Cablegate: Philippines Copenhagen Reaction: Government Negotiators

DE RUEHML #0199/01 0312332
O 312332Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Philippines Copenhagen Reaction: Government Negotiators
Divided, NGOs Seethe, Press Constructive

Ref: A) State 3080 B) Manila 142 C) 09 Manila 2483

1. (SBU) Summary: President Arroyo and her chief climate envoy
Heherson Alvarez have expressed strong support for the Copenhagen
Accord and the United Nations (U.N.) negotiating process. President
Arroyo moderated the Philippines' pre-Copenhagen climate change
position by telling the delegation not to let the Philippines'
insistence on "deep and early cuts" in greenhouse gas emissions for
developed countries stand in the way of an agreement. Alvarez was
optimistic about the Accord and the United Nations (U.N.)
negotiating process and said GRP attempts to influence a common
ASEAN position had yielded mixed results. Working-level Department
of Foreign Affairs (DFA) negotiators were deeply disappointed with
the way the Copenhagen talks were run and the Accord's lack of
binding commitments by developed countries to cut emissions.
Philippine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) faulted both the
Danish hosts' poor planning and conduct of the meeting as well as
U.S. "inflexibility" with respect to G-77 positions for what they
describe as a failed conference. The Philippine mainstream media
have presented a reasonably balanced view of the Copenhagen talks
and its consequences. End Summary.
--------------------------------------------- ------
President, Top Climate Envoy Support Accord, U.N. Forum
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) As reported reftel B, the Philippines' lead climate change
negotiator, former Senator and Environmental Secretary Heherson
"Sonny" Alvarez told Economic Counselor and EST&HOff on January 19
that he planned to associate the Philippines with the Copenhagen
Accord by the January 31 deadline. During the demarche meeting
Alvarez described his and President Arroyo's views on the Accord,
reiterated his support for the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCC) process, and provided an update on
Philippine efforts to inform a common ASEAN position on climate
change. Alvarez said that although he was disappointed that the
Copenhagen talks had "diminished" the Kyoto Protocol, he was
generally optimistic about the Accord and the United Nations (U.N.)
negotiating process. He expressed support for the agreed-upon
transparency requirements, noting that "without verification the
Accord is a punctured balloon." He maintained that although the
Copenhagen talks were arduous, the U.N. remained the proper forum
for climate change negotiations, because it was important to include
as much of the world community as possible. Although the
Philippines was a "shy delegation," not a leader, at the talks,
Alvarez said GRP attempts to influence a common ASEAN position had
yielded mixed results, noting that he had instilled a greater sense
of "climate change urgency" in talks with Thailand's Prime Minister
(PM), but that Singapore remained non-committal.
3. (SBU) President Arroyo moderated the Philippines' pre-Copenhagen
climate change position by telling the delegation not to let the
Philippines' insistence on "deep and early cuts" in greenhouse-gas
emissions for developed countries stand in the way of an agreement,
according to Alvarez. He noted that he had publicly endorsed the
Accord during the final hours of the Copenhagen meeting, while
President Arroyo described the results as "a step forward in the
right direction" during media interviews upon her return from the
climate summit.
--------------------------------------------- ----
Working Level Dismayed with Small Group Talks
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials who had
participated in the negotiations were much less sanguine about both
the process and the outcome of the talks. Director of the
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of the United Nations and
International Organizations Leila Santos told EST&HOff that the
Danish chair, former Minister for Climate and Energy Connie
Hedegaard, "directly and deliberately misinformed" her and other
working group negotiators by repeatedly denying that small-group
meetings were taking place outside the plenary forum, even after
their existence "was all over CNN." She faulted the Danish
Presidency more than the UNFCC process, however, saying she and her
DFA colleagues were willing to give the upcoming COP-16 in Mexico
City "another shot." Santos said the "only positive" of the Accord
was the extension of the mandates of the two working groups. She
was disappointed that the United States did not commit to deeper
cuts in emissions and noted that the Philippines remained "bound to
the G-77." As of January 26, the DFA was still consulting
internationally with the G-77 and internally with the Departments of
Energy and Agriculture with respect to the Philippines association
with the Accord, according to Santos.
--------------------------------------------- ----
President Trims - Some Say Purges - GRP Climate Delegation
--------------------------------------------- ----
5. (SBU) NGOs have made up a significant portion of the GRP's
climate change delegations since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de

