Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Lynas: China Rigged Copenhagen For Failure So As To Pin The Blame For It On Obama

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 22, 2009

This doesn’t surprise me one bit, really:

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about
what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and
inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the
talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful
“deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I
know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two
weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if
the west had failed the world’s poor once again. And sure enough, the
aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all
took the bait…

…. Even George Monbiot, writing in yesterday’s Guardian, made the mistake of
singly blaming Obama. But I saw Obama fighting desperately to salvage
a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying “no”, over and over again.
Monbiot even approvingly quoted the Sudanese delegate Lumumba
Di-Aping, who denounced the Copenhagen accord as “a suicide pact, an
incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a
few countries”.

Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of
countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its
battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the
deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in
public.

And they did it pretty much because they could — and because even with their glaciers melting, the glaciers that supply their rivers, scoring points off the US is far, far more important than making sure the world as a whole survives.

The one thing, besides Lynas’ presence, that kept the Chinese from getting clean away with it: Obama’s breaking into one of the secret meetings the Chinese were holding; the cat started to get out of the bag at that point.

(Crossposted at The Seminal.)

UPDATE: I for one should have known something was up when a bunch of nations that turned out to be China’s proxies started hollering over draft documents that were months old and no longer part of the discussion. But of course Obama is pure evil even when he’s trying to cut emissions or rid the world of nuclear weapons, so we should all cheer the fact that the Chinese tried to game him. Yippeeeee!

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11 Responses to “Lynas: China Rigged Copenhagen For Failure So As To Pin The Blame For It On Obama”

  1. Charles II said

    I would point out that someone said:

    My read is that China decided to embarrass the United States by refusing a second high-level meeting and then by calling a meeting with the other BRIC members and letting Obama walk in on a meeting he didn’t realize was going on. Whether accidental or not, it was disconcerting and politicians hate that kind of thing.

    and, additionally,

    This sounds like Obama got outplayed, and US leadership got seriously undercut.

    However, I don’t see any substantiation in this article for the claim of “Obama’s breaking into one of the secret meetings the Chinese were holding…” in this article. The author was at the public meetings. The descriptions I have heard of the meeting at the airport are that Obama was supposed to meet the Chinese there. He just didn’t expect the others. See, for example, CBS News (which matches what I heard from Andrea Mitchell):

    Aboard Air Force One on the flight home from Copenhagen, a senior official revealed an intriguing account of the climax to the president’s long day in Denmark. The official described the president’s irritation with the Chinese.

    He told his staff, “I don’t want to mess around with this anymore. I want to just talk to Premier Wen.”

    Chinese officials sent mixed signals. They said Wen was at a hotel as his staff waited at the Copenhagen airport. The U.S. was also under the impression that other key countries were ready to abandon the summit.

    The Chinese sent word that Wen would meet again with the president.

    When Mr. Obama arrived for that meeting, he found the Chinese leader conferring with his counterparts from Brazil, India and South Africa.

    A senior official denied that the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton crashed the meeting. The official explained Mr. Obama merely showed up at the appointed time to confer with Wen and found the other leaders there too.

    And I don’t have much sympathy for Obama. These are the big leagues, and you don’t go into an important negotiation without a Plan B, especially since the fact that the talks were failing was known early on. Going in needing a deal so much that he was willing to be humiliated is a rookie mistake.

    And, I would point out, this is the consequence of damaged American leadership. When people stop trusting you, they blame you for what happens. Obama has disappointed people on a series of issues, beginning with the closure of Guantanamo and the withdrawal date for Iraq. He has systematically and gratuitously p–sed off the American left, which is influential in negotiations like Copenhagen if not at home. Yes, the Chinese government is nasty b—–s. If the world hates American imperialism, they’re really going to hate it when China calls the tune.

    But this is, for example, why you don’t incinerate all your good will in blatantly and publicly and provably lying to the president of Honduras, a country that is important to US credibility precisely because it is completely unimportant to US interests.

    • I have sympathy for the world. And China is too busy playing games to care about Africa.

