SHAME on us all: on us in the media and on our politicians. Despite thousands of news reports, interviews, analyses, critiques and commentaries from journalists, what has the inquiring, intellectually sceptical media told us about the potential details of a Copenhagen treaty? And despite countless speeches, addresses, interviews, doorstops, moralising sermons from government ministers, pleas from Canberra for an outcome at Copenhagen, opposition criticism of government policy, what have our elected representatives told us about the potential details of a Copenhagen treaty?
With just over 40 days until more than 15,000 officials, advisers, diplomats, activists and journalists from more than 190 countries attend the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, we know nothing. Nothing about a climate change treaty that the Rudd government is keen to sign and one that will bind this country for years to come.
Of course, there is no final treaty as yet. That is what they are hoping to finalise in Copenhagen. But there are 181 pages that make up the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change dated September 15, 2009: a rough draft of what could be signed in Copenhagen. And yet, not one member of the media or political class has bothered to inform us about its contents as an important clue to what may happen in Copenhagen. The shame of that state of affairs started to trickle in last week.
Emails started arriving telling me about a speech given by Christopher Monckton, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, at Bethel University in St Paul, Minnesota, on October 14. Monckton talked about something that no one has talked about in the lead-up to Copenhagen: the text of the draft Copenhagen treaty.
Even after Monckton’s speech, most of the media has duly ignored the substance of what he said. You don’t need me to find his St Paul address on YouTube. Interviewed on Monday morning by Alan Jones on Sydney radio station 2GB, Monckton warned that the aim of the Copenhagen draft treaty was to set up a transnational government on a scale the world has never before seen. Listening to the interview, my teenage daughters asked me whether this was true.
So I read the draft treaty. The word government appears on page 18. Monckton says: “This is the first time I’ve ever seen any transnational treaty referring to a new body to be set up under that treaty as a government. But it’s the powers that are going to be given to this entirely unelected government that are so frightening.”
Monckton became aware of the extraordinary powers to be vested in this new world government only when a friend of his found an obscure UN website and hacked his way through several layers of complications before coming across a document that isn’t even called the draft treaty. It’s called a “note by the secretariat”. The moment he saw it, he went public and said: “Look, this is an outrage ... they have kept the sheer scope of this treaty quiet.”
Monckton says the aim of this new government is to have power to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all the nations that sign the Copenhagen treaty.
In a sense, countries that sign international treaties always cede powers to a UN body responsible for implementing the treaty obligations. But the difference is that we usually understand the details of the obligations and the power ceded.
Now read the 181-page draft treaty. It is impossible to fully understand the convoluted UN verbiage. Yet even those incomprehensible clauses point to some nasty surprises that no politician has told us about. For example, Monckton says the drafters want this new world government to have control over once free markets: the financial and trading markets of nation-states. “The sheer ambition of this new world government is enormous right from the start; that’s even before it starts accreting powers to itself in the way that these entities inevitably always do,” he says.
The reason for that power grab is clear enough from the draft treaty. Clause after complicated clause sets out the requirement that developed countries such as Australia pay their “adaptation debt” to developing countries. Clause 33 on page 39 says that by 2020 the scale of financial flows to support adaptation in developing countries must be at least $US67 billion ($73bn), or in the range of $US70bn to $US140bn a year.
How developed countries will pay is far from clear. The draft text sets out various alternatives, including Option 7 on page 135, which provides for “a (global) levy of 2 per cent on international financial market (monetary) transactions to Annex I Parties”. This means industrialised countries such as Australia, if we sign.
Monckton’s warning to Americans that “in the next few weeks, unless you stop it, your President will sign your freedom, your democracy and your prosperity away forever” is colourful. But no more colourful than the language used by those who preach about the perils of climate change and the virtues of a hard-hitting Copenhagen treaty.
Put aside Monckton’s comments. Ask yourself this: why has our government failed to explain the possible text of a treaty it wants Australia to sign? There has been no address from any Rudd minister to explain the draft treaty. No 3000-word essay from the thoughtful PM. No speech in parliament. No interview. No press release. Nothing.
Presumably the hard-working Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has read the 181-page draft text. Presumably our central control and command PM has been briefed about the draft text. In Germany a few months ago, Kevin Rudd complained about the lack of “detailed programmatic specificity” going into the Copenhagen talks. Yet the draft text provides much detailed specificity about obligations on developed nations to transfer millions of dollars to developing countries under formulas to be set down by an unelected body. So why the silence? Are they hiding the details of this deal from us because most of the polls now suggest that action on climate change is becoming politically unpalatable?
And what explains the media’s failure to report and analyse the only source document that offers any idea of what may happen in Copenhagen? Ignorance? Laziness? Stubborn adherence to the orthodox government line that a deal in Copenhagen is critical? An obsession with the politics of climate change rather than policy?
At least we have heard from Monckton. He told Jones there had already been a million hits on the link to his St Paul address. “So the message in America is now out ... Now you know about it and you need to spread the word.”
Perhaps now our PM and our Climate Change Minister can spare a few moments to tell us about the details they know about but have so far chosen not to tell us about.