World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

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  • 28 Apr 2010
    Craig Collins

    Climate Equity: A Lost Cause?

    Last week, Bolivian President Evo Morales hosted a four-day summit on climate change - the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Attracting more than 35,000 delegates from social movements and organizations from 140 countries, this alternative summit gathered indigenous groups, scientists, activists and delegations from lower income countries - a sharp contrast from the diplomatic representatives of December's Copenhagen Accord. Craig Collins, author of Toxic Loopholes: Failures and Future Prospects for Environmental Law, weighs in on the mission, message, and political expediency of the Bolivian Accord. ----- The message delivered by the poor nations and climate activists gathered in Bolivia this week is undeniably just: The world desperately needs an effective climate agreement. Rich countries are primarily responsible for causing this problem and have reaped most of benefits of two centuries of fossil-fueled industrialization. Therefore, they must bear most of the costs of responding to climate change and overcoming the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. Only the callous or ethically challenged would dispute this position on moral grounds. But even though the South’s case for climate justice is ethically sound, it may be politically doomed. Power, not morality, is the currency of international politics. In the corridors of power, the moral high ground is nearly worthless without real leverage to back it up. And, when it comes to climate change, the South has very little leverage to wrest justice from the North.

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