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Bolivian climate change conference offers peoples’ alternative

Published Apr 11, 2010 10:11 PM

A Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, scheduled for April 19-22 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, will present a people’s alternative to the failed Copenhagen conference on climate change that took place in December.

The U.N.-sponsored Copenhagen conference was supposed to review and to renew commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions first framed as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. However, the U.S. and other imperialist nations at the conference, at the behest of corporations, prevented the participation of people’s organizations and blocked any meaningful commitment to these goals. The resulting Copenhagen accord includes no legal commitments and no time frame to achieve emissions reductions.

On Jan. 5, Evo Morales Ayma, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, issued an invitation for the peoples’ conference that calls on “the peoples of the world, social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders, and invites scientists, academics, lawyers and governments that want to work with their citizens” to attend.

The call noted, among other things, that “climate change is a product of the capitalist system” and that the poor will suffer the most from the effects of climate change. Morales asserted, “In order to ensure the full fulfillment of human rights in the 21st century, it is necessary to recognize and respect Mother Earth’s rights.”

The statement expresses confidence “that the peoples of the world, guided by the principles of solidarity, justice and respect for life, will be able to save humanity and Mother Earth.”

Conference objectives include analysis of the structural and systemic causes of climate change and the proposal of radical measures to combat it; the initiation of a project to create a Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights; and the organization of a Peoples’ World Referendum on Climate Change and a Climate Justice Tribunal.

Climate change a result of profit system

At a meeting in New York on March 24, Pablo Solón, ambassador of Bolivia to the United Nations, explained that the upcoming conference reflects the desire to deepen the discussion on climate change.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are not the cause of this crisis,” Solón stated. “They are an effect of a system of consumption, production and profit — a system of exploitation and a culture that helps to accomplish the goal of more and more profit. This system is not based on humans as they are, but based on what they have.”

Solón continued: “None of these points are part of the official discussion. There is no talk of the structural causes of this crisis, or the real deep costs. The real discussion has not yet begun. This is the main reason for the conference in Bolivia. Alternatives to the current ways of doing things must be built at a global level. ... Climate change is not just about the weather — it is a discussion about ways of living. We must learn to share and build a new society based on sharing.”

Solón explained that the conference will discuss “the rights of Mother Earth” because nature should have rights as well, including the right to live, to exist and to regenerate. He asserted that as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, represented one step, there was now a need for an “environmental and social contract” to defend the rights of all.

As an example of the current crisis, Solón stated that a 30-year-old territorial dispute between India and Bangladesh over a tiny, uninhabited island recently came to an end when the island disappeared into the ocean — a result of rising ocean levels due to climate change. Sugata Hazra, a professor from the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, told Agence France-Presse that temperatures in the region had been rising at an annual rate of 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit. (March 25)

For more information on the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, see cmpcc.org.