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Wikileaks stir Cancun climate conference

world Updated: Dec 07, 2010 09:19 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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United States top climate negotiator Todd Stern accuses nations vulnerable to climate change of first asking for money and then accusing them of bribery, days after Wikileaks revealed that how US cajoled poor nations to endorse the controversial Copenhagen Accord.

The US in December 2009 and February 2010 launched a diplomatic offensive of getting as many countries as possible to associate with the accord, believing it served US interests and it would be adopted by the United Nations. As many as 140 nations have associated with the accord including many least developed nations.

The accord promised $ 30bn in aid for the poorest nations hit by global warming. Within two weeks of Copenhagen climate conference, the Maldives foreign minister, Ahmed Shaheed, wrote to the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, expressing eagerness to back it.

By February 23, 2010, the Maldives' ambassador-designate to the US, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, told the US deputy climate change envoy, Jonathan Pershing, his country wanted "tangible assistance", saying other nations would then realise "the advantages to be gained by compliance" with the accord.

The Maldives were unusual among developing countries in embracing the accord so wholeheartedly, but other small island nations were secretly seen as vulnerable to financial pressure. On February 11, 2010, US Deputy climate chief Jonathan Pershing met the European Union's climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, in Brussels, where she told him, according to a cable, "the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) countries 'could be our best allies' given their need for financing".

"What the cables say is only one side of the story," Hedegaard said, while replying to a question on her name in the cables. "We have been in constant touch with Maldives. Other elements of our engagement with AOSIS is missing".

Hedegaard and Pershing were concerned at how the $30bn was to be raised and Hedegaard raised another toxic subject - whether the US aid would be all cash, the cable said.

For the US, another embarassing climate cable was regarding pressure on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chief R K Pachauri not to appoint an Iranian scientist as co-chair of an IPCC panel.

US chief climate negotiator Todd Stern said, "It was US official policy on not to comment on wikileaks". But the diplomat, who was incharge of US delegation at Copenhagen in 2009 said it was wrong on the part of the developing countries of first ask for financial aid and then accuse the developed world of bribery. "It is not fair".

In reaction to the leaked embassy dispatches, Bolivia today accused the US of disrespect and resorting to blackmail in the UN climate negotiations.Pablo Solon, Bolivian ambassador to the UN in New York, said: "Wikileaks confirms the pressures and blackmail exerted by the US administration in the talks. They accuse us [in the Wikileaks papers] of being 'political and ideological'. But all we want to do is to hold temperature rise to 1.5 degree C. Is that political or ideological?"

Since the first climate cables appeared on Wikileaks last Friday, the Cancun summit has been dominated by questions regarding dirty tactics adopted by US and EU to make poor nations agree to the accord and its Latin American detractors such as Bolivia and Venezuela termed as anti-capitalist.