The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, says he will launch an investigation into reports that Britain spied on other governments at two successive global climate summits, snooping on other delegations’ kit, passes and membership lists.
Western leaders consult at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009
A government document released by Edward Snowden showed that an officer from GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping agency, had been embedded in the official British delegation to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 and at Cancun in Mexico.
Speaking to Danish television, Ban said the matter was a UN issue because Copenhagen was a UN conference. “All diplomatic information is inviolable. If there has been any breach … they should be investigated. UN information should be protected in its entire confidentiality,” he said.
The presence of a GCHQ spy at UN meetings attended by world leaders including the US president, Barack Obama, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is described in the 23-page PowerPoint presentation “Supporting HMG’s (Her Majesty’s Government) Climate Change Ambitions”. Delivered to unnamed UK government officers in 2011, the paper originally published by Dagbladet Information states that the officer reported to “customers” including No 10, the foreign secretary and diplomats, the Department for International Development, the business department, and the Treasury.
According to the presentation, it became a “serious intelligence priority” for the British secret intelligence services (SIS) to spy on UN international climate negotiations in 2007.
However, the first time a spy was sent to a summit was in 2009 when countries were expected to conclude years of tense negotiations with a dramatic global deal to reduce carbon emissions. The GCHQ operation was said to have been a success, even though the talks are generally considered to have failed.