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20 Ways to Save Mother Earth and Prevent Environmental Disaster

Bolivian President Evo Morales, “the country’s first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish Conquest,” contributed the following article to Links—International Journal of Socialist Renewal (reprinted on Alternet).

Since the Industrial Revolution, Morales argues, the world’s Capitalist societies have worked to empower a very few while keeping billions in subjugation. At the same time, the rapacious growth of “developed” nations has helped put humanity on the path to destroying the Earth. The Kyoto Treaty has done little to curb carbon emissions—in fact, since the treaty’s signing, carbon emissions have grown by nearly 10% of 1990 levels. President Morales warns that we must attack the structural causes of climate change to avert further catastrophe. He proposes 20 steps humanity can take to save Mother Earth.

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 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 our 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 billion[4], 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[5] 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.

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 programs for adaptation to and mitigation of 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, in order to be effective, must count on a contribution of at least 1% of the GDP in developed countries[6] 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 (ODA), bilateral aid or aid channelled 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 programs 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 (GEF) 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, and not by the donors or bureaucratic administrators.

Read the whole article here.


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