The Mouse That Roared in Copenhagen – Alemayehu G. Mariam

December 19th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

The “delegation of African negotiators” rumbled into Copenhagen rubbing their palms and licking their chops to load up tens of billions of dollars in carbon blood money and make a quick exit. (more…)

The “delegation of African negotiators” rumbled into Copenhagen rubbing their palms and licking their chops to load up tens of billions of dollars in carbon blood money and make a quick exit. They were disappointed. There was no gold at the end of the Copenhagen rainbow. At the end of the day, the industrialized countries pledged chump change in the amount of USD$30bn to the poor countries for the 2010-2012 period.

In the run up to the Copenhagen Conference, the trumpeted bravado to the world was that the “African delegation” will “walk out” and “de-legitimize” the proceedings unless the industrialized countries forked up a cool $40bn. The delegation and its leader, Meles Zenawi, were prepared to strong-arm, outwit and outplay the industrialized countries in their usual zero sum game. This time the game backfired. The wily “neo-colonial” Westerners outmatched, outplayed, overpowered and slickly finessed the African negotiators and others from the developing world.

Nobody walked out of the Conference. The “African negotiators” let off a whole lot of steam and huffed and puffed in the frigid Copenhagen winter, but they stayed in. Zenawi’s vaunted Copenhagen Showdown at High Noon with the rich countries never materialized. The bravado about “walking out” and “challenging” the industrialized countries proved to be just hot air. When push came to shove, all the bravado was replaced by servile groveling. Some representatives of African countries refused to walk into (“boycotted”) the conference. But they did their “boycott” during their lunch hour. They complained that the industrialized countries were railroading them into signing a deal that would be “against the interest of Africa.” A couple of days later, chief African negotiator Zenawi stood attentively clutching the podium at a farcical French-Ethiopian press conference as President Nicolas Sarkozy harangued his industrialized country partners for not being more forthcoming on emissions limits and mitigation aid.

At the press conference, Zenawi and Sarkozy buttered up each other. Zenawi said that he and Sarkozy mirrored each other so much on the issues that they were “preaching to the converted.” In a joint communiqué, they declared, “France and Ethiopia, representing Africa” appeal to all participants “to adopt an ambitious agreement limiting the increase of temperatures to 2°C above preindustrial levels.” They proposed “the halving of global CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.” This would require the developed countries to commit to an 80 per cent emissions reductions by 2050.

On the cold cash end of things, Zenawi and Sarkozy proposed “the adoption of a ‘fast-start’ fund of 10 billion dollars per year covering the next 3 years.” The fund will be used for “adaptation and mitigation actions, including the fight against deforestation.” Africa would get a cut of “40% of the fund.” They called for the “creation of a tax on international financial transactions and consider other sources such as taxes on sea freight or air transport.” They proposed “the development of carbon markets, which will be a major source of capital flows and investments between the North and the South.”

Throughout the negotiations, the rich countries threw out dollar figures at the poor countries as one would throw bones to hungry dogs. The U.S. offered the developing countries $85 million as part of a combined donation of $350 million from the industrialized countries to support clean energy technologies (wind, solar). Japan said it will kick in $15bn a year over the coming decade. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised a contribution of a $100bn a year to a long-term fund by 2020 to help poor countries deal with worsening floods, drought, storms and rising seas. The catch was that the developing countries had to sign on the Copenhagen deal and agree to transparency and emissions verification standards.

Other African countries and negotiators saw the Sarkozy-Zenawi deal as an outrage, an unconscionable trick to sell “Africa’s future” down the proverbial river. To borrow Zenawi’s pre-Conference phrase, they said the deal would lead to another “rape of our continent.” Rising to Africa’s defense was Algeria, with the support of South Africa and Nigeria. The trio accused the industrialized countries of conspiring to “kill” the Kyoto Protocol and get away with an agreement in Copenhagen that does not have strict and legally binding commitments on emissions cuts.

Zenawi was whipsawed by various representatives of the developing countries for bare-faced double-dealing. Lumumba Di-Aping, the chief negotiator of the G77 bloc of countries, representing some 130 nations, mauled Zenawi for selling out Africa to the rich countries:

Meles [Zenawi] agrees with the EU perspective and the EU perspective accepts the destruction of a whole continent plus dozens of other states… The EU’s very moral foundation is deeply questionable because she accepts that a large section of the human family should suffer in order for her to continue to thrive and prosper… The African Union has not accepted this. Meles is not the author of this proposal, the EU definitely is, along with the UK and France.

Mithika Mwenda of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, citing a study of the Working Group I to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, lashed out at Zenawi: “The IPCC science is clear – 2 degrees is 3.5 degrees in Africa – this is death to millions of Africans…. If Prime Minister Meles wants to sell out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance – he is welcome to – but that is not Africa’s position.”

