Venezuela Pledges to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 20% at Paris COP21

Venezuela also called on countries in the global North to take historic responsibility for their role in climate change. The country’s chief envoy, Claudia Salerno, was also invited to write the preamble to the COP21 climate change treaty.


Caracas, December 15th 2015 ( – Venezuela has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2030 – provided that countries in the global North take historic responsibility for their role in climate change.

The figure, which dwarfs other countries’ voluntary emissions contributions, is outlined in its 38 page INDC (intended nationally determined contributions) submitted to the United Nation’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) by Venezuela’s chief envoy to the COP and longtime diplomat, Claudia Salerno, last Saturday. 

The summit began in Paris at the end of November with the aim of hammering out a new international 2030 climate deal in the face of increased global warming. A new agreement was finally negotiated this past Saturday evening. 

“This Paris agreement is victory #COP21 The time for diplomacy is over and the time to nationally implement our INDC begins” tweeted Salerno.

Venezuela says that its 20% commitment is contingent on financial donations and the transfer of technology from wealthy nations, which must take responsibility for their prodigious role in causing climate change and environmental damage. It also demanded an “effective” but “just” climate deal, which respects the desires of “developing” countries to reduce poverty and choose their own path to development. 

“Climate change is one of the facets of the global environmental crisis generated by the owners of production and excessive and unsustainable consumption in developed countries. Consequently, only a modification of these owners will constitute a true and lasting solution to the environmental crisis,” it states. 

In its INDC, Venezuela also calls on world leaders to recognise climate change as one of the “clearest demonstrations of the crisis of capitalism” and to transcend this model in all aspects. 

“Capitalist values must be replaced by values based on justice, solidarity, community life, harmony with nature and respect for its cycles, respect for the spirituality of the people, respect for indigenous and campesino values and knowledges. In order words, by eco-socialist values,” reads the document. 

The government also outlined its achievements to date, as well as its future plans to combat climate change and its effects.

Among its environmental accomplishments, the governments listed an extensive reforestation plan, 200 socialist recycling factories, the implementation of a modern public transport system and a 12% reduction in electrical usage in the public sector and 8% in the private. 

Its INDC includes consolidating these achievements, as well as investing in clean energy, recycling, a public and community led campaign for efficient energy and water usage and the inclusion of environmental issues in the national curriculum. The document also highlights the importance of drawing on the ancestral knowledge of Venezuelan indigenous groups in order to produce sustainable technology and production. 

Venezuela’s stance at the Paris COP reflects a marked change from talks in Copenhagen 2009, when several Latin American governments refused to sign a potential treaty in protest at its co-optation by transnational companies and its lack of dialogue with the global South. 

Since then, the Venezuelan government has made an effort to channel global environmental groups’ voices into climate change negotiations. In 2014, it organised a “social pre-COP” summit of global ecology movements on the Venezuelan island of Margarita and handed over their proposals to the UN. 

Salerno’s work in bridging the gap between official negotiators and social movements appeared to be recognised by the French COP presidency’s – who invited her to write the preamble for the new 2030 accord. 

The one page introduction mentions gender equality, human rights, the rights of indigenous people, climate justice and the need to protect Mother Earth.

She also formally thanked deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who played a leading role rejecting the conditions of the 2009 Copenhagen talks. 

“Today we have produced something much better, after 6 years,” she stated. 

While ostensibly falling short of a the radical deal hoped for by many environmental activists, 195 countries agreed to keep global temperature rises to less than 2C and wealthy nations will be obliged to provide US$100 billion in funding to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels. 

Salerno hailed the Paris deal as an important compromise, as well as the world’s “greatest diplomatic success”.  

Nonetheless, she appeared to criticise the treaty for failing to bind governments into a fixed reduction of their emissions in favour of “voluntary contributions”. 

“There are no targets, just a compilation of voluntary contributions, as Obama wanted,” she tweeted in a reply to one of her followers, Raul Estrada Oyuela.