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Evo Morales on addressing climate change: `Save the planet from capitalism'

By Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia

November 28, 2008 -- Sisters and brothers, today our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer[1]; the extinction of animal and plant species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.

One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.

Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.

Capitalism

Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism Mother Earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death … and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under capitalism. And even “climate change” itself has become a business.

“Climate change” has placed all humankind before a great choice: to continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries and economies in transition committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below the 1990 levels, through the implementation of different mechanisms among which market mechanisms predominate.

Until 2006, greenhouse effect gases, far from being reduced, have increased by 9.1% in relation to the 1990 levels, demonstrating also in this way the breach of commitments by the developed countries.

The market mechanisms applied in the developing countries[2] have not accomplished a significant reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions.

Just as well as the market is incapable of regulating global financial and productive system, the market is unable to regulate greenhouse effect gas emissions and will only generate a big business for financial agents and major corporations.

The Earth is much more important than the stock exchanges of Wall Street and the world

While the United States and the European Union allocate $4100 billion to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they themselves have caused, programs on climate change get 313 times less, that is to say, only $13 billion.

The resources for climate change are unfairly distributed. More resources are directed to reduce emissions (mitigation) and less to reduce the effects of climate change that all the countries suffer (adaptation)[3]. The vast majority of resources flow to those countries that have contaminated the most, and not to the countries where we have preserved the environment most. Around 80% of the Clean Development Mechanism projects are concentrated in four emerging countries.

Capitalist logic promotes a paradox in which the sectors that have contributed the most to deterioration of the environment are those that benefit the most from climate change programs.

At the same time, technology transfer and the financing for clean and sustainable development of the countries of the South have remained just speeches.

The next summit on climate change in Copenhagen must allow us to make a leap forward if we want to save Mother Earth and humanity. For that purpose the following proposals for the process from Poznan to Copenhagen:

Attack the structural causes of climate change

1) Debate the structural causes of climate change. As long as we do not change the capitalist system for a system based in complementarity, solidarity and harmony between the people and nature, the measures that we adopt will be palliatives that will limited and precarious in character. For us, what has failed is the model of “living better”, of unlimited development, industrialisation without frontiers, of modernity that deprecates history, of increasing accumulation of goods at the expense of others and nature. For that reason we promote the idea of Living Well, in harmony with other human beings and with our Mother Earth.

2) Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption -- of luxury and waste -- especially the excessive consumption of fossil fuels. Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach $150-250 billion[4], must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to develop alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.

3) Agrofuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human beings. Agrofuels expand the agricultural frontier destroying forests and biodiversity, generate monocropping, promote land concentration, deteriorate soils, exhaust water sources, contribute to rises in food prices and, in many cases, result in more consumption of more energy than is produced.

Substantial commitments to emissions reduction that are met

4) Strict fulfilment by 2012 of the commitments[5] of the developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 5% below the 1990 levels. It is unacceptable that the countries that polluted the planet throughout the course of history make statements about larger reductions in the future while not complying with their present commitments.

5) Establish new minimum commitments for the developed countries of greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40% by 2020 and 90% by for 2050, taking as a starting point 1990 emission levels. These minimum commitments must be met internally in developed countries and not through flexible market mechanisms that allow for the purchase of certified emissions reduction certificates to continue polluting in their own country. Likewise, monitoring mechanisms must be established for the measuring, reporting and verifying that are transparent and accessible to the public, to guarantee the compliance of commitments.

6) Developing countries not responsible for the historical pollution must preserve the necessary space to implement an alternative and sustainable form of development that does not repeat the mistakes of savage industrialisation that has brought us to the current situation. To ensure this process, developing countries need, as a prerequisite, finance and technology transfer.

Address ecological debt

7) Acknowledging the historical ecological debt that they owe to the planet, developed countries must create an Integral Financial Mechanism to support developing countries in: implementation of their plans and programs for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change; the innovation, development and transfer of technology; in the preservation and improvement of the sinks and reservoirs; response actions to the serious natural disasters caused by climate change; and the carrying out of sustainable and eco-friendly development plans.

