Amy Goodman interviews Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, on Wikileaks revelations the United States used financial and other aid for blackmail, and mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the “Copenhagen Accord”
Broadcast on Democracy Now!, December 6, 2010
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Cancún, Mexico, from the U.N. climate change global summit. Secret diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks have revealed new details about how the U.S. manipulated last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen. The Guardian newspaper reports the cables show how the U.S. sought dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming, how financial and other aid was used by countries to gain political backing, and how the U.S. mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial “Copenhagen Accord.”
Several of the memos addressed Bolivia’s opposition to the U.S.-backed accord. One cable from the U.S. embassy in Brussels describes a meeting this January between European Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and White House adviser Michael Froman. The memo states, quote, “Hedegaard responded that we will need to work around unhelpful countries such as Venezuela or Bolivia. Froman agreed that we will need to neutralize, co-opt or marginalize these and others such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador.” Soon after that meeting, the U.S. cut off millions of dollars in environmental aid money to Bolivia and Ecuador.
Bolivia’s president Evo Morales is also criticized in the leaked cables for organizing the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in April. John Creamer, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Bolivia, writes, quote, “Bolivia is already suffering real damage from the effects of global warming, but Morales seems to prefer to score rhetorical points rather than contribute to a solution. This radical position won him plaudits from anti-globalization groups, but has alienated many developed nations and most of Bolivia’s neighbors,” he wrote.
Well, to talk more about the WikiLeaks cables on the international climate negotiations and Bolivia, as well as the talks here in Cancún, we’re joined by Pablo Solón, Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations. He’s holding a news conference today in Cancún.
How are these talks going?
PABLO SOLÓN: Well, I would say that the final result, until now, is not good, because we don’t have a commitment from developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in a way that will stabilize the increase of the temperature well below one degree Celsius. Not even two degrees Celsius. The current pledges on the table will raise up the temperature in four degrees Celsius. That is catastrophic for human life and for Mother Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go on talking about these talks, I wanted to ask you about these WikiLeaks cables. These are not cables by WikiLeaks, of course; they’re WikiLeaks whistleblowing website released hundreds of—a quarter of a million of U.S. diplomatic cables that they have. You’ve just heard some of the quotes from the cables about Bolivia.
PABLO SOLÓN: Yes. I hope that we are not going to have to wait one year until we know really what happened here in Cancún, because what happened in Copenhagen is also happening here in Cancún, because there is a lot of pressure put into countries in order to force them to accept, I would say, a new version of the Copenhagen Accord. And we are afraid that we are going to have Copenhagen Accord part two in Cancún. So, for us, it is key to keep a very transparent and open negotiation, where all parties really put their positions on the table and where we negotiate. We have made a very strong critics on Friday—on Saturday, because the papers that are put on the table don’t reflect the positions of the different parties, of the different states. They reflect the positions of the chair, of the facilitators. But we are not still in a negotiation between parties.
AMY GOODMAN: You had some of the U.S. documents, for example, talking about the Maldives. At Copenhagen, they were fierce about the possibility of their island being submerged and that they would never cave around the issue of global warming. Then we see these documents, where they turned around, signed on to the Copenhagen Accord. No one quite knew why they turned so quickly. But the documents suggest that the U.S. paid them tens of millions of dollars.
PABLO SOLÓN: I can only speak for facts, because one thing that I must say in relation to the WikiLeaks is that they don’t bring the facts. So, I do not want to judge any nation. But one thing that I can say for sure is they cut aid to Bolivia and to Ecuador. That is a fact. And they said it very clearly: “We’re going to cut it, because you don’t support the Copenhagen Accord.” And that is blackmail.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read for you a part of the text of another leaked cable from John Creamer, the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Bolivia, your country. Creamer writes, quote, “Many Bolivians are quick to observe that Morales’s climate change campaign is about enhancing his global stature, not about the environment. Former Morales Production Minister and MAS replacement Senator Javier Hurtado said there is a huge gap between Morales’ strident, pro-environmental rhetoric in international fora and his domestic emphasis on industrialization as the key to development. The foundation of this effort is large-scale natural gas, iron, and lithium production projects, enterprises that have historically proven extremely damaging to the environment.” Your response, Ambassador Solón?
PABLO SOLÓN: Well, I think this WikiLeaks reflects the strategy of the United States against Bolivia. They want to show that Bolivia is not seriously committed to fight climate change. They want to present Bolivia as having a double standard. Of course, that is their strategy. They cannot buy us. They cannot put pressure on us. So they try to sell an image that we say one thing and we do another thing. That is absolutely not true.
