Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dangerous Liaisons? - Copenhagen Leak & Trans-Tasman Double Dealings In The Pacific. (Updated)

In a follow up to the November issue of Island Business (I.B), featured in a SIFM post; the article in question irked an official (Johnson Honimae)in the Forum Secretariat, who penned a response letter accusing the Island Business of misrepresenting the facts.

The excerpt of the response letter published by (I.B):

Letter misrepresentation

I refer to your “Letter from Suva” titled “Officials Make a Strong Stand,” which appeared in the November issue of your magazine.

Your LETTER FROM SUVA affirmed that Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat officials present at the recent Forum Trade Officials Meeting (Brisbane, October 2009) were asked to leave by islands officials in an “unprecedented” manner.

Your editorial is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. The Forum Secretariat takes its responsibilities to all Forum Members very seriously. As part of providing its services professionally, Forum Secretariat Officials at the meeting in question sought to excuse themselves from deliberations in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

At the time, island officials were discussing Forum Islands Countries’ position on appointing a Chief Trade Adviser and the framework for PACER Plus negotiations as a lead-up to the meeting with Australia and New Zealand. Because the Forum’s membership consists of both parties involved in negotiations (ANZ and Forum Islands Countries), it was only appropriate for our officials to excuse themselves from the proceedings.

A similar request was made by the Forum Secretariat at the subsequent Forum Islands Countries’ Trade Ministers Meeting (Brisbane, October 2009). After discussion, this request was not accepted by Ministers. Forum Secretariat Officials therefore remained in the room for the duration of that meeting.

Your failure to report accurately, act professionally and uphold expected standards of journalism is unacceptable. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat remains accessible to you and your reporters should you wish to seek facts and clarifications on the work of the Forum Secretariat.

Johnson Honimae
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat


The Forum Secretariat is entitled to its views. We are, as always, happy to publish them. As an experienced former journalist, Mr Honimae would know LETTER FROM SUVA is a viewpoint, or opinion, column, not a news report.

It is clearly designed as such. However, the views in this LETTER FROM SUVA column were based on information supplied by trusted senior Pacific Islands officials, These officials are well aware of what actually happened and briefed LETTER FROM SUVA.

Island Business continues to unravel the layers of manipulation, coercion within the confines of the Forum Secretariat, by those who take their marching orders directly from Canberra and Wellington.


Laisa Taga
Islands Business

The two biggest Pacific Islands countries have come out firing. Fiji and Papua New Guinea have criticised the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for including the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) for funding under EDF (European Development Fund) 10.

Twelve programmes have been proposed by the Forum Secretariat for funding under the Aid for Trade for EDF-10 RIP funding which was circulated to all Forum member countries.

Twenty six million Euros (approximately A$36 million) is available to the Forum member countries of the ACP (African, Caribbean, Pacific) group. The Pacific ACP countries were required to submit their five priority areas.

The establishment of the OCTA for PACER Plus Related Activities is priority number eight and the Forum Secretariat is seeking 7 million Euros (A$11,402,443) for this.

OCTA was established to assist Forum Islands Countries (FICs) in their negotiations with the Australia and New Zealand under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) Agreement.

Fiji is opposing the use of such funds to fund the Office of the Trade Adviser and Pacer Plus Negotiations.

A source within the Fiji Government told LETTER FROM SUVA: “Why should EDF funding fund OCTA and PACER Plus negotiations when that has got nothing to do with EPA? The Europeans are giving money in relation to the EPAs, so Australia and New Zealand should cough up for the PACER negotiations.”

Fiji’s opposition was made known to the Forum Secretary-General Tuiloma Neroni Slade, in a letter dated November 18, 2009.

The letter signed by Fiji’s Roving Ambassador Ratu Tui Cavuilati said: “Fiji wishes to register our concern that the EDF facility should not be used to fund OCTA and PACER Plus negotiations, rather, funding for those activities should be separate and should not divert the much needed resources away from EPA related activities.” Fiji is not alone. Papua New Guinea has also written to the Forum Secretariat expressing its concern.

Acting Foreign Secretary Lucy Bogari said in her letter to Mr Tuiloma: “Papua New
Guinea is very concerned that PACER Plus related activities especially in the form of assistance to OCTA featured prominently in the proposed allocations.

