Earth Day 2010: Astro-turfing, email & press campaigns push controversial Elizabeth Thompson UNFCCC nomination by Barbados

Despite 14 years in power, Elizabeth Thompson & her government DID NOT bring environmental legislation to Barbados… They didn’t even try!

On Thursday April 15, 2010 Barbados held a press conference at the United Nations to formally announce the nomination of Senator Elizabeth Thompson for the position of Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The UN report of this conference appears at the end of this article.

The Barbados government and associated political elites believe that former Energy and Environment Minister Elizabeth Thompson has a real shot at being selected for this prestigious United Nations position – and they are pulling out all the stops in lobbying at the UN and with environmental action groups worldwide. That lobbying includes press releases and conferences, emails to environmental action groups from Elizabeth Thompson’s own law firm and on the blogs – at least at BFP – a campaign of “astroturfing”…

“Astroturfing denotes political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular “grassroots” behavior. The term refers to AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.”

… from Wikipedia Astroturfing

Why would a credible candidate need Astro-turfing?

At Barbados Free Press we’ve seen some “Astro-turfing” going on as some of Liz Thompson’s supporters make supporting comments using multiple names and identities in an attempt to make it appear that Senator Thompson has a large number of supporters among Bajans. This campaign seems to be in response to our article Concerned Barbados citizens oppose Liz Thompson’s nomination to United Nations UNFCCC position.

Barbados Free Press will reveal the true identity of at least one of the ‘astroturfers’ tomorrow in a separate article.

Can any Liz Thompson supporter provide a list of her actual environmental accomplishments?

The darnedest thing is happening with the governmental elites who support Elizabeth Thompson for the UNFCCC position: the only reason they can provide for supporting her nomination is that she is “passionate about the environment and climate change” when she speaks and writes magazine articles. They point out that she received a “Champion of the Earth” award a couple of years ago, but when you read the citation it describes how Liz Thompson received the award for how she talks about climate change and the environment.

Talking… as in “a substitute for real actions and capabilities.”

Ah, okay. Other than talk and write magazine articles, what has Liz Thompson done? What has she even attempted to do? What has she accomplished or tried to accomplish for the environment in Barbados?

Has Elizabeth Thompson managed to achieve any real change or accomplishment by bringing people together to actually do something in Barbados? If she was a failure in her role as Minister of the Environment in Barbados, what makes anyone think she could succeed in bringing the world together at the United Nations?

We can’t think of any environmental accomplishments or changes that Elizabeth Thompson has delivered or even attempted to deliver on the island. We can’t even think of one failed initiative of hers – because she did nothing.

None of Elizabeth Thompson’s supporters have taken up our challenge to provide a list of her actual accomplishments for the environment in Barbados.

Okay, folks… we’re listening! Hello???

We can, however, list several environmental activities and initiatives that Liz Thompson should have attempted to make happen during her time in government – but she didn’t even try.

* Environmental legislation? Ha! Nothing. Not even a draft in 14 years. Liz Thompson didn’t even propose simple regulations about the disposal of chemicals or making it mandatory for pipeline and storage tank owners to measure quantities each day to spot leakage!

* Environmental Standards? None! We have none in law or practice after 14 years of Liz Thompson as a Minister of Government. We have no regulations or standards for the use or disposal of hazardous chemicals and waste. UNBELIEVABLE!

* Mandatory recycling on this relatively small island? Nothing. We are awash in garbage.

* Linking climate change and the environment to sustainable, responsible development? Elizabeth Thompson and her government have a clear record of wholesale, uncontrolled development without respect to the environment. Liz Thompson and her government developed any piece of coastline they could get their hands on. They ignored the water and sewage infrastructure and failed to think of the future. (All of that has been said time and time again by Prime Minister David Thompson and his DLP government members up until as recently as a few weeks ago when it became politically convenient to nominate Liz Thompson for the UN position. No wonder Bajans just laugh and shake their heads over this nomination.)

