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Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied On Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied On Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit.

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The document, with portions marked “top secret,” indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that “analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries’ preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies.”

“Second Party partners” refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship. “While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event,” the document says.

The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.

The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact. The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions limits, while the United States — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when the protocol went into effect in 2004 — had famously declined to join. The two-week meeting was supposed to produce a successor agreement that would include the U.S., as well as China, India and other countries with rapidly increasing emissions.

The document indicates that the NSA planned to gather information as the leaders and negotiating teams of other countries held private discussions throughout the Copenhagen meeting. “[L]eaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding sidebar discussions with their counterparts — details of which are of great interest to our policymakers,” the document states. The information likely would be used to brief U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, among others, according to the document.

The document does not detail how the agency planned to continue gathering information during the summit, other than noting that it would be capturing signals intelligence such as calls and emails. Previous disclosures have indicated that the NSA has the ability to monitor the mobile phones of heads of state. Other documents that Snowden has released indicate that the U.K.’s intelligence service tapped into delegates’ email and telephone communications at the 2009 G-20 meetings in London. Other previous Snowden disclosures documented the surveillance of the G-8 and G-20 summits in Canada in 2010, and the U.N. climate change conference in Bali in 2007.

The document also refers to some intelligence gathered ahead of the meeting, including a report that “detailed China’s efforts to coordinate its position with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same outcome.” It refers to another report that “provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch a ‘rescue plan’ to save COP-15.”

The Danish proposal was a draft agreement that the country’s negotiators had drawn up in the months ahead of the summit in consultation with a small number key of countries. The text was leaked to The Guardian early in the conference, causing some disarray as countries that were not consulted balked that it promoted the interests of developed nations and undermined principles laid out in previous climate negotiations. As Information reports, Danish officials wanted to keep U.S. negotiators from seeing the text in the weeks ahead of the conference, worried that it may dim their ambitions in the negotiations for proposed cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Danes did share the text with the U.S. and other key nations ahead of the meeting. But the NSA document noting this as “advance details” indicates that the U.S. may have already intercepted it. The paragraph referring to the Danish text is marked “SI” in the Snowden document — which most likely means “signals intelligence,” indicating that it came from electronic information intercepted by the NSA, rather than being provided to the U.S. negotiators.

That could be why U.S. negotiators took the positions they did going into the conference, a Danish official told Information. “They simply sat back, just as we had feared they would if they knew about our document,” the official said. “They made no constructive statements. Obviously, if they had known about our plans since the fall of 2009, it was in their interest to simply wait for our draft proposal to be brought to the table at the summit.”

Members of the Danish delegation indicated in interviews with Information that they thought the American and Chinese negotiators seemed “peculiarly well-informed” about discussions that had taken place behind closed doors. “Particularly the Americans,” said one official. “I was often completely taken aback by what they knew.”

Despite high hopes for an agreement at Copenhagen, the negotiations started slowly and there were few signs of progress. Obama and heads of state from more than 100 nations arrived late in the second week in hopes of achieving a breakthrough, but the final day wore on without an outcome. There were few promising signals until late Friday night, when Obama made a surprise announcement that he — along with leaders from China, India, Brazil and South Africa — had come up with the “Copenhagen Accord.”

The three-page document set a goal of keeping the average rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius, but allowed countries to write their own plans for cutting emissions — leaving out any legally binding targets or even a path to a formal treaty. Obama called the accord “an unprecedented breakthrough” in a press conference, then took off for home on Air Force One. But other countries balked, pointing out that the accord was merely a political agreement, drafted outside the U.N. process and of uncertain influence for future negotiations.

The climate summits since then have advanced at a glacial pace; a legally binding treaty isn’t currently expected until 2015. And the U.S. Congress, despite assurances made in Copenhagen, never passed new laws cutting planet-warming emissions. (The Environmental Protection Agency is, however, moving forward with regulations on emissions from power plants, but a new law to addressing the issue had been widely considered as preferable.)

The revelation that the NSA was surveilling the communications of leaders during the Copenhagen talks is unlikely to help build the trust of negotiators from other nations in the future.

“It can’t help in the sense that if people think you’re trying to get an unfair advantage or manipulate the process, they’re not going to have much trust in you,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a seasoned veteran of the U.N. climate negotiations. Meyer said he worried that the disclosure might cause the parties to “start becoming more cautious, more secretive, and less forthcoming” in the negotiations. “That’s not a good dynamic in a process where you’re trying to encourage collaboration, compromise, and working together, as opposed to trying to get a comparative advantage,” he said.

