Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Copenhagen talks: Very little bang for the buck

By Chen Wei-hua 陳偉華

The 15th UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, is over. In the atmosphere of a confrontation between the world’s northern and southern hemispheres, the negotiations were deadlocked from beginning to end, resulting in a political statement that lacked legal binding force.

The main organizers’ true intentions in hosting the summit can be observed from several angles.

First, let’s look at the intentions of the Danish government. Obviously, it hoped that this global event would bring a new glow to the capital.

To achieve this, the focus brought by the attendance of many heads of state was not enough. The participation of a diversity of other groups was also necessary to bring unprecedented tourism benefits, reflected in the fact that local hotels were fully booked six months ahead of the conference.

Furthermore, the Bella Center in Copenhagen could only accommodate a limited number of participants, but, deliberately or accidentally, the host country had not passed this information to the UN Secretariat, which therefore accepted too many registrations to the conference.

This move leads to the reasonable suspicion that the climate change conference was just a cover up for the Danish government’s marketing policies.

Next, let’s look at the intentions of the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

During the conference, the secretariat was only interested in pushing the world’s leading powers to sign the Copenhagen Accord, while treating the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as a bunch of tedious protesters outside the venue.

The environmental protection activists who went to the event at high expense, were blocked from entering the venue. No wonder people were left with the impression that, while the participation of civic groups and individuals from around the globe was nominally welcome, the true intentions were to prevent them from protesting and putting pressure on the delegations.

In the past, NGOs have been active on the international stage and, from a moral and ethical standpoint, uncovered global issues that have been ignored by various governments. At this conference, however, we could see how the NGOs were being ignored by international politics.

If the situation remains unchanged, the question is whether, in the upcoming conferences in Germany and Mexico next year, the Industrial Technology Research Institute should be the only participant in the Taiwanese delegation once more? Perhaps it would be a better idea if Taiwanese academics and specialists, as well as experts from other intergovernment groups or NGOs, were invited to participate, to assist and introduce Taiwanese officials to peripheral meetings.

Chen Wei-hua is the director of international affairs at Transparency International-Chinese Taipei.

TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG

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