Well, I used to be a fan of The Independent, what with having Robert Fisk and being so brilliant on the Iraq war. But with an article yesterday headlined, "China's delaying tactics threaten climate deal" by Chris Green, and allowing racist epithets in their comments threads, has The Indy jumped the shark?
You know what came next. I couldn't resist posting a reply to their US BS:
That is an appalling bit of US spin and I'm amazed that Chris Green has swallowed this wholesale. I wonder just who his "sources inside negotiations" are. We can make an educated guess.
After wasting ten years under Bush, obfuscating and setting up obstructions to the talks over the past two years, Clinton rides in six-guns blazing, holding the world to ransom by demanding that the $100 billion fund for the developing world's climate change technology is contingent on China jumping through hoops of America's choosing while Obama has nothing to offer. The US is the nation who refused to ratify Kyoto — the ONLY legally binding instrument in the world that can require countries to cut emissions.
MEANWHILE ... China is soaring ahead in green technology: it has revolutionised wind turbines (using electro-magnetic principles); the entire city of Dezhou in Shandong of 5.5 million people have their appliances powered by solar energy; it has planted the biggest area of man-made forest in the world; it is charging each household $64 towards the $30 billion it needs [to pay for its cuts in emissions]; it's leading the world in electric cars and makes a key component of the car batteries. And yet you make this unfounded, unfair, bad-tempered attack. How does this help except to let the US off the hook?
I'm not the only one to observe that Obama has come naked to the table and some are speculating that he has been set-up to fail by right-wing elements in government.
Wen Jiabao has said that any internationally supported cuts will of course be subject to international scrutiny — meaning legally binding global decisions made through a successful treaty. He is refusing to be browbeaten by the world's worst polluter per capita over China's voluntary national mitigation action which will be legally binding within China.
If he's heard Scott Ritter admit the Iraq WMD teams were also espionage groups I dare say this might also have swayed him. Who'd want the agents of such a warmongering nation swarming over their country?
China has pledged that its cuts (40-45 per GDP unit) will be adhered to even if Copenhagen fails, unlike others such as Japan that says its cuts are contingent on a deal. If China sticks to its targets it will set the international benchmark for looking after the environment. If it doesn't, then go ahead and poke them with a sharp stick.
Yet another article is headlined, "China holds the world to ransom".
The fan-boys gushed breathlessly:
It was unforgettable political theatre. Like a poker player with a sudden new bet, the power-dressed Mrs Clinton changed the game instantly as she pulled her gigantic sum out of the US back pocket and slammed it down on the negotiating table.
Er ... it's not actually America's money, though, is it? This is the combined world fund to help the third world develop green technology and meet climate targets.
Let's remember it's not China that's been belching out carbon emissions for over a hundred years. America has cheated the Kyoto figures, claiming to aim to cut emissions by a measly 17 percent by 2020. But this is against 2005 levels and not the Kyoto base year of 1990, meaning if we're lucky, the US will have made cuts of only 4 percent. No wonder they put the rat into ratify and refused to sign up.
Currently producing four times the emissions of China per capita, even if all had gone well at Copenhagen, the US would still have been allowed to pollute at twice the rate of the poor countries for each man, woman and child by 2050.
In another Independent article, "Tony Juniper: China is a country that dislikes being told what to do", the Chinese are accused of that old colonialist cliché, being "inscrutable". What is this, the 19th Century?
Is Tony Juniper — environmentalist and director of Friends of the Earth — aware that a third of all China's emissions are produced making goods for ... guess where? How about Western markets picking up the carbon bill?
To top it off, The Indy ignores its own moderation policy. The moderators may be off getting some seasonal cheer but perhaps someone should be awake when posts titled "Obama and the Chinks" come in. Would they allow equivalent racist epithets for other minorities or are we a special case?
The Guardian has also evidently been briefed along the same lines but it is the Independent that's picked up this particular bone with gusto and run with it, such as with this vicious article today.
John Prescott in The Guardian is good, though.
But the atmosphere was soured by the US, first by its climate change special envoy, Todd Stern, who said emissions "isn't a matter of politics or morality or anything else, it's just maths", which completely ignored the per capita argument. President Obama's speech blaming China didn't help either. The US has pushed the Chinese hard on emissions cuts. Fine when you've had your industrial revolution. But China and the other developing countries need that growth. Understandable when more than half of the planet is living on less than $2 a day.
This from Joss Garland sounds right on the money: Historic failure that will live on in infamy
UPDATE: I've just remembered that the new Indy editor, Roger Alton, was the editor of the Observer when bizarrely it was part of a media bloc that kept trying to stitch up the UK Chinese community and blame it for the Foot And Mouth Disease outbreak which devastated large swathes of Britain in 2001. MAFF minister Nick Brown stated that this was nonsense and completely untrue. So what's going on at The Independent?
Madam Miaow on the Copenhagen climate change summit
Johann Hari, the Indy's one remaining journalist worth reading, gives an overview of the truths Copenhagen ignored here
More on post-Cop15 sinophobia in the Guardian here