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Cablegate: Bangladesh Backs Copenhagen Accord and Looks Ahead

VZCZCXRO9105
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #0087/01 0270906
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 270906Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9945
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0697
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN PRIORITY 0088
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 2987
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DHAKA 000087
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/INSB, S/SECC
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2015
TAGS: SENV ENRG KGHG BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH BACKS COPENHAGEN ACCORD AND LOOKS AHEAD
REF: A. SECSTATE 3079
B. 09 DHAKA 1096
C. 09 DHAKA 942
Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 3.

SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST
--------------------------

2. (C) Minister of Environment Dr. Hasan Mahmud told visiting
PDAS Patrick Moon on January 21 that Bangladesh would join
the Copenhagen Accord and that he was hopeful about further
progress on climate change issues. (The Minister
subsequently confirmed Bangladesh,s accession to the
Copenhagen Accord on January 26.) He praised President
Obama,s personal engagement in Copenhagen, and acknowledged
that the Copenhagen Accord was a positive step towards
greater international cooperation on climate change. Dr.
Mahmud criticized China for opposing several constructive
proposals at Copenhagen and trying to get Least Developed
Countries (LDC) to support positions contrary to LDC
interests. He commented that inadequate preparation and
errors by conference organizers prevented the conference from
achieving a more successful outcome. The Minister called for
further consultations with U.S. negotiators and like-minded
countries in order to lay the groundwork for greater progress
at future climate change meetings.

3. (U) ACTION REQUEST: Post requests that S/SECC consider
sending a representative to discuss climate change at the
Bangladesh Development Forum on February 15-16.

BANGLADESH SUPPORTS COPENHAGEN ACCORD
-------------------------------------

4. (U) In a speech at Lund University on the day after the
Copenhagen Summit ended, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called
the Copenhagen Accord, a "reasonable conclusion" to the
Summit. Though noting that much work remained to be done to
implement the accord, she commented that the agreement took
into account Bangladeshi interests and laid the groundwork
for enhanced international cooperation on climate change
issues.

5. (SBU) In a meeting with Minister of Environment and Forest
Hasan Mahmud on January 21, SCA PDAS Moon followed up on Ref
A demarche and expressed hope that Bangladesh would formally
join the Copenhagen Accord. (Post earlier delivered Ref A
talking points on January 13 to Dr. Mahmud and other GOB
contacts.) Dr. Mahmud told PDAS Moon the cabinet would
consider the issue at a meeting on January 24 and he
predicted, "we should be able to sign" the accord after this
meeting. (He subsequently confirmed to PolCouns on January
26 that Bangladesh had joined with the Copenhagen Accord.)
6. (SBU) Dr. Mahmud emphasized that he was quite impressed by
President Obama,s personal engagement in Copenhagen, noting
that the President had worked tirelessly and "tried to do his
best" to facilitate negotiations. PDAS Moon commented that
although the outcome in Copenhagen was less than we wanted,
it was nevertheless a significant achievement. Minister
Mahmud agreed and suggested that there was increasing
consensus on the future direction of climate change
negotiations.

CRITICISM OF COPENHAGEN PROCESS
-------------------------------

7. (C) Minister Mahmud faulted Copenhagen Summit organizers
for poor preparation and management, notably the failure of
the conference chair to formally mandate the smaller working
group to negotiate a draft agreement for the conference. He
commented that it was clear on the first day that some
countries were blocking progress while others had little role
in negotiations. He cited the example of some oil-exporting
countries that may consider a climate change agreement to be
contrary to their interests.

FRUSTRATION WITH CHINA,S ROLE
-----------------------------

8. (C) Dr. Mahmud criticized Chinese negotiators in
Copenhagen for opposing several constructive proposals
including a European Union proposal to include EU mitigation
commitments. He suggested the Chinese may have opposed
mitigation commitments from Annex 1 countries because they
feared China would be pressured to make similar commitments
when it became an Annex 1 country. Dr. Mahmud also noted
that China was alone in opposing a proposal on a shared
vision for climate change goals, but the Chinese negotiator
had backed down when he saw that he was isolated. Mahmud
criticized China for trying to unify Least Developing
Countries to support negotiating positions contrary to LDC
interests.

PREPARATION KEY TO FUTURE CLIMATE CHANGE MEETINGS
--------------------------------------------- ----

9. (C) In the aftermath of Copenhagen, Mahmud emphasized the
importance of enhanced consultations with the U.S. and
like-minded countries to better prepare for future climate
change meetings. He warned that if nothing came out of the
next Climate Change Summit there would be "total
frustration." For this reason, he said, "we can´t afford" to
repeat the lack of planning that hindered parties from
achieving a more successful outcome in Copenhagen. Dr.
Mahmud expressed appreciation for past consultations with
U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and called
for continued informal engagement to prepare for the Bonn
UNFCCC Convention in June.

ADAPTATION/MITIGATION FUNDING
-----------------------------

10. (C) Dr. Mahmud argued that, as probably the country most
vulnerable to climate change, Bangladesh should get its "fair
share" of climate change adaptation funding. As discussions
proceed over funding mechanisms, he said, Bangladesh wanted
to ensure easy access for vulnerable countries. He
criticized market-based financing mechanisms as "not
accessible" and said that adaptation funding should come from
governments. Since International Financial Institutions
(IFI) have complicated funding procedures, he argued that a
separate body should manage adaptation funds. Noting
compromises proposed by Dutch and Danish negotiators, he
suggested that negotiations may eventually produce a "hybrid"
that combined a new oversight group with IFI management.

11. (C) Asked how Bangladesh would use adaptation funds, Dr.
Mahmud commented that funding would not be sufficient to meet
Bangladesh´s vast needs, but he cited several priority areas
for adaptation funding: construction of coastal embankments,
river management (including dredging), and promotion of
renewable energy (particularly solar and wind power).

REGIONAL COOPERATION ON WATER AND ENERGY
----------------------------------------

12. (C) PDAS Moon noted the Prime Minister´s recent visit to
India and asked Dr. Mahmud´s views on regional cooperation on
water and energy issues. The Minister stressed the
importance of greater engagement with India on water
management, noting that the countries shared 54 common
rivers. He commented that Bangladesh could not prevent India
from developing water and hydroelectric projects, so it
needed to encourage India to address Bangladeshi concerns.
He said that hydroelectric projects such as the controversial
Tipaimukh Dam could actually benefit Bangladesh by regulating
water flow. Although this project has become politically
controversial, Dr. Mahmud pointed out that Bangladesh
originally asked India to build the Tipaimukh Dam in 1988.

13. (C) Minister Mahmud underscored the high potential for
increased regional cooperation on energy. He cited the
example of Bhutan where an estimated 20,000 megawatts in
potential hydroelectric capacity could be harnessed for
energy exports to India and Bangladesh. Dr. Mahmud said that
there was greater understanding of technical needs, but the
main obstacle to greater energy cooperation was the "mental
gap" or popular mistrust of regional cooperation in South
Asia. He said the GOB was determined to show leadership on
this issue and pursue regional energy cooperation regardless
of political controversy. As a first step to develop energy
cooperation with Bangladesh, India had agreed to develop a
250 MW project in Tripura.

COMMENT:
--------

14. (C) Dr. Mahmud´s comments underscore Bangladesh´s
constructive efforts to advance climate change negotiations.
The GOB clearly appreciated the U.S. role in Copenhagen and
recognized that, despite its shortcomings, the Copenhagen
Accord was a significant and positive accomplishment. Post
suggests that SECC consider sending a representative to
discuss climate change at the Bangladesh Development Forum on
February 15-16 and consult with GOB counterparts.
MORIARTY

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