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Environmental Groups "Shocked" by Reports of NSA Spying of U.N. Climate Talks

StoryFebruary 03, 2014
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In one of the latest revelations based on the leaks of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency spied on foreign governments before and during the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. An internal NSA document says its analysts and foreign partners briefed U.S. negotiators on other countries’ "preparations and goals," saying, "signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the two-week event." We speak to Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re still joined by Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth USA. Erich, I wanted to ask you about the recent reports that the National Security Agency spied on foreign governments before and during the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. An internal NSA document says its analysts and foreign partners briefed U.S. negotiators on other countries’ preparations and goals, saying, quote, "signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the two-week event." Your response?

ERICH PICA: Shocking, but not surprised, as we hear more and more about what the National Security Agency has been doing. You know, the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen was supposed to be this convening of the world leaders to take us into the future of climate negotiations and carbon pollution reductions. And, you know, the United States, throughout those negotiations, had a smug reality to their negotiating stance and was—can be blamed for the collapse of those talks. And kind of hearing through the Snowden documents that NSA was spying on the countries and the negotiators kind of explains many things about why those talks collapsed, because it seems that the United States wasn’t really interested in negotiating just like other countries should be. They were just interested in listening to what was going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the significance of those talks. I remember very well in Copenhagen when Friends of the Earth was kicked out.

ERICH PICA: Yeah, no, we were—we were kicked out for protesting within the U.N. confines. And so, those talks, you know, those 2009 talks, were really about how does the world come together to solve this great issue, which is how to reduce our carbon pollution and save the planet and our society from global warming. And, you know, a lot of countries from around the world, and heads of state, more importantly, came to Copenhagen to try to hammer out an agreement that would have taken us into the future over the next 20 years. And unfortunately, the United States led the—you know, several countries, including Canada, who we were just talking about, in basically destroying the goodwill that these talks had created, to the point where we’ve been now in these negotiations over the last four years, which have really gone nowhere.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you expect from the coming talks? We’ve just come out of Warsaw. Then they’re moving on to Lima, and the binding discussion is supposed to take place in Paris, France, in 2015.

ERICH PICA: Yeah, in Paris. Yeah, well, it’s not a good sign when you’re trying to build trust with other negotiators, other countries, and it comes out that, you know, the United States was spying on those negotiations. There’s already been a level of mistrust and distrust between the United States and countries around the world, particularly those developing countries. And so, you know, where we’re going in Paris, who knows? The United States has not been forthcoming with their negotiating stances. They have not been—we have not been aggressive in reducing our climate change emissions and putting out an offer that the rest of the world can accept. And we haven’t been terribly generous with funding to help these less-developed, these poorer countries in adjusting to both adapting and mitigating the climate impacts that are already happening to them.

AMY GOODMAN: Erich Pica—

ERICH PICA: And so the United States has very little trust in these talks.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us, president of Friends of the Earth USA, as we turn right now to Michigan.

ERICH PICA: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you.

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