“Papua New Guinea’s position is that the great portion of the assistance towards PACER Plus activities for the deepening of trade and economic relations between FICs and Australia and New Zealand should be committed from a more neutral source other than ANZ but not necessarily through EDF sources.

“As such the Government of PNG does not support the proposed allocation for OCTA and requests the revision of the proposed allocation in EDF 10 to match the financial commitment by ANZ, which should be an equivalent of 1.5 million Australian dollars only,” Ms Bogari also used the opportunity to rebuke the Forum Secretariat on the state of play regarding OCTA.

“The OCTA should have been an issue strictly discussed by the FICs themselves without consulting ANZ. After all, it is odd that the FICs discussed with ANZ the OCTA which is a FIC negotiation strategy.

“It is therefore PNG’s view that once the initial three years of ANZ support to OCTA lapses, FICs need to bite the bullet and take exclusive ownership of the subsequent requirements for OCTA and resolve any related issues internally,” Ms Bogari wrote in her November 19, letter.

Both Australia and New Zealand have jointly committed A$1.5 million (US$1.3 million) to help fund the setting up of the office in Vanuatu.

Meanwhile, LETTER FROM SUVA has been told that the Head of the Pacific Plan Unit at the Forum Secretariat, Ed Vrikic, has lodged an application for a new work permit through the Fiji foreign ministry. His current work permit expires this year. But the new one he is applying for is for the position of Executive Officer.

LETTER FROM SUVA had revealed a few months ago, that he had been appointed Chief of Staff following the Cairns Leaders meeting, although the job title has now changed to Executive Officer. And he will take up that position once his Pacific Plan contract expires this year. The new job is a one-year contract and he will be on secondment from the Australian Government.

This is going to be a very powerful position and a strategic one too, as one Forum observer had told LETTER FROM SUVA.

“This person will vet everything the SG [Secretary General] will see—what comes to his table and what goes out from his table,” this Forum observer said. “He will also have access to all the vital and top secret information the Forum Secretariat might have in relation to trade negotiations for instance and so forth, which could find itself turning up at the Australia’s Pacific desk in Canberra—preempting our every move.”

It will be interesting to see how the Fiji foreign ministry will handle the issue. Would it be another case like Chakriya Bowman, another Australian, who is now understood to be working from the Forum trade office in Sydney?

Unfortunately, there are some parallels between the Forum Secretariat's adopted stance on Climate Change, and the unfolding crisis in Copenhagen.

First and foremost the Pacific Forum final communique on Climate Change, as it appears on Forum website:

The excerpt of Forum Communique On Climate Change:

6 August 2009

For Pacific Island states, climate change is the great challenge of our time. It threatens not only our livelihoods and living standards, but the very viability of some of our communities.

Though the role of Pacific Island states in the causes of climate change is small, the impact on them is great. Many Pacific people face new challenges in access to water. The security of our communities and the health of populations are placed in greater jeopardy. And some habitats and island States face obliteration.

Mindful of the Niue Declaration, we therefore address this Call to Action to all leaders in the global community, and urgently seek their support to address this grave threat.

Many actions are needed, but a strong global agreement is vital. We therefore seek redoubled efforts from all states to secure a successful agreement at Copenhagen in December.
With 122 days to go, the international community is not on track to achieve the outcome we need unless we see a renewed mandate across all participating nations.
We call upon world Leaders to urgently increase their level of ambition and to give their negotiators fresh mandates to secure a truly effective global agreement.

We call for a post-2012 outcome that sets the world on a path to limit the increase in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius or less.

We call on states to reduce global emissions by at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

We call on states to ensure that global emissions peak no later than 2020.

We call on developed economies to take the lead by setting ambitious and robust mid-term emissions reduction targets – consistent with the agreed science and the directions embraced by the Major Economies Forum Meeting in July 2009.

We also call on developed economies to strengthen the seriousness and credibility of their claims at Copenhagen by putting in place domestic policies and legislation now to achieve emission reductions targets.

And we call on major developing economies to commit to slow and then reduce emissions growth over time, to nominate a peaking year for their emissions, and to ensure a substantial collective reduction below business-as-usual levels by 2020.

We call upon each major emitter to show leadership – to demonstrate by their words and deeds that they are willing to make the tough decisions necessary to secure the agreement that we need; and not to wait for others to show the way forward.

We understand that just as deforestation is part of the problem, so reducing deforestation and providing incentives to preserve forests should be part of the solution.