8) This Integral Financial Mechanism, in order to be effective, must count on a contribution of at least 1% of the GDP in developed countries[6] and other contributions from taxes on oil and gas, financial transactions, sea and air transport, and the profits of transnational companies.

9) Contributions from developed countries must be additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA), bilateral aid or aid channelled through organisms not part of the United Nations. Any finance outside the UNFCCC cannot be considered as the fulfilment of developed country’s commitments under the convention.

10) Finance has to be directed to the plans or national programs of the different states and not to projects that follow market logic.

11) Financing must not be concentrated just in some developed countries but has to give priority to the countries that have contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions, those that preserve nature and are suffering the impact of climate change.

12) The Integral Financial Mechanism must be under the coverage of the United Nations, not under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other intermediaries such as the World Bank and regional development banks; its management must be collective, transparent and non-bureaucratic. Its decisions must be made by all member countries, especially by developing countries, and not by the donors or bureaucratic administrators.

Technology transfer to developing countries

13) Innovation and technology related to climate changes must be within the public domain, not under any private monopolistic patent regime that obstructs and makes technology transfer more expensive to developing countries.

14) Products that are the fruit of public financing for technology innovation and development of have to be placed within the public domain and not under a private regime of patents[7], so that they can be freely accessed by developing countries.

15) Encourage and improve the system of voluntary and compulsory licenses so that all countries can access products already patented quickly and free of cost. Developed countries cannot treat patents and intellectual property rights as something “sacred” that has to be preserved at any cost. The regime of flexibilities available for the intellectual property rights in the cases of serious problems for public health has to be adapted and substantially enlarged to heal Mother Earth.

16) Recover and promote indigenous peoples' practices in harmony with nature which have proven to be sustainable through centuries.

Adaptation and mitigation with the participation of all the people

17) Promote mitigation actions, programs and plans with the participation of local communities and indigenous people in the framework of full respect for and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The best mechanism to confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but conscious, motivated and well organised human beings endowed with an identity of their own.

18) The reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation must be based on a mechanism of direct compensation from developed to developing countries, through a sovereign implementation that ensures broad participation of local communities, and a mechanism for monitoring, reporting and verifying that is transparent and public.

A UN for the environment and climate change

19) We need a World Environment and Climate Change Organisation to which multilateral trade and financial organisations are subordinated, so as to promote a different model of development that environmentally friendly and resolves the profound problems of impoverishment.  This organisation must have effective follow-up, verification and sanctioning mechanisms to ensure that the present and future agreements are complied with.

20) It is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade Organiation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the international economic system as a whole, in order to guarantee fair and complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.

In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always promoted the defense of Mother Earth.

Humankind is capable of saving the Earth if we recover the principles of solidarity, complementarity and harmony with nature in contraposition to the reign of competition, profits and rampant consumption of natural resources.

Notes

[1] Due to the “Niña” phenomenon, that becomes more frequent as a result of the climate change, Bolivia has lost 4% of its GDP in 2007.

[2] Known as the Clean Development Mechanism

[3] At the present there is only one adaptation fund with approximately $500 million for more than 150 developing countries. According to the UNFCCC secretary, $171 billion is required for adaptation and $380 billionis required for mitigation.

[4] Stern report

[5] Kyoto Protocol, Art. 3.

[6] The Stern Review has suggested one percent of global GDP, which represents less than $700 billion per year.

[7] According to UNCTAD (1998), public financing in developing countries contributes with 40% of the resources for innovation and development of technology.

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Indigenous Peoples outraged at removal of rights in REDD outcome

TWN Poznan News Update No.12
 
11 December 2008
Published by Third World Network
www.twnside.org.sg
 

 

 

Indigenous Peoples outraged at removal of rights in REDD outcome

 

Poznan 11 Dec (TWN) -- In the final day of negotiations over proposed decision text for REDD under SBSTA, deep divisions arose over proposed language to ensure the protection of indigenous peoples and local communities.  The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand opposed the inclusion of any language recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities as well as any references to other relevant international standards, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

The specific recognition of indigenous peoples rights was strongly supported by many including Bolivia, the European Union, Norway, Mexico, Switzerland and others. The final draft text only noted the importance of indigenous peoples’ participation.

