Bolivia is leading a last-ditch stand to achieve a binding agreement on climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention in the teeth of opposition from the US and Europe.
Through a mobilisation of global public opinion, including a world referendum on climate change, and with support from some other countries, Bolivia hopes to force the issue of binding limits on emissions and “climate justice” back on the agenda of the next round of talks in Mexico in December.
But more than 100 countries have signed up to the charade of the Copenhagen Accord, which abandons binding targets in favour of countries declaring their “intentions”. The argument is that the Accord and not documents drafted through the UN process, should form the basis for future negotiations.
New Zealand has suggested the Kyoto Protocol Working Group should cease to exist while the European Union’s latest proposal is for emissions reductions of between 30-70% from 1990 levels. European governments have, in effect, abandoned the fight against climate change in favour of growth at any cost.
Speaking in New York this week, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Pablo Solon said the fight to keep warming below 2 degrees has been discarded by the developed world, and that these countries seem to be ready to countenance even higher temperatures.
What is happening is that the developed economies are trying to push any substantive talks even further into the future, arguing that Mexico is too soon for agreement and that perhaps South Africa in 2011 is the place to make a deal.
Mexico should only address issues of mitigation, they say, and their desired outcome for the talks is that developing countries should sign up to emissions reductions. In return, a bit of money will be thrown at those most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. But this money will be guaranteed only through the carbon market.
There is huge pressure on small countries on the basis that if they agree, the paltry money pledged at Copenhagen will be handed over more quickly. It is like facing a robber who puts a gun to your head and stuffs a few dollars into your wallet at the same time. And when you take the dollars out later, you find they are fake.
A meeting in Bonn in April will set the basis for the Mexico talks, and the “77 plus China” group will continue to call for the UN process interrupted in Copenhagen, to be restarted. In reality there are big differences inside the G77, with India, China, Brazil and South Africa accepting that the substance of Copenhagen Accord should be brought into the talks.
Bolivia has set itself the goal of reaching two billion people with its global referendum, says Pablo Solon. It will probably contain a clause calling for an end to “capitalist consumer culture” to save the planet. Thousands of people are expected to attend the People's World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights from in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from April 20-22. Organisers say it is intended to "give a voice to the people" on climate change after the failure of Copenhagen. The results will be presented by Bolivia at the talks in Mexico.
"The only thing that can save mankind from a tragedy is the exercise of global democracy," insists Solon. Quite right, but the reality is that nothing can restart the UN Framework Convention process. The rich countries have definitively abandoned it.
However, we do have an opportunity to start building democratic structures in every country, and through co-operation globally, to challenge the right of the corporations to continue to call the shots for people, planet and production. We can confront not only capitalist consumer culture, but capitalism itself.
With our call for people in Britain to “hang on to their vote” at the General Election and instead focus on building People’s Assemblies, A World to Win is putting forward a model for setting out on this revolutionary road.