Friday, December 11, 2009

Copenhagen: Great Danger/The Plan....

A very dangerous gordian knot of illusions, expectations and emergencies is  quickly developing in Copenhagen. It is  becoming clear that the developed nations are not willing to commit to what is needed both in ecological terms and in terms of global justice and equality. The Americans are willing to commit to a 17 % reduction over the 2005 levels. It is like a bad joke, or worse a slap in the face of the vulnerable. They are the politics of genocide by starvation.

On the other hand there are the poorer nations and their representatives who think this may be their moment, now or never. They think the rich are still rich and Obama is a cool guy, and they are willing to fight for a real commitment. But the cards are stacked against them. Increasingly they have only a few tools left: civil unrest and demonstrations is one of them as evidenced in Copenhagen, but also in the more spontaneous and unpredictable food riots that have happened in the last few years. 

Once more some of the developed nations made a secret attempt to circumvent the international forum of Copenhagen (and the Kyoto Protocol). A memo was leaked out that indicates that the US, Great Britain, Denmark and others, agreed on (weak) emission standards for themselves, and make a 'grand' gesture of $10 billion dollar per year in wealth transference to make up for the climate harm done mainly to developing poor nations. 

The implication in this leaked memo is that inequality will be institutionalized, with people in the developed nations being able to consume twice as much energy than people in the developing nations, with poor nations expected to make the sacrifice.....this is a question of power. Obama will try spin this laughable farce as a victory when he finally arrives in Copenhagen......this is plan B......

The expectations of the developing countries and continents are so much higher. Why ? Because they have to deal with the immediacy of the global climate crisis and poverty all at the same time. Crisis are everywhere you look: Sub-sahara, Maldives, Philippines, Mekong Delta, Syria, the Amazon,  Bangla Desh, Borneo -- one way or another all these areas and so many others are suffering from Global Weir-ding.... The Erratic Times.....Or as Vandana Shiva calls it "Climate Instability".   Millions are on the run from hunger and desperation.

Unfortunately these emergencies are rarely seen and remain unacknowledged in the American Media and politics. Any deeper analysis of the 'Gestalt' of climate change -- droughts followed by floods-- is simply missing. People in America have to start speaking louder in solidarity with the poor and alleviate poverty and hunger.

What perhaps a lot of the delegates from the developing nations in Copenhagen don't realize is that Poverty and hunger are not just their fate. In the USA which still calls itself the richest nation on earth, there is a growing gap between "haves" and "have-nots". The  "North and South" divide is happening within America itself, with fifty million people suffering from hunger at times here, including 18 million children.

Meanwhile the government is financing it deficits and its bank buddies by printing money, some of it reluctantly underwritten by China....I say to the delegates in Copenhagen: you can do that yourself --print money all you want!  I don't want sound cynical, what I mean is this: Don't count on America to make any significant contribution --the value of money either comes from gold, from real economic activity or.....from military power. America is a military power  financed by borrowed foreign money and an absolute need to control resources for its insatiable appetite --the spiral of debt and military   aggression is rooted here.  The US feels vulnerable because it is.....It realizes, perhaps more than the rest of the world, that it has become what Mao called a paper tiger, more than ever before.

My recommendation is this: If the developing nations want a change in attitudes, they should strategize as an economic force. Hire a guy like Max Keiser, economist extraordinaire with lots of experience in Wallstreet itself, as consultant and get to work. The developed world needs the poor for all kinds of reasons I don't want to go into here. But trust me --in this situation there is all kinds of leverage ! It is like a house of cards. How did Jesus say it again about the "first" and the "last" ?

For now, with the economy in shambles, Obama has put all his eggs in the basket of military power and Wallstreet War profiteers, and goes all the way to Oslo to pontificate not about peace --but about just war. To my ears, Obama's words never sounded more hollow or Orwellian, and I hope that, after study of the facts, the Nobel committee will see the gravity of devaluating the Nobel Peace price by prematurely awarding it to Obama, and call him loudly on his mistakes and if necessary, take away his price. Things of that magnitude, The Nobel Peace Price, have to have meaning....

It is no wonder that Cap and Trade is the preferred option for the developed world. Cap and trade monetizes the Climate, and capital interests will see opportunities to make money --but this model doesn't do anything for the understanding of the real issues here.....the fulcrum of pollution, consumption, inequality and their relationship to environmental degradation (and vice versa). Climate change and it devastating economic impact, already is the primal cause of conflict. Access to water is in dispute everywhere --most likely even in your own city or state, and certainly between nations. To think that one can just walk away from Copenhagen without taking responsibility for the ensuing unravelling of civilization is naive.

The delegates of the developing nations want results: commitments on "climate debt", commitments on reparations and the financing of a green leap frog development program that puts developing nations on the very vanguard of new green technologies. Ten billion will not do that:"it will not be enough to pay for the coffins that will be necessary", as one of the African delegates remarked. They had been thinking that minimally 195 billion per year will do the trick. A sum like that could actually easily be raised in a very simple and effective manner, and here is the idea:

Tax Carbon (gaz, coal, oil)  at every stage it changes hands. And tax the oil companies and end-consumer most. Put these funds coming  mainly from the consuming nations -- the rich-- into an internationally administrated fund dominated by the interests of developing nations. The fund will provide for an equitable transference of wealth through restauration, conservation, and reparation of the natural world and the human habitat within it. It will address the needs of the many --not the few. 
(I don't know who could run such a fund, I would like to think it is the UN).

Technologies, and leap frog development into a green transformation of energy and sustainable agriculture practices, water management, etc., employing many -- they all need to come from this fund. The management of this huge fund will aspire to the values of equality and justice throughout, and its sole task is to make immediate investments on the local level in local communities --globally. The fund will dedicate its work to the 7 generations to come.

The responsibilities here would be awesome. We will be forced to widen our focus and invite religious principles here to avoid widespread conflict and lift the whole impasse out of its confinements. True religious leaders of all kinds should have a role in the vision of a good live for all and keep the discussions on track by infusing it with a spiritual calling. The Green patriarch for example has defined certain acts against nature a sin......   Now that is a new beginning..... A glimpse of a Post Capitalist World.

The model of directly taxing carbon at every transaction, could take away all the hocus pocus that will be allowed in the Cap and Trade model. It will cut the Gordian knot. Carbon Tax is simple, it is verifiable, and with enough awareness raised around the globe it is do-able.....Politically Attainable -- if there is enough populist pressure.

Lets face it: green transformation will not come as long as a carbon based economy is perceived to be "the cheaper way to go" by the people on top of the hill. It is not. In so many ways Copenhagen is about the true costs that have been incurred due to the Climate Instability this carbon economy has wrought. Now it is obvious that if one calculates the true ongoing costs, a green economy would be much cheaper and the developing nations should hop to it, enabled by such a fund.

Power versus the Masses are on a collision course here.....great danger....great opportunity.....

Here are some of the links to the great Copenhagen coverage of the issues and demonstrations done by Amy Goodman and her crew of Democracy now. Author & Journalist Naomi Klein: Fate of Planet Rests on Mass Movement for Climate Justice: 

1 comment:

  1. I never expected Copenhagen to be "Hope-enhagen," as some have. I also have little hope that national governments will take the lead on climate. Governments generally shoot far too low in terms of percentages of decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, and I don't expect that to change.

    Where do I place my hope, then? I place my hope in grassroots, community response -- as in the example of the Transition Movement founded by Rob Hopkins. That movement has "gone viral" all over the world. It's growing leaps and bounds. And it gets its work done with or without governmental support.