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Bolivia to host 2015 meeting of social movements to fight climate change

In wake of UN’s COP20 failure, ALBA summit backs proposal to draft alternative plan


Photo by Pete Souza

Meeting in Havana December 14, the 13th summit of ALBA leaders endorsed a Bolivian proposal to host an international assembly of social movements in 2015 to discuss and adopt a united strategy for fighting climate change.

The decision by the Bolivarian Alliance for the peoples of Our America – Trade Treaty of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) coincided with release of the final agreement adopted by the United Nations COP20 climate talks at Lima, Peru. The UN agreement, reached by representatives of 195 countries after two extra days of haggling, has been universally condemned by environmental activists for the failure, once again, to take meaningful actions to prevent catastrophic climate warming.

The “Lima Call for Climate Action” fails to commit governments to firm plans on how they will reduce emissions and provides no mechanism for international assessment and enforcement of such plans. Activists warn that its proposed individual state pledges, called “Intended National Determined Contributions” (INDCs), will be too weak to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times – a guarantee of increasingly severe heatwaves, rainfall, flooding and rising sea levels. Major provisions of the agreement are summarized here.

The COP20 outcome is “unacceptable for the people and Mother Earth and represents a roadmap to global burning,” said Pablo Solón, former Bolivian ambassador and now director of Focus on the Global South. For other reactions, see “Lima agreement fails humanity and the earth.”

Addressing the ALBA Summit in Havana, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales proposed that “faced with the failure in Lima” the environment ministers of the ALBA member countries should work to organize a “world encounter of social movements” that would develop “a proposal to save life and humanity.”

The Bolivian proposal was adopted in number 29 of the 43 points in the final Summit agreement. The date of the proposed world encounter has yet to be determined.

Bolivia played a prominent role in the UN’s Lima conference. In a major speech to the COP20 delegates — excerpts translated below — Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, urged adoption of a new international climate agreement that would reflect basic principles upheld by South America’s indigenous peoples. He showed how adherence to each of these ethical standards entailed a rejection of “predatory and insatiable capitalism” with its dynamic of “accumulating and concentrating wealth in the hands of a few… generators of poverty and marginalization.”

“Either we change global capitalist society” said Morales, “or it will annihilate the world’s peoples and nature itself.”

And he denounced the “more than 30 years of pretence, futile negotiations with no result” of the UN climate negotiations. Participation by the developing countries, he said, seemed only to legitimate what had become “a simulacrum of dialogue,” a “staging of environmentalism” characterized by “a great deal of hypocrisy, racism and neocolonialism.”

In the climate talks at Lima, Bolivia’s delegation argued for what it termed an alternative to the carbon-market UN program known as REDD+ — “Reduction of Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation of Forests” — which essentially allows polluters to continue polluting if they buy “carbon credits” from developing countries. What this program entails is explained in this Democracy Now interview with Pablo Solón at the summit.

Prior to the summit, a strong “call to action to reject REDD+ and Extractive Industries, to confront capitalism and defend life and territories” was issued by a large number of Latin American and other environmental organizations.

However, the JMA was proposed not as a substitute for the REDD program, but as a voluntary alternative to it.

Bolivia also proposed, apparently without success, an alternative method of measuring carbon footprints that would reflect the differentiated responsibility of developed and developing countries for climate change; support for communal projects to strength food security and biodiversity; and the integration of measurable indicators of poverty, sustainable development and ecosystem management into global climate accords. These proposals, while popular in the workshops, were ignored in the final agreement.

Simultaneous with the COP20 summit was a People’s Summit on Climate Change that drew the participation of thousands of environmental activists from around the world. A mass “March of the Peoples” was held on December 10. It reportedly stretched some three kilometers in length through the streets of Lima.

The People’s summit issued a strong statement December 11 with a clear anti-capitalist content. Unfortunately, I have been unable so far to locate an official English translation.

Here are major excerpts from the address of Evo Morales at the COP20 summit. He spoke not only as Bolivia’s president but also in the name of the G77+China bloc, which was chaired by Bolivia in 2014. My translation from the Spanish.

This article originally appeared on Richard Fidler’s blog, Life on the Left.


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