COP15's Secret "Danish Text" Treaty Leaked

While the Climategate leak and the conversation points it raised are still intertwined with Copenhagen's proceedings, a new leak has suggested that a secret "alternative treaty" at the COP15 summit may take center stage for the remainder of the talks. The leaked document, called the "alternative treaty" and the "Danish text," was obtained by reporters of The Guardian leading some to theorize that a shadowy coalition of political and business leaders might have been working to undermine Copenhagen, and possibly even the UN.


Given brief mention by The New York Times on Monday morning prior to the leak, the authors of the so-called "alternative treaty" are not publicly known. The Guardian alleges to have inside information linking the treaty to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Denmark. The alternative treaty is said to vary greatly from the current climate protocol, specifically by dividing developing countries politically, providing marginal aid to victims of climate change, assigning disproportionate emissions targets, and removing the UN from future climate negotiation. These are the key points that have been gleaned from the document thus far:


  1. Developing countries will be responsible for double the emission cuts (per capita) of industrial nations, not the other way around.
  2. Force developing countries to adopt broad per-capita emission cuts.
  3. Weaken the UN's ability to administer climate change programs, including finance, measurement, and reporting.
  4. Developing countries will be split into two groups: "the most vulnerable" and those who can afford some or all of their disaster management needs. This would separate the lobbying efforts of emerging powers like China from the interests of poorer nations like South Africa.
  5. All climate financing is to be administered by the World Bank, but only if the nation requiring the funds takes specific actions prescribed by the World Bank — not the UN.

The Guardian quoted an unnamed diplomat from a developing country that read the leaked text who called it "the end of the UN process." The diplomat was critical of the Danish text's authors, though it is not clear who they are. "It is being done in secret. Clearly the intention is to get Obama and the leaders of other rich countries to muscle it through when they arrive next week."

How was the COP15 Danish Text Conspiracy Supposed to Work?

Mentioned in passing in the New York Times yesterday as the "alternative treaty", the rumor maintained that a secret document would be developed behind closed doors by the host nation, Denmark, rich countries like the US and UK, and international business leaders.

Some theories suggest the conspiracy was supposed to unfold next week when Copenhagen presumably would falter from deadlock. Accordingly, the same theory might suggest that world leaders meeting on the final day would be desperate to sign any treaty in order to avoid complete failure.


According to this theory, that is when the alternative treaty would be introduced. Some might ponder that this alternative treaty might have been misunderstood as a stepping stone toward a more favorable treaty, or in the worst case, a meaningless photo opportunity.

What's Being Said About the Alternative Treaty?



China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Sudan vowed to walk out of the COP15 summit if industrial nations continue to put their support behind the Danish text. "Like ants in a room full of elephants, poor countries are at risk of been squeezed out of the climate talks in Copenhagen," said Oxfam International's climate adviser, Antonio Hill. "As the talks ramp up and the big players put forward their proposals for the deal, it is vitally important that vulnerable countries are part of the debate."


UN Climate chief Yvo De Boer said that he did not expect the two groups would be able to come to an agreement, and that it is likely that the Kyoto protocol would be extended.


Rob Bradley of the World Resources Institute said that the sharp criticism of developing countries should be taken with a grain of salt. "It is important to remember that this kind of drama — the 'leaking' of furtive texts, the knee-jerk outrage – are part of the routine of climate negotiations," said Bradley. "What happened yesterday will not derail the high-level talks in which so many countries have invested so much."


Nick Mabey of the E3G Consulting firm had similar remarks, saying that the Danish text contains well-rounded policy and is being scandalized. "We all have a responsibility to focus on the issues that really count for people and the planet. Exaggerating differences between countries only benefits those who don't want an ambitious agreement to be reached at Copenhagen."

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