Edward Snowden’s massive data leak has uncovered stunning secrets concerning the NSA’s dubious behavior. The government agency seems to have an eye on every aspect of domestic and foreign policy, including international talks discussing climate change. Exposed top secret documents reveal that the U.S. spied on delegates attending the UN Climate Change Conference in 2009. Analysts at the NSA and second party collaborators from Australia, the UK, Australia, and Canada all collected information before and during the meeting.

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The 2009 summit was the first major climate change negotiation after President Barack Obama took office. Hopes were high that the United States, who previously and famously declined to sign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, would make strides towards reducing greenhouse gasses. The two week meeting brought together 195 countries, and it was expected that a new agreement would be drafted with the inclusion of the United States, India, and China.

Documents leaked by Snowden and published in the Danish newspaper, Information, with the help of American reporter Laura Poitras, showed that the NSA covertly gathered information to brief American officials. Although specific methods are not mentioned, it is already known that the NSA has a history of tapping the phones of foreign heads of state and intercepting emails, and spied during the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007, London G-20 gathering in 2009, and the G-20 and G-8 talks in 2010.

NSA internal communication confirms that they obtained advance information of an early draft of the Danish proposal for climate resolutions. Danish officials remarked that the American and Chinese negotiators were “peculiarly well-informed”.

In the end, a three page document called the “Copenhagen Accord” emerged. The agreement asked countries to work towards keeping the average rise in global temperature lower than two degrees Celsius, but contained no legally binding targets, rules, sanctions, or clear path towards emission reductions. The next treaty talks are not set to begin until 2015, and the knowledge that the NSA may be listening in behind closed doors will likely hurt the already slow pace of climate change legislation.

Via the Huffington Post

Images via the NSA and  Wikicommons user McZusatz