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`The main issue for us is Mother Earth' -- Bolivia's delegation to Copenhagen climate talks

`Repay the climate debt!'

December 9, 2009 -- Democracy Now!

ANJALI KAMAT: Angelica, maybe we can start with you. Talk about the Danish text and your reaction.

ANGELICA NAVARRO, chief climate negotiator for Bolivia: Well, I have to say that everybody was taken a little bit by surprise, but I also want to congratulate the very good work that the press has been doing, because we have learned it from the press, actually. And the reaction has been quite straightforward from the G77, and in two accounts: on process and on the content.

And on the process, I have to say that we are quite surprised, because this is not what we were expecting. One hundred and ninety-two countries are united here to try to come to a deal. And there is this pallid process that basically seems to be untransparent, undemocratic, nonparticipatory, top down, that it seems to be imposing itself on what we are trying to achieve with 192 countries. We think that we have to come back to the real track, and that is a track with participation, inclusiveness and democracy. That is for the process.

But in the content, we have serious also concerns on the content. It seems that we are talking about just one agreement, disregarding the two tracks, two mandates and two results that we are trying to achieve here in Copenhagen. I want to remind everybody that G77 and Bolivia, African Group and other groups have been calling very strongly to have the Kyoto Protocol survive—that is, that developed countries should come with their second commitment period, ambitious numbers for their reductions of emissions. That is one of the results we want from here. The second result that we want is, of course, an enhanced implementation of the convention through the process.

What the Danish text seems to do is a merger of the two, which impose new obligations to developing countries. So we are the ones who are supposed now to be mitigating. And I’m asking, what will a developing country, rural men or women—Indigenous women in Bolivia doesn’t even have electricity—will mitigate? And for what? So that developed countries can even have still have two, three cars? Or just like four times change their clothes in a year? What are they asking? Do they want all us to finance the problems they are causing? Why should I pay for them? But on top of that, why should we choose between building a school, a bridge or a hospital, and adapt? So that is what we think.

And on top of that, we think that the level of ambition that was what is proposed in the Danish leaked text is definitely not enough. It will not solve the problem. It will not solve the climate change.

AMY GOODMAN: Angelica Navarro, you took the stage by storm, to use a climate metaphor, in June in Bonn, Germany, when you talked about this issue of climate debt. Explain what you mean by it.

ANGELICA NAVARRO: I just want to remind that actually historical responsibility is already in the convention. And we were, if I’m not mistaken, five countries that presented in Bonn, in a technical briefing, a historical responsibility quantification of what developed countries have done and what they should do as a result. That was India, Brazil, China and Bolivia.

The Bolivian proposal, in specific, is climate debt. What do I mean and what does Bolivia mean by that? It’s basically that developed countries have over-consumed atmospheric—common atmospheric—space. Twenty per cent of the population have actually emitted more than two-thirds of the emissions, and as a result, they have caused more than 90 per cent of the increase in temperatures. As a result, developing countries, we are suffering. Bolivia’s glaciers are melting between 40 to 55 per cent. We have extended droughts. We have in the lowlands more flooding. And we are losing between four to 17 per cent of our GDP in the worst years. That is climate debt.

And what we are asking is repayment. We are not asking for aid. We are not asking—we are not begging for aid. We want developed countries to comply with their obligation and pay their debt.

How are they going to pay it? The first part is to pay it through emission reductions domestically. They have really to fulfill their obligations. This is not money... They just have to comply with their obligations, ambitiously, for the first and second commitment period. And the second part of the climate debt is adaptation debt. Everything that we’re already suffering, as Bolivia, as Indigenous people, in Africa and in other parts, that we can accept that is finance and transfer of technology, but not the peanuts that we are seeing on the table right now that is not even a fraction of what they have used to save their bank. But apparently, finance and banks are more important than people and life. And that is very sad, but it’s like that, because we think that they are negotiating not an environmental agreement. They seem to be negotiating an economic agreement.

AMY GOODMAN: Evo Morales, your president, is calling for a 49 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions?

