COP 15 – Copenhagen 2009 Tentative Accord

December 21, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The two-week long climate summit evidently dissatisfied the scientific and the international community despite the arrival of the world leaders from around two hundred countries to discuss the climate change confronting humanity at the present time. Although, the international forum provided the platform to share the concerns among the delegates representing many nations, the entry prohibition to the civil society and other legitimate voices is undemocratic aside from being discriminatory towards the nexus organizations.

It appears the contentious issues demanding focus include the following:

First, the developing countries in Africa and island nations fear the catastrophic effects of not reaching a binding agreement in this meeting. It’s justified given the status quo already proved to be cataclysmic in the economic and ecological sense with Tsunamis, droughts, famine, and floods for the poorer nations. Similarly, the developed counterparts hit with other kind like the wildfires in Australia and the rapidly melting glaciers eroding the villages in the Swiss Alps such as Fiesch and Aletsch Glacier shrinking gradually and forcing residents to rely on prayer for salvation.

Industrialized nations competing with the emerging economic powers China and India should not circumvent the commitment on their part in the carbon emissions reduction, considering the multinational investments in these regions is yielding huge profits from the pollution at the expense of the local population. Australia for instance, is the major coal supplier to China and a formidable competitor to the Western bidders especially the United States in the uranium supply to India.

Elsewhere in South East Asia, the energy company Chevron Texaco has established strong ties with the military junta in Burma aka Myanmar regardless of the political standoff between the regime and the rest of the world in order to exploit the natural gas exploration in the oppressed nation.

The western nations cannot pretend to be the environmental force when they are being the polluting source on the planet. Based on the prevalent situations across the globe, it is appropriate for the developing nations to hold the industrialized countries responsible for the major proportion of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Western industrialization throughout the twentieth century and until date in the absence of rigid safety regulations and environmental standards not barring the industrial waste deposits both on and off shores has contributed to the challenge facing the global population. As a result, the economically disadvantaged segments in the society are imposed with perpetual air and noise pollution exacerbated by chemical exposure and poor sanitation causing enormous health hazards and life threatening diseases that eventually transform into a worldwide epidemic.

Whether it’s the Gulf Coast, the industrial towns in New Jersey and across U.S.A, or the overseas locations like Bhopal in India, Nigeria in Africa, Latin America and the island territories, the energy and other sectors’ culture dominate. Contamination through oil and gas leakage concurrently in the oceans and on land, release of toxic substances from the industrial waste blending with the river streams have become increasingly common taking toll on the human health, regional economy and the weather conditions.

Is it extreme for the victims to claim climate debt or reparation from the governments owned by these corporations?

Historically, the industrialized nations are indebted to the planet for wreaking havoc through nuclear retaliation in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and pursuit of non-nuclear yet environmentally devastating warfare until date by the military industrial complex.

From Vietnam to Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan not excluding civil wars in Africa and Latin America, the damage to the natural elements particularly the air and water is unsustainable, rendering the resources in the existing war zones unsuitable for consumption.

Further, the use of landmines popular during the Vietnam era has produced substantial civilian casualties, the majority being children with prosthetic legs upon survival. Often, the landmines are found in the agricultural lands entirely wasted due to the hidden explosives buried beneath the earth contributing to the environmental degradation.

Recently, the global mine ban treaty was adopted by most nations except for India, China, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Egypt, Finland, Poland, and the United States. It’s a travesty and reflects the lack of sensitivity by the non-signatories.


“The US has announced that it won’t sign the global landmine ban treaty.

Yet on Tuesday, as Americans’ attentions were turning to the Thanksgiving holidays, a state department spokesman, Ian Kelly, quietly announced that the Obama administration would not sign the international antipersonnel landmine ban.

He also said that the Bush-era landmine policy, a regression from Bill Clinton’s position, “remains in effect.”

In terms of conventional warfare, it’s worth highlighting the presumptuous display of the deadliest arsenal used in the contemporary wars by the United States & NATO as well as the allies and the adversaries.

GBU-43/B / “Mother Of All Bombs” used in Iraq by the United States in 2004 with a caption ‘Shock and Awe.’

The White Phosphorus rain akin to the ‘radiation rain’ in Gaza by Israel in Dec 2008 and Jan 2009.

