I watched Nnimmo Bassey escorted from the Bella Centre in Copenhagen.
I had read about the lack of co-operation and the politicians' derision that was being directed at the environmental groups, the farmers and the thousands of people who are just afraid for their futures... but it didn't prepare me for the image of a dignified Nigerian man, concerned about the future of his country and his people, being escorted from the building, accreditation intact, because security had been told that all but politicians and their entourages were excluded from the negotiations. Mr Bassey merely said that it was a paradox that political leaders, who should be listening to their people, were excluding ordinary people and were only interested in talking to each other.
ed. "But, to me, what the image that will stick with me—I know you had this on the show yesterday—is Nnimmo Bassey being refused entry. This is a man who has devoted his life to fighting the oil companies that are devastating the Niger Delta, a close friend of Ken Saro-Wiwa. He’s been imprisoned, himself, for his activism. And he has physically been kept out of this Center, even though he’s accredited. And meanwhile, the oil executives are walking free in the hallways. It’s the world upside down in the Bella Center." (Naomi Klein)
Jose Bove, the French farmer who demonstrated against the WTO some years ago (outside a MacDonald's restaurant in France) and who is now a member of the European Parliament, was attempting to prevent Mr Bassey's exclusion. M. Bove was there as a representative of the Via Campesina... a group that represents small farmers and landless peasants (they are planning a demonstration in Copenhagen on Thursday) and their interests in the climate debate. He had thought that here, within the UN, there would be an attempt to find a solution to climate change... but NGOs, poor people and even the governments of small countries are not included here. The people who are the most effected and who are already suffering and dealing with the effects of climate change are all excluded. He is also disillusioned.
There were people who attended the meeting, only to decide that it was a waste of time and when they attempted to leave and join the "people's assembly" outside they were arrested. The Danish government, shortly before the beginning of the conference, had passed a law allowing "pre-emptive arrests" and these people were arrested before committing any crime! (Not that any crime was planned, by the way.)
The first meeting that broached the subject of climate change was in 1992, in Rio de Janeiro. Bush Sr was there and the negotiations produced a document that was so vague (no definitions, no targets) that Bush was able to sign it.
At later meetings, there was more specific, and legally binding language. By the time that the Kyoto meeting and that agreement was attended by Clinton (and Howard) there was more specific language, definite targets and the agreement was not signed by the biggest polluters.
There has been two years of negotiations (since the Bali meeting) and expectations have run high. The hope of many has been that Obama would sign the Kyoto treaty. But this is not to be.
The first week of discussions has consisted of pressuring the poorest nations to agree to the targets that are acceptable to the US and its wealthy allies, including Australia. Eventually, deciding that there would be no agreement, and led by Lumumba Di-Aping, the nations of the G77 walked out.
Since then, as leaders of the wealthy nations begin to arrive, wheeling and dealing has begun. Offers are being made, bribes are being offered, and the G77 is being divided and conquered. This is called negotiating at a "snail's pace" or a "fear of inaction" (both terms used by Kevin Rudd) when there is no intention to negotiate other than to buy or bully opponents into submission... with the result being favourable to the wealthiest of nations.
And so, this morning, the offer "on the table" is a reduction in emissions that would allow CO2 levels to rise to 550 parts per millon, leading to a three degrees rise in temperature... and even that is only a 50-50 chance! Temperatures could rise even more than this.
Sarita Narain, an Indian environmentalist who has attended all of the climate conferences since 1990, has said that it would be better to leave with no deal at all, rather than a bad deal.
Perhaps that is the best option now. No deal.