Back in April 17-19 this year Bolivia organised a World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in a university town on the outskirts of Cochabamba. I bring it up now because it was a radical reaction to Copenhagen in an effort to set a new agenda for Cancún, which will commence on November 29. Bolivia was acting on behalf of the ALBA countries (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). ALBA has a membership of six countries with a population a bit larger than three times ours and a combined GDP about half ours.
Some island states react to climate change out of a threat of sea level change and inundation. Naomi Klein points out that Bolivia has it’s own existential crisis because “its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities.”
The Council of Canadians tells us in their report that some 10,000 of the 34,000 participants came from outside South America. Government representatives from 147 countries were present, and at least 45 were active participants.
It seems clear that the conference outcomes were designed into the structure of the 17 working groups. The main formal outcome was a Peoples agreement. Here are a few extracts to give you the flavour:
The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.
We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.
The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.
Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.
It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.
We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship
The “shared vision for long-term cooperative action” in climate change negotiations should not be reduced to defining the limit on temperature increases and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but must also incorporate in a balanced and integral manner measures regarding capacity building, production and consumption patterns, and other essential factors such as the acknowledging of the Rights of Mother Earth to establish harmony with nature.
- a Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
- 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries in the 2010-2017 period of the Kyoto Protocol
- that carbon markets or other offset mechanisms that mask the failure of actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions be excluded
- an International Tribunal of Conscience be established to denounce, make visible, document, judge and punish violations of the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced persons within countries of origin, transit and destination, clearly identifying the responsibilities of States, companies and other agent
- the creation of an International Climate and Justice Tribunal
- developed countries should contribute 6% of GDP to finance climate change actions in developing countries
- barriers to intellectual property that facilitate technology transfer should be lifted
- a global referendum on climate change
- there should be no commodification of forests (they oppose REDDS)
- a Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth.
Edgardo Lander identified some issues which could be problematic.
The Vancouver Observer published a photographic essay on the conference by Static Photography.
The conference identified 241 partner organisations.
After the conference President Morales went to see Ban Ki-moon, maintained the rage through to the recent conference in Tianjin, still have their main proposals in the negotiating text and are still in their swinging.
I bring this to your notice because there would seem to be intractable differences going into a conference where complete consensus of all countries is required for an outcome. While my socialist heart has some sympathy for their intentions, I can’t see the main centres of capitalist power accommodating their vision.
Anyway the Plurinational State of Bolivia has been given the gig in organising a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014.
If you were really cynical you might say they are being given a sandpit in which to play.