* Protecting the RAMSAR designated Graeme Hall watershed? A sick joke: Liz Thompson and her government were responsible for dumping raw sewerage into the only remaining mangrove forest on the island. Liz Thompson and her government modified the land use plan to permit residential and commercial development on the RAMSAR watershed – depriving future generations of green space and putting the wetlands at risk. Not to mention the decade-long failure to repair and maintain the government controlled sluice gate into the wetlands.

The concept of promoting someone to the UNFCCC because they have actual results in their previous endeavors seems foreign to Liz Thompson’s supporters.

Oppose Elizabeth Thompson’s nomination and save the Barbados environment!

It is our hope that homegrown opposition by many environmentally conscious Bajan citizens to Liz Thompson’s nomination may impact the choice of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his selection committee. The loss of this nomination might cause the Barbados government and political leaders to do more than talk about the environment and climate change. It may save our island. It may result in environmental legislation and standards that will protect our children.

“If the United Nations focuses not on Elizabeth Thompson’s ability as an orator, but on the level of her actual performance as Environment Minister and the environmental and corruption issues that dogged her BLP government and her personally there is no way that Thompson will be selected.”

Here is a copy of the recent UN Press Conference report as it appears on the United Nations Press Conference website… Read it and you’ll see that there is nothing of substance – it’s all about what a great talker Liz Thompson is. That’s all her supporters can say about her…

PRESS CONFERENCE ON BARBADOS’ CANDIDATURE FOR UN CLIMATE CHANGE TREATY CHIEF

Barbados today announced the nomination of Senator and former Energy and Environment Minister Elizabeth Thompson as its candidate for Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, bringing to five the number of countries that have so far nominated candidates for the same position:  Costa Rica; South Africa; India; and Indonesia.

Christopher Hackett, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations, made the announcement at a Headquarters press conference in New York to introduce Ms. Thompson as his country’s candidate for the post.  Her candidacy has been presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who has to name the official to take over from the outgoing Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands.

Mr. Hackett pointed to Ms. Thompson’s “extensive and rich” leadership experience in national, regional and international issues, which he said qualify her for guiding the United Nations work on climate change affairs.  He said given the respected and principled voice his country had in the international community on questions of sustainable development, particularly as reflected in the role Barbados played in the first conference in 1994 on the sustainable development of small island developing States, that someone from that location with her level of experience would be an effective leader of the UNFCCC.

For Barbados, and the wider Caribbean, climate change and sustainable development were important challenges, Mr. Hackett said, adding that Ms. Thompson had received the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champion of the Earth award, in 2008.

Articulating the case for her candidature, Ms. Thompson made reference to the 2007-2008 Human Development Report, which described climate change as the most important development challenge of the present era.  With that in mind, the post she was vying for was of extreme significance at the global level, and its leadership was one of tremendous importance and should be approached with great care.  Barbados was of the view that not only was the country from among the region’s most vulnerable to climate change, but for several other reasons her candidature was significant.  It was based on three planks; namely, Barbados’ own record and strength; her own record and strength; and lastly, “just sheer competence”.

Expanding on the first plank, she said as a small island developing State with very few resources, Barbados had managed to be recognized and ranked thirty-first on the Human Development Index.  Despite being a small island developing State, and despite its very limited resources, the country had managed to address successfully several of the development challenges facing the globe, and to include in its policy framework several very effective policies to address issues relative to the environment and to climate change.  Also, the country was known for its good governance and had an excellent reputation in the world community.

Not only had Barbados managed development issues well, but generally, the country was recognized as being well-managed, she said.  Added to that, it had a strong environmental record of achievement and of policy; if there was a single country which had the background that would allow it to bridge North and South, developed and developing –- that country was in very many respects Barbados.  She declared that having been a member of her country’s Cabinet for 14 years, and having led Barbados’ environmental policy agenda framework from 1994 until 2009, she had contributed, not only to the country’s general management and governance as a Cabinet member, but specifically to its environmental policy, climate change agenda and reputation in that realm.