MANILA 00000199 002 OF 002

Janeiro (Ref C). The Copenhagen-bound team, however, was both half
the size of and 'NGO-light' relative to earlier delegations.
Several experienced Filipino negotiators known for their hard-line
G-77 views were cut from Alvarez's delegation, as were all
representatives from Filipino NGOs, leaving only members of three
international NGOs (the World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, and Conservation
International) on the roster. (Note: Several of the more strident
G-77 countries recruited the Philippines' castoffs, with Sudan
taking Bernaditas Muller, and Vicente Paolo Yu negotiating for
Bolivia. End Note.) While Alvarez told us the executive office cut
the delegation for budgetary reasons, representatives of local NGOs
were convinced President Arroyo was behind the changes.
--------------------------------------------- ----
Climate Coalition Faults Danes, Sudanese, and U.S. for "Depressing
--------------------------------------------- ----
6. (SBU) Danish procedural ineptitude, U.S. inflexibility to G-77
demands, and Sudanese intransigence made for a "depressing outcome"
at Copenhagen, according to Ronaldo Gutierrez, who attended the
COP-15 as an observer for the Philippine Network on Climate Change
(PNCC). (Note: Observers credit the PNCC, a consortium of 10
Philippine environmental NGOs, with shaping the GRP's pre-Copenhagen
climate change position. End Note.) The poor procedural skills of
Danish PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the Conference Chair, slowed the
negotiations and needlessly offended G-77 delegates, Gutierrez said.
He also claimed that U.S. negotiators rejected virtually all G-77
proposals, thus setting the stage for U.S. "brinksmanship" that led
to the Accord. While he faulted Sudan for intransigence, Gutierrez
also noted that Sudan's likening of the climate deal to a
"holocaust" discredited its opponents and spurred many G-77
countries to vote in favor of taking note of the Accord.

7. (SBU) Maria de la Paz and Blas Tabaranza, who attended as
observers for Haribon, a prominent, mainstream Philippines
environmental NGO, complained of Copenhagen's failed logistics,
describing kilometer-long lines outside the Bella convention center
and registration procedures that took six hours or more. On a
substantive note, they also faulted the U.S. delegation for the
blanket rejection of G-77 proposals, and described the Copenhagen
Accord as "worse than no agreement at all." La Paz and Tabaranza
consider the Accord's burden sharing (between developed and
developing countries) provisions a renunciation of the Kyoto
Protocol's principle of "common but differentiated
responsibilities," and described the USD 30 billion fast track fund
as "token and paltry."

Balanced Press Coverage Plays Down Blame Game

8. (SBU) In contrast to the heated rhetoric of the environmental
NGOs, the mainstream Philippine press presented a much broader
perspective of the Copenhagen summit. Although press reports
universally described the talks as failed, few attributed that
failure solely to the developed countries and instead offered
diverse analyses and ways forward. For example, feature articles in
major dailies titled "Better Than Nothing" and "There's Still
Mexico" proposed individual activism (one article suggested planting
trees in lieu of birthday gifts), continued engagement with the
United States and China, and more consistent domestic energy
policies as post-Copenhagen strategies. While coverage of the
Copenhagen talks has dwindled in recent weeks, the prominence of
climate change as an election issue promises to increase visibility
of the topic in coming months, according to media analysts.

9. (SBU) Comment. We will continue engaging our interlocutors in
the government to urge expeditious association with the Accord and
report any substantial developments. End Comment.


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