“Beneath the Tip of Well Intentioned Rhetoric on Climate Change”

Delivered at the United Nations Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 16, 2009

Your Excellency, Mr. Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark,

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,

Honourable Ministers,

Distinguished Guests,

Distinguished Delegates,

Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As my delegation left the United Nations General Assembly hall on the 22nd September this year, we felt encouraged by what we saw as a commitment by all countries towards a successful outcome of the Copenhagen Conference.

We were assured by what appeared a palpable global realization that indeed our planet was in great danger because of the planet unfriendly model of development pursued by some of us in the so-called highly-industrialized developed world, all to our collective detriment.

The consequences of that development model on our planet have become all too abundant to be denied or ignored, they become more poignant each day that passes, that includes today.

If we still have any more doubting Thomases, let them visit sinking island member states whose communities today face dim prospects of inexorable collective extinctive drowning.

Let them visit our part of the world where rains fail, where the searing sun scorches everything brown, and lifeless, including our ever diminishing livelihoods. The prospects of meeting our MDGs or other welfare targets agreed to nationally, regionally and internationally grow dimmer everyday.

We of the developing world are drowning, we are the burning, indeed we are the tragedy that climate changes have turned out to be for the larger half of mankind. Yet we never caused that crisis. We thus come here hoping for justice and fairness, indeed for decisions that recognize the urgency of our situation, that recognize the undeserved climatic endgame that stares us in the face.

But we are under no illusions about the enormity of the task that lies ahead. Negotiations on climate change have never been easy in the past, beginning with Real Earth Summit in Brazil, they have always been fraught. They will not be any easier today in this environment of the global financial crisis, again brought upon us by the same world that has corrupted environment. The little progress made so far at this convention bears this fact out.

For beneath the tip of well intentioned rhetoric on climate change lies the iceberg of power and aspirations to global dominance. We are dealing with vested interests. We are dealing here with dominant economies resting on a faulty, eco-unfriendly development paradigm, aspiring to misrule the world. In those circumstances, progress is bound to be glacier.

Climate change, the latest and by far the most encompassing and insistent crisis spawned by this hegemonic development paradigm, yet again reveals the interconnectedness issues of global imbalances by way of uneven development, by way of unfair trade, by way of unclean politics, by way of hegemonic values and by way of arbitrary power and governance systems.

The dominant north-south divide that has been the bane of so many international initiatives once again rears its ugly head on this very question, at this very conference.

We are split along the same old north-south dichotomy.

Why is the guilty north not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing question of climate change? Where is its commitment to retributive justice which we see it applying on other issues? Where is sanctions for climate change offenders?

When a country spits at Kyoto Protocol, by seeking to retreat from its dictates, or simply by refusing to accede to it, is it not undermining the rule of global law? When countries spew hazardous emissions for selfish consumptionist ends, in the process threatening land masses and atmospheric space of smaller and weaker nations are they not guilty of gross human rights violations?

We raise these questions not out of spite or vindictiveness, but out of concern for our very endangered livelihoods. When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it is we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp, starve, sink and eventually die.

Your Excellencies,

We of Africa aligned with our other brothers in the developing world have made proposals predicated on principles of historical responsibility, common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities of parties.

We stand by the Kyoto Protocol with its full set of commitments which to this day cry for fulfillment. Late believers and late comers cannot be dictators at this conference, besides they happen to be among the guiltiest on this matter.

It simply has become imperative that the developed world, itself the leading sinner on climate offences takes serious and effective measures to cut emissions on the one hand, while supporting developing countries to adapt to and mitigate the effects of this man-made planetary, if not cosmic disaster.

May I say the developing world, itself the least offending on climate crimes, owns bio-carbon resources and carries in a sense the world’s lungs now solely needed for cleaning the world. Let that fact be recognized as our comparative advantage in world affairs.

The present global regime where resources are disproportionately allocated in terms of the degree to which a country endangers the climate is a skewed one. But surely, we cannot reward sinners, we cannot punish the righteous, we who bear the burden of healing the gasping earth must draw the most from the global pursue for remedial action.

We who tend the forest so badly needed to heal the ecosystem deserve better funding, and improved access to green technology transfer. We need to have our national capacities augmented so we are able to pursue the clean development paradigm underpinned by clean technologies to build a brave new world where humanity lives in greater harmony with nature.

We oppose climatic recovery paradigms predicated on denial of our right to development for the sake of cleaning the mess created by selfish countries of the north.

We have sacrificed a lot already. Zimbabwe continues to suffer from illegal sanctions unilaterally imposed on her by the west. Because of these undeserved sanctions, we have only been able to draw a mere U.S. $1 million in the last three years from the Global Environment Fund. The situation is likely to grow worse in the wake of new changes to the operationalization of this Fund.

Self interest and vindictiveness have apparently defeated the lofty goals of saving the planet. We deserve better support than we have had to date.

Your Excellencies,

My delegation remains hopeful that this convention will reach some consensus on this very important subject affecting our planet.

Let me conclude, Your Excellencies, my remarks by expressing my delegation’s appreciation for the arrangements that the government of Denmark put it place to make our stay here comfortable. We will cherish memories of our stay here.

I thank you.

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