Cancun climate talks: `Hollow and false' -- Bolivia, activists condemn deadly `betrayal'

Red Road Cancun, by Allan Lissner. Highlighting Indigenous voices excluded from the COP16 UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Statement by the Plurinational State of Bolivia

December 11, 2010 -- Cancun, Mexico -- The Plurinational State of Bolivia believes that the Cancun text is a hollow and false victory that was imposed without consensus, and its cost will be measured in human lives. History will judge harshly.

There is only one way to measure the success of a climate agreement, and that is based on whether or not it will effectively reduce emissions to prevent runaway climate change. This text clearly fails, as it could allow global temperatures to increase by more than 4 degrees, a level disastrous for humanity. Recent scientific reports show that 300,000 people already die each year from climate change-related disasters. This text threatens to increase the number of deaths annually to 1 million. This is something we can never accept.

Last year, everyone recognised that Copenhagen was a failure both in process and substance. Yet this year, a deliberate campaign to lower expectations and desperation for any agreement has led to one that in substance is little more than Copenhagen II.

A so-called victory for multilateralism is really a victory for the rich nations who bullied and cajoled other nations into accepting a deal on their terms. The richest nations offered us nothing new in terms of emission reductions or financing, and instead sought at every stage to backtrack on existing commitments, and include every loophole possible to reduce their obligation to act.

While developing nations -- those that face the worst consequences of climate change -- pleaded for ambition, we were instead offered the “realism” of empty gestures. Proposals by powerful countries like the US were sacrosanct, while ours were disposable. Compromise was always at the expense of the victims, rather than the culprits of climate change. When Bolivia said we did not agree with the text in the final hours of talks, we were overruled. An accord where only the powerful win is not a negotiation, it is an imposition.

Bolivia came to Cancun with concrete proposals that we believed would bring hope for the future. These proposals were agreed by 35,000 people in an historic World People’s Conference in Cochabamba in April 2010. They seek just solutions to the climate crisis and address its root causes. In the year since Copenhagen, they were integrated into the negotiating text of the parties, and yet the Cancun text systematically excludes these voices. Bolivia cannot be convinced to abandon its principles or those of the peoples we represent. We will continue to struggle alongside affected communities worldwide until climate justice is achieved. 

Bolivia has participated in these negotiations in good faith and the hope that we could achieve an effective climate deal. We were prepared to compromise on many things, except the lives of our people. Sadly, that is what the world’s richest nations expect us to do. Countries may try to isolate us for our position, but we come here in representation of the peoples and social movements who want real and effective action to protect the future of humanity and Mother Earth. We feel their support as our guide. History will be the judge of what has happened in Cancun.

Peasants march in Cancún outside the UN climate change summit. Photograph: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images.

Indigenous activists slam Cancun betrayal; mass movements are our only hope

Statement by the Indigenous Environmental Network

December 11, 2010 -- Climate and Capitalism -- As representatives of Indigenous peoples and communities already suffering the immediate impacts of climate change, we express our outrage and disgust at the agreements that have emerged from the COP16 talks. As was exposed in the Wikileaks climate scandal, the Cancun Agreements are not the result of an informed and open consensus process, but the consequence of an ongoing US diplomatic offensive of backroom deals, arm twisting and bribery that targeted nations in opposition to the Copenhagen Accord during the months leading up to the COP-16 talks.

We are not fooled by this diplomatic shell game. The Cancun Agreements have no substance. They are yet more hot air. Their only substance is to promote continued talks about climate mitigation strategies motivated by profit.

Such strategies have already proved fruitless and have been shown to violate human and Indigenous rights. The agreements implictly promote carbon markets, offsets, unproven technologies and land grabs—anything but a commitment to real emissions reductions.

The voices of the people must be respected

Indigenous peoples from North to South cannot afford these unjust and false "solutions", because climate change is killing our peoples, cultures and ecosystems. We need real commitments to reduce emissions at the source and to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Because we are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change, we came to COP-16 with an urgent call to address the root causes of the climate crisis, to demand respect for the rights of Mother Earth, and to fundamentally redefine industrial society’s relationship with the planet.

Instead, the climate COP has shut the doors on our participation and that of other impacted communities, while welcoming business, industry and speculators with open arms.

The US, industrialised nations, big business and unethical companies like Goldman Sachs will profit handsomely from these agreements while our people die.

