Bullying and bribery in Copenhagen are wrecking the climate

Media briefing: For immediate release

Thursday 17 December


Press officer Kate Blagojevic +44 7711 875345

Policy officer Tim Jones inside the Bella Centre +44 7817 628196

Bullying and bribery in Copenhagen are wrecking the climate

Before COP13 in Bali in 2007, World Development Movement warned there is a danger climate change negotiations would become like trade negotiations (see Table on page 4). Unfortunately in Copenhagen this has become true. Rich countries have had an aggressive strategy to maintain their dominance in the world economy. They have used the same arguments and tactics as have been witnessed in the stalled Doha round of trade negotiations for the last eight years.

World Development Movement Policy Officer Tim Jones said: "It is scandalous that developing countries are being told that international aid and finance to cope with the impacts of climate change is dependent on cooperation at these talks. The bullying and bribery tactics being employed right now by rich countries to force through a bad deal are incredibly and deeply immoral.

"These talks are being darkened by rich countries trying to save face, but not the climate. Rich countries have caused this problem and now they are trying to blame developing countries for stalling the talks because they are standing up to these insulting and outrageous bribes. The very survival of some of these countries depends on the outcomes of these talks but rich countries can not see beyond the survival of business as usual."

Rich countries have sought to use the high profile nature of Copenhagen, and consequent pressure for a deal, to push through an unfair and unjust agreement. The most likely outcome is stalled climate negotiations, threatening just and effective solutions to the climate crisis.

Box. The bad deal rich countries are pushing for

Emissions cuts

In Copenhagen rich countries have sought the right to emit huge amounts of fossil fuels for many years to come.[1] At the same time, they are demanding that developing countries, with far lower emissions per person, curb their emissions, thus hindering their right to development. Per person emissions in rich countries would remain higher than developing countries for decades to come.


Rich countries owe a huge climate debt for their past and present emissions. They have stated the cost of tackling climate change in developing countries will be $100 billion by 2020, but have not offered to pay these costs.

· The EU has said just $20 – $50 billion of public money is needed by 2020, and both the EU and US say poor countries should contribute to this fund as well as rich. It has not said how much the EU is willing to contribute. The US has now supported the $100 billion figure, but not said how much it will contribute.

· In addition, the EU and US expects poor countries affected by climate change to meet part of the $100 billion costs themselves.

· Both the EU and US expect an unspecified amount of money to come from carbon offsetting, allowing rich countries to escape their emission reduction commitments, whilst putting business in control and making large profits for corporations. The current offsetting scheme, the Clean Development Mechanism, has a record of funding projects which have no impact on emissions but which do cause local environmental and social harm.

· In reality, $400 billion is needed to tackle climate change in developing countries as soon as possible, not $100 billion in 2020. A maximum of $10 billion is being offered now.

· All of the proposed $10 billion is from pre-existing aid commitments, some has already been spent, a lot is being given as loans, and most is going through the unjust and undemocratic World Bank.

A leaked document from the UNFCCC secretariat shows that the current offers on the table would result in 3°C temperature rise.[2] This is a bad deal. It is blocking negotiations and should be rejected.

Bullying and bribery

Knowing that the deal they want is a bad one for the global south, rich countries have resorted to bullying and bribery in an attempt to get their way. But negotiators are no strangers to this, having suffered the same for many years in the WTO. So far developing countries have resisted succumbing to the pressure they have been put under.

1) Controlling the process

The Danish government has been working on a separate agreement independent of the UN process, to suddenly be pushed on heads of government at the end of the Conference. One version of this was leaked in the first week. Prime Minister Rasmussen tried to push a second version on 16 December. A group of developed countries has been formed, chaired by Gordon Brown, to help write the political statement for 18 December.

Developing countries have collectively resisted this imposition of an unjust deal. It is the attempted imposition of an agreement by Denmark acting on behalf of rich countries which has caused the continued stalling of negotiations.

2) Offering bribes

Rich countries have sought to get bad long term agreements signed with offers of short term money now. Lesotho, head of the Least Developed Countries, has been told decisions on extension of $7 million in aid will be decided this week depending on its cooperation.

Palau has been told negotiations on a funding package with the US will be decided soon, so it should support the US’s emission reduction target.

For the last two weeks, rich countries have been pushing their $10 billion in short-term finance. This money is being channelled through the World Bank, and so the Bank’s paymasters in rich countries can choose which countries will receive the money. Over recent months, the UK told Bolivia its eligibility for funding could be determined by its cooperation. The UK has told Bangladesh it will only get money for adaptation if the South Asian country agrees to the finance going through the World Bank.

