From Cochabamba: A World Movement of Social Movements to End Climate Chaos by Ending Capitalism

Article excerpt

I PARTICIPATED IN the Cochabamba conference on the Ecosocialist International Network panel, one of hundreds of autonomously organized events that paralleled four days of debate in eighteen working groups. I also spent two weeks with social movement activists in Bolivia gaining insight into popular transformations and the huge obstacles they confront. Among these are the growing dominance of a kind of shadow narco-state along with deep corruption, neo-fascist resistance from the displaced elite, entrenched capitalist relations, meddling "aid-funded" NGOs fronting for transnational corporations, religious fundamentalist entrepreneurs, and everywhere, damage from climate change. On the other hand, the astonishing energy of the diverse indigenous uprising promises a chance of victory. Having taken state power, the indigenous movements and their many allied organizations are trying to overcome capitalist factions in and out of government. To do so they recognize the imperative of international alliances. The Cochabamba gathering can be seen in this light. It accelerated the formation of friendships of solidarity among the exploding numbers of concerned citizens and groups worldwide who, with the BP spill as an accelerant, are now armed with both a manifesto, the Cochabamba Accord, and an Internationale, the Peoples' Movement.


Two crucial realities are fast gaining recognition. First, climate chaos due to the burning of fossil fuels is intensifying. And second, "green capitalist" responses are false solutions. These green capitalist scams can be advanced only through diplomacy that subverts transparent UN procedures requiring consensus. At the most recent government climate talks in December 2009 in Copenhagen, at the eleventh hour the U.S. and its allies illegitimately introduced a bribe proposal, which offered money to governments that accepted a 4[degrees]C increase in average global temperatures--an end to life as we know it on Earth--but allowed carbon profiteering to proceed. Although it is not an official UN document and has no status in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, this was the deceptively named "Copenhagen Accord." This shortsighted and irresponsible outcome galvanized social movements and certain governments, led by the eight Latin American states in ALBA, to take a stand for a fundamental, structural solution to climate change. (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America or ALBA, is an organization intended to socially, politically, and economically integrate nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Started by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004. ALBA now has nine member countries including Bolivia, Nicaragua, The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ecuador, Antigua, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.) The idea is to assert popular sovereignty at the next climate conference (COP16) in December 2010 in Cancun, where the world's governments will be tasked with determining levels of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that industrialized countries will enforce for the next five years (2013-2017) under the Kyoto Protocol.

In the wake of the Obama-engineered failure of the December 2009 Copenhagen negotiations Bolivia's indigenous president, Evo Morales, invited social movements and governments to the First Peoples' World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Between April 20-22, 2010, more than 35,000 people from 140 countries gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia and developed the People's Agreement, also known as the Cochabamba Accord. This consensus-based document puts forward fundamental solutions to the climate crisis. These solutions require people to take power and transform global social relations and our relations with nature. The World People's Movement that arose from the conference summarized the core demands of the Cochabamba People's Accord as follows:

1. A 50 percent reduction of domestic greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries for the period 2013-2017 under the Kyoto Protocol, domestically and without reliance on market mechanisms. …