Zenawi’s befuddled response was drenched in crocodile tears:

I know my proposal today will disappoint those Africans who from the point of view of justice have asked for full compensation for the damage done to our development prospects. My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation with regards to the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such funds.

Compare this to Zenawi’s braggadocio in September, 2009:

We will use our numbers to de-legitimise any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position… If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent… Africa’s interest and position will not be muffled as has usually been the case… Africa will field a single negotiating team empowered to negotiate on behalf of all member states of the African Union…. The key thing for me is that Africa be compensated for the damage caused by global warming. Many institutions have tried to quantify that and they have come up with different figures. The sort of median figure would be in the range of 40 billion USD a year.

The farcical saga of the “African delegation” at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) is reminiscent of the story in Leonard Wibberley’s 1955 book, The Mouse That Roared. In that satirical work, the fictional little duchy (territory ruled by a duke or duchess) of Grand Fenwick in the French Alps declared war on the U.S. so that it could lose the war and receive U.S. aid. Following a series of wacky and comic twists and turns, Fenwick wins the war and forms a League of Little Nations which dictates its own peace terms to the U.S. and Russia and blackmails them into a general nuclear disarmament.

The “African delegation” came to Copenhagen with pipedreams of billions of dollars in carbon blood money. They left with pledges and promises of chump change. As the Copenhagen drama drew down its curtains, the “African negotiators” learned a valuable lesson: They may huff and puff and try to blow the Copenhagen House down, but in the climate change theatre, they are nothing more than servile stagehands. After two weeks of hanging around Copenhagen, the “African negotiators” became mere sideline onlookers to a hollow agreement, the “Copenhagen Accord”, signed by the US, China, Brazil, India and South Africa dubbed a “historic step forward” with “much further to go”.

The Accord affirms the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and sets a maximum of two degrees Celsius average global temperature rise. Following a review in 2016, that could be reduced to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The rich countries pledged to commit USD$30bn in new funding to help the poor countries during 2010-2012. They also promised to support “a goal of mobilizing jointly 100 billion dollars a year” by 2020. The rich countries committed to a minimum 80 percent emissions reductions by 2050. There were other vague provisions for supporting national mitigation actions and verification procedures.

As the shiny limos scampered in the dark towards the Copenhagen Airport on December 18 with their freight of the world’s high and mighty, John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, lamented: “The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport.”

So ended the great adventure of the Mouse that Roared in Copenhagen!

Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. He writes a regular blog on The Huffington Post, and his commentaries appear regularly on Pambazuka News and New American Media.

  1. hametegnaw
    | #1

    meles is the worest & ugly monkey of than the other african ugly leaders symply ass licker of the rich countries leaders.

  2. Robele Ababya
    | #2

    Yes, the city of Copenhagen was a crime scene on the night of 18 December 2009.

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    For quite too long this little mouse had been certified to do whatever its handlers asked her to do; and that includes torturing, killings, imprisoning, and starting unnecessary wars against neighboring brothers and sisters; however, the almighty god is intervining to stop the distruction of Africa be it by the little mouse or junior sophisticated modern slave and those sinior slaves like it. Meles and his boss Bereket will be captured alive in Ethiopia and face the innocent Ethiopian justice system; until then let the little mouse make a full of hersels as she is trying to portray herself as the lioness of Africa. My fellow Ethiopians! the misery of Ethiopia along the whole horn of Africa will be lifted ones Meles and his boss Bereket are captured and their will be a new era where Africans can sit down together and make decisions that would relevant to them for many generations to come.

  4. ደምስ
    | #4

    There are looser and winners in this climate negotiate in Copenhagen.

    All African dictators
    All African nations

    The African dictator supposed to get kick back a big donation from the west. From 69 billions per year to 40% of 10 billions. The beggar dictator melese let them down big time.

    All African nations loses because the west has no intentios to make fair compenstation for enviroment or some thing else. A good clue they make sure they talked with evil like dictator melese.


    Tyrant or dictator melese big time
    The west

    The dictator melese got his hand shake from the west and no one will question next year election. The west look the other way no matter what happen.

    What ever he got under the table, he is the only one smiling. The other dictators left out and did not get a piece of the action. They are really angry at dictator melese. Now they know he is a betrayal of Ethiopia, Africa and also his fellow dictators.

    The Addis dictator also learned a big lesson from the privous gov’t not speak against the west or his lords. As long as he bows to them, nothing will happen to him.

    The west got what they wanted. Not to give in or made a fair compensation to African countries.

  5. justice for all
    | #5

    I think this is a blessing in the sky that the other African dictators came to know who the real Meless is.

  6. monu
    | #6

    what is next.i know the next melese be a prime minister.not becouse he is strong but weakness of oposition.they dont have clear mision.they are not ready to sacrfice but for looking a job.even before they have poor history.

