By Cécile Barbière translated by Samuel White
Oct 30, 2015
The Bolivian government's slightly late national contribution to the COP 21 contains many radical proposals for safeguarding the future health of the planet, accompanied by the argument that capitalism is responsible for "consumerism, warmongering and [...] the destruction of Mother Earth".
Some 122 countries have now shared their national contributions to the international climate conference in Paris, where countries will attempt to reach an agreement that will limit the global temperature rise to +2°C above pre-industrial times.
The texts contain many different proposals for reducing CO2 emissions, financing climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts and transferring technologies to developing countries.
But the South American country led by Evo Morales took advantage of the alternative World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Defence of Life, held in Bolivia from 10 to 12 October, to advance some alternative ideas.
Bolivia, whose constitution already guarantees the respect of Mother Earth, holds "the failed capitalist system" responsible for climate change. "For a lasting solution to the climate crisis we must destroy capitalism," the national contribution states.
The Bolivian text does not stop at the denunciation of capitalism, but offers ten structural solutions to the climate crisis, including a guarantee for the protection of the rights of Mother Earth, the recognition by governments of the right to water and the elimination of technology patents in favour of a human right to science.
Another central proposal is the "establishment of an International Court of Justice for the Climate and Mother Earth," which would ensure that all countries fulfil their climate obligations.
International climate justice
The idea of international climate justice is nothing new in Bolivia. Evo Morales had already called for the establishment of an international climate court, at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009.
No international tribunal currently has the competency to judge climate crimes. As a result, climate justice is left to individual countries, and legislation varies considerably from one to another.
The Bolivian text expands on the idea of climate justice and proposes a system for sharing global greenhouse gas emissions. Using the estimate made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that 650 gigatons of CO2 emissions would lead to a temperature rise of 1.5°C by 2050, Bolivia proposed a carbon budget for each country, limiting its right to pollute.
This carbon budget would apply to both developed and developing countries, and would be based on a climate justice index defined by a country's level of development, its historic responsibility for climate change, its ecological footprint and its technological capacity.
Applying this index would allow the remaining carbon budget to be shared out fairly among developed countries, which are largely responsible for climate change, and developing countries, which are often its first victims.
According to Bolivia's calculations, this system would assign 11% of the remaining carbon budget to developed countries and 89% to developing countries.
Developed countries currently account for around 20% of the global population. But these countries (including the United States, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, etc.) emit four times more greenhouse gasses per inhabitant than developing countries.
Negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.
The 20th COP took place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and Paris is hosting the all-important 21st conference in December 2015.
The participating states must reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the object of which was to reduce CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012.
The EU’s contribution to the UN agreement is based on deal reached by EU leaders in October 2014. It sets out a binding emissions reduction goal of at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. The objective is described in the agreement as “a binding, economy-wide reduction target, covering all sectors and all sources of emissions, including agriculture, forestry and other land uses”.
Agreeing on a UN framework, whether legally binding or not, is the priority between now and December.