Venezuela Joins Climate Justice Advocates at Cochabamba People’s Summit

The Venezuelan delegation to the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, called for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and urged a systemic change from capitalism to socialism in order to stop global warming.

Leaders from Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela greet a crowd of s

Mérida, April 23rd 2010 ( – The Venezuelan delegation to the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, called for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and urged a systemic change from capitalism to socialism in order to stop global warming.

“Venezuela has brought together a delegation that exceeds two hundred revolutionary men and women, present here in the People’s Summit in Cochabamba, with the sole objective of consolidating this people’s proposal that is aimed at the ratification of the principles of the Kyoto Protocol,” said the Vice Minister for Environmental Conservation, Jesus Cegarra, on Venezuelan state television.

The Venezuelan delegation was made up of representatives from local water and land committees, communal councils, unions, government ministries, environmentalist organizations, and journalists.

Cegarra said the summit is meant to “unveil the imperial pretensions of the so-called Copenhagen Accord,” referring to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. “The responsibility for climate change falls not on the people, but on the governments of the countries with the largest economies,” Cegarra said.

At the Copenhagen conference, grassroots environmentalist groups were banned entrance, and a small group of the richest countries, led by the United States, produced a backroom non-binding deal that lowered emissions reductions standards, sidelined the U.N., and ignored the Kyoto Protocol. In response, hundreds of delegates from Global South countries walked out.

In a speech during the summit in Cochabamba on Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Global South countries must form a strong, united front in the upcoming U.N. climate conference planned for this December in Cancun, Mexico.

“In Cancun we cannot permit the imperial dictatorship to impose itself,” Chavez told a stadium with tens of thousands of conference participants. “We must go to Cancun to continue the battle of Copenhagen with greater fury… we are not going to allow the imposition of a document that does not include the voices of the people,” he said.

Echoing Morales as well as many conference participants, Chavez linked climate change to capitalism. “The climate crisis is much more than a climate crisis, it is a systemic crisis, it is the total crisis of the system, the model of capital,” said Chavez.

“Capitalism is a destructive model of development. It has brought us to the edge of an abyss, what could be the point of no return to the minimum environmental equilibrium necessary on the planet that guarantees the continuity of the existence of the human species,” said Chavez.

The summit in Cochabamba was attended by representatives of social organizations, indigenous peoples, national and international institutions, universities, non-profit organizations, political movements, religious leaders, and government officials from 28 African countries, 28 European countries, 17 Asian countries, 25 Latin American countries, 6 Oceania countries, and 3 North American countries, according to official figures.

The presidents of Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Paraguay, Fernando Lugo; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; and Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo were honored guests at the summit.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said the eight member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, an anti-imperialist trade bloc, will bring a proposal to Cancun in December that is “based on and fed by the proposals that came out of the seventeen working groups of the Cochabamba conference.”

Chavez suggested a special meeting of the ALBA nations, which include Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to “gather the proposals that come out of Cochabamba so that the ALBA may present them in Cancun.”

Conference participants praised President Morales for opening the space for a broad array of climate justice advocates to unite. “Morales’s call synthesizes what many social movements in Latin America have been proposing in a fragmented way,” Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts Director Lucio Cuenca told reporters from Tierramerica.

Summit Declaration

In a final declaration, the participants in the Cochabamba summit called for the richest countries that are most responsible for climate change to drastically and rapidly lower their emissions, pay reparations for the damage caused by climate change, and assist poorer countries with the transition to clean, renewable energies.

“The richest countries have an ecological footprint that is five times larger than what the planet is capable of tolerating,” the declaration said. It highlighted that U.S. per capita carbon dioxide emissions are nine times greater than in Global South countries, and 20 times greater than sub-Saharan Africa.

Because of this disparity in responsibility for climate change, rich nations must reduce their emissions to far below 1990 levels with the goal of maintaining carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to fewer than 300 parts per million and global temperature increases within one degree, the declaration said.

Rich nations must also create a fund, managed jointly with full participation by Global South states, to help poorer countries recover from the effects of climate change, restore forests and polluted waterways, pay for the resettlement of an estimated 50 million people forced to migrate due to the effects of climate change, and transition toward ecologically sustainable economic development, which includes full transfer of the intellectual property for new technologies. “It is the duty of the developed countries to share their technology with developing countries,” the declaration stated.

In addition, summit participants demanded the fulfillment of the U.N. declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights (which the U.S. and Canada have yet to sign) and the creation of an international court through which to judge and sanction “climate and environmental crimes” committed by “states, companies, and persons.”

Finally, the final declaration called for an end to the capitalist mode of production, which “seeks profits without limits, separates the human being from nature, and establishes a logic of domination over it, converting everything into a commodity,” the declaration said.

The declaration advocated that large-scale, intensive, mechanized agriculture be replaced by a “sustainable model” that “contributes to solving the problem of climate change and assures food sovereignty, understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and food production, guaranteeing, through culturally appropriate production in harmony with Mother Earth, peoples’ access to sufficient food.”