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Bolivia: Ambassador Pablo Solon on why thousands will attend World People's Climate Summit


Pablo Solon, part 1. Parts 2 and 3 below.

April 11, 2010 -- World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth via Climate and Capitalism.

More than 10,000 individuals and 50 governments have already registered to participate in the historic World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, on April 19-22, 2010. Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, at a press conference during UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn on April 10 condemned continued attempts by some developed countries to impose a deeply flawed Copenhagen Accord as the basis for future negotiations:

The only way to get negotiations back on track not just for Bolivia or other countries, but for all of life, biodiversity, our Mother Earth is to put civil society back into the process.

Solon explained it was this belief that motivated Bolivia to host an historic World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth, to which more than 15,000 people and up to 70 governments are expected to attend.

“The central aim of any climate summit is not to save itself and accept any outcome, but to come to an agreement that will save humanity.” Solon said that the Copenhagen Accord sadly marked a “backwards step” so could never be acceptable as a basis for further negotiations. Solon pointed out that the European Union’s own analysis of the Copenhagen Accord admitted that it would lead to an increase of temperatures of up to four or five degrees Celsius.

This is no kind of solution. Yet at these talks [in Bonn] we never hear developed nations admitting concern over this. Instead the US claims this is the best agreement we have had. Are we really willing to say that allowing temperatures to rise to four or five degrees is a good goal?

Solon reiterated the demands of many developing nations by calling on industrialised nations to rebuild trust. “You cannot rebuild trust by legalizing the same methods that led to the failure in Copenhagen.” Solon called for talks to be returned to the full UNFCCC process, and to develop on what had been agreed in COP15.

Solon commenting on news that the US and Denmark were withdrawing aid from countries like Bolivia for their opposition to the Copenhagen Accord said, “This in their right, but unfair and clearly an attempt to punish Bolivia. What kind of negotiation is it where you lose money if you disagree?”

Solon said that Bolivia would not back down due to such threats. “We are a country with dignity and sovereignty and will maintain our position.”

Australian climate activists to attend summit

By Simon Butler

April 10, 2010 -- Australian climate activists will join thousands of other people at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia over April 19-22. Billed as a people's alternative to the corporate-dominated Copenhagen climate summit in December, the Bolivian conference has the support of more than 240 radical climate action groups and organisations worldwide.

Up to 15,000 people are expected to take part in the 17 different issue-based working groups held during the conference. The working groups include: outlining the structural causes of climate change; the dangers of carbon markets; sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty; and developing climate action strategies.

Conference attendees will also be asked to discuss and endorse proposals for a world referendum on climate change, a “universal declaration on the rights of Mother Earth” and the formation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal.

Gemma Weedall, an Adelaide-based climate activist with the Climate Emergency Action Network (SA), told Green Left Weekly she was going to Cochabamba "because I recognise that we are facing a climate emergency. I think the current economic model that we are working under is incompatible with addressing the climate problem. So I think this is a really important alternative conference. I'm really interested to learn about the problem from the perspective of the global South."

Weedall intends to take part in two conference working groups — the climate migrants stream, introduced by The Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein, and the climate debt stream, introduced by renowned Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

She also said she supported the Bolivian government's call for developed countries to aim for a maximum average warming of 1° Celsius. “I'd vote for that [in a referendum]. I think 1°C is much more appropriate than the 2°C target set at Copenhagen. Having a target of 2°C threatens the existence of low-lying islands."

Another conference attendee, Ben Courtice, told GLW he also thought 1°C of warming was a good target. But he stressed "targets of how much warming we can accept are only one part of it. We also need a strategy to draw carbon down out of the atmosphere, otherwise the carbon already released will drive warming well above 1°C.”

Courtice, an activist with Melbourne's Climate Emergency Network and the Socialist Alliance, said the conference "is our first opportunity to resurrect something useful out of the ashes of Copenhagen. [Out of it] something better can be put forward to the world to stop climate change.”

He also endorsed Bolivia's President Evo Morales' condemnation of capitalism at the Copenhagen climate summit. "I think it's essential that the international climate movement develops a critique of capitalism. This is important not only to deal with climate change but [also to achieve] social justice."

Rising Tide Newcastle activist Steve Denshire told GLW: “The position of the Bolivian government gives a new hope for people that have been so disappointed in the outcome in Copenhagen.”

He will take a slideshow presentation the conference "of some of the direct action protests we've been part of [in Australia] in the past few years. The aim is to show people in the global South that they have support — that the attitude of the Australian government [on climate change] isn’t necessarily the attitude of the Australian people.”

Denshire said he intends to meet climate activists from countries that import Australian coal to discuss joint campaigns.

“We want to bring back some inspiration for movement building”, he said. “Campaigners in the global South have had strong successes in the past. We want to learn more about this and inject it into the movement here.”

Naomi Hogan, an activist with Climate Action Newtown, said she hoped to gain a "fresh perspective and greater insights about what is happening with activists and indigenous people around the world who are campaigning against climate change. The conference will give people a good opportunity to make links with other people — we are all affected by climate change so we all need to work together and build connections.”

Hogan also said the conference's call for an International Climate Justice Tribunal was important.

"Climate justice is something that is left off the radar in many climate change discussions. The idea of having a climate justice tribunal is to put a spotlight on the issue that people's rights are being taken away from them all over the world."

[Click here for more details about the conference. This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #833, April 14, 2010.]

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