Obama Disappoints

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

President Barack Obama meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a bilateral at the COP15 on Dec. 18. Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

President Barack Obama meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a bilateral at the COP15 on Dec. 18. Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

By Mantoe Phakathi

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Tempers flared after U.S. President Barack Obama dropped a bombshell before making a quick exit from an informal meeting of heads of state and government at COP15 Friday.

“Obama said something very ridiculous this morning before going out through that small door,” fumed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Chávez also accused western countries of conniving to prepare “a secret document which they will try to push under the door. We’ll not accept that.”

This was after Obama had left the gathering and was reportedly in a secret meeting with other heads of state from developed nations.

Annoyed by Obama’s proposal of a fast-starting fund that will accumulate to 10 billion dollars in 2012 and 100 billion by 2020, Chávez also slammed the U.S. leader’s 17 percent reduction by 2020 and 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Although admitting that developed countries are responsible for the emissions and that other developing countries feel industrialised nations should pay the price, Obama also acknowledged that there are those northern states who feel developing countries cannot absorb this assistance and that the world’s growing emitters should bear the greater burden.

“This would not be a perfect agreement (the one yet to be signed by heads of state) and no country would get everything it wants,” said Obama.

This might have touched a raw nerve.

“Developed nations are very selfish,” Chávez hit back. “Obama is now the world’s greatest frustration, yet in the beginning everybody, even outside the United States, believed in him.”

The public spat confirmed the standoff between industrialised countries and poor nations that include the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

On Thursday, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives also criticized the United States’ early proposals, which Obama confirmed Friday. He said temperature rises above 1.5 degrees would submerge his country, turn oceans acidic and destabilize the planet’s climate. Obama, in his proposal Friday, did not offer any solution to this problem.

“The United States says it opposes the 350 (ppm) target because the technologies do not exist to make it a reality,” said Nasheed. “But I know there is no limit to American ingenuity.”

He said this is the country that first announced it would send a man to the moon, and then worked round the clock to build the Apollo spacecraft.

“Get the politics right, and the technology will follow,” he said.

World leaders are not the only ones disappointed in the U.S. president – civil society organisations are also worried Obama’s stance means no solution to climate change.

“The world was waiting for the spirit of ‘yes we can’ but all we got was ‘my way or the highway’,” said Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace USA.

By offering no further commitments on greenhouse gas emissions cuts by the U.S., Obama showed his disregard for the science and the victims of climate change in the United States and abroad, said Radford.

“Obama now risks being branded as the man who killed Copenhagen,” he said.

At the time of writing, rumours were circulating that the climate negotiations might continue beyond Dec. 18, as no consensus had been reached.

All the long hours, financial resources and demonstrations in the cold seem to have gone to waste in Copenhagen.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Shaktiva Says:

    Indeed, where was “Yes, we can”?
    I hope he thinks fondly back to the times when he was beloved and seen as a beacon of hope…at least he can stare at it in his prize-cabinet. Though it should have meant something real.





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