Opinion: Save the Planet from Capitalism

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Today, our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of

glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer; the extinction of animal and vegetal species; and the spread

of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases. One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are condemned to disappear by the increase of

the sea level.

Today, our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century

we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global

warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of

glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the

sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of

the world population live; the increase in the processes of

desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher

frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth

suffer; the extinction of animal and vegetal species; and the spread

of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases. One of

the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations

and territories are condemned to disappear by the increase of

the sea level.

Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave

birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so

called "developed" countries have consumed a large part of the fossil

fuels created over five million centuries. Competition and the thirst

for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the

planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under

Capitalism mother earth does not exist, instead there are raw

materials. Capitalism is the source of the imbalances in the world. It

generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions die

from hunger. In the hands of Capitalism everything becomes a commodity:

the water, soil, the human genome, ancestral cultures, justice,

ethics, death, and life itself. Everything can be bought and sold and

under Capitalism. Even "climate change" itself has become a business.

"Climate change" has placed all humankind before a great choice: to

continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path

of harmony with nature and respect for life. In the 1997 Kyoto

Protocol, the developed countries and economies in transition committed

to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below the

1990 levels, through the implementation of different mechanisms among

which market mechanisms predominate. Until 2006, greenhouse effect

gases, far from being reduced, have increased by 9.1% in relation to

the 1990 levels, demonstrating the breach of commitments by the

developed countries. The market mechanisms applied in the developing

countries have not accomplished a significant reduction of greenhouse

effect gas emissions. Just as well as the market is incapable of

regulating global financial and productive system, the market is unable

to regulate greenhouse effect gas emissions and will only generate a

big business for financial agents and major corporations. The earth is

much more important than stock exchanges of Wall Street and the world.

While the United States and the European Union allocate 4,100 billion

dollars to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they

themselves have caused, programs on climate change get 313 times less:

only 13 billion dollars.

The resources for climate change are unfairly distributed. More

resources are directed to reduce emissions and less to reduce the

effects of climate change that all the countries suffer. The vast

majority of resources flow to those countries that have contaminated

the most, to the countries where we have preserved the environment

most. Around 80% of the Clean Development Mechanism projects are

concentrated in four emerging countries. Capitalist logic promotes a

paradox in which the sectors that have contributed the most to

deterioration of the environment are those that benefit the most from

climate change programs. And technology transfer and the financing for

clean and sustainable development of the countries of the South have

remained just speeches. The next summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

must allow us to make a leap forward if we want to save Mother Earth

and humanity. For that purpose the following proposals for the process

from Poznan to Copenhagen:

• Attack the causes of climate change

1) Debate the structural causes of climate change. As long as we do not

change the capitalist system for a system based in complementarity,

solidarity and harmony between the people and nature, the measures that

we adopt will be palliatives that will be limited

and precarious in character. For us, what has failed is the model of

"living better", of unlimited development, industrialisation without

frontiers, of modernity that deprecates history, of increasing

accumulation of goods at the expense of others and nature. For that

reason we promote the idea of Living Well, in harmony with other human

beings and with Mother Earth.

2) Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption

–of luxury and waste – especially the excessive consumption of fossil

fuels. Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach 150-250 billions of

dollars, must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to develop

alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and

hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.

3) Agrofuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of

foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human

beings. Agrofuels expand the agricultural frontier destroying forests

and biodiversity, generate monocropping, promote land concentration,

deteriorate soils, exhaust water sources, contribute to rises in food

prices and, in many cases, result in more consumption of more energy

than is produced. • Substantial commitments to emissions reduction that

are met

4) Strict fulfilment by 2012 of the commitments of the developed

countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 5% below

the 1990 levels. It is unacceptable that the countries that polluted

the planet throughout the course of history make statements about

larger reductions in the future while not complying with their present

commitments.

