Yesterday saw the conclusion of the second World People’s Summit on Climate Change, with Latin American leaders denouncing the effects of global capitalism on the environment and stressing the need for wealthier countries to do more to fight climate change.
The conference, which began on Saturday in the Bolivian town of Tiquipaya, gathered leaders from Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, and Ecuador as well as 4,800 delegates from 54 countries and thousands of environmental and political activists. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon also attended.
The need for an independent environmental tribunal with powers to penalise countries and multinational companies who harm the environment emerged as one of the key proposals from the summit, alongside a push for recognition of the “ecological debt” owed by wealthy countries who have disproportionately benefited from the destruction of the environment.
The summit comes less than two months before the United Nations’ 21st Conference on Climate Change which will take place in Paris in December.
Hosting Bolivian president, Evo Morales, highlighted the need for unity amongst the attending countries as they bring their proposals forward to the Paris Summit. “I do not want your presence here to have been in vain,” he said. “I want your initiatives to affect [what happens] at the Paris Conference”.
Critics have suggested that it is unlikely that the possibility of an independent tribunal will gain much traction at the Paris talks, with most of the countries due to attend having expressed rejection of the idea.
Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, warned that “in Paris we will not be accepting a new agreement on climate change that minimises the responsibilities of rich countries”, denouncing a “lack of political will” to combat the issue from the governments of wealthy countries.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that it was essential to set up an independent environmental tribunal in order to “quantify and to help ensure payment of the ecological debt held by rich countries – and to stop this debt from growing.”
He added that it was essential for the US to sign up to the Kyoto agreement in order to achieve this, echoing the demands of the first World People’s Summit on Climate Change in 2010.
Correa underlined the need for a new economic and cultural system in order to fight climate change, insisting that “market capitalism cannot fix our environmental problems”.
A declaration released yesterday by conference organisers also emphasises the need for a departure from capitalism; “In order to survive, humanity must free itself from capitalism.It is driving us towards a horizon of destruction, which promises a death sentence for nature and for life itself.”
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro used his speech to call for solidarity between Latin American nations to protect the environment. He announced his country’s ‘2015-2030 Plan’, in partnership with Cuba, to fulfil the 17 Sustainable development goals which were established at last month’s UN General Assembly. He reiterated Venezuela’s support for Cuba in their US relations, calling on UN members to vote in favour of a resolution to end the US embargo against Cuba, due to be voted on 27th October.