The Copenhagen Accord: Suicide Pact?

The COP15 talks in Denmark are over now. The "accord" reached is nonbinding, asking states only to "take note" of its objectives.

What are its objectives? Drafted by the USA with input from major industrializing states whose CO2 emissions are rising fast —China, Brazil, India, South Africa— the "accord" aims to keep temperature increases only within 2 degrees C (3.6 F). It does not set any emissions targets for any nations to ensure meeting this global goal.

The accord vaguely describes a plan to spend $100 billion a year in "aid" money in those nations that are already feeling the effects of desertification, sea level rise, storm intensification, and other disruptions associated with GHG emissions. This $100 billion —a sum that is less than 1/6 of the USA's annual military budget— will furthermore not be available until 2020. Anyone who has researched the current and coming impacts of climate change on impoverished nations knows that $100 billion is very inadequate figure. Africa alone is expected to experience upwards of $195 billion in economic losses each year in the very near term due to changes in weather patterns.

Expedited funds have been proposed for the next few years, but like the $100 billion called for in 2020, impoverished nations are being asked to endorse the US drafted plan in order to receive "aid," a situation many have recognized as blackmail. The recognition of these "aid" packages as a climate debt owed to impoverished nations by wealthy industrial nations has been rejected by US and European heads of state, just as past calls for reparations for colonialism have been derided, just as the global movement for debt jubilee has been ignored.

For all that the accord doesn't do, it's worth noting what it does accomplish. It does prime the pump for the globalization of carbon markets, a goal lusted after by major western banks, financial corporations, and polluters like the coal and oil industries who seek ways to continue and expand their operations while making profits off the privatization of forests, soils, and indigenous lands (see the Indigenous Environmental Network for more info).

Unacknowledged in many news accounts of the Copenhagen Accord is the logic by which the deal was reached. It appears that the USA working principally with China has drafted a plan that more or less extends the global economic status quo far into the future. These two enormously interdependent economies (China as a global manufacturing base, the US a a consumer market and finance capitol) appear to have agreed on an accord that does not significantly alter either economy's growth rate, or the fundamentals of their relationship, which it should be noted is entirely based on the massive emissions of CO2 and other toxic industrial pollutants in both states.

Europe, Australia, Canada and other so-called "developed" nations appear to be going along with this deal as it protects their similarly parasitic relations with their former colonies in the global south. Rising powers like Brazil and India were instrumental in the deal, acting from a perspective similar to China.

The global south (i.e. the majority of the world's peoples), including nearly every African nation and dozens of states in Latin America, and Southeast Asia responded to the deal with condemnation and outrage. The negotiator of the G77, representing the world's 130 poorest nations said:

"[This accord] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It's a solution based on values that funneled six million people in Europe into furnaces."

Wealthy states quickly condemned his comparison, but in terms of the scientific data available, a 2 degrees C increase in global temperature would objectively make much of Africa uninhabitable with water sources disappearing, rainfall ceasing, crops collapsing, and worse (see http://www.cicero.uio.no/fulltext/index.aspx?id=5249&lang=NO and http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090602204259.htm for just two brief summaries of some available data). Current geopolitical realities, immigration policies, and the paltry "aid" package proposed by the USA would in fact then seem to be condemning the peoples of Africa and beyond to a furnace.

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