Women and youth in our communities are disproportionately burdened by climate impacts and rights violations. Real solutions would strengthen our collective rights and land rights while ensuring the protection of women, youth and vulnerable communities.

While the Cancun Agreements do contain some language “noting” rights, it is exclusively in the context of market mechanisms, while failing to guarantee safeguards for the rights of peoples and communities.

The failures of the UN talks in Copenhagen have been compounded in Cancun. From the opening day to the closing moments of the talks, our voices were censored, dissenting opinions silenced and dozens ejected from the conference grounds.

The thousands who rallied outside to reject market mechanisms and demand recognition of human and Indigenous rights were ignored.

The market will not protect our rights

Market-based approaches have failed to stop climate change. They are designed to commodify and profit from the last remaining elements of our Mother Earth and the air.

Through its focus on market approaches like carbon trading, the UNFCCC has become the WTO of the sky.

We are deeply concerned that the Cancun Agreements betray both our future and the rights of peoples, women, youth, and vulnerable populations.

While the preamble to the Cancun Agreements note a call for “studies on human rights and climate change”, this is in effect an empty reference, with no content and no standards, that will not protect the collective rights of peoples.

The market mechanisms that implicitly dominate both the spirit and the letter of the Cancun Agreements will neither avert climate change nor guarantee human rights, much less the rights of Mother Earth.

Approaches based on carbon offsetting, like REDD, will permit polluters to continue poisoning land, water, air and our bodies, while doing nothing to stop the climate crisis. Indeed, approaches based on the commodification of biodiversity, CO2, forests, water, and other sacred elements will only encourage the buying and selling of our human and environmental rights.

The Cochabamba People’s Agreement points the way forward

There is another way forward: the Cochabamba People’s Agreement represents the vision of everyday people from all corners of the globe who are creating the solutions to climate change from the ground up, and calling for a global framework that respects human rights and the rights of Mother Earth.

If any hope emerges from Cancun, it comes from the dramatic demonstrations we saw in the streets and from the deep and powerful alliances that were built among indigenous and social movements.

The Indigenous Environmental Network joined thousands of our brothers and sisters to demand real climate solutions based in the rights of Indigenous peoples, the rights of Mother Earth, and a just transition away from fossil fuels. We will continue to stand with our allies to demand climate justice.

The communities on the frontlines of the problem––those who face the daily impacts of the climate crisis––are also on the frontlines of the solutions. Community-based solutions can cool the planet!

The fight for climate justice continues. We are committed to deepening our alliances with Indigenous and social movements around the world as we build in our communities and mobilise toward COP-17 in Durban, South Africa.

Social movements in South Africa mobilised the world to overthrow apartheid and create powerful, transformative change.

The same mass-based movement building is our only hope to overturn the climate apartheid we now face. We look forward to working with our African brothers and sisters and tribal communities in Durban.

We only have one Mother Earth. As Indigenous peoples, we will continue our struggle to defend all our relations and future generations.


La Paz, Dec 13 (DPA) Bolivia threatened Sunday to take court action to block the compromise deal reached in Mexico to confront the growing threat of climate change.
'We will file a complaint with the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the text approved in Cancun,' Boliva's UN Ambassador Pablo Solon told the government daily El Cambio.
The deal was approved Saturday by all but one of the 194 nations who attended the international climate conference in the Mexican resort. Bolivia objected on the grounds it did not go far enough. Despite a lack of unanimity, conference chairman Patricia Espinosa approved the comprise, which includes efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, billions in aid to island nations faced with inundation and a 2-degree goal limit for global warming.
Solon had argued that the draft proposals were too lax to stop global warming, and he stood his ground until Espinosa banged the gavel at 3.31 a.m. after saying: 'The objections and complaints will be noted duly.' Espinosa's very broad interpretation of UN rules that all agreements must be reached in harmony saved the conference. Harmony, she said, did not necessarily mean unanimity.
Solon claimed the way Bolivia's position was overruled represented jettisoned the principle of consensus and was an 'abuse of the framework agreement on climate protection'.

(Cancún, 5 December 2010) One idea dominated the opening and first working day of the global forum "For Life, Environmental and Social Justice", organized by La Via Campesina and its allies at their camp in Cancún: we must foil the carbon markets and the REDD programme which governments intend to legitimize at COP16.

