Leaked Draft Incites Fake Frenzy at Copenhagen

The Guardian reports tension between the developed and developing world, but bloggers deny there's commotion

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On Wednesday the Guardian reports that the Copenhagen climate summit is "in disarray" after a so-called "Danish text" revealing developed countries' apparently self-serving plans for a climate agreement was leaked. Developing countries are irritated at the unfavorable terms of the text, the Guardian claims. Is the Copenhagen conference in trouble? Not in the slightest--or so say a number of bloggers rushing to debunk the report. The "Danish text" isn't as scandalously tilted, secret, or as damaging as the Guardian claims. Here's why:

  • One Draft of Many "Fortunately for both sides," writes Newsweek's Daniel Stone, "the whole episode will be archived in history right alongside all the insignificant second days of other large international conferences. It's not the text that matters so much; some reports have even alleged that the leaked draft was an old one, and didn't even reflect the current ... positions. And even if it did, it's one of several hundred proposals floating around the climate talks." Instead, the "disarray" being reported "highlight[s] a significant and lengthening divide between developed and developing countries" that is present with or without a "Danish text."
  • Not News--Plenty of Rifts Already Robert Eshelman, in his analysis for The Nation, points out that divides are opening not just between developed and developing countries, but between "developing" countries like China and India and "the poor and low-lying countries." He says, though not terribly optimistically, that "commitments this week from the European Union on its support for a legally-binding agreement and greater emissions cuts could bridge these gaps ever so slightly."
  • Are We Surprised by Terms of Text? Reason's Ronald Bailey is something less than shocked at the revelation that developed countries want their aid to poor countries for climate adjustment to come with conditions:
As economist William Easterly has pointed out, most of the $2.3 trillion in aid that rich countries have poured into developing countries over the past half century has been wasted. Could that be why the negotiators of the "Danish Text" want better monitoring and greater control over whatever climate aid they hand out to developing countries? Just asking.
  • Typical Climate Drama: Draft Wasn't Secret "A not terribly creative mind," writes Andrew Light for Think Progress, "could script these events before they happen." He's not surprised that the G-77, a group of developing countries led by Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, protested the "secret" drafting of the "Danish text." Light points out that "Di-Aping closed the Bangkok round of UN climate negotiations two months ago with a bold condemnation of the US for having hidden from developing countries a super-secret second treaty ... [which in fact] had been under discussion for six months ... [as] authorized at the Bali meeting in 2007." Similarly, he wonders how Di-Aping "could ... be surprised that the Danes are working on text for an interim political agreement for this meeting when it's been reported in every major media outlet in the world since the APEC conference in Singapore last month that they were doing so."
  • Typical Journalist Drama: What Else Can They Do? Online environmental publication Grist's David Roberts suggests different placement of blame, explaining why the story was so quickly sensationalized:
Consider: Copenhagen maxed out on journalist registrations, at 5,000 ... The place is choked with journalists, not to mention folks from think tanks and NGOs who are supposed to be blogging. There are thousands of people crammed in a small area, all under instructions to update frequently with fresh news, all exhausted and stressed out, all hungry for something to write about.
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