On the more personal second plank, she said she was politically, professionally and academically qualified for the post in many ways, as evidenced by the persons with whom she shared the UNEP Champion of the Earth award, namely, Prince Albert of Monaco; former United States Vice President Al Gore; former United States Senator Tim Wirth; former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, and now United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator; and former Presidents of the Russian Federation and South Africa, respectively, Mikhail Gorbachev and Thabo Mbeki.

“So, at an international level, my leadership, my skill, the quality of my contribution to environment in Barbados and in the Caribbean has been recognized by the UN.  I managed to catch their radar,” she stated.  Politically, she added that she had been a politician, and the post of UNFCCC Executive Secretary required political skill and savvy.  For some 20 years, she had been engaged in decisions that required the delicate balancing of policy choices against international demands and demands of an electorate and population, as well as against budget considerations.  “So, I don’t just see climate change and development issues from the perspective of the negotiating table.  I understand how one then has to move the negotiating outcomes to practical implementations.  And those are decision that I have had to take”, she explained.

Equally, at the academic level, she said she was a lawyer; held an MBA from the University of Liverpool; a Masters in Law from the Robert Gordon University in Scotland; and is also trained in Economics; renewable energy; international petroleum negotiations; alternative dispute resolution; and in arbitration.

Since leaving the cabinet in January 2008 when her party lost the elections, she had been leader of opposition business in the Barbados Senate, she said, adding that the Government had nominated her because it felt that she had the capacity and the competence to do the job.  It was not often that a Government nominated a leader form the opposition, she noted.  Additionally, she had also been working as an energy consultant for various agencies, including the Organization of American States (OAS) and other international consultancies.

Also present at the press conference were the Permanent Representatives of Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Camillo Gonzalves; Grenada, Dessima Williams; Jamaica, Raymond Wolfe; the Solomon Islands, Collin Beck; and Saint Lucia, Donatus St. Aimee — all of whom said they endorsed Ms. Thompson’s candidature.

In brief remarks, Mr. Gonzalves, who is the current chair of the Permanent Representatives Caucus of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at the United Nations, said Ms. Thompson brought a wealth of experience and a multiplicity of skills, and a demonstrated passion to the issue of the environment and climate change and sustainable development, which should make the Secretary-General’s job of selecting a candidate “very easy”.  CARICOM generally, and Barbados specifically had long held a leadership position on climate change and sustainable development,
and a great deal of Ms. Thompson’s leadership on the issue could be directly attributable to her work as minister in charge of the environment for over 14 years.  She would bring not only the political talent that would be needed in such a sensitive position, but the political gravitas befitting the importance of the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and raise the profile of the position.

“We think that it is important that she is from a small island State, and that she is from a nation that is somewhat removed from the great power intrigue and not necessarily an ideologue on either the North-South divide or the East-West divide.  We think that she will focus on the very important substance of climate change, and for small island developing States, it is critical to us that we get back to the substance of the matter, and divorce ourselves from some of the extraneous matters involved,” he declared.  In that regard, CARICOM was “exceedingly pleased” that Barbados had offered her as a candidate for the post.

Asked for her views about the allegations of some Member States that the Copenhagen process had not been an open one, Ms. Thompson said what transpired at the end of the meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009 had been “a last-ditch attempt” to rescue the process from what had appeared to be certain failure.  In that regard, she felt that those who were the authors should be commended for making that attempt.  At the same time, it should be recognized that a large number of countries had now associated themselves with the accord, which meant that regardless of how the process was characterized, there seemed to be some consensus coalescing around it.

However, she added, it was also clear that there were concerns about the process, and it was her view that the new Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC had to ensure that whatever emerged in the future was party-driven and that countries and regions felt that they had value, that their perspective was being heard and that they could contribute to the process in the interest of their stakeholders and their citizens.  A top objective of hers was to ensure there was transparency within the processes and there was scope for all countries to feel represented.

