Bolivia seeks world climate poll

Stuart Munckton

27 March 2010

The Bolivian government is seeking to use the “people’s summit” it is organising in April to push for a global referendum on climate change, AFP said on March 17.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations Pablo Solon, a summit organiser, said: “The only thing that can save humanity from a tragedy is the exercise of global democracy.”

The People’s World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights will occur in Cochabamba over April 20-22. Thousands of people from around the world are expected to attend, including representatives of many social movements.

Solon said he expected participants from 94 countries and representatives from 70 governments. Solon said one aim of the summit would be discussing a possible global referendum on action to tackle climate change “with the goal of reaching two billion people”.

The summit is being organised in the aftermath of the failed United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, at which rich nations scuttled any chance of a binding global agreement for serious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

In a March 19 British Guardian comment piece, Solon said Bolivia “believed that Copenhagen marked a backwards step”.

“That is why, against strong pressure from industrialised countries, we and other developing nations refused to sign the Copenhagen accord and why we are hosting an international meeting on climate change next month.

“In the words of the Tuvalu negotiator, we were not prepared to ‘betray our people for 30 pieces of silver’.”

Solon said rich nations “did their brazen best to blame the victims of climate change for their own unwillingness to act”.

However, he pointed out that the pledges by the rich developed countries to emissions cus only equaled between 13.2% and 17.8%, “far below the required 40%-plus reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to less than 2C degrees”.

“The Copenhagen accord would actually allow for an increase in developed country emissions of 2.6% above 1990 levels. This is hardly a forward step.”

Solon said: “For rich countries, the key issues in negotiations were finance, carbon markets, competitiveness of countries and corporations, business opportunities along with discussions about the political makeup of the US Senate.

“There was surprisingly little focus on effective solutions for reducing carbon emissions.”

The need to directly involve the world’s peoples was the motivation for organising the “people’s summit” in Cochabamba, Solon said.

“Unlike Copenhagen, there will be no secret discussions behind closed doors. Moreover the debate and proposals will be led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and by organisations and individuals dedicated to tackling the climate crisis.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales has proposed five questions for a global referendum on climate change to be discussed at the summit. The proposed questions are:

1) Do you agree with reestablishing harmony with nature while recognising the rights of Mother Earth?
2) Do you agree with changing this model of over-consumption and waste that represents the capitalist system?
3) Do you agree that developing countries should reduce and reabsorb their domestic greenhouse gas emissions for the temperature not to rise more than 1°C?
4) Do you agree with transferring all money spent in wars and allocating it to a budget bigger than used for defence to tackle climate change?
5) Do you agree with setting up a Climate Justice Tribunal to judge those who destroy Mother Earth?

A “Draft Declaration of the Universal Rights of Mother Earth” has also been released and will be discussed at the summit. The draft, and more details of the Cochabamba people’s summit, can be read at the summit website,

Source: Green Left

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