By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico
06 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN ---- European commissioner for climate change, Connie Hedegraad, at the centre of a WikiLeak report that claims bribery on the part of the European Union and the United States, has categorically denied any truth to the leaked U.S Government cables.
In particular she rejected claims made in the report quoted from a conversation she allegedly had with the deputy U.S climate change envoy, Dr Jonathan Pershing, where she made reference to making friends with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
According to the leaked U.S Government diplomatic cable obtained by The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom, Hedegraad suggested, “AOSIS countries 'could be our best allies' given their need for financing.”
“I can only say that it is one sided and selective reporting of the conversation by WikiLeaks. What I can say from the EU is that we have done some of our outreach in some Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and vulnerable countries and for many good reasons we want to work with them, she told journalists here in Cancun Monday.
She refused to explain the nature of the conversation with Dr Pershing except admit that she flew to the Maldives to discuss what constructive work the EU can do in the small island state in the Indian Ocean.
“We have been working with AOSIS and our conversation was not only about financing. We have done a lot of outreach and we are delivering on our pledges, said Hedegraad.
The Guardian report quoting from the leaked U.S diplomatic cable claims that rich nations were using money, threats to buy support, spying and cyber warfare to seek out leverage at the global climate change talks.
The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial Copenhagen Accord, the official document that emerged from the failed Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.
Getting as many countries as possible to associate themselves with the accord strongly served US interests, by boosting the likelihood it would be officially adopted, reported The Guardian.
A diplomatic offensive was launched. Diplomatic cables flew thick and fast between the end of Copenhagen in December 2009 and late February 2010, when the leaked cables end.
Some countries needed little persuading, like Maldives in the Indian Ocean, the newspaper reported.
Within two weeks of Copenhagen, the Maldives foreign minister, Ahmed Shaheed, wrote to the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, expressing eagerness to back it.
By 23 February 2010, the Maldives' ambassador-designate to the US, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, told the US deputy climate change envoy, Jonathan Pershing, his country wanted "tangible assistance", saying other nations would then realise the advantages to be gained by compliance” with the accord, said the U.S cable.
A diplomatic dance ensued. "Ghafoor referred to several projects costing approximately US$50m. Pershing encouraged him to provide concrete examples and costs in order to increase the likelihood of bilateral assistance."
The Maldives were unusual among developing countries in embracing the accord so wholeheartedly, but other small island nations were secretly seen as vulnerable to financial pressure. Any linking of the billions of dollars of aid to political support is extremely controversial – nations most threatened by climate change see the aid as a right, not a reward.
To date, 116 countries have associated themselves with the Accord and another 26 say they intend to associate.