On the Way to Cochabamba

Climate change should not only be discussed and analyzed as a technical and scientific issue, rather as a political issue connected to the global capitalistic and consumer driven system that rules our societies. 

by Laura Fano Morrissey

On 19-22 April 2010 a very different kind of international conference will take place in Bolivia. The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, called for by Bolivia's President Evo Morales, will be held in the city of Cochabamba. The conference will gather more than 15,000 people ranging from scientists, government officials and representatives from civil society and social movements to find solutions to the issue of climate change.

The idea of holding this conference emerged after the failure of the latest UN COP15 conference in Copenhagen last December, where no concrete agreement to reverse the trend of climate change was signed. The COP15 did not set any concrete target on how to reduce CO2 emissions and only produced a mild agreement on investing more money in adaptation and mitigation without any binding rules and deadlines.

The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is indeed an absolute novelty in the international arena. For the first time, representatives of civil society will be discussing with government officials on a level playing field. Furthermore, one of the aims of the conference is to generate a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, thus elevating the rights of nature and the environment to those of human beings. This is also why the conference was scheduled to end on 22 April, which has been recognized as UN Day for Mother Earth. The central idea behind the event is climate justice. 

Climate change should not only be discussed and analyzed as a technical and scientific issue, rather as a political issue connected to the global capitalistic and consumer driven system that rules our societies. 98 percent of the people affected by climate change live in poorer countries with fewer means to protect themselves from changed weather patterns and more frequent natural disasters. This disproportionate percentage is even more striking if we think that those same countries contribute only 1 percnt to global CO2 emissions. What emerges then is the need to rethink the whole system of values on which our world is based.

As stressed by missionary Alex Zanotelli at a press conference held by the Italian NGO A Sud on 13 April in Rome, a cultural, human, ethical, spiritual revolution among the one billion rich people of the world is vital. Only through a global movement which demands fundamental changes in the way we live, will true ecological and social justice be achieved. 

 

Photo: mvhargan/flickr