The climate negotiations in Montreal ended in overtime, with a consensus few believed was possible when the meeting started. Now the practical policy will show what is really in agreement, and how far the world's politicians and bureaucrats are willing to go in order to achieve a better climate. At the same time, world leaders were preparing for a tough round during the WTO negotiations that started in Hong Kong earlier this week.
Both meetings focus on the world's poorest and most vulnerable. And at both meetings, we see that the richest in the speeches talk beautifully about taking responsibility for the whole world, while fighting with the beak and claws to prevent the richest from changing their living habits and changing their policies.
During the climate meeting, the participants were presented with a clear message from the indigenous peoples of the Arctic – Inuit, Arctic peoples from Russia, Sami and Arctic Indians. The report emphasizes that the people of the Arctic are the most vulnerable to the climate changes the world is experiencing today, and which experts claim will get worse over the next many years. They demand that the UN and its organizations give all indigenous peoples access to results from scientific reports on climate change and the expected results of harmful climate change.
The Arctic also demands that they be made part of the UN programs and budgets for regional and national relief actions that must be implemented to prevent the consequences of climate change.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, head of the Inuit ICC (Inuit Circumpolar Conference), at the Montreal meeting, demanded that human rights also apply to those affected by climate change.
The demands of the indigenous peoples can be perceived by the United States, the EU and the other climate changes as an attempt to stop the development and the development of the richest countries.
This rejects Sheila Watt-Cloutier, pointing out that the requirement to link human rights to climate change is an attempt to do something good for people. In addition, she believes that doing this can also make the climate challenges clearer to people. It will be easier to understand the challenges when the challenges are not technical but human.
The challenges for the poor and for the indigenous peoples are no less during the summit of the WTO – the World Trade Organization – which started earlier this week. This time they meet in Hong Kong and there the world's richest countries will prove that they meant something when they promised at the G8 meeting this summer to end the world's poverty.
There is no doubt a disappointed Bob Geldof who may soon go home to roast the Christmas turkey for his three daughters – three of whom do not eat meat. He will meet that challenge, but worse is the disappointment that the world's richest country has already forgotten what they promised less than half a year ago.
Apparently, both the US and EU countries come with generous offers to the world's poorest countries. But the reality quickly turns out to be very different. The Danish newspaper Politiken compares the EU's proposal as when a grandmaster tricks an amateur into chess. When the bad chess player is allowed to take one of the Grand Master's pawns, then one can be sure that he has lured the bad player into a life-threatening trap.
Ahead of the Hong Kong summit, the EU has promised to phase out export subsidies for its own agriculture and to reduce tariffs. This makes it easier for third world countries to export raw materials to the EU. At the same time, third world countries must open their borders to processed goods from the EU. In other words, everything is as before. The Third World exports cheaply to the EU, which processes the product and sells it back to the countries of the Third World at a higher price.
And in the United States, the government is making sure that you cotton producers get so much state aid that they can outcompete all foreign producers trying to enter the US market.
The world is changing, but after Montreal and Hong Kong we have hardly come closer to a better world for the world's poorest. The United States, the EU, Norway and the other rich are not willing to pay that price.