(UN) The only effective way to stave off the life-threatening effects of climate change was to build a true consensus in favour of structural change in global consumption patterns with the participation of all the world’s peoples, Pablo Solón-Romero, Deputy Permanent Representative of Bolivia, said at Headquarters today.Speaking at a press conference on the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the United Nations, he emphasized the necessity of starting immediately to build a consensus that went beyond the December agreement reached in Copenhagen, which was limited to the views of a few countries. “Nine countries, as countries, have the right to think the way they do, but do not have the right to impose their views on the rest of the world.”
The so-called Copenhagen Accord was not an official outcome of the December meeting, which had only taken note of it, and therefore should not be promoted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, he continued. The People’s World Conference — planned for Cochabamba, Bolivia, from 20 to 22 April 2010 –- would create a context in which negotiations already on the table in Copenhagen would be joined by other topics raised by civil society, including the true structural causes of climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions were only the effects of a wasteful, unequal system of economics and consumption, he said, adding that the upcoming event would discuss what changes must be made to that model in order to reduce greenhouse gases in a way that was fair to all countries and peoples. The notion of the rights of Mother Earth was important because climate change not only affected countries, but also had a profound impact on nature.
He went on to say that the forthcoming Conference would consider how to develop human life in a manner more in touch with nature. It would also discuss the possibility of establishing a tribunal or other mechanism to hold countries and other entities accountable for their climate-change commitments, within the framework of the United Nations, because breaches should be considered serious crimes against humanity. “We cannot play with life and we cannot play with nature either,” he stressed.
In addition, he said, the Conference would consider the obligation of developed countries to provide for refugees and immigrants whose plight had been caused by their industrial policies. It would also discuss measures to allow the participation of all humankind in ecological policy, including the proposal for a global referendum, as proposed by President Evo Morales of Bolivia.
Responding to questions, Mr. Solón-Romero said the Conference would not be an official part of the legal negotiations building up to the major international meeting on climate change planned for Mexico City at the end of 2010. However, it would be part of what would hopefully be an effort to build a consensus on the issue from the ground up, including civil society and all 192 Member States of the United Nations. “The more meetings there are before Mexico, the better for building consensus,” he added.
Asked about the climate regime being proposed, he stressed that responsibility, rather than placing blame, was the important thing. The practices of industrialized countries had seriously affected people in developing countries and they should realize their responsibility. That responsibility was not limited to the monetary realm, although the $10 million offered by the industrialized countries was not significant, given that trillions were needed. “You cannot treat cancer with aspirins,” he pointed out.
A fair climate deal would also allow each country the proper use of its “atmospheric space”, which thus far had been dominated by industrialized countries, he continued. “Our space has been occupied. We want that atmospheric space back so that we can develop without doing more to harm the climate in the world.” A fair climate deal would also take into account how to re-establish harmony with Mother Earth, restoring the balance for a sustainable life.
Asked why the Conference was planned to coincide with International Mother Earth Day on 22 April instead of the earlier Earth Day established on 21 March 1970, Mr. Solón-Romero replied that people were already gathering in many venues around the world on that day. In addition, the phrase “Mother Earth” was useful because it recognized the need to treat the Earth with the respect due a mother, rather than treating it as a mere object.