Russian military showdown against Georgia in the wake of 2008 South Ossetia invasion.

The continuous shelling from the military operation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan generating endless explosions through suicide bombings by the insurgents, are catastrophic to the environment.

Certain syndicated columnist and the conservative anti-environmentalists continually debate global warming as a ‘myth’ and disdain the developing nations’ funding plea with the affluent ones for various preventive and operational strategies during disasters.

It’s not surprising as the groups have long denied the extreme weather conditions experienced by them at home and overseas. Their accusation against the so-called “third world” countries being dependent on industrialized nations’ charity to curb the burgeoning crisis is typical of them to isolate the global issue as the regional problem.

They conveniently ignore the fact that most multinational companies situated in Africa, Asia and Latin America have not only defaulted on their responsibility towards humanitarian laws but also frequently violated environmental regulations and gotten away without any or adequate compensations to the victims. Some examples already cited above.

Likewise, with respect to the environmental woes, the Boston Globe feminist columnist in a bizarre stance targeted the “third world” again stressing the need to address the population growth in those areas through education and contraceptive distribution to women.

Although, the population rate vary globally, the escalation in teenage pregnancies in the western nations in spite of the contraceptives and education availability along with the instances such as the “Octomom” misuse of science sensationalized for reasons other than social enigma deserve attention from the biased journalism.

As for the accord reached among the five nations, the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, the long overdue recognition towards individual carbon reduction is significant. However, the United States acceptance at 17 per cent level signifies the refusal to apply itself on par with others especially when the U.S. is in equivalence with China as the largest polluter.

Additionally, the informal consensus on the verification and monitoring of the greenhouse gas emissions through reliable methods is a progressive measure. Nevertheless, it’s not credible unless the accord transformed into a binding agreement with effective consequences viz. the diplomatic censure and the economic sanctions irrespective of the hierarchical stature.

Regarding the immediate aid $10 billion for three years to the developing nations in coping with the climate change, it falls short of the requirement given the magnitude of the global dilemma. Synonymously, the conditional offer to raise $100 billion by 2020 is evasive of the reality confronting the vulnerable parts of the world like Africa, Latin America and the entire coastal regions.

When the United States could allocate $626 billion for wars supplemented by another $128 billion in the recently Congress approved massive $1.1 trillion federal budget, it’s incomprehensible to view the United States’ reluctance to contribute more and lead its allies towards active participation in the planet goals.

Obviously, there is an urgent need to shift priorities from the life destruction to the life protection policy. There is no time to squander with the precipitous decline of the earth disintegrating from the failure to act decisively by the leaderships in the pivotal moment at Copenhagen.

Containing the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit was the aggravating factor for the attendees and the dispute is valid.

The scientific data upon careful study and review of the alarming sea level rising anywhere between 20 to 30 feet during the interglacial age portends the emergency in the current period accelerating in the range possibly reaching 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the not too distant future.

That’s why the island nations and the poorer countries’ request to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius or less before 2050 absolutely conforms to the scientific evidence. Besides, it underscores the dangers involved in seeking the optimum temperature maintenance at 2 degrees Celsius by the industrialized nations.

Therefore, it’s incumbent on the nations responsible for global warming to come in terms with the actualities and respond to the genuine complexity endured by the poorer economies.

I concur with the environmental critics on one aspect that the forthcoming summits should be aimed at restricting carbon footprints by the dignitaries attending the meeting. Otherwise, it exemplifies the irony in the action and the notion.

It’s encouraging to note that India, South Africa and Brazil acknowledged as the important dealmakers in the climate climax while they are conspicuously avoided for permanent memberships in the U.N. Security Council to resolve other major international crises, suggesting the political convenience.

Finally, the universal reaction to the COP15 climate conference is, the accord is a refreshing change but it’s imperative to solidify the same into a formal treaty by all nations for a meaningful course of action. It must incorporate the vital demands based on the deteriorating habitat and the scientific proof urging the world leaders to expedite the implementation of the concrete environmental policy.

Meanwhile, the United States and others resting on the fence should ratify the Kyoto protocol due to expire in 2012 as their confirmation of the firm commitment to save the planet.

Where there is a will there is a way.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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