(Matthew McDermott) Not wasting any time, Bolvian president Evo Morales has announced that his nation will be hosting an alternative climate summit in the city of Cochabamba on April 20-22, the New York Times reports. Morales is calling on activists, scientists and government officials “who want to work with the people” to attend. Bolivia was one of five nations dissenting on the non-binding COP15 agreement:
Topics to be covered at the meeting include putting pressure on rich nations to accept the fact that they owe a climate debt to the poor nations of the world, the development of an international court for environmental crimes, a “universal proposal for the rights of mother earth”, and technology transfer.All these were prominent themes among grassroots groups at Copenhagen, even if only the last of them was really on the official negotiating agenda.
For those scratching their head right now:
Climate Debt = Rich Nations Causing Climate Change, Poor Left the Bill
The notion of rich nations owing a climate debt is based on the fact that industrialized nations are nearly entirely responsible for causing climate change, historically releasing the overwhelming majority of greenhouse gases, by most accounts poor nations are not only going to feel the effects of climate change first but are also the least able to afford to adapt to them.
While simple acknowledging this climate debt may seem like a symbolic thing, it really does have serious practical implications in terms of the sort of obligation to assisting in helping poor nations adapt as well as increasing the moral commitment to reducing emissions in rich nations.
Time for a Declaration of Planetary Rights?
An international court for environmental crimes and a proposal for rights for mother earth are certainly a bit broader than just climate change, but during COP15 both ideas were floated around. Issues of enforcement aside, if a universal declaration of planetary rights was actually adopted it would signal a fundamental legal, psychological and practical shift in terms of how environmental degradation is prevented and natural resources allocated. Worth considering.