ALBA statement on Copenhagen climate summit

The following statement was issued by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) late on December 18 in response to the results of the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit.

We, the countries that make up ALBA, denounce before the world the threat that the results of the United Nations Conference in Copenhagen pose for the destiny of humanity.

In the first place, the process of negotiations was corrupted by the violation of the essential principles of the multilateral system. This undemocratic process has not recognised the equality of all, was dishonest, not very transparent, and exclusive. It was designed to guarantee the positions of a small group of countries.

Our response to climate change must be in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. This process has lacked legitimacy; it has violated all the principles of multilateralism and the United Nations Charter, above all those of sovereign equality between all countries.

The main characteristic of this unfortunate failed meeting is that a very small group of countries, coordinated and convoked by Denmark, have been for the last few weeks writing an accord that they have unilaterally named “interested parties”, excluding the large majority of the world, establishing first class and second class countries as criteria.

While the chair of the Summit sent countries to take up the groups again, in order to continue editing and cleaning up the texts that were approved by the participants as a basis of negotiation, at the same time, the Danish prime minister convoked the presidents of a group of countries to edit a document behind our backs.

Further evidence of the exclusive nature of this event is the call of a group of Presidents behind closed doors, without participation of the majority and without explaining the criteria behind the selection.

It’s clear that we can’t consider the issue of climate change without considering changing the system. The model of capitalist production and consumption is bringing life on the planet to the point of no return and to a crucial moment in human history, and the debate in these situations can’t be reduced to the economic interests of a small group.

Until now very little has been achieved, however it is important to preserve the current climate agreements: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. They are important platforms for advancing the defence of life. Here we have an important world political accord, where all of us agree that climate change is a problem that has to be urgently addressed, and where the countries who are historically responsible for the problem have agreed to commit themselves to reducing emissions by amounts that allow the problem to be addressed.

The current scenario is seeing all this take a big step backwards, and requires us to forget the Kyoto Protocol. In this summit we haven’t managed to write accords that address the obligations of the developed countries: to establish aims of reducing emissions or to establish a second period of commitments for the Kyoto Protocol.

There are offers on the table, but none of them compare. The United States doesn’t want to commit itself on the basis of the efforts of other developed countries. The developed countries came to this meeting with a prior agenda, and they are violating every democratic proceeding in their attempt to impose it.

In the Bali Plan of Action, approved in 2007, it was agreed that the developed countries would have obligations of mitigation, to which they would add voluntary actions of mitigation of the developing countries.

Now, the developed countries have dedicated themselves to misunderstanding the Bali Plan over the last two years, in order to try to use this manifestation of our will to unite our efforts as a way of transferring their obligations to us. The efforts and will to mitigate of the developing countries can’t be used as a way to manipulate us and tell us, after they have destroyed the world, that now its our turn to mitigate so that they can continue contaminating and destroying on the basis of their patterns of exploitation, production, and consumption.

There is also the issue of principles here. We, the developing countries, are dignified and sovereign nations and victims of a problem that we didn’t cause. This moral principle, based on historic responsibility, is the reason why the developed countries should provide sufficient resources for the complete implementation of the principles of the Convention.

The environmental crisis as a result of the increased temperatures of the atmosphere is a consequence of the capitalist system, of the prolonged and unsustainable pattern of production and consumption of the developed countries, of the application and imposition of an absolutely predatory model of development on the rest of the world, and the lack of political will for the full and effective fulfillment of the commitments and obligations of the Kyoto Protocol.

Developed countries have over-exploited the atmospheric space. This climatic debt in the widest framework of ecological debt includes an emission debt as much as it includes an adaptation debt that should be honoured by developed countries. It’s not about charity or a handout, but a judicially bound obligation.

Category 1 countries accumulated a total of [US]$1123 billion in military expenses in 2008. The United States spent $711 billion in 2008, according to the budget for the 2009 financial year, which includes $170 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the world knows that they have the capacity, but what they don’t have is the political desire to respond to their international commitments and obligations to struggle against climate change. They are trying to use and abuse the needs of the poorest in order to force illegal accords.

Today, through the carbon markets, those who cause climate change, continue contaminating, while the weight of emissions reductions transfers to the developing countries. They thought that in Copenhagen they could convince us to buy their right to contaminate, in exchange offering promises of paltry amounts of money.

We strongly denounce and we request that the documents generated by the chair of the summit without the mandate of the participants, be contested, and that we can state our position against the groups of friends of the chair openly. The chair has not guaranteed equality of participation at all levels, including the presidential level.

We reiterate our commitment to the struggle against climate change and to the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, now more valid than ever, whose content we consider capable of improvement with the decisions of the participants, and subsequent accords, but something that we shouldn’t allow to die. The complexity of the recent negotiations has shown us that the economic interests in conflict wont allow an accord if the developing countries won’t accept respect for the principles. In this sense, we express our political desire to continue working in the framework of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. The relaunch of these negotiations should be based on respect, inclusion, transparency, and legitimacy.

We recall that while the conference failed in an irreversible way, the voices of the youth who know that the future is theirs, grows stronger. They strongly denounce the maneuvers of the developed countries and they know that the struggle will continue. We join with them and their protests, and we salute and support them. The people must stay on their guard.

Today more than ever, before the lamentable maneuvering that has been practiced in Copenhagen for petty economic interests, we reiterate, “Don’t change the climate, change the system!”.

[Translated by Tamara Pearson for]