Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
If the public is to be represented at climate negotiations by someone other than their own government, it has a right to elect and dismiss those representatives.
Something historic happened at the recent Warsaw climate summit. According to green publication Grist:
For the first time ever, environmental groups have staged a mass walkout of a U.N. climate summit. Citing immense frustration…hundreds of people from dozens of environmental groups and movements from all corners of the Earth have voluntarily withdrawn from the talks. According to a spokesperson for Oxfam, around 800 civil society members (which is the label applied to all advocate and activist types at these meetings) have walked out.
around 800 people from organisations including Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, the [International Trade Union] Confederation and ActionAid, handed back their registration badges to the UN and left Poland’s national stadium, where the talks are being held.
These news clippings tell us that the activists were impatient, angry, and annoyed. What they don’t say is what they were doing there in the first place. Why should we care if they walked out? Why does the BBC consider this news?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty. Treaties are negotiated and signed between sovereign nations. The public is represented at such meetings by their national governments. In civilized parts of the world, those governments are elected.
Greenpeace, on the other hand, was not elected by anyone. Nor was Oxfam. Employees of those organizations are paid to advance specific agendas. They’re lobbyists for a particular worldview. It’s high time we stopped pretending that their presence is about anything else.
If the public is to be represented at climate negotiations by someone other than their own government, the public surely has a right to elect and dismiss those representatives.
Until there’s a mechanism for that to occur, it is anti-democratic in the extreme for self-appointed, self-important activists to attend climate talks claiming that they speak for me.