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The clowns of Copenhagen

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The clowns of Copenhagen

Judy Collins’ song “Send in the clowns” aptly describes what transpired in Copenhagen during the past two weeks; indeed, what has transpired under the auspices of the UN since the Bali Conference in 2007 (in fact, what happens in the UN in general):

“Don’t you love farce?

My fault, I fear.

I thought that you’d want what I want…

Sorry, my dear!

And where are the clowns

Send in the clowns

Don’t bother, they’re here.”

The final three-page Accord is truly a farce. Five countries hammered out this Accord, which is barely comprehensible. without input from the others in attendance. Now the other countries are complaining — typical for a UN endeavor.

Lumumba Stanislas Dia-ping of Sudan ranted: “Today’s events really represent the worst developments in climate change negotiations in history (I am sure there have been worse). The deal locks developing countries and the poor of developing countries into a cycle of poverty forever.”

I would ask Mr. Dia-ping four questions:

What is his government doing to improve the standard of living of its citizens? (GDP per capita in Sudan is US$1,500.)

How much money is he wasting on the military and subjugation of Darfur?

How much money has disappeared into the offshore accounts of the leaders of Sudan?

Do the leaders of the African countries have no responsibility whatsoever for the plight of their countries and people?

Obviously, Dia-ping and the other members of the Group of 77 are greatly disappointed that they were unable to shake down the developed countries for more money. (Flying in a private jet is much more attractive than flying commercial, even if in first class.) As if throwing money their way would do anything to lift many of these countries out of extreme poverty.

Most of the US$30 billion pledged for the next three years will be wasted on studies, training, consultants, NGOs, conferences and travel. There will be nothing positive to show after this money has been squandered.

As for the commitment of the developed countries “to a goal of mobilizing jointly US$100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries”, let me suggest to Dia-ping that he does not hold his breath.

Let’s assume that the goal is miraculously attained. How might this money be spent?

I would bet that $20 billion would find its way into the offshore accounts of the tyrants running many of the poorest countries. Another $10-$15 billion would be spent on arms and thugs to terrorize the populace into submission. Consultants, NGOs, and many other developed country “experts” would siphon off $5-$10 billion. Another $10 billion or so would just disappear through waste, graft and lost records. The remaining amounts might trickle down to the poor (a maximum of $40 to $50 per person).

But does anyone really believe or expect that the U.S. Congress would ever give the UN taxing powers to raise a significant chunk of this money? It ain’t going to happen!!

Instead, does anyone expect the developed countries to impose various new taxes on their citizens to fund this program in 2020 and beyond? (Obama will not be president in 2020, Hillary will be long gone from political office, and there will be new leaders in all of the developed countries, none of whom signed on to the Copenhagen Accord.) If you believe they will, then send in the clowns!

The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not reflect the views of Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs.



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