To defeat deforestation and forest degradation, we acknowledge that finance, technology and capacity development are necessary to underpin a step-wise process necessary to increase emissions reductions and carbon sequestration. Global carbon markets will play an important role, requiring robust methodological standards for measurable, reportable and verifiable actions.

For our part, we know that we will need to adapt to the changes in our climate that are already inevitable. We stand ready to lead our peoples in this adaptation process. But developing countries cannot do this alone. We call for increased support, prioritised to those developing countries most vulnerable and least able to respond.

We call for increased financing through carbon markets and other channels for climate change adaptation and mitigation action in developing countries, including through technology development and diffusion, and we welcome initiatives by G20 Leaders to develop financing options.

We call upon world leaders to recognise and act upon the threat climate change poses to our marine environment, particularly its effect on coral reefs, fisheries and food security.

We also call upon world leaders to include in a post-2012 arrangement practical and concrete solutions for those whose future existence is under threat.

In view of the situation of Small Island States and their future survival action by the major emitters, both developed and developing countries, should embrace the possibility of going beyond the 2050 targets contained within this Call to Action.

The world has shown, in responding to the global financial crisis, that it is prepared to act swiftly and decisively to address tough challenges. There will be no tougher challenge than addressing climate change, and no greater imperative for the peoples of the Pacific.

We, the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, commit ourselves to working intensively with Leaders of all states to achieve an effective agreement at Copenhagen. We stand ready to play our part in securing an outcome that can safeguard our people, their prosperity and the planet.

Secondly, the position taken by the Pacific Forum was basically to have Australia voicing their collective environmental concerns at Copenhagen.
That stance was disputed by Fiji; who subsequently aligned itself with the Association Of Small Island States (AOSIS) according to a Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBCL)article.

The excerpt of FBCL article:

Fiji opposes Forum climate change policy
Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fiji is opposing the climate change stance adopted by the Pacific Island Forum that is going to be taken to the Copenhagen meet in Denmark next week.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji has aligned itself with the Association Of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the Copenhagen meet and it opposes the stance taken by the Forum at the recent meeting in Australia.

“We certainly have differences with the stance of the Forum. It is in Fiji’s interests to be leading the region on climate change that have the backing of other pacific island countries. As for Copenhagen, yes negotiations will be held with the developed countries concerning emission levels…”

The climate change policy agreed to by the Forum is to allow Australia to be the voice of their climate change concerns at Copenhagen.

This is something many environmental and NGOs in the Pacific oppose, saying it will only dilute the Pacific’s concerns.
Sadly, the hens have come home to roost for the Pacific Forum; after the recent revelation of a Final Draft agreement, which was leaked to the Guardian Newspaper.

One particular brow raising revelation was that the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd had a central role in the draft compilation, according to an article published in The Age.

The excerpt of the Age article:
Anger at 'secret' climate change deal

December 10, 2009

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd had a central role in the creation of a "secret" draft climate agreement that has sparked angry accusations that wealthy nations are trying to railroad the developing world into an unfair deal at the climate summit in Copenhagen.

The G77 bloc of developing nations said the draft deal would abandon a long-held agreement that rich nations were responsible for lowering emissions and condemn 80 per cent of the world's population to suffering and injustice.

The proposal would for the first time require developing countries to put forward climate policies as part of a binding international treaty and split the developing bloc into two groups.

Although this has been widely expected, it drew a furious response from G77 head Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping of Sudan.

He accused wealthy leaders of trying to shore up their economies by demanding action from developing nations before committing to deep emissions cuts themselves and saying what they would pay towards a green fund to help vulnerable communities.

The proposal was prepared by the Danish Government with members of its "circle of commitment", including Mr Rudd.

"Perhaps it is the Danish idea that maybe developing countries are not competent enough, not knowledgeable enough, to articulate their own views and their own solutions," Mr Di-Aping said.

"This is a very serious development, a very unfortunate development, a major violation that threatens the success of the Copenhagen negotiations."

Late last night Mr Di-Aping stepped up his rhetoric, comparing the rich nations with nations that appeased Nazi Germany before World War II. ''Many of them were willing to appease gross violations of human rights, but at the end of the day humanity prevailed,'' he said

Developed nations quickly played down the draft, saying it was just one of several working papers being put forward before world leaders arrive next week.

It is believed an updated version has been distributed, but work on it has been put on hold while the negotiations continue this week.

