The UN font of discord and disappointment

To anyone who has followed media coverage of the United Nations (UN) activities and pronouncements over the years – not to mention the UN’s own “official” documents – it will come as no surprise to learn that yet another UN sponsored conference has ended in “discord and disappointment”, as Fiona Harvey reports in the U.K. Guardian today:

Bonn climate talks end in discord and disappointment

Climate crisis is not caused by lack of options and solutions, but lack of political action, says Greenpeace spokeswoman

The latest round of international climate change talks finished on Friday in discord and disappointment, with some participants concerned that important progress made last year was being unpicked.

At the talks, countries were supposed to set out a workplan on negotiations that should result in a new global climate treaty, to be drafted by the end of 2015 and to come into force in 2020. But participants told the Guardian they were downbeat, disappointed and frustrated that the decision to work on a new treaty – reached after marathon late-running talks last December in Durban – was being questioned.

[…] Instead of a workplan for the next three years to achieve the objective of a new pact, governments have only managed to draw up a partial agenda. “It’s incredibly frustrating to have achieved so little,” said one developed country participant. “We’re stepping backwards, not forwards.”

As I’ve been following the IISD’s daily bulletins on these “talks”, I’ve been trying to recall anything “good” that has come out of any of the branches of this self-perpetuating bureaucratic maze in the last thirty years.

Any wars prevented? Nope. Any genuine progress on advancing human rights in countries in which they are conspicuously absent? Nope. I could go on, but it seems to me that the only “successes” one could conceivably attribute to the UN is the remarkable facility of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to spin scary stories and spawn commissions, committees – and, of course, convene conferences of convolution.

So this one was really no exception. Here’s how this two-week confab was billed on the conference website [text reformatted for ease of reading -hro]:

The 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA),

the fifteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA),

the seventeenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and

the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)

takes place concurrently from 14 to 25 May.

Talk about a three-ring circus, eh?!

The format of the IISD daily bulletins is interesting. At the end of the bulletin – each of which is packed with so much jargon and so many abstruse acronyms, it would take hours to “translate” into comprehensible English – is a section called “In the corridors”. Here’s what they had to say about the May 24 discussions:

Efforts continued on Thursday to bring the ADP out of the “deadlock.” With parties reluctant to set a precedent of voting, the COP 17 Presidency resumed consultations on the ADP chairing arrangements. Last ditch efforts were also made to reach agreement on the ADP agenda. The ADP plenary, originally scheduled for the evening, eventually disappeared from the meeting schedule as informal consultations around the ADP continued into the evening.

After 9 pm, a group of relieved delegates emerged and reported that agreement on the ADP agenda had been reached. Moments later, rumors began to circulate that agreement had also been reached on the ADP’s chairing arrangements.

Meanwhile, the AWG-LCA closing plenary was delayed until past 10:30 pm pending “brief” informal consultations inside the plenary hall on mitigation workshops.

While many apparently tired delegates welcomed the opportunity to get some rest before the ADP, SBI and SBSTA closing plenaries on Friday, some expressed hope that the delay would not “unravel” the “hard-won” agreement reached under the ADP. [emphasis added -hro]

Voting would “set a precedent”?! Seems that in the UN-iverse, “consultations” ad infinitum and ad nauseam are superior to the democratic process of “voting”. Perhaps this is how they “forge consensus”. Take your pick as to which meaning of “forge” is the most appropriate!

But back to the Guardian‘s coverage … As I have reported in the past (for example here, here and here), the so-called “journalists” at this enviro-advocacy-tainted newspaper do not have a reputation for fact-checking prior to publication (or for correcting their errors promptly).

Harvey’s contribution, today, has more of a ring of truth to it than can be found in, for example, anything written by Suzanne Goldenberg whose recent efforts to “rehabilitate” the now notorious Peter Gleick – while recycling the myths and memes of the fake memo she had rushed to publish without verifying its provenance and authenticity – have done little to enhance the credibility of anything she might write (or “churn”, as the case may be).

Yet, in keeping with the Guardian‘s adherence to the green party-line, Harvey gives “top billing” and the last words to Greenpeace – preceded by an opening act parting-shot, so to speak, from Oxfam:

Celine Charveriat, advocacy and campaigns director at Oxfam, said: “No progress was made to deliver the financial support that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable need to deal with the growing impacts of climate change. It is now vital that, at the next UN climate summit in Qatar in November, rich countries commit to an initial US$10-15bn to the Green Climate Fund between 2013 and 2015, as part of a broader financial package.

“At a time when ambitious emission reductions are more urgent than ever, developed countries in Bonn made no progress to close the gap between current climate targets and what is required to avoid the worst of climate change. Developed countries must improve on their current low level of ambition and accept higher reduction targets no later than at the Qatar summit.”

Tove Maria Ryding, coordinator for climate policy at Greenpeace International, said: “Here in Bonn we’ve clearly seen that the climate crisis is not caused by lack of options and solutions, but lack of political action. It’s absurd to watch governments sit and point fingers and fight like little kids while the scientists explain about the terrifying impacts of climate change and the fact that we have all the technology we need to solve the problem while creating new green jobs.”

Discord and disappointment, indeed! And (as I shall show in a post I hope to finish writing this weekend!), from the UN Secretary-General’s perspective, it would seem that – as the old song goes – ‘that’s the way [he] likes it”!

2 thoughts on “The UN font of discord and disappointment

  1. Could it be that the real consequences of signing these malign bits of paper are starting to constrain delegations? The root “discord” is between the pretensions and posturings of wannabe global planners and the well-being of the global “parts of the whole” being offered up in sacrifice.

  2. I’ve noticed that, as a very general rule, the bureaucrats tend to talk up the outcomes of these climate confabs, and the activists tend to talk them down. So the fact that Connie Hedegaard (bureaucrat camp) is being negative is a sign that the Bonn talks really haven’t gone well, from their point of view (although, as you say, there might well also be a different and ulterior motive at work.)

    On the other hand, the day that Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF emerged from a climate conference with broad grins all over their faces (if that can ever be imagined) would be a very scary day indeed.

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