Bad news and (some very limited) good news out of Copenhagen


The UN Copenhagen climate change conference is over, the weary participants are reliving the highs (very few) and the lows (quite a few), there is an agreement to keep talking and negotiating, and President Obama announced a five-party agreement on some crucial issues.

There will be plenty of commentary over the coming weeks arguing about whether the conference was a bust, a last-minute success or a waste of time, or if it set the groundwork for the next stage of struggle.

All these positions have some validity. The conference did not produce a binding, mandatory agreement on controlling greenhouse gas emissions - so the main goal of the conference was a bust.

Obama did fly in and through last-minute negotiations help seal a deal between the U.S., China, India, Brazil and South Africa. This is an important step, though still far short of any mandatory emission controls or explicit commitments to significantly limit carbon dioxide emissions.

Even though this last-minute deal is very inadequate at addressing the root causes of global warming, it is important that there was some result - a total defeat of any agreement between any of the major players would have set back the struggle. It is a small, incremental step, with a long staircase of steps still ahead of the people of the world.

The conference was also a success in an educational sense, bringing the issue to the forefront of worldwide attention, bringing leaders of 160 countries to the table, highlighting proposals for real limits and real solutions, and also making clear the intensive obstacles to a serious agreement.

The conference will result in a new stage of struggle. Many small, less-developed nations will continue to demand a larger voice, wary because their voices and concerns were brushed aside or muted in the hopes of an international agreement that didn't materialize. The grassroots environmental movements will only grow, the evidence of human-caused global climate change will only accumulate faster, the impacts of climate change will only intensify. The arguments will continue to shift away from denial.

The difficulties of the Copenhagen conference are signals for more involvement by the peoples of the world and their organizations. Unfortunately, some will see it as an excuse to retreat from political action, when much more is called for.

The next major struggle will be in the U.S. Senate. The House has already passed a bill, the Waxman-Markey bill, and the Senate has the Boxer-Kerry bill before it, as well as a bipartisan effort headed by John Kerry and Lindsay Graham. Much like the results of Copenhagen, the result will be inadequate, but some success is crucial.

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  • The carbon footprint of the entire Wall Street military-financial-industrial complex has not been considered in any of this and we need an explanation as to why this is since it is by far the most destructive to our environment and the single greatest contributor to global warming.

    Posted by Alan L. Maki, 12/26/2009 9:30pm (6 years ago)

  • Top Cuban official says Obama lied in Copenhagen

    Dec 21, 8:20 PM (ET)


    HAVANA (AP) - Cuba's foreign minister called President Barack Obama an "imperial and arrogant" liar Monday for his conduct at the U.N. climate conference, a reflection of the communist island's increasingly fiery verbal attacks on the U.S. government.

    Bruno Rodriguez spent an hour and a half lambasting Obama's behavior in Copenhagen, telling a news conference, "at this summit, there was only imperial, arrogant Obama, who does not listen, who imposes his positions and even threatens developing countries."

    He called the summit "a fallacy, a farce" and said Washington used back-room deals and strong-arm tactics to foist on the world a deal that he labeled "undemocratic" and "suicidal" because it urges - but does not require - major polluters to make deeper emissions cuts.

    Rodriguez also said Cuba and other poor nations have refused to recognize the agreement because they weren't permitted to participate in its development.

    He singled out comments Obama made during a news conference in Copenhagen, when the U.S. president said no agreement had yet been reached but he was confident one would before the summit ended. "Obama knew he was lying, that he was deceiving public opinion," the foreign minister said.

    When asked if Cuba was serious about forging a climate agreement given that President Raul Castro declared Copenhagen a failure days before it ended, Rodriguez said, "Cuba's prestige is well-recognized in international negotiations."

    "It was an open secret that countries would not reach an agreement," he said.

    Rodriguez would not answer questions about the status of an American citizen who was detained in Cuba on Dec. 5 while working as a U.S. government contractor.

    Castro first publicly mentioned the detention Sunday, when he told the Cuban Parliament that the American was arrested for distributing illegal satellite communications equipment.

    "The United States won't quit trying to destroy the revolution," Castro said, referring to the armed rebellion that brought his brother Fidel to power on New Year's Day 1959.

    "In the past few weeks we have witnessed the stepping up of the new administration's efforts in this area," he said, adding that the arrest "demonstrates that the enemy is as active as ever."

    American diplomats in Cuba have requested - but not yet received - Cuba's permission for consular access to the detainee, whose name has not been released. Rodriguez refused to say whether his office would grant the request.

    Rodriguez's comments Monday echoed remarks by former President Fidel Castro, who in a weekend opinion column called Obama's speech in Copenhagen "deceitful, demagogic and full of ambiguities."

    Last week, the elder Castro, who stepped down as head of state in February 2008, wrote that Washington is looking to solidify its control over Latin America and that Obama's "friendly smile and African-American face" hide his government's sinister true intentions for the region.

    Raul Castro over the weekend mentioned recent war games Cuba conducted to prepare for a U.S. invasion and hinted that the contractor's arrest shows further American aggression against his country is a real possibility.

    "I just want to note that here we have a people who are ready to protect, at any price, the successes of the revolution," he said. "I'd advise one and all that they cease provocations of this type."

    Gina Gianlorenzi
    Pittsburgh PA

    Posted by Gina Gianlorenzi , 12/21/2009 9:36pm (6 years ago)

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