Australian climate change ambassador Louise Hand said the Danes had consulted with several delegations, including Australia's, on what a climate agreement might look like but had not prepared a final draft.

Denmark's Ministry of Climate and Energy issued a statement denying the existence of a ''secret Danish draft''.

Speaking in Cairns, Mr Rudd said Denmark had been taking ''inputs'' from other countries. But he would not comment on the draft document, which was leaked to The Guardian in Britain.

He said the world needed a ''strong, levelled political agreement … but more broadly, the right approach is to get the right outcome for the developed and the developing world, because we live on one planet''.

As part of the Danes' ''circle of commitment'', Mr Rudd has had weekly video links with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a bid to find an approach to satisfy both the US and developing nations while giving a chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees.

It is understood the Governments of all members of the circle have consulted on text that could form part of a political deal at Copenhagen.

Proposals in the leaked draft reflect the ''schedules'' approach proposed by Australia this year. This would require industrialised countries to take on emissions targets, as under the Kyoto Protocol, and developing countries to put forward measurable climate policies of their choice, such as targets for renewable energy.

The draft proposes a global 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2050, a figure opposed by China and other developing countries because it is understood to demand an overall cut of 20 per cent by the poor.

Wealthy nations would be expected to make an 80 per cent cut by 2050 - more than Australia's current target of 60 per cent. But the Government has pledged to take an 80 per cent policy to the next election if a climate deal is struck.

Erwin Jackson of the Climate Institute said parts of the draft proposal could be the basis for an ambitious climate deal. But he criticised the absence of 2020 targets and commitments on a green fund. ''There is no doubt the Prime Minister and the Government are playing a role in attempting to avoid the negotiations spiralling towards a low ambitious outcome,'' he said.

"However, all countries have to lift their game."

It seems those Pacific Island States, which voted for Australia speaking on behalf of the Pacific region were in for a rude awakening. This whole climate change fiasco has become a diplomatic metaphor for "bait and switch".

More so, when the current Chair of the Pacific Forum (Australia) is covertly advocating a position (that basically contradicts their stance adopted by the Pacific Forum). According to a NZ Herald article, The Government of New Zealand was also involved in the draft agreement.

Australia and New Zealand's two timing position on Climate Change is now undisputed and vilified as, Tiger Wood's transgressions, wrapped in the controversial Downing Street Memos.

This climate scandal already labeled "Carbon Colonialism" by an article from the Times of London; has serious implications on the final agreement in Copenhagen and its acceptance or abeyance by the least developed nations on this planet (many of whom are seething with anger) pivots on the knife edge of history.

The leaked Danish text (posted below) courtesy of Doom Daily.

Copenhagen Climate Change Agreement

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Australian Broadcast Corp (ABC) News Filtering, Climate Gate And The Pacific Region.

Interesting story of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) filtering out search results on their website.

This embarrassing incident comes in the wake of the narrowing defeat of a Climate Change Bill (aka Emission Trade Laws) in the Australian Senate.

Although, Australia is the current chair of the Pacific Forum, their arbitrary insistence of speaking for the Pacific Forum raising these environmental issues at Copenhagen-is a bull headed imposition, currently challenged by Fiji's Foreign Affairs according to a FBC article.

Undeniably, it is highly questionable for the regions greatest polluter to represent the concerns of their least polluting Pacific island neighbors. An outrageous premise rudely abusing the founding values of the forum and tarnishing the very ideals of the presently Trans-Tasman dominated and funded institution.

More at The Real News

Real News Network (video above) explores the Climate Gate Email Leaks, undoubtedly a catalyst for this blow back of dissent. Notwithstanding, Climate Gate issue has raised the specter of artificially induced lethargy in main stream news reportage, as UK Telegraph journalist outlines in a blog.

This deceit in scientific research raises many questions about the green veneer adopted by some major news organizations, a trend adopted by News Corp as reported by a NPR article.

Green It. Mean It. 2009

Shira | MySpace Video

Fox TV Network (video above)also supported similar activities of climate awareness, derived from the grand News Corp vision.

Such potential economic bubbles in carbon trading, raised inadvertently by the Climate Gate email fiasco; prompted many to question the agenda of this vast media network of basically playing both sides of a controversy global issue- or was it just simply mis-communication between their News and Entertainment divisions ?

Fox News Interviews US Scientist(video below).

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