TH!NK post

Climate Cablegate: Lowering Expectations at Copenhagen

Published 01st December 2010 - 11 comments - 2350 views -

Climate Cablegate

Benno Hansen and myself, as bloggers about Cancun for Th!nk4: Climate Change,  are working together on climate change revelations in Wikileaks’ Cablegate. Benno also has an introductory blog in Danish: Hvad Wikileaks lægger til COP15-skandalen

I’ve been looking at some of the cables and will post in detail later. Below are 3 cables sent in the lead up to COP15 at Copenhagen. Numbering refers to cable order. It's quite clear that the backroom game was 'lowering expectations' at Copenhagen.  


As Benno says in his post, it’s hardly a shock that the Sauds are more concerned with their financial bottom line than global warming. Just where some of their wealth allegedly goes was revealed in another cable: ‘Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda’ New York Times - Leaked Cables Offer Raw Look at U.S. Diplomacy


2010-02-11 12:12


11. (C) CLIMATE CHANGE: Your visit offers an important opportunity to head off a serious clash over climate change. Saudi officials are very concerned that a climate change treaty would significantly reduce their income just as they face significant costs to diversify their economy. We want to get beyond the obstructionism that Saudi negotiators have often shown during the negotiations and persuade senior leaders to work with us in a partnership to meet their strategic concerns, including by cooperating on developing solar and biomass energy. The King is particularly sensitive to avoid Saudi Arabia being singled out as the bad actor, particularly on environmental issues. Your conveying the importance the President places on working as partners with Saudi Arabia on the Copenhagen process will be very important in making this dialogue more constructive. Secretary Chu intends to explore specific areas of collaboration during his February 21-23 visit.


This seems to show both sides of Angela Merkel, who is referred to as being a weak leader (WikiLeaks: US thinks Merkel is 'risk averse' ) and the undisputed leader of Europe (WikiLeaks: Angela Merkel only leader man enough to 'rule' Europe ) in other cables.


2009-11-05 16:04


11. (C) As the Chancellor's remarks underline, German officials want strong U.S. leadership going into the Copenhagen Summit. They are advocating for a unified US/EU position towards the major emerging economies, particularly China and India, to urge them to commit to ambitious national actions at Copenhagen. They are looking for signals of our commitment to domestic and international actions that will allow us to collectively meet science-based targets. German leaders recognize the challenge of passing climate change legislation in the U.S. and have lowered their expectations for the possibility of reaching a legally binding agreement next month at Copenhagen. They have begun to describe the Summit as one step in a larger process -- a politically binding framework -- and may be preparing the German public for a less ambitious outcome.


The U.S. singled out China in the blame game after Copenhagen. It seems they had plenty of warning beforehand about the likely outcome.


2009-05-08 10:10


(C) UK DCM Wood said the UK Environment and Science Minister had recently had talks with Chinese officials on climate change. In the lead up to Copenhagen, China would not agree to targets on emissions but was willing to be constructive and would come to Copenhagen with a package of action items related to nuclear power, renewable energy and reforestation. Wood said his impression was that China could be induced to do more on climate change.

This is just a sample of the behind-the-scenes geo-politics of climate change inaction. There is plenty more in the pipeline.


UPDATE: An embedded PDF by Benno Hansen:

Cablegate COP15


Update #2 (3 December): I downloaded this extract before the WikiLeaks website was taken DOWN worldwide:



2009-11-03 11:11


10. (SBU) The French remain divided on how to respond to the Obama Administration's approaches to climate change. Most of the interested public and many in the government believe that interim 2020 reduction targets, and the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and concentrations at that time, will determine success or failure in slowing global warming. For them, the EU's target of 20 to 30 percent reductions below 1990 is the sole measure of an acceptable policy. Even sophisticated observers are skeptical that long-term reduction goals legislated in the United States can be counted on as more than aspirations, especially if radical cuts are not imposed up front. We have reiterated that U.S. laws are reliably enforced by the Federal government and by U.S. courts, using the Clean Air Act as our example. Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials agree that legislation moving through Congress and the Administration's proposals would establish a system comparable to the EU's measures. These officials regard Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo's public criticisms of Waxman-Markey as "insufficient on the medium term goal" as distracting attention from the need for China and India to reduce their rates of growth in GHG emissions.

Category: Climate Politics, | Tags:


Kevin Rennie on 01st December 2010:

Thanks to Benno for his PDF file Cablegate COP15.

Johan Knols / Editor-in-Chief on 01st December 2010:

Nice work guys….

Kevin Rennie on 01st December 2010:

From the Guardian: WikiLeaks website pulled by Amazon after US political pressure still live in OZ.

Kevin Rennie on 03rd December 2010:

Update 3 Dec. from Paris Embassy

The links to are now dead as the site is down worldwide.

Kevin Rennie on 04th December 2010:


The original English version is a Guardian story is WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord

  • Remember my personal information

    Notify me of follow-up comments?

    --- Let's see if you are human ---

    What is the last word of this sentence? Add a questionmark to your answer. (9 character(s) required)