Cuba on Cancun climate talks: `Another year has been lost since the deception of Copenhagen'

Two speeches by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba's minister of foreign affairs, at the COP16 of the UNFCCC, Cancun, Mexico

December 8, 2010 -- Translation by Granma International -- Powerful forces are assuring us without hesitation that climate change does not exist, that there is nothing to be concerned about and that the serious problem bringing us here today is a total fabrication.

They are those in the United States Congress who are currently opposing the ratification of the weak agreements which control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in a senseless crusade whose sole purpose is to retrieve a small part of the power that they lost barely two years ago.

They are the ones who want to reduce taxes for the 10% of the population who control 90% of the wealth, the same individuals who are opposed to the health reform, unemployment benefits and any proposal that signifies a small step toward progress or equity.

The fact is, and those of us meeting here know it very well, that climate change, plus the serious threat of a military conflagration of nuclear dimensions, constitute the gravest and most imminent dangers that humanity is confronting in terms of its survival.

The absence of progress toward a real solutions to both problems is the result of the irresponsible attitude of those who promote and benefit from plunder, disasters, wars and the tragedy being experienced by our peoples.

It is the duty of all of us to demand that those bearing the full historical responsibility cease squandering and irrationally consuming the limited resources of our planet and direct the million-dollar sums that they currently utilise for making war to the promotion of peace and the sustainable development of all nations.

One year ago in Copenhagen, there was a failure to respond to world expectations at the 15th Conference of the Parties to this convention, with the vision of achieving a global accord which would confront climate change in a just and effective way.

What predominated there were anti-democratic procedures and a total lack of transparency. A group of countries, headed by the United States, the largest per capita and historic polluter, hijacked the negotiations process and imposed an apocryphal document that does not even resolve the challenges identified by the most conservative scientific investigations into the issue. Copenhagen turned out to be a disaster.

The United States and the European Union then proceeded to launch a campaign of political, financial and conditional pressure in relation to official development assistance in an attempt to give legitimacy to the non-existent "Copenhagen Agreement".

The recently disclosed US documents, including the one registered as 249182, 10BRUSSELS183, dated February 17, 2010, are of particular interest. It refers to actions – and I quote – "To neutralize, co-opt or marginalize" a group of states among which Cuba is mentioned. I have this document here and others in my possession, which demonstrate the perfidious diplomacy of the powers in relation to climate change

Mr President.

Climate change is a global threat which also requires global solutions that are just, equitable and balanced and which involve all the countries of the world. For that reason, after an arduous effort, we adopted the Framework Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, and for that reason its cardinal principles are as valid today as when we conceived them.

It is widely acknowledged that the principal cause of the alteration of the world climatic system is the pattern of unsustainable production and consumption that prevails in the developed countries. It is also acknowledged that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the respective capacities of states constitutes the cornerstone of a just and enduring solution.

The countries of the global South are not responsible for the lack of agreement to halt climate change. Rather, we are the victims of the lack of progress and the egotistical attitudes of those who are already enjoying the overexploitation of the planet’s exhausted resources. The small islands, even more vulnerable, merit special consideration and treatment.

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place last May in Cochabamba, Bolivia, made essential proposals that must be taken into account.

Mr President:

A long-term agreement has to guarantee a perspective of sustainable development for the countries of the Third World and not an additional and stifling restriction on attaining it. That implies that their greenhouse gas emissions must inevitably grow in order to meet the needs of their economic and social development. The Framework Convention established that and the developed countries must accept it.

In the framework of a second period of commitments within the Kyoto Protocol, the industrialised countries have to assume binding, quantifiable and more ambitious obligations in terms of reducing their emissions.

It is necessary and urgent to adopt today, here in Cancun, concrete decisions on a second period of commitments to the Kyoto Protocol. There is a group of developed countries, in this same negotiation process, trying to eliminate the Kyoto Protocol on the pretext that it covers only 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the Framework Convention covers 100% of those emissions and this is simply an egotistical pretext.

A least one clear and precise road map must emerge from this meeting in Cancun, moving toward the solution of the central problems of climate change, looking ahead to the 17th COP in Durban, South Africa, in one year’s time.

Combating climate change involves confronting poverty and social inequality. It implies an obligation to transfer technology from the industrialised North to the underdeveloped South. It requires facilitating financial resources that will allow developing economies to face up to adaptation and mitigation, and to make available new funding over and above existing official development assistance commitments, which are constantly more precarious and conditional.

While it would seem viable that agreements in the context of adaptation and the transfer of technology can be reached in this conference, it is essential for us to define financial mechanisms or genuinely significant resources for confronting the effects of climate change.

These mechanisms could not function within the structure of the World Bank or any other institution of the Bretton Woods system, because that would involve conditions, discrimination and exclusions. The Bretton Woods institutions are as historically responsible for climate change as the governments of developed countries.

