Year 2000 No. 202, November 28, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
UN World Conference on Climate Change
Protests at UN Global Climate Conference
DPRK Accuses US of Deliberately Delaying Reactors
Worker Killed in Wall Collapse
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Attention in this country has been focused by the media on the bust up between Britains Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and the French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet.
That John Prescott acted in a boorish way, a caricature of a "labour" politician, seems difficult to deny. However, the affair has been promoted in such a way as to obscure any serious issue emanating from the UN World Conference on Climate Change. The Climate Change Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, broke up after two weeks without the hoped for agreement. Protesters had also harried the conference demanding that the monopolies despoliation of the environment cease.
In such global matters, one can expect that the interests of the big powers and their respective blocs will come into clash. This is precisely what can be seen to have happened in The Hague. The "burden" that countries have been asked to bear in reducing carbon and other "greenhouse gases" emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol are thought to have been spread unfairly, and are not producing the desired results. How much carbon dioxide emissions can be "offset" against carbon dioxide absorption by trees and other foliage has become an issue, so that the respective monopolies of the various blocs and powers do not have to foot the bill.
John Prescott claimed that the compromise deal he had hammered out would have saved 150 million tonnes of carbon each year compared with earlier plans. But, he said, some EU ministers "expressed uncertainties about the overall impact on the emissions reduction targets agreed in Kyoto". In other words, France and other EU ministers have been pressing that the United States is being irresponsible, and must spend more to reduce emissions. Whether by accident or design, the Deputy Prime Ministers ended up by siding with the US on this matter.
That the big powers and their monopolies have no concern for the environment, except insofar as they can rape its resources, is of course patently evident. Their contention to control these resources underlies these battles. But WDIE is strongly of the view that destruction of the environment as such is not the issue here.
The point is that the people are being left out of the equation. This is so in the sense that they are given no role in deciding on matters relating to the environment, as in all matters under capitalism pertaining to how their lives are run. But it is also so in the sense that exploitation of the environment is itself a human issue. The question does not present itself in the manner of leaving the environment in an "unspoilt" state humankind has been utilising the environment for the needs of human beings and manipulating it to their will since the beginning of humans as a species. But the fact that human beings take spiritual sustenance from the environment cannot be ignored either. However, the issue to fight on, in our opinion, is not to take the environment back to a pre-industrial state. The issue at stake is the needs of human beings, and indeed their very existence.
The way forward is to link the humanising of society with the humanising of the environment. Legal guarantees are required which protect the environment in the interests of human existence. This is a profound question. In other words, the needs of the human beings and their society must be put in the first place.
This is precisely what the big powers cannot conceive of in their failure to reach agreement at the World Climate Conference. This remains so whether or not global warming is a scientifically verifiable fact or not. The issue once again underlines the need for human beings to bring about a society in which the people have control over their lives and the financial oligarchy is deprived of its right to exploit both the environment and the masses of the people for the making of the maximum capitalist profit.
The UN climate conference in the Hague has been marked by a series of demonstrations.
In one protest, the chief US negotiator had a cream cake shoved in his face.
There were several other protests, including one in which a group burst in to one of the main negotiating sessions and held the chairman hostage for a time. Several groups staged protests in the conference hall
Jan Pronk, the Conference President, said he had asked some of the protestors to stay for a discussion, but they had replied that the conference was a sham, and had then left.
One of the protestors, George Marshall of Oxford, told BBC News Online what they had been demonstrating about. He said: "We came to speak for those who are not here, for those who cannot speak, for the marginalised. We think this whole process has become a farce. It's all about companies making a profit, not about dealing with the issues. Dialogue is impossible."
The DPRK on Sunday, in a signed commentary in Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Workers Party of Korea, accused the United States of delaying the construction of light water reactors (LWRs). Although the US committed itself six years ago to provide the DPRK with the LWRs, it still has not done so.
It is one of the key articles of the framework agreed six years ago by the two countries, that the United States should build a LWR power station with a capacity of two million kW and hand it over to the DPRK by 2003 in a responsible manner.
The commentary states: "The United States is wholly to blame for the delay of the project. The United States set about the project without sincerity from its outset and has not done what it should do on one pretext or other. The United States seeks an ulterior aim in delaying the project deliberately."
The commentary continues: "By dragging out the project it is attempting to block the development of the independent nuclear power industry in the DPRK, weaken its economic and military potential and watch for a chance to stifle it by force of arms."
WDIE condemns this deliberate prevarication on the part of the US, which has caused great economic loss to the DPRK.
As the Rodong Sinmun commentary points out, if the United States continues to remain insincere in implementing the DPRK-US agreed framework, the DPRK will take a "corresponding measure". This will be an exercise of its right on the principle of simultaneous action which the framework agreement set out.
A building worker has been killed when a wall he was working on collapsed.
The man, who has been named as Martin Towers, from Kings Heath in Birmingham, was working on the project to re-build the Bull Ring.
Police say, Mr Travers, who was 61, was buried under rubble at the city centre site.
Work on the Bull Ring development began earlier this year. Safety officials have started an investigation into the accident.
West Midlands Correspondent
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