Outraged that the word “rights” was removed from the text, several indigenous peoples groups, and joined by several other allied human rights and environmental organizations, protested in the conference corridors shouting “No rights, No REDD.” Marcial Arias Garcia, from Panama and the International Alliance of Indigenous-Tribal People of the World, said “The indigenous people are profoundly concerned as our basic rights have been violated.” 

At a press conference on 10 December, which is international human rights day, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues (and director of TEBTEBBA), said it was sad that on the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, some States have denied indigenous peoples of their rights at the UNFCCC.

 

She said that indigenous peoples were shocked to see the final version of the Draft Conclusions on REDD (at the SBSTA) had removed any references to rights of indigenous peoples and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

 

She added this move was spearheaded by the same States (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA)  which voted against the adoption of the UNDRIP by the UN General Assembly last 13 Sept. 2008.

 

Furthermore, these same states used the phrase “indigenous people” instead of  “indigenous peoples” with an “s” which is the internationally accepted language. The international human rights instrument on indigenous peoples' rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by 144 member-states of the UN, uses Indigenous Peoples. This was a battle fought by indigenous peoples for more than 30 years within the UN.  The “s” in peoples means that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination (Article 3, UNDRIP) and have collective rights. The UNDRIP is an interpretation of how the existing Human Rights Covenants apply to indigenous peoples considering the historical and present injustices they are suffering from.

 

Witnessing the way indigenous peoples rights are undermined  by the very States who took the lead in formulating and adopting the UN Declaration on Human Rights, 60 years ago, is a tragic thing, said Tauli-Corpuz.  “ These States are very keen to include REDD as part of the agreement on mitigation which will be agreed in Copenhagen in 2009. However, they obstinately refuse to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and other forest peoples, who are the ones who sacrificed life and limb to keep the world's remaining tropical and sub-tropical rainforests.”

 

Tauli-Corpuz called upon these States to reconsider their positions and move towards recognizing indigenous peoples' rights, as contained in the UNDRIP, as a framework for the design and implementation of REDD.

 

“I earnestly wish to see States and the UN system implement effectively the UNDRIP as stated in Article 42. The Declaration has to be implemented in all arenas, whether at the local and national level and at the global level, including by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its protocols,” she said.

 

She also congratulated the Parties who insisted that the language of rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remain in the draft conclusions. “I know they fought hard for these and I certainly hope they will continue to do this in the future negotiations.”

 

Indigenous peoples will continue to oppose the REDD mechanisms if their rights are not recognized by States and the UN, including the UNFCCC and the World Bank, she added.  “They are very vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, but they are also providing the solutions to climate change. Their traditional knowledge on forests and biodiversity is crucial for the methodological issues being tackled under REDD. Their participation in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating REDD policies and proposals has to be ensured. Their free, prior and informed consent has to be obtained before any REDD mechanism is put into place in their territories. It is their right to decide whether to accept REDD or not.”

 

She also welcomed paragraph 6 of the Decision which calls for an Expert meeting on REDD before the 30th SBSTA session. This Expert meeting should be used to go more deeply into the methodological issues relevant for indigenous peoples. However, it should also be linked with the policy issues which will be discussed under AWG-LCA.   Enhanced policies and measures for REDD should be linked with methodologies proposed by the SBSTA.

 

She also stressed the imperative for  the Annex 1 countries to carry the heavier burden of mitigating climate change. “Meeting their legally binding targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emission is the main path towards mitigation. REDD, if properly designed and implemented can still contribute to mitigation.  However, I believe that forests should not be used as carbon offsets for Annex 1 countries. Thus, emissions trading of forest carbon may not be the right approach. Rewards, both monetary and non-monetary, to indigenous peoples and other forest peoples for protecting the forests maybe a better track to take. Let it not be said that the richest and most powerful reneged on their duty to save this world and to respect the rights of those who have contributed the most to mitigating climate change.”

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