3) Misleading the media

Rich countries have used their greater access to the media to spin the stalling of negotiations as being due to developing countries raising pointless concerns over the process. UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband was reported as saying on 16 December that: "Things are getting held up by procedural wrangling. People can kill this agreement with process arguments. It will be tragedy if we cannot reach an agreement on substance, but it will be a farce if we cannot agree on process."

This is intentionally meant to mislead. The deadlock in the talks has entirely been because of substance. The lack of any serious commitments to reduce emissions by rich countries is what has stalled talks.

4) Pick countries off one-by-one

Most of the negotiations have been happening in small or one-on-one meetings behind closed doors. Collectively developing countries have been able to resist the unjust demands of rich countries. Therefore rich countries have tried to resort to splitting them in one-on-one negotiations.

On 15 December, Nicholas Sarkozy struck a bilateral deal with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, endorsing the EU’s unjust deal. The French government then presented Ethiopia as speaking for Africa. This was entirely misleading. Africa has maintained its position that the EU should cut emissions by at least 45 per cent by 2020, that $400 billion is needed in short term financing, and that the increase in global temperatures must not go over 1.5°C.

Delegates from across Africa were surprised that the Ethiopia-France position was being presented as representing Africa, including Senegal, Burkina Faso and Eritrea. Mauritania was so surprised they assumed it was not the real French website.

The UK and EU have invented a new group of countries, “the most vulnerable”, which would be most eligible to receive climate finance. Who is in and out of the group would be chosen by rich country donors.

5) Build up the pressure for a deal

In his speech to the conference on 17 December, French President Nicholas Sarkozy said: “Let me tell my African friends, you will be first to suffer if we do not reach a deal.” Rich countries are now using the pressure to get a deal to push through a bad deal. With the arrival of heads of government, the focus has become entirely on whether or not there will be a deal, rather than what a deal consists of.

Heads of government from rich countries continually assert their willingness to reach a deal. But it is a deal on their terms which would destroy justice and wreck the climate.

Table. Similarities between climate and trade negotiations[3]

Similarity Climate Talks – UNFCCC Trade Talks – WTO
Broad in-principle


on the need for emissions

reductions to mitigate climate


on the need for multilateral trade rules
A justice issue: rich

countries have become

wealthy through…

the carbon economy. They have historically been the major cause of the problem so should take responsibility for cutting emissions and enabling developing countries to pursue low carbon development using a wide variety of trade policies to promote domestic industrial development. They should take responsibility for ensuring developing countries are able to use the same

policy instruments

Developing countries

want US and EU to act

first and do the most…

on reducing greenhouse gas

emissions and providing aid and technology transfer

on reforming existing agreements, cutting agricultural subsidies and providing aid and technology transfer
US and EU want

reciprocity from larger

developing countries…

in making commitments on emissions reduction in return for their own in significantly opening markets in manufactured goods and in services in return for modest agricultural reform
Developing countries are

highly suspicious of US

and EU…

after seeing carbon emissions

increase in many countries since Kyoto was signed

after seeing agricultural subsidies increase since the last round of talks
The poorest countries potentially face

the biggest threat…

to livelihoods if significant action to reduce emissions is not agreed. Yet they are not a powerful voice in the talks to livelihoods if a pro-development deal is not reached. Yet they are not

a powerful voice in the talks

Corporate lobbying to

create business friendly


such as carbon markets and

offsetting, so that business can reap benefits

such as on intellectual property rights and investment, so that business can reap benefits
The creation of potential

loopholes that could

water-down the

effectiveness of a deal

Carbon markets, clean development mechanism Some ‘green box’ agricultural

subsidies, anti-dumping rules

US Congress playing a

‘wildcard’ role because

of uncertainty over…

whether any deal will get

approval in Congress even if the US administration agrees

how congress will vote on any new trade deal even if the US

administration agrees

Blame game. If a deal is

not done…

larger developing countries will be the scapegoat – used by the US and EU – to cover their own refusal to act in a just way larger developing countries will be the scapegoat – used by the US and EU – to cover their own refusal to act in a just way
The poor will suffer first

and worst…

from dangerous climate change from blanket trade liberalisation and also the status quo on agricultural subsidies and intellectual property rights
The greatest barrier to a

just outcome is…

fear of losing international competitiveness fear of losing international



~ by Cory Morningstar on December 17, 2009.

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