Bolivia to Host Climate Summit for the People

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Bolivian President Evo Morales has called for an alternative climate-change conference, this one involving governments as well as non-governmental organizations, indigenous groups, scientists, and environmentalists.


Bolivian President Evo Morales wants a followup climate-change conference to unite nations that want a stronger agreement.

Photo by Paulo Filgueiras / United Nations

Following the weak, nonbinding Copenhagen Accord that came out of the United Nations climate negotiations in December, the World Conference of the People on Climate Change aims to unite nations that want a stronger agreement. Heads of state from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are expected to attend the conference in April in Cochabamba.

The conference will explore the issue of climate debt, the idea that industrialized nations—those most responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions—should give substantial aid to the poorer countries that most often suffer the consequences of climate change. Also on the agenda is the proposal of an international court for environmental crimes, which could try nations for crimes against nature, such as the dumping of toxic waste or the destruction of natural resources.

Bolivia was one of five countries to block a consensus on the Copenhagen Accord, claiming a small group of wealthy nations had drawn it up in secret. Many saw Morales as a roadblock to an agreement. Along with advocating for climate debt, he challenged the conference to hold global temperature increases at 1 degree Celsius (as opposed to the 2-degree limit the conference decided upon). This stricter limit on temperature increase would require a far faster and more costly response from industrialized nations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Our objective is to save [all of] humanity and not just half of humanity,” Morales said in a speech at Copenhagen. “We are here to save Mother Earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to under 1 C. [Above this] many islands will disappear, and Africa will suffer a holocaust.”

—Margit Christenson is a freelance writer based in New York City.

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