As for those countries that had not fully associated themselves with the Copenhagen outcome, she said it was critical to look at their issues of concern
and to determine how best to address their concerns.  It was important too to look at the accord because it contained some positives and because strength could be drawn from those countries that supported it.  Whether the process was lamentable or not, the accord was the text on the table.  The challenge now for the new Executive Secretary was to determine how best to use it and to make it viable for all the countries, incorporating the many perspectives and concerns.

Asked how she would facilitate better cooperation between developed and developing countries, she said the Executive Secretary should not herself behave as if she had a vested interest in the outcome, because essentially what she was doing was trying to bring countries to the table who had strong vested interests.  Her skills as a facilitator and manager of the process, therefore, were critical.  To a further related question, she said that as Executive Secretary, she would have come from the bosom of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and there was no doubt that Barbados was the “birth mother” of the Barbados Programme of Action, which was the United Nations agenda, and she delighted in that heritage.

More importantly, she stressed that she was cognisant of the fact that, beyond her own perspectives and background, her responsibility as Executive Secretary was to the process and to the convention and to all countries, adding:  “My greater role is to bring North and South together; to bring developed and developing countries together; to find a way for us to work together on what unites us and what we have in common, and to find an agreement and a solution that politicians and ministers and Governments find acceptable for their countries and their citizens.”

Also important, she said, was to bring academia into the climate change process and to work with non-governmental organizations, which she noted was part of the difficulties encountered at Copenhagen, where many of the latter group had complained that they had not been given enough space to contribute or that their perspectives had not been accepted.  She pledged to facilitate the participation of non-governmental organizations because she believed a party-driven consensus was important, and that ultimately, a legally-binding agreement involving all was vital.  “But the immediate vision, and the vision has got to be short-, medium- and long-term, the immediate thing is to get parties in a frame of mind to work without rancour at Mexico.  That’s the immediate- and short-term goal.”  The long term goal would be a legally binding agreement, she said.

18 Comments

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18 responses to “Earth Day 2010: Astro-turfing, email & press campaigns push controversial Elizabeth Thompson UNFCCC nomination by Barbados

  1. daytonraginbajan

    “Barbados Free Press will reveal the true identity of at least one of the ‘astroturfers’ tomorrow in a separate article.”

    That sounds interesting

  2. Coal Tar

    Elizabeth Thompson is black.

    Barbados Free Press is not.

  3. Straight talk

    Coal Tar:

    Marthinus van Schalkwyk is white.
    Elizabeth Thompson is not.

    Marthinus van Schalkwyk will succeed de Boer.
    Elizabeth Thompson will not.

  4. Rainbow

    I thought freepress is a rainbow bunch of mutts like most of us. Black, white, who cares? Where is the environmental legislation after 14 years of BLP government? Ask Elizabeth Thompson that.

  5. reality check

    If race were the only issue, there are some wondefully talented and well educated black scientists and environmentalists
    who are probably ready, willing and able to take such a job and would represent Barbados with honour.

    This nomination for a politician to this position is unwaranted and embarrassing.

    We should be elevating our best not the political class.

  6. UP YOUR A** WITH FIBRE GLASS

    Please leave LIZ alone

  7. not an environmentally sound suggestion

    Hazards

    “Inhalation of glass and other reinforcing fibres is to be avoided to prevent
    possible health problems. Inhalation of glass fibres may exacerbate preexisting
    conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, but does not cause them.
    Skin contact can cause a temporary dermatitis and precautions should be taken.
    There is no evidence that the glass fibres used in the composite industry are
    carcinogenic in humans.”

    Mind you, this doesn’t cover insertions, so maybe we are safe?

  8. Jack Bowman

    @ reality check

    Roses to you. Best point on the thread so far.

    Mother Earth, I suspect, couldn’t care less about the melanin content of the epidermis of whoever is chosen to run the secretariat of the UNFCCC. Neither should the United Nations.

    The only thing that matters is the environmental record of the nominees

    Let Ms. Thompson’s supporters provide the world with a list of her environmental accomplishments, and then perhaps they have a plausible case.