ANGELICA NAVARRO: Yes. Actually, we have several numbers. We are asking for the 49 per cent, and I’m happy to be with Paraguay, because we are co-sponsoring the same, actually, submission. This 49 per cent has to be in 2017. But even like that, developed countries will not be able to repay their debt. They have to pay more. We know they cannot do that, but the amount is so important that actually developed countries should do negative cuts. How are they going to do that? We have to think about it. The 49 per cent is just a fraction of what they are doing.

AMY GOODMAN: What is a negative cut?

ANGELICA NAVARRO: Meaning that they have to reduce everything to zero, but on top of that they have to liberate atmospheric space they have occupied unrightfully, for developing countries to develop. What they cannot pay in emission cuts, they can pay a little bit in finance and transfer of technology. We can think on that. And, of course, we have to go real on the numbers. It’s not only the cuts, but it’s also the degrees that we want to talk about. We are talking less than 1 per cent as Bolivia, because 2 per cent is the reality of the North. Two per cent is 3 per cent for Africa or for the South. You have to add at least one degree to what developed countries are proposing. Let’s get real on the reality of the South has come, and it has to come in numbers.

New Internationalist interviews Angelica Navarro, Bolivia's chief climate negotiator at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

Interview with Bolivia's climate change ambassador

``For the capitalist system everything nature, even other humans – is considered an object that you can use to obtain a profit.''

By Robert S. Eshelman

December 9, 2009 -- Bolivia Rising/The Nation -- On day three of COP15, I spoke with Bolivia's climate change ambassador Pablo Erick Solón Romero Oroza about his delegation's position at COP15, how negotiations are proceeding and why Bolivian president Evo Morales has called for a Universal Declaration of Rights for Mother Earth.

What are the demands of the Bolivian delegation at COP15?

We are asking, first, to discuss the main issue, which for us is Mother Earth. We think that is the key issue.

Second, we are asking for a goal that will allow that will save all of humanity. We think the goal that they have put on the table is going to save probably only half of humanity because a two degree Celsius increase and a rise in carbon levels in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million means a 50% chance that there will be severe ecologic failure.

Third, we want that climate debt be paid. It should be paid in terms of reduction of emissions, but real reductions, in terms of a transfer of technology and in terms of finance – and that brings me to our fourth point.

We see the numbers when it comes to finance are really too small. Ten billion dollars when you compare it to what they have spent in terms of military budgets or to save Wall Street they spent trillions of dollars. But to save the future of mankind, they are saying only US$10 billion. The finally demand is that we really want really want to solve this problem. We don't want to make business out of this problem. We are very against the idea of building a carbon market that will really not solve the problem. We say let's save humanity, let's save the planet and, please, please don't make profit out of this.

And what has been the reaction to these demands within the negotiations?

Our demands are included in the negotiations. But we are at a stage where all of our language that is in the negotiating texts has been bracketed, which means we are very far away from agreement on these issues. And the process is moving very slow. If you go into the drafting groups you will see that advances are being made in only a few areas. Negotiations are difficult but if you really want to delay agreements you will do this sort of thing.

What is the Bolivian delegation's strategy for pushing back against this resistance to your demands?

Our position is that in order to have success, we need to have a very important movement of civil society groups that puts a lot of pressure on the governments of the United States and Europe. If they don't see this pressure then of course the outcome will be very bad. But if there is pressure, the negotiations could change.

So I am sure that a lot of negotiators and authorities can change their positions if the pressure comes from the people and not from the corporations. Because, here, what you see, is huge pressure from transnational companies who are thinking not of how to solve this problem but how to make a business of climate change.

President Morales has called for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Why do you think there's a need for such a document?

Why, because this problem is about balance – balance between humankind and nature. What we are seeing with climate change is that this balance has been broken. Why, because humans act as if they are the only ones who have rights and treat our Mother Earth like, in the past century, slaves were treated – as persons that don't have rights, as objects, instruments for exploitation.

So if you want to have a balanced relation, humans must recognise that we are not the only one's that have rights, but also our Mother Earth. We and nature are part of one system and what happens in one part of the system effects the other part.

This way of thinking has been strengthened because of the capitalist system. For the capitalist system everything, nature – even other humans – is considered an object that you can use to obtain a profit. With this system everything can be made into merchandise.

So what we are seeing is the consequence of this vision that you can change everything into merchandise, even nature, even your mother – Mother Earth.

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