\The verdict is that the programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) doesn't significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, although it does open the door to the privatization of land, and also rewards polluters, and threatens national sovereignty and the survival of indigenous communities.

Alberto Gómez Flores, representative of La Via Campesina for the North America region, said: "It's a disgrace that the United Nations space intended to tackle climate change has been converted into a platform to legitimize the commercial strategies of transnational corporations."

He added: "Multinationals benefit from an ever increasing number of compensating mechanisms for carbon capture, all of which are only new opportunities for them to grow and consolidate their control over water, land and seeds."

"We denounce the false solution of carbon markets and the fact that numerous governments have reconciled themselves to it and don't seek a compromise with their populations. Our task is to foil the carbon markets. This is why we came", said Gomez.

As for Olegario Carrillo, he insisted in his welcoming message that "we must at least qualify as irresponsible, although many call it criminal, the attitude of those who support these schemes for the privatization-commercialization of the world, its forests and atmosphere, that only bring us closer to the brink every time."

"From here we can see the thick smog of transnational interests hang above Cancún's summit. Rich countries and their satellites try to confer legitimacy on false solutions like REDD," added Carrillo, national leader of UNORCA.

"We have come here to denounce the governments of the world that intend to support these projects behind the backs of their populations," said Magdiel Sánchez, from the National Liberation Movement.

"We have the same message: we don't want the false solutions that COP16 stands for, we don't want REDD, we don't want them to carry on poisoning us with their lies and their false solutions. This is what we said and heard everywhere the caravans stopped, throughout their journey through this country where they bore witness to the environmental and social devastation of Mexico," said Octavio Rosas Landa, from the National Assembly of Those Affected by the Environment.

"COP 16 only seeks to benefit as much as possible from the environmental crisis while people continue to fall ill and to die as a result of these corrupt policies and of the various activities of all these TNCs that are appropriating the air, water, land, forests, seeds, and all of the other common goods which make up the patrimony of humanity," he added.

In this regard, Rosas Landa said that the programmes which the federal government is trying to implement in the country are a fiction, as they will address neither global warming nor the environmental crisis. On the subject of the REDD proposal, he explained that the federal government is trying to control the green areas, which affects the most vulnerable groups.

And so started the global forum "For Life, Environmental and Social Justice", with the participation of about 1,500 people from over 80 organizations from Latin America and elsewhere, around 1,000 of whom travelled with the caravans through 17 states of the Republic of Mexico.

Vía Campesina communication team


Alfredo Acedo Tel: + 52 1 55 3943 0712 _alfredo_acedo@hotmail.com_ <> Skype: alfredoacedo

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December 14, 2010 by Ricardo Sequeiros Coelho

For me Copenhagen was not a failure. It may have been for the powers of the world, but not for the peoples of the world who became conscious …. Hope for the peoples of the world is cooling the world, lowering the temperature.

Everyone one of us, governments, delegates, must put us in the position of people who are victims of climate change. And what is it like to be a victim of climate change? Let us think of a family who doesn’t have services like heating, who lacks water, because of climate change, global warming, without work, and in extreme poverty. A family like this dies daily in the world. Don’t know how to survive, because no water in their community, region, feels powerless to do anything. Think of this family, or those on islands, small states that will disappear. What will they do?

Yet at these levels, we have policies like US or EU that want to expel climate refugees, even though these refugees are often caused by climate change

Here to represent victims of climate change, natural disasters. So call on leaders to take responsibility, and make history, representing peoples and not winning at expense of peoples. We also must look at the cause of global warming which is capitalism. We took about effects and not causes of the multiple crises we face: climate crisis, food crisis, energy crisis. Climate crisis is one of the themes here, nature, environment, this is one of the crises of capitalism. If we discuss and address these crises, we are are being responsible to our sons, grandsons, talking about future generations.

For that reason, we have a responsibility not just for now but for future generations. If we are responsible, we must change policies. Must change causes of global warming. Of course deal with effects. It is an obligation of large powers to pay the ecological debt. But more important is to change the causes of global warming.

We have discussed considerably internationally, regionally, meetings of social movements, it is an obligation how can we guarantee, develop, meeting second period of KP. Temperature now is 0.8 but must lower it to guarantee good temperature.

