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Climate change summit takes political twist

Climate change summit takes political twist

Evo Morales takes aim at developed countries, VP Boudou set to speak today

The real part of the climate change negotiations started yesterday in Lima as environmental ministers from dozens of countries joined their national teams in trying to lay the foundation for a new agreement to be signed in Paris at the end of 2015, pledging climate action beyond 2020.

Bolivian President Evo Morales took the spotlight at the United Nations summit as he pointed the finger at developed countries for their responsibility for climate change and suggested creating a world court to judge climate crimes. At the same time, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged for a radical shift to greener economies.

Argentina’s Vice-President Amado Boudou is set to speak today to explain the country’s stance on climate change. He will be among major regional leaders including Michele Bachellet (Chile), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia), and Enrique Peña Nieto (México). The summit will come to an end on Friday but negotiations over an agreement will probably carry on until late Saturday.

“Developing countries are the ones that struggle the most because of climate change even though they are the least responsible for it,” Evo Morales said, speaking alongside UN heads and several ministers. “After 30 years of negotiations, we haven’t reached any important climate change agreement. We have failed and now we are on the verge of the destruction of the Earth and the disappearance of the human species.”

Morales criticized developed countries harshly for “stealing the future” of the Latin American people and “committing genocide” against the Earth. At the same time, he described the climate change effects Bolivia is already experiencing, such as high temperatures, and predicted that future generations will end up “cooked” because of sweltering temperatures.

“We don’t know when it’s winter and when it’s summer in Bolivia. We get up in the morning with really high temperatures and the rural families that don’t have air-conditioning don’t know what to do. I get calls from them every day,” Morales said. “We feel betrayed by international agreements that end up not helping. People are tired of being deceived and they want real solutions to their problems.”

Morales said Latin America should have its own version of the World Court with an area focused on environmental crimes in order to “free the region” from developed countries. Furthermore, he said current economic policies should be changed and asked to put an end to capitalism as the environment “can’t be saved” if people “keep running after the money.”

“I ask the world to draw an agreement based on the protection of the earth and not based on capitalism. World leaders have to listen to the indigenous communities and take decisions based on them,” Morales said. “Developed countries have been stealing from us since colonial times and now they want to steal our future. But we won’t let them.”

Call to action

Alongside Executive Secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres and Peruvian Minister of Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern about slow action to combat climate change and told governments there was not “time for tinkering.”

Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times to thwart climate change effects but warned “the window of opportunity is narrowing fast.” At the same time, he called on countries to make pledges for the Green Climate Fund.

“We must deliver here in Lima a balanced, well-structured, and coherent draft text for the 2015 Agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations next year,” he said. “We must prioritize providing adaptation support and resilience building for the most vulnerable, especially the least developed countries and small island developing states.”

Meanwhile, Figueres said that never before had such an “urgency for transformation” been seen and encouraged countries to make ambitious decisions. She asked to “plant the seed” for a prosperous world and said “history will judge” the UN and the governments based on what they do to fight climate change.

“You have come to Lima to guide your negotiators as they converge on a pivotal decision to be adopted here and on how to take the draft from Lima forward to next year. I am confident you will do that,” Figueres told environmental ministers. “At another level, and perhaps more importantly, you have come to Lima to assume your undeniable role as leaders of the urgent present and stewards of our shared future.”

The high-level segment of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Lima will continue today with the speech of Vice-President Amado Boudou, who arrived yesterday and at press time was attending a dinner held by Peruvian President Ollanta Humala at the Grand National Theatre of Peru. Boudou’s speech is scheduled at noon and will come after addresses by Felipe Calderón, Peña Nieto and Bachelet.