Herve Kempf´s book, HOw the Rich Are Destroying the Planet, returned to my thoughts the other day. While looking for it, I found this piece on Chavez at the 2009 Copenhagen COP. One of my favorite statistics and discoveries about Chavez´s impact on Venezuela has been the tens of thousands of co-operatives incentivized since his first election and before and after the 2002 temporary coup. Venezuelanalysis.com has some detailed discussions of these events.
Chavez Slams Rich Nations at Copenhagen, Calls for Systemic Change to Save 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 emissions.
“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.