in April 1940. What nobody could have imagined is that December 18, 2009, the final day of the Summit, would be suspended by the Danish government – a NATO ally and associated with the butchery in Afghanistan – to hand over the principal conference room to President Obama, where he and a select group of invitees, 16 in total, would have the exclusive right to speak. Obama gave a deceitful and demagogic speech, full of ambiguities, which failed to imply any binding commitment whatsoever and ignored the Kyoto Framework Protocol. He left the room after listening to a few more speakers. Among those invited to take the floor were the most industrialized countries, a number of the emerging economies and some of the poorest on the planet. The leaders and representatives of more than 170 only had the right to listen.
After the discourse of the select 16, Evo Morales, with all the authority of his Aymara Indian origin and recently elected with 65% of the vote and the support of two-thirds of the Bolivian House and Senate, asked to speak. The Danish president had no alternative but to grant him the floor, given the demand of the other delegations. When Evo concluded his wise words and profound sentences, the Dane had to give the floor to Hugo Chávez. Both speeches will go down in history as examples of brief and opportune speeches. Their task fully completed, the two of them left for their respective countries. But when Obama made himself scarce he had not as yet completed his task in the country hosting the Summit.
From the night of December 17 to the early hours of the 18th, the prime minister of Denmark and senior U.S. representatives met with the president of the European Commission and the leaders of 27 countries in order to propose to them, on Obama’s behalf, a draft agreement which did not have the participation of any of the other leaders from the rest of the world. It was an anti-democratic and virtually clandestine initiative, which ignored thousands of representatives of the social movements, scientific and religious institutions and other guests at the Summit.
During the entire night of the 18th to three in the morning on the 19th, when many heads of state had already gone, the country representatives were waiting for the re-initiation of the sessions and the closing session. Obama had meetings and press conferences all day on the 18th. The European leaders did likewise. Then they left.
Then an unheard of event took place: at three in the morning on the 19th, the prime minister of Denmark convened a meeting for the closing of the Summit. Ministers, officials, ambassadors and technical personnel remained representing their countries.
However, the battle waged at that hour of the morning by a group of representatives of Third World countries was amazing in its challenge to the attempt by Obama and the richest of the planet to present the U.S.-imposed document as a consensus agreement of the Summit.
With an impressive energy, Claudia Salerno, the Venezuelan representative, showed her right hand, which was bleeding from the force with which she struck the table to exercise her right to speak. The tone of her voice and the dignity of her arguments will not be forgotten.
The Cuban minister of foreign affairs gave an energetic speech of approximately 1,000 words, from which I have selected a number of paragraphs that I wish to include in this Reflection:
“The document that you affirmed on a number of occasions did not exist, Mr. President, has now appeared. …we have seen versions that were circulating surreptitiously and being discussed in small secret meetings…”
“I deeply regret the way in which you have conducted this conference.”
“… Cuba considers the text of this apocryphal project as insufficient and inadmissible. The goal of two degrees centigrade is unacceptable and would have incalculable disastrous consequences…”
“The document that you, lamentably, are presenting has no commitment whatsoever to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.”
“I am aware of earlier versions that, via questionable and clandestine procedures, were being negotiated in closed corridors…”
“The document that you are now presenting precisely omits the already meager and insufficient key phrases that that version contained…”
“… for Cuba, it is incompatible with the universally recognized scientific criterion which considers it urgent and unavoidable to assure levels of reduction of at least 45% of emissions by the year 2020, and a reduction of no less than 80% or 90% by 2050.”
“Everything proposed around the continuation of negotiations for adopting, in the future, agreements on reductions of emissions, must inevitably include the concept of the validity of the Kyoto Protocol… Your paper, Mr. President, is the death certificate of the Kyoto Protocol, which my delegation does not accept.”
“The Cuban delegation wishes to emphasize the pre-eminence of the principle of ‘common but distinguished responsibilities’ as a central concept of the future negotiation process. Your paper does not say a single word about that.”
“This draft declaration omits concrete commitments of funding and the transfer of technologies to the developing countries as part of meeting the obligations contracted by the developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change… The developed countries which are imposing their interests via this document, Mr. President, are evading any concrete commitment.”
“…Mr. President, what you refer to as ‘a group of representative leaders’ is, for me, a gross violation of the principle of sovereign equality consecrated in the Charter of the United Nations…”
“Mr. President, I am formally asking for this declaration to be included in the final report on the work of this lamentable and shameful 15th Conference of the Parties.”
The state representatives had only been conceded one hour for expressing their opinions, which led to complicated, shameful and disagreeable situations.
Then came a long debate in which the delegations of the developed countries exercised heavy pressure in an attempt to make the Conference adopt the said document as the final result of their deliberations.
A reduced number of countries firmly insisted on the serious omissions and ambiguities of the document promoted by the United States, in particular the absence of any commitment on the part of the developed countries in terms of the reduction of carbon emissions and funding for the nations of the South to adopt measures of mitigation and adaptation.
After long and extremely tense discussions, the position of the ALBA countries and Sudan, as president of the Group of 77, that the document in question was unacceptable for adoption by the Conference, prevailed.
In the face of the evident lack of consensus, the Conference confined itself to “taking note” of the existence of that document as the position of a group of approximately 25 countries.
After that decision, adopted at 10:30 in the morning Denmark time, Bruno – after a an amicable discussion together with other ALBA representatives with the UN secretary general to whom they expressed their disposition to continue fighting together with the United Nations to prevent the terrible consequences of climate change – left for our country with Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo to attend the meeting of the National Assembly, his task having being completed. Some members of the delegation and the ambassador remained in Copenhagen to participate in the final proceedings.
This afternoon they informed us of the following:
“…both those who participated in drafting the document and those who – like the president of the U.S. – anticipated an announcement of its adoption by the Conference… given that they were unable to reject the decision that the supposed ‘Copenhagen Agreement’ should be confined to ‘taking note of,’ tried to propose a procedure so that other parties who had not been part of this shady deal to join it by declaring their adherence, thus trying to give the said agreement a legal nature, which in fact could prejudge the result of negotiations that will have to continue.”
“This belated attempt once again received firm opposition from Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, which warned that this document that the Convention had not made its own had no legal nature, did not exist as a document of the parties and no rules whatsoever could be established for its supposed adoption…”
“The Copenhagen sessions are finishing in this state, without the document that was surreptitiously prepared in the last few days, with the clear ideological conduction of the American administration…”
Tomorrow attention will be focused on the National Assembly.
Lazo, Bruno and the rest of the delegation arrive at midnight tonight. On Monday, the minister of foreign affairs of Cuba can explain, with all the details and necessary precision, the truth of what happened at the Summit.
Fidel Castro Ruz
Translated by Granma International
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