  7. monu
    | #7

    የውያነ ጐድ በዛ ዪባስ ብለው ደግሞ ቤርትረአ ተሳስትን ነበር አሉ ዪሃን ሁሉ ሰው ችሀሪሰው በታም ያሳዝናል ዪህ ቤቲኦፒአ ሂዝብ ያላችሀው ኒከት ያሳያል ምክኒአቱም ሁዝቡ የአገርቱ ሃብት ሚን ያኪል እንደተፋ ለነሱ ሚኒም አይደለምና አሁን ያለህ ሚርችሃ አንድ እና አንድ ነው እሱም ወንድንቲህ አሳያችሀው ሲይ አብረሃ, ነጋሶ ያሉት ሰምተሃልና ሰው ሆኖ የማይሳሳት የለም ዪሁን እንጊ እንደዚህ ያለ ነገር ሲህተት ሊባል አይችሂልምና ከመገመሪአው የሃለናው ዪብሳልና በተለይ ኪደርግ ጎን ሆነው መዳ ላይ ወድከው ለከሩት በትሰብ ጐድ ነው

  8. Lelisa
    | #8

    The following article was written on ‘The Times’,the British daily,on December 17 2009,under the title ‘Africa lowers sights to boost hopes of cut-price climate deal.

    It is a revealing article that should be read with interest.I quote in part.

    ‘…Meles Zenawi,the prime minister of Ethiopia and spokesman for the African Union group of 52 countries,said that they would be willing to accept a global climate fund USD 100 billion a year by 2020…

    Gordon Brown had proposed USD 100 billion a year….

    A British official said:’It is significant that a developing country has put a financing proposal on the table.In doing so Meles has shown real leadership and we look forward to working with others on the basis of his ideas’…


    | #9


    The “crims scene” is not the interest of our factual inquiry but the perpetreators and criminals who comitted crime at the crime scene. The same is true for Meskel Square massacare where more than 200 people were killd and, in all count, Meles Satnawi is the one who will be called to testify at the witness satand in the court of law.

  10. banjaw
    | #10

    Hundreds of Ethiopian army have reportedly invaded Somalia yestardy,It is definate
    that melaze is bought. Meleze proposal that African countries accept 100bn deal–
    a remarkably similar to what the west suggested and he was imediatley slapped down by his peers and it is our obligation as Ethiopian to send hime to the graveyarof history.

  11. monu
    | #11

    is that true you can run (lead )ethiopia still you are in usa driving a tax or nursing home a lot of people posible whey i ask them how even dead king minelike was leading for 7 years i told him never happen in human history. He gave me many example when weyane and shaibia capture ethiopia ther is a gold mining in the south so at that time weyane and shiabia were far awey so the guardes of the minig they call weyane and they run the mining. after that the guards fire and become homless. 2 weyane and shiabia when they capture northern and capital city adis the eastern part was with power, instead regroup and attack the enemy they surender even one of weyane general state it in state tv.3 when weyane make fake election all edicated ppeople participate in election . Fannaly i ask my friend what is the problem he game me an answer the calture was bad so the people are abused by parentes and the axample may be the food they eat or may be the first human race and genis is old, or may be they eat aid food so we are not sure in side the food

  12. monu
    | #12

    So what is the base solution for our problem, I thing we have to do a lot first we have to make cultural revoultion , that means we have to race our kids with love and respect second we have to mix with other race therd we have to stop feedinf TEFF.becouse to many conflict with rich land, water, mineral weath.

  13. Asmelis
    | #13

    Dear Tobians,
    Meles wanted to use this conference mainly for one reason only. Western leaders has lost all their patience in Meles and his private company (EPRDF). They no longer need his service in Somalia or else where as his little image left was totally tarnished after killing hundreds in the aftermath of the 2005 election. No western leader in healthy mind want to have the dictator on his side even for photo ceremony.
    When it comes to self defence Meles had to use all amunition left in his disposal, not to win the heart and mind of the west but to blackmail them. so far his unsuccessful reaction was to use China as his next destination (as if China want him). Knowing that China is not stupid, he climbed on to getting hold of representing Africa in the Climate Change conference. Few months ahead of the conference he started sending blackmailing messages to the west in form of boycotting, demanding for big money, ..etc. An immediate response telling him that his minority revenge rule on Ethiopia is a concern from a US ambassador was part of the card game. Calling the ambassador the “Idiot” was Un-Ethiopian as Meles himself is, however what he wanted to say was that he had never been serious in his threats, just joking, idiot!
    Meles had never had the trust of Ethiopians, to day he is not trusted by the west, he is not trusted by Chinese even by African dictators. Meles is alone trusted by no one as he is running out of lies. This is the right time to finish him off once forever. Ethiopians United can get rid of this useless animal.

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