    If they can’t provide ONE SINGLE EXAMPLE of her care for the environment, then they are simply nationalist noise and should be disregarded immediately.

  9. Straight talk

    Getting back to Earth Day.

    What are we supposed to do to celebrate?

    It’s inception 40 years ago brought with it dire warnings of new ice ages, acid rain,mass starvation and atmospheric pollution which by now would have decimated the global population.

    It didn’t happen.

    Now we are expected to shell out trillions to counteract the exact opposite- global warming, ocean acidification, sea level rise and the very gas we exhale being classed as a toxic pollutant.

    Is there no end to this green scaremongering to extract the extra taxes needed to keep this corrupt system spinning?

    Liz is being set up by DLP to maintain the crumbling facade of a consensus on catastrophic climate change.

    We may well, as a developing island state, reap short term benefits from the major polluters, but do we really believe that it is in our long term interests when the cap’n’trade regime really takes
    hold and we are held ransom to the mega carbon traders of Chicago, London and Shanghai.

    Are the near bankrupt first world commodity traders really going to cut the third world a concessionary deal?

    ROTFLMAO.

    Read deeper and reject this whole scam of the now corrupt UN taxing the air we breathe.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the planet.

    The crisis is within us, and our inability to speak to the truth that is nature.

    Let’s have a Human’s Day and address the threats to our lives and liberties, the real catastrophe we are wishing upon ourselves through unfounded fears and false prophets.

  10. the definitive rise in human generated CO2

    While there are many variables in climate change for which mankind has no control, there is little challenge to the statistical information that human made co2 is rising.

    “From its preindustrial level of about 280 ppmv (parts per million
    by volume) around the year 1800, atmospheric carbon dioxide rose to
    315 ppmv in 1958 and to about 358 ppmv in 1994 [Battle] [C.Keeling]
    [Schimel 94, p 43-44]. All the signs are that the CO2 rise is
    human-made:

    * Ice cores show that during the past 1000 years until about the year
    1800, atmospheric CO2 was fairly stable at levels between 270 and
    290 ppmv. The 1994 value of 358 ppmv is higher than any CO2 level
    observed over the past 220,000 years. In the Vostok and Byrd ice
    cores, CO2 does not exceed 300 ppmv. A more detailed record from
    peat suggests a temporary peak of ~315 ppmv about 4,700 years ago,
    but this needs further confirmation. [Figge, figure 3] [Schimel 94,
    p 44-45] [White]”

    While it took mankind 100’s of years to figure out that sewage on the streets and fleas from rats were causing bubonic plague and many other illnesses,
    at least we can try and control what we know is different and caused by ourselves.

    A goal to reduce carbon emission and live in a self sustaining way is what we owe to our children even if we don’t have all the answers.

    The alternative is to sit on our thumbs and pretend we have absolutely no control or influence over our lives.

  11. Straight talk

    What we know is different is that the amount of CO2 is increasing year on year and the global temperature, after a period of warming until 1998, is now stable if not falling.
    So is CO2 making us warmer or cooler, or both.
    No research can explain the correlation between temperature and CO2.
    Warmists’ attempts of programming computers so to accommodate the known data and predict the future have only proved the adage Garbage In Garbage Out.

    Temperatures and sea levels have stubbornly refused to rise, and ice caps have recovered in spite of their doomsday predictions.

    Good evidence exists from thousands of years ago that carbon dioxide levels rose only after the temperature increased, so why should we assume that the order is somehow reversed today?

    Peer reviewed studies suggest the amount of warming that will be caused by a doubling of human emissions suggest a non-alarming figure of only about 1 deg. C and halving our contribution will reduce it by the same amount.

    So we are being asked to spend 90 trillion dollars
    ($90,000,000,000,000) to lower the earth’s temperature by an indiscernible amount.
    Roughly $18,000 each for every single person on the planet for a problem that no-one can claim to understand -“climate change” – and even less how to control it.
    And how are we, yes we, going to foot this bill?

    Taxation, carbon taxes and cap and trade caused price increases.

