WPCCC: Mother Earth Needs Seat at Future Climate Talks

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by
Inter Press Service

WPCCC: Mother Earth Needs Seat at Future Climate Talks

Wanted: World Referendum, Climate Justice Tribunal

by
Franz Chávez

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia - A
world people's referendum on climate change will be held in April 2011
for the earth's peoples to decide how to address this global problem.

Although
it is hoped that some states will cooperate, the participation of
governments will not be essential to the referendum, as civil society organizations are to plan it according to their own lights and the
traditions and customs of each local area.

This was one of the final resolutions Thursday at the close of
the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of
Mother Earth, held in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba.

The definitive wording of the text may be modified, but the questions proposed for the referendum are:

a. Do you agree with re-establishing harmony with nature and recognizing the rights of Mother Earth?

b. Do you agree with changing the model of over-consumption and waste which characterizes the capitalist system?

c. Do you agree that developed countries should reduce and
reabsorb their domestic greenhouse gas emissions so that average global
temperature does not rise by more than one degree Celsius?

d. Do you agree to shifting all expenditure away from wars and increasing the budget for the defense of Mother Earth?

e. Do you agree with a Climate Justice Tribunal to bring to account those who destroy Mother Earth?

The conference, which formally opened Tuesday Apr. 20, adopted
a radical agenda intended to influence the official negotiations on
climate change carried out under the aegis of the United Nations.

The planet's average temperature must not be allowed to rise
by more than one degree Celsius this century, and therefore industrialized nation must cut their greenhouse gas emissions, which
cause global warming, by over 50 percent by 2020 compared with 1990
emissions, the resolutions affirm.

Industrialized countries -- regarded as responsible because of
their leading role in industrial development, which has caused climate
change -- are called on to pay the debt they owe for polluting the
world's atmosphere, on pain of legal action if they fail to honor this
obligation.

Among other proposals are the creation of a multilateral organization to manage environmental issues, international recognition
of the rights of Mother Earth, a ban on privatizing knowledge,
protection for climate migrants and the fullest respect for the rights
and freedoms of indigenous peoples.

About 35,000 people attended the conference at Cochabamba at
the invitation of Bolivian President Evo Morales, in an attempt to
strengthen the voice of global civil society at the forthcoming 16th
Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (COP 16), to be held in November in Cancún, Mexico.

"May the next meeting in Mexico not be in vain; may decisions
be taken for the benefit of all people," Morales said Thursday at the
summit, which closed with a mass rally attended by Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez.

The Venezuelan president proposed that the member governments
of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) should be the
vehicle to convey the Cochabamba resolutions to COP 16 in Cancún.

According to Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuance, the
35,000 participants included 9,254 foreign visitors from 142 countries,
and official delegations from 47 states.

Some 5,000 intellectuals and activists participated via online
sessions that culminated in the presentation of proposals by 17 working
groups on as many topics.

The traditional form of debate at official summits was
subverted in Cochabamba, where the focus was on analyzing the causes of
the climate crisis. And Morales, completing the vision, blamed
capitalism for the debacle.

The model of capitalist society is in crisis, and the alternatives are in the hands of the peoples, he said in his speech.

A sunny afternoon in the Cochabamba "Félix Capriles" football
stadium was the setting for the closing celebration and final speeches.

This April 22, designated Mother Earth Day by the U.N., also
saw the formation of a movement calling on the United Nations to adopt
a universal declaration of the rights of nature.

The Cochabamba resolutions rejected the classic pattern of placing conditions on financial aid to developing countries.

The world is experiencing a "great crisis" in which 75 percent
of greenhouse gases are emitted by 25 percent of its countries, the industrialized states, causing direct impacts such as droughts and
floods.

The Cochabamba conference also rejected carbon compensation
schemes, which are mechanisms to compensate the polluting emissions in
rich countries by means of projects that curb emissions in the
developing world, as well as carbon trading and other profit-based
financial mechanisms, saying these were irrelevant to the problem's
real solution.

The damage to nature is likely to be irreversible if the
earth's temperature continues to rise, and tens of thousands of people
may have to migrate when the glaciers melt and deserts expand, the
final declaration said.

The document demands the elimination of all new forms of
colonialism, and the adherence of rich countries to a new phase of
commitments to real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within the
framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

Participants at Cochabamba expressed their rejection of forest
conservation programs to compensate for carbon dioxide emissions, and
denounced attempts to expel peasant farmers and indigenous people from
land rich in natural resources and water.

"We condemn REDD (the United Nations Program on Reducing
Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing
Countries)," for violating the rights of peoples and the sovereignty of
states, and undermining the customs and traditions of original peoples,
the final document says.

The conference called for the creation of a climate justice
tribunal, with powers to prosecute persons or companies responsible for
pollution, and for a thorough reform of the U.N. to allow countries
that fail to live up to their greenhouse gas reduction commitments to
be put on trial.

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