Have to think of family, can’t refresh themselves, because of rains don’t have shade of trees. We are talking about profound issues. If we from here, send to the Kyoto Protocol to the rubbish bin we are responsible for ecocide, genocide because sending humanity to death. If we are responsible as the elected governments of peoples, we must express their demands. We must adopt the decisions of peoples of the world. So can’t behind closed doors look at developing documents that don’t express thinking of peoples, that don’t comes from suffering of peoples. We have obligation to listen to peoples who tell us how to cool the earth.

We know there is a big debate in the US how to end extreme poverty. The best way to reduce poverty is cooling the earth. For this reason, take this opportunity of this world conference about global warming. Concrete proposal to reduce to 1 degree centigrade is the most important. According to the proposals from some powers, talk about 2 degrees and think even of arriving at 4 degrees. Imagine what our planet would look like with an increase in temperature of 2 degrees or 4 degrees given at 0.8 degrees we have serious problems in the world. One study released here by scientists estimates that 300,000 already die each year for climate change, could arrive at 1 million per year because of climate change.

Second proposal that nature is our home, land is our life. I am convinced that human being can’t live without planet, but yes planet can exist without human beings. We are not in the epoch of struggle of classes any more; we are debating how to live in harmony with the Mother Earth. Mother Earth has its rights. In past decades, UN approved human rights, then civil rights, economic, political rights, finally a few years ago indigenous rights. This new century is time to debate and discuss rights of Mother Earth. These include the rights to regenerate biocapacity, to have life clean without contamination, right to equilibrium and if governments don’t guarantee this, we are all responsible for ecocide. We know that some measures and laws are very important to obey. Laws must be complied with, which is why with much wisdom, peoples have proposed creating International Climate Justice Tribunal. We all know how important it is to create one to ensure compliance with KP. If governments don’t defend mother earth rights, we can make sure they do. (Applause)

We came to Cancun to save nature, forests, planet earth, not here to convert nature into commodity, not come here to revitalise capitalism with carbon markets. Forests are sacred for indigenous peoples, cant have new policies which merely survival of capitalism. If don’t tackle cause of climate crisis which is capitalism there will be lots of meetings but never will tackle the problem.

If governments don’t do it, will be people who force governments to do it. The social forces are matrix force that changes policies, ends empires, brings down large powers. If social forces advance, then progressive governments allied with social movements can guarantee life of future generations.

Presidents, I came to share some thinking of peoples and my same suffering. I am convinced that if Presidents take on their responsibility, not to certain powers, TNCS, companies, but instead to peoples, social movements we can advance. In this millennium we have an enormous responsibility to defend life. Thanks for my participation and hope for full participation of all the peoples of the world. Thank you.


All nations came up with a deal to reduce green house emission as much as possible for them without setting up any reduction target. It's inadequate and cheating with the nature. Every nation is looking for their growth and they are not concerned about the climate. This is not the right way to deal with climate change. Every nation has to pay their essential contribution in this direction.

The participating organizations from Latin America, Africa and Asia, strongly reject the false solutions to climate change and particulary the so-called REDD, REDD+, REDD++ mechanisms that are intended to be imposed at the Cancun Conference because they represent a deepening of the ecological, climate, social, and economic debt due to the peoples of the global South and a step further in the privatization of nature and the expoliation of both the territories and historical rights of our peoples.

The REDD mechanisms (Reduction of Emisions by Deforestation and Degradation of forests) and its versions + and ++ violate the self-determination of our peoples, our rights, culture and traditions.

The REDD mechanisms are interested in occupying indigenous territories, where most of the land is commonly onwed. REDD also intends to occupy peasant’s lands, in order to implement tree-plantation projects and agrobusiness.

This mechanism is a deepening and global expansion of the privatization of nature and an appropriation of forests, highlands and agricultural lands by states and private companies. REDD implies the creation and global trade of environmental services at the expenses of food sovereignty and other rights of our peoples, promoting their control by large corporations, the control of territories and their militarization.

As social movements and organizations, we identify as the structural problem of the climate crisis the increase in mega projects of energy-related natural resource exploitation, the pillage of territories, the forced migration of peoples, and it becomes evident that since the beginning of the negotiations some 18 years ago, this global problem has only increased.

Faced with the acceleration of planetary destruction, we call for the adoption of rapid and effective responses that identify those responsible for climate change and force them to lower their emissions and do not justify their programs of forest conservation designed for their own benefit.

