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Climate Change Compromise by Australia Has No Chance, Pachauri Says, India Agrees

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- Two days before the vaunted climate change event at the UN General Assembly, a compromise proposal for the upcoming Copenhagen climate change negotiations was made by Australia, the world's largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases. The Australian proposal would, as described by Climate Change minister Peggy Wong, would allow each country to set a national schedule of emissions.

  Hours later, Inner City Press both UN climate expert Rajendra Pachauri and Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh what they thought of Australia's idea. Ramesh said that India does not agree with what he called Australia's "binding" plan, that what is it proposing to do is to up its reporting from every six year to every two years. He said he has proposed to the European Union an annual dialogue on climate change, and would ask the same of the United States.

  While Pachauri left the front table of the panel discussion, held at Vermilion Restaurant on Lexington Avenue four block for the police-surrounded UN, Inner City Press caught up with him and asked point blank, what chance do you think the Australian proposal has? "None," Pachauri said. For the reasons said by Minister Ramesh? Yes, he said.

Pachauri, UN's Ban and Pascoe, climate compromise changes not shown

  Earlier in the Q&A, a questioner had referred to what she said what that day's New York Post, with "We're Screwed" on the front page. "That was a hoax," Ramesh gently said. He added that India would be foolish not to use its coal reserves.

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As UN Asks for $500 Billion for Climate Change, Few Details Given, Indigenous REDD Lined

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 1 -- As the UN released a report on climate change that largely absolved China for its emissions while calling on Western countries to pony up $500 billion for the developing world's adaptation to global warming, skeptics wondered if this was science or politics? The report, entitled "Promoting Development, Saving the Planet" and issued by the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, was launched, in UN parlance, at UN Headquarters by Rob Vos and a series of slides. Inner City Press asked Vos, who would administer the $500 billion? Vos said that decision would be made later -- change minds and get the money first. Video here, from Minute 47:22.

  Afterwards, a true cynic wonder if the fact that DESA is headed by Sha Zukang of China had anything to do with the striking absolution of that country, and of India. It's as if different parts of the UN are ceded to different political interests. Peacekeeping is given to the West, hence the presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and U.S. interests like Haiti. DESA and UNCTAD and other such agencies are given over to the developing world. $500 billion: but who's going to pay it?

   Meanwhile, there is a problem, to be sure. Monday night, the Ambassador of a Pacific island state told Inner City Press that while he viewed Ban Ki-moon's upcoming September 22 climate change event as hype, parts of his country face flooding and submersion, and salt water is seeping into the soil like a sponge, cutting food production. If the $500 billion would go to states like this, or to the impact farmers, that would be fine. Which is why the proposal shouldn't have been made without more specifics.

UN's Vos and slides - nice guy, more more specifics needed

  Inner City Press asked the UN's head of the Forum on Forests about problems between indigenous communities and the vaunted "REDD" program. She acknowledged that there had been issues, while laying these off on the World Bank. But now, she said, indigenous people have a seat at the table, right next to governments. Video from here.

  That's not what people in Indonesia, Guyana and Panama are saying. Watch this site.

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Vattenfall CEO Says UN Climate Change Post Praises Coal Burning, Sachs Blue Wash

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- The day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named an Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, Inner City Press asked the UN Secretariat's representative Tarik Banuri on what basis Lars Josefsson, the CEO of notorious Swedish coal burner Vattenfall AB, had been included. Vattenfall has stated that it will actually increase its use of fossil fuels in the years to come, click here.

   Banuri first said that Sweden is a country to be admired for its environmental record, then added that Josefsson had been appointed in his personal capacity, not as any statement on this record of the company he heads. But Josefsson had already issued said in a statement that "the invitation is also a recognition of the significance of Vattenfall’s efforts to advance the energy and climate issue."

   So polluting companies use the UN to blue wash their records, and the UN does nothing. In fact, UN envoy Jeffery D. Sachs recently praised Vattenfall at a corporate-sponsored event that some environmental activists called turqoise washing.

  Vattenfall has already been awarded the Global Greenwash Award in connection with the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen which Ban Ki-moon attended on May 24, just after his whirlwind "victory tour" of Sri Lanka. Inner City Press, returning from Sri Lanka, went to the Bella Center where Ban was speaking to the Summit, but Ban's spokesperson there insisted there was no way to get UN accredited media inside.

   Also on Ban's new advisory board are representatives of India's Tata, Norway's StatOilHydro and the Korea Energy Management Corporation. Inner City Press asked if member Carlos Slim Helu, monopolist and New York Times titan, had attended the Group's first meeting. Banuri said he had not.

