Led by Indigenous peoples
Climate change conference slams capitalist crimes
Published Apr 28, 2010 6:16 PM
Thirty thousand people convened at the World People’s Conference on
Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The
conference, which took place from April 19-22, hosted people from more than 135
countries and 90 official state representatives. Climate activists, community
organizers, artists, musicians, scholars and workers from around the world
joined forces over the common goal of finding an effective and practical
solution to the climate crisis — a task that the rich, ruling countries
of the world proved, at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, that they are incapable
Inauguration rally on April 20.
Photo: Alexandra Corazza
Organized by Evo Morales, the first Indigenous president of Bolivia, the
conference was overwhelmingly representative of the people of Latin America, as
well as residents of other developing countries in Asia and Africa. The common
message was that the task of fighting the effects of climate change cannot be
left to the countries that historically and presently are the biggest polluters
and the most disrespectful of the rights of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and her
people. The people who have historically lived in harmony with the earth and
who are now feeling the most dramatic effects of climate change must determine
the steps that need to be taken to fight environmental destruction. This
message was echoed over and over again by Indigenous people and oppressed
people from all over the world.
Seventeen working groups worked tirelessly throughout the conference to discuss
topics such as climate debt and climate migrants, as well as to establish a
plan for a climate justice tribunal and a world referendum on climate change.
Ultimately a summary of the groups’ conclusions was put into an Agreement
of the People, which can be found on the conference website at
The Agreement demands a commitment period from 2010 to 2017 “under which
developed countries must agree to significant domestic emissions reductions of
at least 50 percent based on 1990 levels, excluding carbon markets or other
offset mechanisms that mask the failure of actual reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions.” This proposal is vastly more demanding than the weak
proposals that have been suggested by the rich countries that have thus far
dominated the climate change debate.
Overall, the rhetoric of the conference was scathingly critical of capitalism
and of the current state of mainstream climate change policy. At the
inauguration of the conference on April 20, Morales and others spoke of climate
change as a symptom of the disease of capitalist greed, which shamelessly
oppresses the majority of the people of the world in the name of unbridled
At the closing event on April 22, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez spoke
against the capitalist system as well, linking it unmistakably with the current
peril the earth is in. He said: “After all the setbacks, socialism has
burst forth in Latin America. And that’s the epicenter of the
Latin America was, in fact, a very relevant place for the conference to be
held, as it is already experiencing many of the effects of climate change.
Bolivia’s glaciers are melting at breakneck speed — its iconic
Chacaltaya glacier completely disappeared in 2009, a decade before it was
In Bolivia, the Indigenous peoples of Latin America, as well as of Asia,
Africa, North America and other places in the world, made it known that they
are ready to lead the movement to fight global climate change. It is people
such as them who are feeling the worst effects of climate change after
committing little or no crimes against nature to cause this crisis.
The global climate change movement was built up stronger at the conference in
Cochabamba. It is growing still, as more and more people open their eyes to the
terror that has been wreaked on our earth and its people by the globalized
capitalist system of oppression.
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