    Leave the planet alone, it’s doing quite nicely without Mr Gore’s help, as it has done for billions of years.

    Let’s pay for any changes necessary for human wellbeing when the science is proven and the remedies which are economically effective are available.

  12. Shanibear

    How do we manage to turn every thing into a debate about race. The point is after 14 yrs Liz nor the BLP hasnt done one thing for the environment. Just because she is a senator doesnt make her any more qualified for the position. BLACK, WHITE, GREEN it doesnt matter I just want the right person for the job.

  13. Hans G. Machel

    This is a scandalous nomination.
    Given her record with the Barbados Greenland disaster, if Liz Thompson gets this this position at the UN it would be like a pedophile running a daycare center !

  14. B. Inez briggs

    Well I guess the nay sayers don’t have to worry about this anymore now that it has been reported in the Nation Newspaper that she out of the race for the post of ES of the UNFCCC- but this is for your information!

    What Liz Thompson and her government has done in environment:

    Cities legislation to protect endangered species

    Marine Pollution and Control legislation act

    Coastal Zone Management and Control Act

    The board walk was a project to stabilise the coast line and to create opportunities for business and recreation

    National Green Economy Policy which was part of 2000 budget

    National Sustainable Development Plan

    Supplied funding for local NGOs to execute environmental projects including environmentally friendly hotels.

    Redevelopment of Harrison Cave using sustainable and renewable initiatives

    Introduction of Natural Gas vehicles – NPC uses them.

    Established a solar house and pushed Solar Power not just in Barbados but around the world.

    A National Energy Policy based on renewable energy principles such as letting people generate energy from renewable sources and feed into the national grid which was part of the National Energy Policy passed in Parliament in 2007. It was so good that David Thompson’s government repeated it in their 2008 budget.

    As a Consultant since 2008- Liz Thompson has drafted sustainable energy policies for 2 other Caribbean countries and is working on a 3rd.

    Below is a direct quote taken from the UNEP’s press release in 2008 when Ms. Thompson was awarded the Champion of the Earth Award.

    “LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
    H. E. Liz Thompson

    Ms. Thompson has become one of the recognized leaders on environmental issues of the Small Island Developing States.

    During her time as Minister of Energy and the Environment of Barbados, she enacted a range of progressive policies for sustainable development and environmental protection. She also became a key voice to raise awareness of global warming in Barbados – a country where the challenges of climate change and conservation are of particular relevance.

    Ms. Thompson has also played a role in environmental awareness and protection across the Caribbean region. She has encouraged small island states to diversify their economies, undertake sustainability assessments, and promote community-based programmes that have positive environmental impacts.”

    And finally – it is about MANAGEMENT – do you think Ban Ki-Moon knows everything about everything? NO! he has technical staff and other support staff for that. HE MANAGES the UN. The post of ES of the UNFCCC is not about knowing everything in Climate Change – it is about harnessing a range of skills, the academic, technical, political and diplomatic and MANAGING the process.

    If you don’t have he skill to get people to even sit down and discuss, being careful not to step on their toes politically or culturally then you can’t even get to the Climate Change issues. Do you people realise that there are some countries that are out of the running for the post because some of the top countries will not sit at a table with them because of their nationality? The ES of the UNFCCC should be from a neutral country.

    So whoever gets the job – good luck, because it will not be the one who is just an environment and climate change guru.

    I think Barbados has lost a great opportunity to see one of its own reach a pinnacle and every rational thinking patriotic Barbadian knows that!

    Jesus warned that you are never heralded in your own homeland, people always tend to gravitate to “foreigners” – but this still saddens me!

  15. jj

    THE ENVIRONMENT DOESN’T DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE.
    PITY HUMANS DIDN’T DO THE SAME

  16. jj

    NO POLITICIAN IN THE WORLD GIVES AN IOTA ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT. HOW ELSE CAN THEY JUSTIFY FLYING ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR MEETINGS AT TAXPAYER’S EXPENSE

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