Lumumba Di-Aping. Photo by Jens Norgaard Larsen/Reuters.
By Derek Barry
December 16, 2009 -- Woolly Days -- Lumumba Di-Aping has made the brave call that no Australian politician
has been game to make, callin Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a climate
sceptic. The key negotiator at Copenhagen on behalf of the G77-China
group told the ABC
(also see below) that Rudd’s message to his own people was a fabrication which “does not
relate to the facts because his actions are climate change scepticism
in action”. Di-Aping was pointing the disparity between Rudd’s sayings
and actions on climate change. “It's puzzling in the sense that here is
a Prime Minister who actually won the elections because of his
commitment to climate change”, Di-Aping said. “And within a very short
period of time he changes his mind, changes his position, he start
acting as if he has been converted into climate change scepticism.”
essentially correct. For all Rudd’s moralising about climate change as
the world’s greatest problem, he has offered very little by way of
Australian action to solve it. And Lumumba Di-Aping
is the right person to remind him of his responsibilities. The Sudanese
diplomat is the chief negotiator for the 130 nation-bloc confusingly
known as the G77-China group at the Copenhagen climate change talks. He
was chosen because Sudan is the current chair of the G77. Despite (or
perhaps because of) Sudan’s poor international reputation since Darfur,
Di-Aping is proving to be a formidable opponent of vested Western
It was Di-Aping who led the criticism of the ``Danish Text''
which Rudd is also intimately associated with. The draft of the text
which emerged at the start of the Copenhagen conference proposed a
solution to stop global temperature rises at two degrees Celsius above
pre-industrial levels. The UN played down the document as an “informal
paper” put forward by the Danish prime minister. Di-Aping was having
none of it and slammed the proposal. "It's an incredibly imbalanced
text intended to subvert, absolutely and completely, two years of
negotiations“, he said. “It does not recognise the proposals and the
voice of developing countries."
Once again Di-Aping had a very good point. The Danish Text was leaked to the British Guardian,
which described it as a departure from the Kyoto Protocol principle that
developed nations should bear the brunt of climate change. The Guardian
said the draft handed control of climate change finance to the World
Bank. More importantly, it would abandon the Kyoto Protocol, which
remains the only legally binding treaty that the world has on emissions
reductions. Last, it would make funding to poor countries trying to
adapt to climate change contingent on a range of actions.
`A suicide pact'
what infuriated the developing countries most about the Danish Text was the
fact it was prepared without their knowledge. It smacked of
colonialism. On December 8, Di-Aping addressed an ad hoc meeting of 100 African civil representatives and a few
African parliamentarians. He began dramatically by crying, putting his
head in his hands and saying, “We have been asked to sign a suicide
pact.” Di-Aping may well have been milking the drama, but once again his
analysis was spot on. He said a global temperature increase of 2
degrees meant 3.5 degrees for much of Africa. This was “certain death
for Africa”, and a type of “climate fascism” imposed on the continent
by high carbon emitters. He said Africa was being asked to sign on to
an agreement that would allow this warming in exchange for US$10 billion,
and that Africa was also being asked to “celebrate” this deal. “I am
absolutely convinced that what Western governments are doing is NOT
acceptable to Western civil society,” he said.
On December 10,
Di-Aping made a direct call for action from US President Obama. He said
it would be embarrassing for the US not to be part of a solution “to
save humanity”. Di-Aping reminded his audience that the US is the
world's largest emitter historically and per capita. He asked the US to
join the Kyoto Protocol and take on its commitments as a developed
nation. “This is a challenge that President Barack Obama needs to rise
to as a Nobel Prize winner and as an advocate of a multilateral global
society”, Di-Aping said. “We know he is proud to be a part of that community through his family relations in Africa.”
Frustrated by the lack of action from US and other Western negotiators, Di-Aping led the biggest gamble yet when he led the walk out
of the G77-China group conference. Di-Aping explained his rationale for
the walk-out to BBC Radio Four. He said it had become clear that the
Danish presidency was undemocratically advancing the interests of
developed countries at the expense of the obligations it had to
developing countries. "The mistake they are doing now has reached
levels that cannot be acceptable from a president who is supposed to be
acting and shepherding the process on behalf of all parties”, he said.
Western media were becoming furious at the way the conference was being
“hijacked” by an uppity nobody from the Third World. The Australian dismissed him as "hyperbole prone". Toronto’s Globe and Mail went
further and called him “an ill chosen voice from Khartoum”. The
headline was meant to damn him by association with long-term Sudan’s
dictator Omar al-Bashir. But this comparison is false. Di-Aping does
not represent Sudan at the conference. He represents 130 nations who
are not creating climate change, but who will suffer the most from it.
Lumumba Di-Aping is a hero and one who should shame the West into
hearing the truth of climate change as seen from the perspective of the
[Derek Barry is a Brisbane-based journalist, blogger and researcher at Queensland Uuniversity of Technology. This article first appeared at Barry's blog, Woolly Days. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.]
* * *
Australia accused of climate scepticism
Connect Asia Home -- Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has arrived in
Copenhagen, for the talks aimed at saving the world from catastrophic
But one of the key negotiators representing
China and the G77 group of small nations has accused the Australian
prime minister of being a climate change skeptic. Lumumba Di-Aping says
Prime Minister Rudd is leading the world in trying to replace the Kyoto
protocol, in favour of a far less obligatory agreement.
Presenter: Emma Alberici
Speaker: Lumumba Di-Aping, Sudanese negotiator
LUMUMBA DI-APING: It's puzzling in the sense that here is a Prime
Minister who actually won the elections because of his commitment to
climate change because during the Bali action (phontetic) he was the
only Prime Minister who came and clearly said we have to do something,
we have to join Kyoto Protocol and all the rest.
And within a
very short period of time he changes his mind, changes his position, he
start acting as if he has been converted into climate change
scepticism. All what Australia has done so far is simply not good
EMMA ALBERICI: The Indian Environment Minister said Australia was the ayatollah of the one-track agreement.
DI-APING: Of course you Australians are charming people, but here is
how I would describe Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's actions, his climate
change scepticism in action.
EMMA ALBERICI: He considers himself a world leader on the issue of climate change.
DI-APING: The message that the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd
is giving to his people, his citizens is a fabrication, it's fiction,
it does not relate to the facts because his actions are climate change
scepticism in action.
EMMA ALBERICI: Are you disappointed in Australia's position?
DI-APING: I'm very disappointed as somebody who has been and visited
Australia and think that Australia can play a very important role.