Obama has defended the NSA’s work as important in fighting terrorism at home and abroad. But the latest Snowden document indicates that the agency plays a broader role in protecting U.S. interests internationally.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment directly on the Snowden document in an email to The Huffington Post, but did say that “the U.S. Government has made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.” She noted that Obama’s Jan. 17 speech on the NSA “laid out a series of concrete and substantial reforms the Administration will adopt or seek to codify with Congress” regarding surveillance.

“In particular, he issued a new Presidential Directive that lays out new principles that govern how we conduct signals intelligence collection, and strengthen how we provide executive branch oversight of our signals intelligence activities,” Hayden said. “It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances; our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies; and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis, so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by the President’s senior national security team.”

Does Canada’s stance on climate change constitute moral negligence?

Does Canada’s stance on climate change constitute moral negligence?.

How could the media report, with apparent pride, Canada’s military and civil contributions to humanitarian rescue efforts in the Philippines while ignoring our nation’s commitment to ensuring that present disasters are mere prelude to greater future catastrophe?


Tifón Haiyan-Yolanda en Filipinas (Erik de Castro – Reuters) – mansunides/flickrcreative commons

A brief to the CBC and select Members of Parliament
It was several days before media reports and commentary on the havoc caused by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines finally began to acknowledge a possible connection to anthropogenic climate change. While no single hyper-storm can be positively attributed to human disruption of the global climate system, climate models predict that extreme weather events will increase in frequency and violence. Unprecedented natural maelstroms like Haiyan provide empirical evidence that the models are likely correct.
What continues to be almost entirely missing from media analysis is Canada’s role in all this, particularly the moral dimensions of the nation’s current economic development policies and those of several provinces (e.g., BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland).  The facts are that:
1) on a per capita basis, historically and at present, Canada stands among the world’s top greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters particularly of carbon dioxide (CO2). Canadians are therefore as responsible as anyone else on Earth for human-induced global warming. (To argue that as a nation our emissions are only 2-3% of the global total is specious, essentially a form of denial);
2) the Federal government and several provinces have hitched their economic wagons largely to petroleum, natural gas and coal development/exports. In short, the nation’s economic future is tied, as a matter of deliberate policy, to the country becoming a major exporter of potentially catastrophic climate change. (To argue that Canada’s shale gas and tar-sands crude is greener or more ‘ethical’ than the alternatives is laughably ludricrous.)
This is an extraordinary state of affairs—would a thoughtful, well-informed, morally responsible people intentionally commit to an economic development path that will almost certainly contribute to accelerating climate disruption, global food shortages, ecological violence against the chronically impoverished, the physical displacement of hundreds of millions (billions?) of innocent people and generalized geopolitical chaos, possibly within their own lifetimes? (All of these things have been identified as likely outcomes of current trends in numerous graphic reports prepared by various high-level institutions ranging from national security think-tanks to the World Bank.) ;It is the more extraordinary because viable alternative economic development strategies are possible.
In this light, is it not time that we had a nation-wide adult conversation about just what is going on here? How could the media report, with apparent pride, Canada’s military and civil contributions to humanitarian rescue efforts in the Philippines while ignoring our nation’s commitment to ensuring that present disasters are mere prelude to greater future catastrophe? To remain in denial about Canada’s contribution to climate change constitutes silent defence of economic policies that will permanently disrupt natural systems, injure or kill millions of people, and undermine prospects for global civilization.
Canadian common law provides useful guidance in thinking this conundrum through. One may be found environmentally negligent as a result of unreasonable conduct that results in ecologically significant damage to another’s property or person. The law defines “unreasonable conduct” as doing something that a prudent or reasonable person would not do, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would do.  Fault may be found even in the case of unintended harm if it stems from unreasonable conduct.
The Criminal Code (Section 219) is even clearer that lack of intent to harm is no defence if the damage results from conscious acts performed in careless disregard for others: “Everyone is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons” (where “duty” means a duty imposed by law). Indeed, “a person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being, by being negligent”. The fact that Canada is not the only offending nation would be no defence. All participating members are guilty of crimes committed by a criminal gang.
Of course, Canadian law does not apply in the international arena and, in the absence of a corresponding negligence framework, international law imposes no legal duty to act responsibly. That said, there is no prima facie reason why the behavioural standards we impose on ourselves as global citizens should not be as rigorous as those we accept at home under domestic law.
If human-induced climate change is the cause of death and destruction, is not Canada’s failure to reduce its CO2 emissions at least morally negligent? Does not the conscious pursuit of economic policies that actually exacerbate climate change display “wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons”, particularly so if alternative paths are available?
Point: Canada’s stance on climate change arguably constitutes gross moral negligence. In light of global change, our current economic development model is fatally flawed. The nation deserves a rigorous public discussion of both these issues in Parliament and in the national media. Without such debate, we cannot act like the thoughtful, well-informed, morally responsible people we hope to be.

