Thursday, 17 December 2009


Chavez Slams Rich Nations at Copenhagen
Calls for Systemic Change to Save Planet

Published on December 16th 2009, by Kiraz Janicke -

During his speech to the 15th United Nations Climate Change
Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez slammed the “lack of political will” of the most
powerful nations to take serious action to avert climate
change, and called for systemic change to save the planet.

Chavez, who received a standing ovation for his speech,
said the process in Copenhagen is “not democratic; it is
not inclusive.” In particular, he criticised an attempt by
rich countries to overturn the Kyoto Protocol. Doing so
would eliminate differentiation between the obligations of
rich and poor countries, treating countries from the Global
North and South as equally responsible for climate change.

“There is a group of countries that believe they are
superior to those of us from the South, to those of us from
the Third Word… this does not surprise us… we are again
faced with powerful evidence of global imperial
dictatorship,” Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president also applauded the initiative of
the protesters outside the summit who were calling for
serious measures to stop catastrophic climate change.

“There are many people outside... I've read in the news
that there were some arrests, some intense protests there
in the streets of Copenhagen, and I salute all those people
out there, the majority of them youth… They are young
people concerned for the world’s future,” he said.

“I have been reading some of the slogans painted in the
streets… One said, ‘Don’t Change the Climate, Change the
System!’ – And I bring that on board for us. Let’s not
change the climate. Let’s change the system! And as a
consequence, we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism
is a destructive development model that is putting an end
to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the
human species.”

Another notable slogan is, “If the climate were a bank,
they would have bailed it out already,” Chavez said during
his speech. “It’s true; the rich governments have saved the
capitalist banks,” he said, but they lack “the political
will” to make the necessary reductions to greenhouse

“One could say there is a spectre at Copenhagen, to
paraphrase Karl Marx… almost no-one wants to mention it:
the spectre of capitalism,” he declared.

History requires all people to struggle against capitalism,
and if we don’t, life on the planet “will disappear,” the
Venezuelan president argued.

“Do the rich think they can go to another planet when
they’ve destroyed this one?” he asked as he recommended a
copy of a book by Hervé Kampf, “How the Rich are Destroying
the Planet.”

“Climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating
environmental problem of this century. Floods, droughts,
severe storms, hurricanes, melting ice caps, rise in
average sea levels, ocean acidification, and heat waves,
all of that sharpens the impact of global crisis besetting
us,” he continued.

Human activity is exceeding the limits of sustainability
and endangering life on the planet, but the impacts of
climate change are also being felt disproportionately by
the world’s poor, Chavez explained.

He also pointed to the relationship between economic
inequality and levels of greenhouse gas emissions. He said
the richest 500 million people, or 7% of the world’s
population, are responsible for 50% of global greenhouse
emissions, while the poorest 50% of the worlds population
are responsible for only 7% of total emissions.

Using this analysis, he argued that it was not feasible to
call countries such as the U.S. and China to sit at the
summit on an equal footing, insisting that the same
obligations can not be imposed on both nations.

The U.S., with a population of 300 million, consumes more
than 20 million barrels of oil a day, while China, whose
population is almost five times greater than that of the
U.S., consumes around 5-6 million barrels a day, he pointed

The behind-the-scenes negotiations at the summit have been
marked by sharp disputes between the U.S. and China, and
between rich and poor nations. Poor countries have
criticised rich countries for attempting to set inadequate
emissions targets for industrialised countries and for
pledging insufficient funding for poor countries to
alleviate the impacts of climate change.

According to various reports, poor nations argue that rich
countries should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by
40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The European Union
has pledged a 20 percent reduction. The U.S. however, has
only offered only a 3-4 percent cut.

Outside in the streets of Copenhagen mass demonstrations
calling for “climate justice” have been repressed by police
using pepper spray and batons. More than 1000 people have
been arrested.

“We ask from Venezuela: How much longer are we going to
allow such injustices and inequalities? How much longer are
we going to tolerate the current international economic
order and prevailing market mechanisms?” Chavez questioned.

Chavez called for the summit to change direction. “We
cannot continue like this. Let’s change course, but without
cynicism, without lies, without double agendas, no
documents out of the blue, with the truth out in the open,”
he said.

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