Delegates from around the world are gathering in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba as the momentum builds for the start on Monday of the historic World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth called by the country’s president, Evo Morales.
An anticipated 15,000 people, including many indigenous and local groups, will be joining political leaders, scientists and academics in response to Morales’ impassioned call following the abject failure of December’s Copenhagen Summit. Outspoken Hollywood actors Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Robert Redford have said they will be there to join leading climate scientist James Hansen and Avatar director James Cameron.
Two climate scientists who will be travelling to the Cochabamba conference have spoken out at the increased threat posed by climate change. Veli Albert Kallio and John Nissen warned of much more rapid global warming in the polar regions than is generally understood. They were present at a meeting hosted by the Bolivian ambassador in London, Maria Beatriz Souviron-Crespo, which A World to Win also participated in.
The ambassador herself denounced a $3.5m reduction cut in US aid as “extortion” and “punishment” for Bolivia’s and other countries’ refusal to sign up to the worthless Copenhagen accord which had been secretly concocted by 28 leaders, including the US, Brazil and China, behind the backs of the majority of the delegates – African and island nations in particular.
“We think Copenhagen is a step back from the Kyoto protocol of 1992. Two degrees [of warming] is not enough to save the world. The consequences will be devastating, mainly for small island nations and the poorest countries of the world,” Souviron-Crespo warned, saying that the world was sleepwalking to disaster.
She backed Veli and Nissen’s accusations that governments were putting pressure on climate scientists to tone down their findings. Veli is a respected environmentalist and geophysical researcher, founder of an organisation to protected the frozen isthmuses in the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. He has predicted that a massive destabilisation of the Greenland ice mass is imminent and could threaten major cities, including London.
Both scientists indicated that UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s own investigators were not facing up to the seriousness of the fact that arctic sea ice was disappearing at a much faster rate than has been previously thought. Nissen, who researches geoengineering solutions to global warming, insisted that a much more rapid emissions reduction was needed action to slow down Arctic warming. “The current Copenhagen course is suicidal,” he warned.
Also this week, dramatic evidence of global warming came in the southern hemisphere - far nearer to Cochabamba – when a chunk of a Peruvian glacier fell into an Andean lake. The piece of ice, which was the size of four football pitches, caused a tsunami.
Peru’s tropical ice fields have retreated by 22% since 1975, according to a World Bank report, and warmer temperatures are expected to erase them entirely within 20 years. The disappearance of the Andean ice sheets would threaten hydro-electric power supplies.
The Cochabamba conference is aimed at mobilising people in every country to act on climate change because the major economies have made it clear that enforceable reductions in carbon emissions are simply not up for discussion. Uniquely, the conference will also discuss the underlying causes of climate change, which centre on the capitalist system of production for profit. A World to Win has made its own contribution to this crucial discussion at what promises to be a landmark conference.