      The fact that they didn’t get clean away is what might actually save the earth — now that the news is out, they will be forced back to the table, this time to play fairly. You can do as you will, but I’m not going to hate Obama so much that I let my hate interfere with his working towards this goal.

      I for one should have known something was up when a bunch of nations that turned out to be China’s proxies started hollering over draft documents that were months old and no longer part of the discussion.

      • Charles II said

        Not that my opinion makes any difference whatsoever to world events, but as you know well, I don’t hate Obama. I am deeply disappointed in him. We needed someone extraordinary for a time of extraordinary difficulty. We got him.

        As for the Chinese government, they will never “play fair” as you and I might understand the term. They have their own alternate version of history, and in their version, the West is getting its just deserts. If a few million Bangladeshis/Africans/Micronesians die in the process, it’s a small price to pay for the triumph of the rulers of the Middle Kingdom.

  2. ab said

    If people want a green world.
    then stop buying Chineese products.

    China frustrated the COP top,
    now people of the world decide themselves.

    No more “made by china” unless approved by a green label.
    We make china transparent! That should be done anyway.
    Digital democracy of the third millennium: how can you expect your
    government to take responsibility if you do not even bother about a green
    label ?

  3. Nell said

    The U.S. government, the administration of Pres. Barack Obama, put us in a position to be outmaneuvered and “humiliated” because of a decision not to take real leadership. Obama’s split-the-difference tendencies don’t work in his favor when, as Charles points out, he’s already used up the benefit of the doubt he’d been given and he faces powerful opposition that plays hardball.

    The way to show up the Chinese is to be prepared to commit to the kinds of strong measures the third world is skeptical we’d ever do. But that would mean taking on the economic Masters of the Universe here, something that he’s repeatedly demonstrated he’s unwilling to do.

    The debacle is not the entire or primary fault of the Chinese. Obama’s not evil; he’s a cautious, way-too-moderate politician up against powerful forces in our own society and government, who’s demonstrated in a number of areas — most recently health insurance — that he’ll cave to the far right and corporate power rather than use his popular base to challenge them.

  4. Nell said

    India gets off rather easily in Lynas’ account, too; their alignment with China’s approach makes it much harder to unite against the Chinese position.

    I completely grasp the purpose of China’s refusal to allow the west to assert unilateral targets, which in the absence of binding agreements would mainly have PR and ‘hope’ value. It’s depressing, but may induce more realism.

    Thirty years of right-wing U.S. policy on this issue, and arrogance wrt the world in climate negotiations (and yes, I’m very much including the Clinton administration in that) were bound to make this a tough go for Obama in the best of circumstances.

  5. GetyourselfinformedFool said

    Guess again.
    Top 10 historical emitters,

    1850-2005 Millions tonnes CO2, total
    1. United States of America 328,263.60
    2. European Union (27) 301,940.00
    3. China 92,950.00
    4. Russian Federation 90,327.20
    5. Germany 79,032.80
    6. United Kingdom 67,776.80
    7. Japan 42,742.00
    8. France 32,031.50
    9. India 26,008.10
    10 Canada 24,561.5

    1850-2005 Per Capita (tonnes CO2)
    1. Luxembourg 1,458.70
    2. United Kingdom 1,125.40
    3. United States of America 1,107.10
    4. Belgium 1,021.30
    5. Czech Republic 989.8
    6. Germany 958.3
    7. Estonia 851.4
    8. Canada 760.1
    9. Qatar 716.7
    10. Kazakhstan 656.2

    89. China 71.3
    123. India 23.8

    I guess that’s why they think historical responsibility is

    • Charles II said

      History is history, GYIF. Policy is made, or should be, based on doing the greatest good for the greatest number at the lowest cost. If there were just two countries, and it cost $1 to reduce production of 1 unit of carbon in the US, but $2 to accomplish the same in China, then it should be done in the US. Ideally, China would pay 50 cents of the cost and the US would pay 50 cents. And if the reverse were true on costs, then the reverse should be done on cutting carbon and paying for it.

      Calling anyone a fool is frowned upon by Mercury Rising.

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