Evo Morales on Climate Change

Some statements by the Bolivian president on the occasion of the Cancun climate summit:

“On the need to discuss the rights of nature:

“In past decades, the United Nations approved human rights, then civil rights, economic and political rights, and finally a few years ago indigenous rights. In this new century, it is time to debate and discuss rights of Mother Earth. These include the right to regenerate biocapacity, the right to life without contamination.”

On the need for new enforcement mechanisms to hold those responsible for climate change accountable:

“Laws must be complied with, which is why with much wisdom, the people have proposed creating an International Climate Justice Tribunal. We all know how important it is to create one to ensure compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.”

Against the use of carbon markets to prevent deforestation:

“We came to Cancun to save nature, forests, planet Earth. We are not here to convert nature into a commodity. We have not come here to revitalize capitalism with carbon markets.”

On the need for governments to respond to peoples’ demands:

“I am convinced that if presidents take on their responsibility, not to certain powers such as multinational companies, but instead to peoples and social movements, we can advance. Why don’t states here go to the Peoples’ Summit in Cancun, and listen to the concrete proposals of social movements who come here in representation of the victims of global warming? Why don’t we agree to a global referendum; take the historic decision of practicing global democracy, submitting ourselves to the demands of the people struggling against climate change and for life? If governments don’t act, it will be the people who will force their governments to act.

On Bolivia’s ‘radical’ position:

We are familiar with the slogan “Country or Death,” but it is better now to talk about “Planet or Death.” To try and look for an intermediary solution is to trick people. It is the major powers here that need to abandon their arrogance in the face of the peoples of the world. My experience as a social movement leader has been one of frequent attempts to isolate me by the major powers – something I am proud to do – but I will never isolate myself from the peoples.”

3 Comments Evo Morales on Climate Change

  1. AvatarChris Watkins

    I’m guessing some might be put off by the talk of “the rights of Mother Earth” – I know I wonder what exactly he means. So I think that it’s worth pointing out that this translates to very practical benefits. By protecting the Earth which is most fundamental to our existence (its continuation and abundance) we’re protecting ourselves. “the rights of Mother Earth” makes sense to me less as a philosophical construct and more as a practical, protective conceit. (I mean in the John Donne sense of conceit, as a clear image or idea – can’t think of a plain English term.)

    Re carbon markets, I’d need to see more of the context of the quote. I don’t know anything (except possibly research subsidies) which holds more promise for tackling climate change. But he may be right in the sense that we don’t wasn’t the agreements framed by groups with their own financial profit as their key goal.

  2. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    Hi Chris, have you seen any evidence anywhere of carbon markets actually working? After so many years of massively subsidizing the heaviest polluters, there has been no progress whatsoever. Should the survival of the planet depend on the same speculative mechanisms that gave us the 2008 meltdown. Alternatives are either straightforward carbon taxation, or commons-based cap and dividend schemes. I guess the Mother Earth ‘concept’ works best for those who still feel a spiritual connection to nature, as the native peoples of Latin America still mostly do, but for us secularists, who understand our complex interdependency with the biological matrix, it is still an appropriate metaphor for the rights of nature.

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