In this sense, we believe that it is necessary to shift the paradigm of climate solutions. They will not be found in the market, in develpment, nor in the culture of individualization, but in valueing and incorporating a new paradigm that original peoples teach us through their way of living.

The damage suffered by communities is already visible where projects of this kind are present. The experiences we have been able to share here of peasants and indigenous communities from Ecuador, Brasil, Indonesia, and Kenya, where there are projects already implemented, represent a small example of the threat posed by REDD.

We reject these forms of interference in our lands and territories that, taking advantage of the necessities of communities and using strategies of division and false consultations, seek to involve them in these REDD mechanisms.

REDD is another way of transfering the responsabilities from those countries that have contaminated the atmosphere in direction to the countries of the global South, that have historically taken care of the planet. REDD can never be reformulated in a such way as to work for the real protection of forests or in favor of people and peoples.

We need to fight climate change with the only option we have, which is the reduction of fossil fuels consumption and extraction and support for peasant agriculture. That means a change in the relation between human beings and nature, inspired in the kind of relationship that indigenous peoples and peasants maintain until now.

We alert the indigenous peoples and peasants of our South continents that the intention of incorporating so-called social and environmental standards into REDD projects does not resolve the problems, because REDD does not stop climate change, nor does it weaken the appetite for the definitive appropriation of our lands.

Forests, swamps, mangrove swamps, wetlands, and peasant agriculture are all protecting the planet. Those places are rich in biodiversity, and are also natural reservoirs of water and carbon. In this way, they sustain climate balance. Those ecosystems, together with traditional practices, constitute sources of life and are home for peasant communities, indigenous peoples, fishing communities, and others who have been living in these territories and have been taking care of them since ancient times.

However, these lands are being destroyed by oil and mining activities, the industrial extraction of wood, conversion of forests and agricultural lands into forests-plantations and monocultures for agrobrusiness and agro-exports. All of this contributues to accelerating the contamination and degradation of life conditions in the countryside, as well as contributing to climate change, insofar as those activities emit large quantities of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Hence, to fight climate change really implies, in the first place, a change in the model of development based in the consuption and extraction of fossil fuels. It means to seriously confront deforestation. And to accomplish that it is imperative to put an end to the underlying causes, to support peasant and small scale agriculture, respect and privilege the collective rights of peoples and nationalities over their lands and territories.

In the face of the climate change crisis, it must be recognized that crimes against nature and against humanity have been perpetrated by Annex 1 countries, their financial institutions and governments.

Therefore, those responsibles for these crimes must be brought to justice and they must make reparations for the damage infringed upon the contries of the South.

However, we do not understand reparations just as economic compensation. Reparations must be understood in terms of climate justice, in a way that makes it possible for us to save Mother Earth. Thus, natural resource extraction projects must be stopped, …. As well as full compensation for the damage caused to the most vulnerable sectors, such as indigenous peoples, women, climate displaced people and climate induced forced migrants.

We call for the building of broad alliances both in the cities and in the countryside in order to create a united movement, strong enough to defeat this new threat to our peoples.

Our Climate is not for sale!

Indigenous peoples, peasant men and women, are cooling the planet!

Jubilee South  -  Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)  - Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean -  Convergence of Popular Movements in America (COMPA) - Central American Climate Justice Campaign - World March of Women Latin America and the Caribbean  - Caribbean Peoples' Assembly - GAIA LA/C - Hemispheric Social Alliance Climate Change Working Group - LDC Watch - NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank - JS-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development - Jubilee South/ Américas - Focus on the Global South - Dialogue 2000 (Argentina) - EquityBd and SUPRO (Bangladesh) -  Jubilee South/Brazil - PACS - Brazil Network for Peoples' Integration (Brazil) – Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center-Solidarity (Cuba) - Ecological Action and Pueblo kichwua de Sarayacu (Ecuador) - Salvadoran National Union of Ecologists (El Salvador) - Guatemalan Popular Movement and Popular Front (Guatemala) - OFRANEH (Honduras) - National Hawker Federation (India) - Institute for Essential Service Reform, Kruha Water Coalition, and Walhi/FOE (Indonesia) - Citizens against Corruption (Kyrgystan) - MUSAS/JS-Mexico - Jagaran Nepal/NGO Federation (Nepal) - Movimiento Social Nicaraguense - Freedom from Debt Coalition (Philippines) - Friends of the Earth (Sri Lanka) - OWTU/FITUN (Trinidad and Tobago)