Compromise at Bali talks

Editorial, republished from NewAge, December 13, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh

More than a week into the climate change conference of parties currently under way in Bali, Indonesia, the Bangladesh delegation has scuttled its own chances of drawing the world’s attention to its plight. We have lost an important platform to raise concerns about the critical climate change issues that we, along with other least developed countries, are confronted with. Although Bangladesh had been assigned to speak for all the LDCs that are attending the Bali conference, it backed out in the last minute and handed over the responsibility to the Maldives, for reasons unknown even to the environment and forest adviser to the military-driven interim government, CS Karim, as reported in New Age on Wednesday. In fact, an email from the adviser to members of the Bangladesh delegation not only reveals his surprise at the development but also indicates his ‘disappointment’ that such an opportunity was allowed to pass.
   Being among the handful of countries that are expected to be worst affected by rising global temperatures and the resultant extreme weather events, we have always held that Bangladesh must take the lead in negotiating emissions reductions and adaptation funds on behalf of all those who share its fate because of the moral high ground it occupies in this regard. The seasoned negotiators who are attending the Bali summit on behalf of Bangladesh know this well, and know too that it is only by protecting the interests of the LDCs can the country’s interests be protected, as Bangladesh is not going to be awarded some privileged deal individually. We are surprised and outraged at the delegation’s decision to step back from the mantle at what has been billed as arguably the most important climate change conference of parties in history.
   We are also outraged that the Bangladesh delegation has granted unqualified endorsement to the stance taken by the G77 countries which include Brazil, India and China, who are emerging among the biggest emitters in the present day. The interests of this group, who defend their ‘right’ to continue polluting on the grounds that they are still developing countries, not only runs counter to the agenda of the LDCs but is also based on a destructive self-interest driven principle that will make the task of combating change doubly hard. As reported in New Age, the compromise with the G77 group may have happened at a personal level, which will not even bring any bilateral advantages for the country. We urge the government to carry out a thorough investigation into why the Bangladesh delegation accepted this compromise and we demand that the findings of that investigation be made public so that the nation can identify whose interests were served to compromise national interest.

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