It is not about an act of charity but, above all, a moral and legal obligation resulting from thce commitments assumed in the onvention. The crumbs promised in Copenhagen were extremely meagre and have not even materialised; nor will market mechanisms or neoliberal policies, which no longer have any credibility whatsoever, help us to advance.

Mr President:

The terrible floods which Venezuela and Colombia are suffering right now invoke all our solidarity and are evidence of the urgency of the problem.

The world order is unsustainable. In order to survive, human society will have to organise itself in another way. The time has come to act. Time is running out. Another year has been lost since the deception of Copenhagen. The peoples cannot wait for the powerful.

Thank you very much.

We Cubans are dissatisfied with the documents presented

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, at the closing session of COP16, Cancun, Mexico

December 11, 2010 -- Translation by Granma International

Thank you very much, dear Patricia [Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, chair of the summit].

I should like to acknowledge Mexico and your effective presidency that has brought us to this point.

I understand the tiredness of all of us in this room and I also understand your enthusiasm.

I believe that this conference stands in sharp contrast with the failure of Copenhagen in terms of the universal participation in democratic and transparent procedures.

One year has passed since Copenhagen, a year of undue pressure, political imposition, financial pressure on the part of a group of countries to try to legitimate that non-agreement, that disagreement, which was translated into a sad document in that long night, longer than this one, in Copenhagen.

It has been made clear in secret documents recently disclosed, that there has been a degree of conspiracy among certain powers – in the words of the document itself – to marginalise, neutralise or co-opt some countries, among which Cuba is mentioned, as are Venezuela and Bolivia.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Plurinational State of Bolivia exercises a fundamental leadership, and represents for us the vindication of the original peoples, of the original cultures of America.

President Evo Morales is an Aymara leader, a leader of the social movements.

A democratically elected president, who has been subjected to undemocratic attempts to expel him from government, who is at times attacked by the right with arrogance and racism.

We are learning from original cultures what I think is a universal value today, which is the need to attain a balance between humans and nature. I also understand that the peoples have to be heard in this hall and lament the fact that, in these summits, there if often little popular participation.

I consider that non-governmental organisations, the social movements must have a part in these processes.

And that in every major decision, such as the one which concerns us today, there should be consultation with the peoples, because we are talking about the survival of the human species, no more nor less, we are talking about the survival of human beings.

The Bolivian delegation is speaking here in the name of the peoples of our America and deserves consideration and recognition in Cuba’s opinion.

We Cubans are dissatisfied with the documents presented, I am going to argue on the basis of three elements which I consider essential.

First, because it does not include any clear or adequate greenhouse gas reduction targets, and we know from the course of the discussion that has taken place in this conference that they would lead by 2020, in the worst of cases, to a 6% increase in emissions by the developed countries based on 1990 levels, or in the best of cases to a reduction of only 16%, which would imply an increase in temperature superior to 2.5 degrees Celcius up to 5 degrees C.

Speaking of average temperatures, there are today more than 20 million hungry people on this planet, island nations at risk.

What would happen on the planet if a temperature increase should be produced such as the one described and about which there is unquestionable scientific evidence? I consider that this is an issue of extreme urgency and of profound concern, which the documents do not fulfill and that we should try to compile adequate and emergent formulas in future sessions, before the next conference in Durban.

Second, it seems to me that key to this process is the agreement that there is going to be a second period of commitments to the Kyoto Protocol is key in this process, and it is my delegation’s interpretation that what is reflected in these documents is a clear commitment that we are going to go to that second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

I am a realist, I understand that tonight we are not going to be able to establish quantities or specific national commitments, but that we are confirming in this meeting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, according to the capacities of states, and that here there have been agreements that we are going to a second period of Kyoto commitments.

And third, I am concerned at the way in which contributions and finances are being approached; I recall the figures of that unprecedented night in Copenhagen, the language of the documents, I recall that ambiguity and note with concern that when US$100 billion is mentioned, one is talking of mobilisation efforts, that when $30 billion is mentioned, one is talking of an approximation to that figure, and I have not seen here any concrete commitment regarding the source of those funds.

I understand, I interpret that what the documents contributed by your presidency say, is that there is a commitment on the part of the governments of the developed countries to contribute these figures. On the basis of these considerations, Madam Chair, I would first like to make a request to respect the consensus, and to listen to the proposals of the Bolivian delegation, and I would also like to support the proposal of the Venezuelan delegation, likewise supported by Saudi Arabia, that the corresponding working groups make a decision on these documents, before doing so, that is to say, directly in this plenary.

Once again, Madam Chair, I reiterate my acknowledgement of the contribution of Mexico and your own, Patricia.

Thank you very much.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Tue, 12/28/2010 - 13:38


Granma International:

Havana.  December 16, 2010


Message of Cancun: we need to continue fighting

Joaquín Rivery Tur

VERONICA Mastretta’s blog foresees the future of the state of Nuevo León as a steer’s skull picked clean and surrounded by desert, as the result of increased temperatures and also the conclusion of the 16th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The image is apocalyptic but close to reality. As Milenio says, "Can you imagine the forested landscape of the Sierra Madre Oriental in the south of this state converted into a desert, like those which can already be seen in Aramberi and Zaragoza? Or see floods in the metropolitan area of Monterrey multiplied within shorter periods?