A Vattenfall coal fired plant in Germany - celebrated by UN?

   Meanwhile, a group of former Presidents of the UN General Assembly met in Seoul, on climate change. Not there was the just-past PGA Kerim, who Inner City Press spotted Wednesday night going in to the Ban Ki-moon speech in Manhattan which was protested by Tamils. Inner City Press asked at Thursday's noon briefing

Inner City Press: this grouping of former Presidents of the General Assembly, do you know how many, and like how many of them attended? I hadn’t heard of that group before and I saw [Srgjan] Kerim only last night at the Ban Ki-moon award and protest. Not at the protest.

Spokesman Enrique Yeves: To be honest, I am not sure how many of them they are. But this is not new. They have met several times, and actually President d’Escoto attended the meeting last year during the General Assembly with those former Presidents. And he was invited to go to Seoul to this meeting, and President d’Escoto wanted to attend, but then when we changed the dates of the summit, it was impossible for him to attend. So he sent a video message and I think the full list of participants is on the website.

Inner City Press: On the website of…? This body has its own…?

Spokesperson: No, no, on the website. I think they have released just today a press release.

   The chairman of this body, Han Seung-soo, was named a UN climate change envoy by Ban, until he returned to South Korea as prime minister. Now Ban has named Srgjan Kerim a climate change envoy. One wag quipped that regardless of one's views, climate change is the last refuge of a....

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On Oceans Day, Illegal Fishing Stumps UN FAO, Climate Refugees Denied Indonesia Island

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- As World Oceans Day was celebrated at the UN in New York, there was news, some good but mostly bad, about the failure to include oceans in the current climate change talks, and lack of welcome for environmental refugees.

  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Hasjim Djalal, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia, about reports his country might lease one or more islands to refugees from global warming, such as from the Maldives. Video here, from Minute 42:48.

   Hasjim Djalal, after bragging the Indonesia devoted one of its islands "south of Singapore" to Vietnam's boat people, said that now "Indonesians don't want to lose their islands," and so don't want to rent them. You never know what the refugees will leave, he said, to countries of reception. Among these he mentioned Australia which, he said, passes refugees on in turn to Nauru and Christmas Island.

  Indonesia, of course, recently sent Rohingya prospective refugees from Myanmar back to Bangladesh. Indonesia's Ambassador told Inner City Press this is humane and consistent with the Bali protocol. But what about an island?

Hasjim Djalal: no more leasing islands, Rohingya not shown

   Inner City Press asked what is being done to stop illegal fishing, for example off Somalia and Western Sahara. The FAO, it was said, has a plan of action. There are moves afoot to make countries control what companies, flying their national flag or not, do out in the ocean. But the UN is quiet as Morocco and European fish off Western Sahara, and little is done of the pillage off of Somalia. So where is the FAO?

   Also on the panel was professor David Freestone. Inner City Press asked him if Ban Ki-moon or Yvo de Boer should be more to try to put oceans on the UNFCCC agenda in Copenhagen. Freestone said that a special effort should be made. We'll see.

Somalia Pirates Include Pakistanis and Iranians, Russia Says an International Court Needed

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- While the campaign of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is portrayed as example of global unity, there are disagreements about setting up an international court mechanism to try piracy suspects. After Friday's meeting of the Contact Group, Inner City Press asked U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary, Political and Military Affairs Greg Delawie if the U.S. favors such an international mechanism. No, Mr. Delawie said. Is this due to the U.S.'s position against the International Criminal Court?

   Ironically, not only Germany and the Netherlands but also Russia favor an international court, or "mechanism within a national court," as a Russian diplomat put it to Inner City Press. He noted that the U.S. arguments against this are similar to those Russia made against, for example, the establishment of the so-called Hariri tribunal for Lebanon. He said that since Kenya, where most trials for now take place, has an Anglo Saxon system, the U.S. and UK are fine with it, Russia less so. He said that recently pirates from Pakistan and Iran have been caught and asked, why turn them over to Kenya?

Pirates? From where? To where?

   Somalia's foreign minister made a pitch for money for his country's courts, and to develop an official Somali Coast Guard. Inner City Press had asked Delawie what the group would do about illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, two roots or rationales for Somali piracy. Delawie said that things are so dangerous now, he doubts that illegal fishing persists. The answer seemed insufficient.

   Standing to the side of the stakeout was the UN's envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, fresh from a press conference in which after Inner City Press asked about human rights in Somalia, he said the Press is an accomplice in what Ugandan President Museveni has called a genocide in motion. As the UN's Olara Otunu might say, Museveni should know....

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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