Building a World Movement
07 Jun 2010
People’s Summit produces a mandate for global action on climate change. President Evo Morales, announced that Bolivia will hold a referendum to produce a shared agenda for climate solutions.
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The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has announced that his country will hold a referendum of two billion people within the year, to produce a shared agenda for solutions to the current climate crisis. The statement followed the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April.
The summit also proposed that rich countries should halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and do so without resorting to carbon markets or offsets. Compared with UN targets of 7 to 16 per cent, the 50 per cent reduction commitments are seen as essential to stabilise average temperature increase between 1 and 1.5 degrees celsius to ensure the survival of small island nations. It was also recommended that an international Climate Justice Tribunal be set up with the power to penalise offending countries and companies.
In a speech to the G77 at the United Nations, President Morales announced that more than 35,000 participants from 140 countries attended the event, including delegations from NGOs, unions and governments, as well as scientists and grassroots activists. He referred to those supporting its objectives as, The People’s World Movement for Mother Earth.
Destructive methods of production and consumption need to be abandoned, he observed, in favour of learning from “the example of indigenous peoples that have in all parts of the world preserved their forms of living in harmony with nature.” He emphasised that to save the Earth, all the peoples of the world must co-operate in the spirit of equality and their governments must listen.
Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, praised the approach: “Bolivia’s positioning on environmental issues provides a beacon of hope that we encourage other governments and local authorities to follow.”
Over three days, 17 groups worked on proposals, which will be taken to the UN climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, in November. Organisers said an inclusive, democratic approach was adopted as an alternative to the closed-door style of political decision making found at Copenhagen.
A report from the Bolivian summit, the ‘People’s Accord’, has been delivered to the UN. It proposes that respect for nature be at the heart of policy and urges developed nations to ratify the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth — a document developed by UK lawyer, Polly Higgins.
The summit concluded that developing countries should be compensated for the impacts of carbon emissions from rich nations. Bolivia itself is threatened by extreme water shortages caused by receding glaciers, while deforestation is leading to flash floods and landslides, which can suddenly destroy villages and roads. As part of addressing these issues, President Morales announced that ten million trees will be planted in Bolivia within a year — as many as its population.
It was recommended that governments should set aside six per cent of national GDP to finance climate initiatives, and that border controls should be relaxed to accommodate an estimated 50 million climate refugees.
The delegates put people and planet before profit and stated that clean, green technologies should be shared internationally, free from intellectual property rights. In addition, they said, everyone should have the right to control their own food production.
Bolivia intends to keep the momentum initiated at the Cochabamba conference moving. President Morales said: “In the unity of the developing countries lies our potential to forge a new world in which harmony exists among human beings and with our Mother Earth.” He concluded that we have two paths: “save capitalism or save life and Mother Earth.”
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