In April 2010 over 35,000 delegates from social movements and organizations from over 140 countries gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.
The meeting produced the People’s Agreement on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth — a statement of solidarity for a fairer and safer solution to the climate crisis and its root causes.
The Agreement calls for a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. It says to face climate change:
… we must recognize Mother Earth as the source of life and forge a new system based on the principles of:
- harmony and balance among all and with all things
- complementarity, solidarity, and equality
- collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all
- people in harmony with nature
- recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own
- elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism
- peace among the peoples and with Mother Earth
The World People’s Conference responded to the failure by political leaders to secure a fair and effective outcome at the December 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen conference ended in acrimony after a few countries sought to impose their will on the majority through a secretive process leading to the controversial Copenhagen Accord.
The Copenhagen Accord, negotiated by around 30 countries outside the formal UN process, was tabled by the Danish Prime Minister after midnight on the final day of negotiations. Over 160 countries were offered just one hour to review it.
This led to a major outcry and the Conference ended merely “noting” not “adopting” the Accord.
The process and substance of the Accord were heavily criticized. Tuvalu asked whether they were being asked to betray their future for “30 pieces of silver”.
Scientists have subsequently calculated that the pledges contained in the Copenhagen Accord could lead to warming of up to 4 degrees C.
The UN Climate Convention Secretariat has now confirmed that:
… since the Conference of Parties neither adopted nor endorsed the Accord, but merely took note of it, its provisions do not have any legal standing within the UNFCCC process even if some Parties decide to associate themselves with it.
The Copenhagen Accord represents the intent of a few to impose their will on the many. It is an artifact of the system that has led to the present crisis.
The People’s Agreement calls a more participatory approach centered in human rights and the rights of Mother Earth. It recognizes that:
We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.
The model we support is not a model of limitless and destructive development. All countries need to produce the goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their populations, but by no means can they continue to follow the path of development that has led the richest countries to have an ecological footprint five times bigger than what the planet is able to support.
It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.
The People’s Agreement — and the Working Groups Reports that underpin it — provide a vision of a more just and effective response to climate change.
The Government of Bolivia has submitted the main content of the People’s Agreement to the UN Climate Convention, and its provisions are now reflected in the negotiating text. These include demand on:
- Reducing emissions by more than 50% for 2017
- Rights of Mother Earth
- Full respect for human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and climate migrants
- Formation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal
- No new carbon markets
- 6% of GDP in developed countries to finance climate change actions in developing countries
- Lifting of barriers to intellectual property that facilitates technology transfer.
- No commodification of forests
The fate of these demands — reflecting the will of over 35,000 delegates of social movements and organizations from over 140 countries — is now on the table in the negotiations. Defending them is a central cause of the climate justice movement in the run-up to the December 2010 UN climate conference in Cancun and beyond.