Bolivia, of course—and I have always said it—is a country that needs to have industrialization, but a very sustainable industrialization. Why? Because we import in Bolivia almost everything. And they know it. We import nails, paper, everything. So we have to develop some industries. But we cannot follow the same path of development of industrialized countries, because that is unsustainable. The planet cannot accept if we all live like Americans or like Europeans. And we know it, and we want to develop a new model, that we call to live good. So, that is our point of view. But the WikiLeaks show exactly the campaign that the U.S. has developed in order to undermine the Bolivian position in these talks.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what about right now here in Cancún, Ambassador Solón? You have the possibility that Kyoto is dead, Japan saying they will not extend, which is very significant since the Kyoto Protocol was hammered out in Kyoto, Japan. The same goes also for Australia, for Canada.
PABLO SOLÓN: The problem with the Kyoto Protocol is that Japan, Canada, Australia, Russia can think that there is no need for a second commitment period, but they have signed it. They are part of the Kyoto Protocol. And the Kyoto Protocol established in its Article 3.9 that there should be a second commitment period. So, while they are part of the Kyoto Protocol—and they are still part of the Kyoto Protocol—there has to be a second commitment period. We have come here to negotiate the number of the reduction of emissions, of greenhouse gas emissions. But we haven’t come here to negotiate if there is going to be a second commitment period or not of the Kyoto Protocol. I mean, if you are a nation, a serious nation, that have signed an international binding agreement, you have to comply with it. You can ask for an amendment, you can withdraw, but while you’re part of that agreement, you have to comply. Otherwise, you’re going to be in a very difficult position, because you’re going to go against the ruling of international law.
AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. has been talk [inaudible] balanced package here. What do they mean?
PABLO SOLÓN: Well, for the U.S., a balanced package is a balanced package where developed countries do whatever they want. They are not committed to a target for emission reductions. That guarantees destabilization and increase in the temperature. And a balanced package for the United States is that also developing countries begin to do commitment. So, for them, it’s less responsibility for developed countries and more obligations for developing countries. That’s what they understand for a balanced package.
AMY GOODMAN: How, in a word, would you say these talks are going?
PABLO SOLÓN: Well, from the point of Bolivia, we are going to fight until the last minute to have really a good outcome out of Cancún. The situation is very complicated now. Very difficult. We don’t see a clear movement in relation to emission reductions, strong emission reductions from developed countries. That is why it’s so difficult at this time. And just one thing. Each year, 300,000 persons die because of natural disasters that are caused by climate change. So, what we are going here to decide or to do will affect 300,000 persons that die per year because of climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you pull out of these talks if Kyoto is ended?
PABLO SOLÓN: No. We will never pull out out of any talk at a multilateral level. We will always be there fighting and defending what is legal, what are our positions, and what are the positions of all humankind.
AMY GOODMAN: How does global warming affect Bolivia?
PABLO SOLÓN: Well, we have lost one-third of our glaciers in our mountains. We’ll lose, in the next decade, the other one-third. And this has terrible consequences for water, for agriculture, for biodiversity. In other areas of Bolivia, there is already almost no water. In the rivers, we begin to see that the temperatures have went very down, and we see fishes that have freeze in regions where that nearly never happen. So we’re already suffering the consequences of climate change. Look at Venezuela. Look at Colombia now. And to say, “OK, we’re going to postpone again the negotiation for one more year or maybe two more years,” that’s to be irresponsible. That’s not acceptable for us.
AMY GOODMAN: At this global warming summit, you have the carbon market, all of the various companies that are very interested in what the carbon markets will look like. What does that mean? And what do you think has to be done?
PABLO SOLÓN: As we said it before, they don’t want to save humanity, but they want to save their business, their carbon market business. They want to apply to us to accept to launch new market mechanism. Bolivia has said we are not going to accept to launch new market mechanism, and we are not going to accept to have a mechanism that commodifies forests. We want to have a mechanism to save forests, to preserve forests, but not to develop a market around forests at the worldwide level.
AMY GOODMAN: How does war fit into the picture of global warming?
PABLO SOLÓN: Well, that’s another key issue. Bolivia presented a paragraph saying that we should take into account also the greenhouse gas emissions that come from warfare. They have erased it. Second thing, we have said the finance for climate change should be the same finance that now developed countries give to security, defense, and even war. How much do they give? About $1.60 trillion per year. How much do they say they are going to mobilize for climate change? Only $100 billion. So, it is really unfair to see that defense, security, war has more than 15 times than what they want to do for climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: There are few leaders that are coming here. There were over 120 in Copenhagen. Maybe there will be 20 here. President Morales is coming?
PABLO SOLÓN: President Morales is going to be here on Thursday, 9 of December.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll certainly cover that. We hope to be interviewing him right here. Ambassador Solón, we thank you for being with us. Ambassador Pablo Solón is the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, speaking with us here in Cancún.