And that is only a vision of a Mexican territory, although backed up by serious scientific studies. What to say about the current situation in Colombia and Venezuela, with rivers overflowing their banks in an unprecedented way, and devastating droughts in other latitudes?

The Cancun meeting on climate change was organized to try to halt the increase in the Earth’s temperature (approved at an extremely dangerous limit of two more degrees Celsius), to cut the greenhouse effect, and although 193 countries signed the final document, it left much to be desired. Many Third World nations signed in order to leave the door open to further struggles against the waste generators and polluters of the developed world, others on account of naked pressure. They have not lost hope and are disposed to continue the battle to save the planet from industrialized predators, fundamentally the result of Washington’s irrational politics.

The real result of the so-called Cancun Summit can perhaps be expressed by Marcelo Ebrard, head of government of the Federal District of Mexico, who declared that it was a replay of the meeting in Copenhagen, a failure.

Ebrard affirmed during a press conference that, in general terms, the Cancun meeting failed to secure the agreement that was wanted, and made the criticism that, in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-16), the rich countries failed to make a concrete commitment to reduce contaminating gases, the first demand from states most affected by global warming.
While a country like Mexico committed itself to reducing with its own resources 14% of daily emissions of polluting gases within a plan scheduled to begin in 2011, the United States shirked its responsibility in Cancun in terms of lowering pollution even by 3%.

Although Brazil signed the final document, prior to the meeting, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stated that he did not believe in the success of the Summit on Climate Change, because he could see how the United States was maneuvering to evade any really substantial agreement. Washington’s only concern was the profits of its large financial-industrial conglomerates.


It was not going to be easy for the agents of U.S. monopolies. Headed by the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) — thousands of people took to the streets demanding to live in a better world—the poor countries were more alert and ready to give battle, despite the fact that many are unable to extricate themselves from the economic pressure of the United States and other rich countries like Japan, which did not in any way wish to extend the Kyoto Protocol.

They were able to do something. The Kyoto document was left in effect until its official expiration in 2012, so there is time to continue the fight, above all in order to convince the populations of the rich countries, by using all of the mass media to pressure their governments to set goals that can save humanity.

The survival of life on Earth is the principal objective. Gustavo Ampugnani, climate and energy campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Mexico, noted that the 16th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) was an advance, because it rescued the process of negotiation, "which had been cast in doubt last year after the failure of the Copenhagen Conference, and which now, after the Cancun meeting, has been restored to life." In other words, back to the battle, which has not as yet been won.

Ampugnani pointed out that the document is quite weak as it is composed.

The armored force of the summit was constituted by the Bolivian government, with the total support of its ALBA colleagues, and was the only one of the 194 present which did not sign the final document, because the indigenous government of Evo Morales is fundamentally attempting to save the planet, not to save capitalism.

La Paz considered that it was almost the same document which it rejected in Copenhagen, one that merely establishes voluntary measures of mitigation and accommodation to climate change. "It was presented with some changes in form, but not of substance; Bolivia criticized it one year ago and is not going to subscribe to it."
Bolivia argued that the United States only committed itself to reduce its emissions to the 2006 levels. This would allow a temperature increase of five degrees. "This document opens doors to a slow death, the slow agony of all the peoples. For that reason Bolivia has not signed this document."

In relation to the Green Fund, created at this summit, he said that it does not guarantee the contribution of the $100 billion, as established, given that the document states that those resources will be "mobilized through 2020."

In real terms, suffice it to recall the commitments of $167 million for the reconstruction of Haiti, of which barely 10 % has reached Port-au-Prince. From this one can see the worth of the official aid for development, which still has not been delivered.


The non-governmental organizations Friends of the Earth and Global Justice Ecology Project were unequivocal in their rejection of the agreement signed in Cancun, because they considered that it will take "humanity to suicide" and that the document is the result of a "U.S. diplomatic offensive."
Another NGO, Friends of the Earth of Latin America and the Caribbean, estimated that the agreement was a "death threat to the Kyoto Protocol, but even more importantly, to humanity, given that if what is proposed in it materializes, by the end of the century we will have a planet with a average increased temperature of more than five degrees Celsius, which will make the Earth too inhospitable."
And Global Justice affirmed its "anger and displeasure," as representatives of indigenous peoples and communities which are already suffering the impacts of climate change.

NASA itself estimates that the temperature of the planet during 2010 will be the highest recorded in 131 years; if it increases by more than 2 degrees centigrade we will be very much at risk.

In any event, the responsibility of politicians from the major powers is great in the face of the announcement by the Spanish DARA research organization that a total of five million people, in their majority children, could be dead as a result of climate change by 2020.

Neither the U.S. President, nor the Secretary of State were present in Cancun.

Although it did not produce tangible results, the meeting left the need to continue fighting clearer than ever.