5) Establish new minimum commitments for the developed countries of

greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40% by 2020 and 90% by for 2050,

taking as a starting point 1990 emission levels. These minimum

commitments must be met internally in developed countries and not

through flexible market mechanisms that allow for the purchase of

certified emissions reduction certificates to continue polluting in

their own country. Likewise, monitoring mechanisms must be established

for the measuring, reporting and verifying that are transparent and

accessible to the public, to guarantee the compliance of commitments.

6) Developing countries not responsible for the historical pollution

must preserve the necessary space to implement an alternative and

sustainable form of development that does not repeat the mistakes of

savage industrialisation that has brought us to the current situation.

To ensure this process, developing countries need, as a prerequisite,

finance and technology transfer. • An Integral Financial Mechanism to

address ecological debt

7) Acknowledging the historical ecological debt that they owe to the

planet, developed countries must create an Integral Financial Mechanism

to support developing countries in: implementation of their

plans and programmes for adaptation to climate change; the innovation,

development and transfer of technology; in the preservation and

improvement of the sinks and reservoirs; response actions to the

serious natural disasters caused by climate change; and the carrying out of sustainable and eco-friendly development plans.

8) This Integral Financial Mechanism must count on a contribution of

at least 1% of the GDP in developed countries and other contributions

from taxes on oil and gas, financial transactions, sea and air

transport, and the profits of transnational companies.

9) Contributions from developed countries must be additional to

Official Development Assistance, bilateral aid or aid channeled through

organisms not part of the United Nations. Any finance outside

the UNFCCC cannot be considered as the fulfilment of developed country’s commitments under the Convention.

10) Finance has to be directed to the plans or national programmes of

the different States and not to projects that follow market logic.

11) Financing must not be concentrated just in some developed countries

but has to give priority to the countries that have contributed less to

greenhouse gas emissions, those that preserve nature and are suffering

the impact of climate change.

12) The Integral Financial Mechanism must be under the coverage of the

United Nations, not under the Global Environment Facility and other

intermediaries such as the World Bank and regional development banks;

its management must be collective, transparent and non-bureaucratic.

Its decisions must be made by all member countries, especially by

developing countries, not by the donors or bureaucratic

administrators. • Technology transfer to developing countries

13) Innovation and technology related to climate changes must be within

the public domain, not under a private patent regime that obstructs and

makes technology transfer more expensive. 14) Products that are the

fruit of public financing for technology innovation and development

must be placed within the public domain and not under a private regime

of patents, so that they can be freely accessed by developing

countries.

15) Encourage and improve the system of voluntary and compulsory

licenses so that all countries can access products already patented

quickly and free of cost. Developed countries cannot treat patents and

intellectual property rights as something "sacred" that has to be

preserved at any cost. The regime of flexibilities available for the

intellectual property rights in the cases of serious problems for

public health has to be adapted and substantially enlarged to heal Mother Earth.

16) Recover and promote indigenous peoples practices in harmony with

nature which have proven to be sustainable through centuries. •

Adaptation and mitigation with the participation of all the people

17) Promote mitigation actions, programs and plans with the

participation of local communities and indigenous people in the

framework of full respect for and implementation of the United Nations

Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The best mechanism to

confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but

conscious, motivated, and well organized human beings endowed with an

identity of their own.

18) The reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest

degradation must be based on a mechanism of direct compensation from

developed to developing countries, through a sovereign implementation

that ensures broad participation of local communities, and a mechanism

for monitoring, reporting and verifying that is transparent and public.

• A UN for the Environment and Climate Change

19) We need a World Environment and Climate Change Organization to

which multilateral trade and financial organizations are subordinated,

to promote a different model of development that is environmentally

friendly and resolves the profound problems of impoverishment. It must

have effective follow-up, verification and sanctioning mechanisms to

ensure that the present and future agreements are complied with. 20) It

is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade

Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the

international economic system, in order to guarantee fair and

complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for

sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and

fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.

In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to

guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a

national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account

those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always

promoted the defense of Mother Earth. Humankind is capable of saving

the earth if we recover the principles of solidarity, complementarity,

and harmony with nature in

contraposition to the reign of competition, profits and rampant consumption of natural resources.