Reference

1. For example, Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies argues that even a 2.5 Celsius degree warming could produce massive nonlinear events in the ecosphere that would give rise to massive nonlinear events in society. [Note that te are currently headed toward a four C° increase in global mean temperature.] “The flooding of coastal communities around the world, …has the potential to challenge regional and even national identities. The internal cohesion of nations will be under great stress, …as a result of a dramatic rise in migration and changes in agricultural patterns and water availability. Armed conflict between nations over resources, …is likely and nuclear war is possible…” (CSIS 2007). One co-author remarked at a press conference that rich countries could go through “a 30-year process of kicking people away from the lifeboat as the world’s poorest face the worst environmental consequences.”
CSIS. 2007. The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Climate Change. Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.

 

Greenhouse gas reduction called threat to oil industry – Politics – CBC News

Greenhouse gas reduction called threat to oil industry – Politics – CBC News.

Greenhouse gas reduction called threat

Greenhouse gas reduction called threat 2:09

Alberta’s proposed oil and gas regulations are too ambitious and will hobble the Canadian industry’s ability to compete, says the industry association in Alberta government documents obtained through provincial freedom of information laws.

The industry group says the proposed regulations won’t buy any goodwill and the government should delay their introduction.

The 200-page trove of memos, correspondence and reports offers a rare glimpse behind boardroom doors at the negotiations between industry and government to craft rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers offers blunt assessments of Alberta’s plan to introduce rules that would demand industry reduce greenhouse gases by 40 per cent per barrel and charge $40 per tonne of CO2 above that level.

David DalyDavid Daly, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ manager of fiscal policy, penned the file titled CAPP Concerns and Questions for Alberta and Consultants. It was made public under Alberta’s freedom of information legislation. (LinkedIn Photo)

Alberta already has a carbon pricing scheme that costs CAPP members about 10 cents per barrel of oil. The new plan could cost industry up to 94 cents per barrel.

“Proposed 40/40 is 9 fold increase over current. Why such a dramatic step?” writes David Daly, CAPP’s manager of fiscal policy. The average price that a barrel of western Canadian bitumen fetched in 2013 was about $75, so the carbon-pricing increase would represent about a one per cent increase in the cost of a barrel oil.

That is just one quote from a file titled, CAPP Concerns and Questions for Alberta and Consultants. It tells the tale of an industry afraid that strong oil and gas regulations will rob it of what little competitive edge it has.

Strikingly candid comments

The candour is striking:

  • “Will higher stringency requirements impact production and revenue? Very likely.”
  • “GHG policies should be done in concert with other jurisdictions. US has no carbon tax. Why be so far out in front of them? What is that based on?”
  • “Will higher stringency requirements [oil and gas regulations] deliver greater GHG reductions? Unlikely. The challenge with the oil sands is that current technology is not yet available for deployment.”

In the end, the industry’s prescription is to delay putting the regulations into effect.

“Major policies like this one should not be fast-tracked. Adequate time is required for study analysis and consultation,” writes Daly.

That suggestion irks environmentalists, who point out that negotiations over oil and gas regulations between industry and the federal and provincial governments have been going on for over two years.

“This is not a case where we need more research. We need more action and that’s what hasn’t been happening,” argued Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank.

The industry defends itself by pointing out that the documents provide just a snapshot in the middle of negotiations and that nothing is final yet.

“What we want to ensure is that we’ve got a competitive industry in Canada that can continue to grow, but also, very importantly, can continue to invest in the technologies that are going to be extremely important in driving down greenhouse gas emissions,” said David Collyer, CAPP’s president, in an interview with CBC News.

