April 22, 2010

Climate-change conference in Bolivia

Bolivia's fight for survival can help save democracy too

The people's summit to tackle climate change is a radical, transformative response to the failure of the Copenhagen club

By Naomi Klein
[T]he actions causing the melting are taking place not in Bolivia but on the highways and in the industrial zones of heavily industrialised countries. In Copenhagen, leaders of endangered nations like Bolivia and Tuvalu argued passionately for the kind of deep emissions cuts that could avert catastrophe. They were politely told that the political will in the north just wasn't there.

More than that, the United States made clear that it didn't need small countries like Bolivia to be part of a climate solution. It would negotiate a deal with other heavy emitters behind closed doors, and the rest of the world would be informed of the results and invited to sign on, which is precisely what happened with the Copenhagen accord.

When Bolivia and Ecuador refused to rubberstamp the accord, the US government cut their climate aid by $3m and $2.5m respectively. "It's not a freerider process," explained US climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing. (Anyone wondering why activists from the global south reject the idea of "climate aid" and are instead demanding repayment of "climate debts" has their answer here.)

Pershing's message was chilling: if you are poor, you don't have the right to prioritise your own survival. When Morales invited "social movements and Mother Earth's defenders … scientists, academics, lawyers and governments" to Cochabamba for a new kind of climate summit, it was a revolt against this experience of helplessness, an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.

The Bolivian government got the ball rolling by proposing four big ideas: that nature should be granted rights that protect ecosystems from annihilation (a "universal declaration of Mother Earth rights"); that those who violate those rights and other international environmental agreements should face legal consequences (a "climate justice tribunal"); that poor countries should receive various forms of compensation for a crisis they are facing but had little role in creating ("climate debt"); and that there should be a mechanism for people around the world to express their views on these topics ("world people's referendum on climate change").
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Hopenhagen" Turns into "Nopenhagen" and Copenhagen Talks = "Climate Injustice."

1 comment:

Americans Emit ignorance said...

Americans largely remain ignorant and in denial about environmental issues. A consumer society is what contributes to a capitalist mentality, therefore, when mother earth has had enough, and it looks like that time is near, you cannot hide behind money or get in your car to run, it will be too late!