In the documents, the CAPP plan calls for a 20 per cent intensity reduction and $20 per tonne of CO2.

That is half of what the Alberta government’s plan is and only marginally stronger than the regulations now — 12 per cent and $15, said Demerse.

But the CAPP document explains the association’s approach.

“Will higher stringency requirements ‘secure’ social license [public support] and forestall negative policy action elsewhere? Unlikely,” writes Daly.

Demerse, on the other hand, believes that weak regulations are just going to make doing business harder for the oil and gas industry.

“The customers of the oilsands are asking very tough questions. Right now, the sector does not have good answers to give. When they continue to ask for what is essentially the weakest possible regulation, I don’t think that is working for their real best interest.”

 

Canada’s greenhouse gas stance slammed as COP 19 seeks solutions – Technology & Science – CBC News

Canada’s greenhouse gas stance slammed as COP 19 seeks solutions – Technology & Science – CBC News.

The annual United Nations climate conference, known as the 19th Conference of the Parties or COP 19, is underway in Warsaw with considerably less fanfare than years past. Expectations for this one are even lower than usual, after the disappointments and plodding progress of the last few conferences.

 

World leaders are backing away from the 2015 target for a global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, and the news for people concerned about climate change has not been encouraging.

It’s a situation former Irish president Mary Robinson finds profoundly worrying. She now runs the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and she has a blunt and rather inconvenient message for global leaders and fossil fuel-producing countries like Canada: If you’re serious about preventing the worst of climate change, you have to leave that bitumen, oil and gas in the ground.

Last year marked another record year for global greenhouse gas emissions. And a recent report from the UK found fossil fuel subsidies around the world added up to about $500 billion in 2011 – on the order of five times the amount of subsidies doled out to renewable energy.

The prospect of keeping the global rise in temperature below two degrees Celsius looks highly unlikely if current trends persist. And Canada, for its part, is not on track to meet its own commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

Robinson’s message about reducing oil and gas production is one that would seem to be a tough sell in a country whose economic strategy is largely built around fossil fuel exports.

‘Moving to a low-carbon economy would be very good for Canadians’ futures, and for everyone’s future. And as well as that, we don’t have a choice. We’re running out of time.’– Mary Robinson, former Irish president

 

“We need two messages,” Robinson told The Sunday Edition’s Michael Enright. “Moving to a low-carbon economy would be very good for Canadians’ futures, and for everyone’s future. And as well as that, we don’t have a choice. We’re running out of time.

 

“How can Canadians not see that their grandchildren will share the world with nine billion other people (by 2050)? And I have no certainty at all that it will be a livable world.”

Robinson adds that she fears it will be, “a world of catastrophes over and over again. The 200 million people who may be climate-displaced – where are they going to go? There will be no country that will be immune to this. If [the planet] becomes too dangerous, it will be too dangerous for Canadians, for the children and grandchildren of those alive today.”

Robinson served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002, and she approaches climate change as a human rights and justice issue.

She argues that in the developing world, climate change impinges on the most fundamental human rights to food, water and life itself.

Mary RobinsonFormer President of Ireland and one-time United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson was presented the International Freedom Award in Memphis on Nov. 6. (Mike Brown/AP)

“Canada is one of the countries that has benefited from fossil fuel growth and has a responsibility to give leadership. And the whole of Africa is responsible for about the same level of emissions, but African countries are suffering hugely in their food security and long periods of drought and flooding. There is an injustice in how climate is impacting them.

 

“Canada has been a country proud of its development record. It gives a lot of development aid. Well, all that development aid will be wiped out by terrible climate impacts.”

 

Robinson plans to be a vocal presence in Warsaw. She has no great hopes for a breakthrough on a global climate pact by the time the conference closes next Friday, but she remains optimistic that the global community will respond to the challenge before it’s too late.

 

“We’re not, I think, a stupid race. I know that political timescales can be very short. But I believe that these next two years – 2014, we have to change course, and 2015, when we need sustainable development goals and a robust, fair climate agreement – we can still do it.

 

“We need a forward-looking leadership, and that won’t come from Canadian politicians unless it comes from the Canadian people.”

 

[Listen to Michael Enright’s full conversation with Mary Robinson on The Sunday Edition this weekend, just after the 9 am news, or on theSunday Edition website.] 

 

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