Nicolás Maduro at COP27: “There is a connection between the environmental crisis and global poverty” By: People's DispatchRead Now
In his address to COP27, the Venezuelan president highlighted that capitalism was responsible for the environmental crisis and urged the body to move forward with climate financing
The 27th iteration of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP27, began on Sunday, November 6 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The gathering has brought together over 45,000 people from 196 countries, including 120 heads of state. Participants will have until November 18 to build serious, global solutions to address the pressing climate crisis in all of its dimensions.
On November 8, the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, addressed the gathering. Maduro did not participate in the last several COP summits, and this year’s participation comes amid a moment of warming relations between his government and countries of the Global North and the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. Until recently, many countries recognized the former deputy Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. However, in the past year, many of the recently elected progressive governments in Latin America have resumed formal relations with the legitimate government of Venezuela, and Global North countries have resumed relations amid the global energy crisis.
When he arrived at COP27 on Sunday, November 6, Maduro had announced that he would seek to propose a South American summit in defense of the Amazon with Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Brazilian president-elect Lula da Silva. The Venezuelan president’s speech highlighted the importance of recognizing that capitalism and its logic of overproduction and exploitation is the primary root cause behind the environmental crisis. He also called on those present to take urgent action on climate financing in order to support and protect those who are most impacted by climate change and are overwhelmingly those who have contributed the least to carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses. Maduro also highlighted the importance of preserving the Amazon rainforest and the Indigenous peoples who have for centuries inhabited and protected it.
Read the entire address of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change below:
The terrible environmental imbalances that today dramatically affect life throughout the planet seem to indicate that Climate Change -as it’s called with incoherent euphemism- is an irreversible fact.
Feared by many and denied by the elites, the dystopian scenario of which the scientific community, some world leaders and almost all social movements warned early on, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The greatest environmental crisis since life has existed. The climate crisis is an unavoidable reality that can only be confronted with concrete, urgent, and immediate actions.
It is doubly painful to have to admit, moreover, that the dimension of this crisis does not take us by surprise. Since the beginning of environmental diplomacy, there was sufficient data to declare an early emergency and act accordingly. That was three decades ago.
With the signing of the historic Kyoto agreement in 1997, an important consensus was reached on the reduction of the carbon footprint by industrialized and developing countries, which until 2009 yielded significant, albeit insufficient, results.
The Paris Agreement also aimed to improve the mechanisms that oblige developed countries to reduce their impact on global warming and, above all, finally gave a binding character to the contributions of science in this regard. But there were also painful stalemates and ruptures, such as those that occurred in 2009 in Copenhagen, where the unwillingness of the denialist elites to move forward at the right pace and in the right direction, that of life, became evident.
We still remember the police repression in the streets against the environmental movements and the corporate bureaucratic plots that were created since then to avoid us reaching agreements and firm commitments which would allow us all to build a sensible and relevant solution to the climate situation that is already in a critical phase.
We have lost much more than time: every hour, every month, every year of inaction, of hesitation, of indolence, translates today into destroyed ecosystems, extinct species and the deterioration of the conditions of a planet that had given us everything with generosity but that today begins to take a huge toll for the abuses committed.
Recognizing the failures of civilization in this area is the beginning of a radical rectification. Yesterday we were threatened by climate change, but today we are faced with a fatal destiny which is the complete collapse of the ecosystem. The most current projections say it: if we continue at this self-destructive pace, the planet will be uninhabitable in 30 or 40 years.
We know that this climate crisis has and will have definitive consequences on the planet, forcing us to modify our consumerist model of life.
The latest UN report on climate change, in which 14,000 scientists from around the world participated, warned that if greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane, and iron oxide are not reduced by 50%, the damage will be irreversible in just eight years. That is, by 2030 there will be no turning back from what we are experiencing: storms, hurricanes, rains, extreme cold, and heat that unexpectedly change the conditions of life and even more, compromise our existence. Global warming is wiping out species on earth and this seems to be unstoppable.
To mention an example: extreme heat could extinguish bees and if there are no bees the pollination cycle is interrupted, if there is no pollination plants do not reproduce and this would decrease oxygen.
Let’s look at the data:
– The average annual global temperature in the last 100 years rose 0.8°C and is expected to exceed 1.7°C for the next five years.
– Greenhouse gasses are at the highest levels in human history. This level, which had fallen in 2020, when the world was quarantined by the pandemic. In 2021, with the industrial and commercial reactivation, the level surpassed the record of 2019 which was approximately 12% higher than in 2010 and 54% higher than in 1990. In 32 years there was an increase that should have happened over centuries.
– Phenomena such as droughts and extreme rainfall are increasing accordingly and in a disorderly way: about 80% of natural disasters between 2001 and 2021 were related either to droughts or floods.
– According to estimates by climate experts, by 2050 the Arctic Ocean will be virtually free of sea ice for the first time in history and with a temperature rise of 2°C 99% of the world’s corals could be lost.
– Similarly, sea levels have risen about 23 centimeters since 1880, and almost half of that took place in the last 25 years. Each year, the sea rises another 3.4 millimeters.
– That rise is causing freshwater to become salty, compromising the water resources on which millions of people depend.
– Rising temperatures can attract deadly pathogens to freshwater sources and make it unsafe for human consumption.
Without a doubt, human civilization is responsible for the serious consequences that the planet is experiencing today. However, this statement is incomplete and would be hypocritical if it is not detailed that this civilization is profoundly unequal. It is made up of countries that have been indiscriminately exploiting the planet’s natural resources for two centuries, while others barely have enough to feed themselves and persist under a pre-industrial mode of production.
Venezuela is responsible for less than 0.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the Venezuelan people must pay the consequences of an imbalance caused by the major Western economies, who have polluted and continue to pollute the planet for the benefit of a few.
Existence as we know it has been forever disrupted to the detriment of all living species on the planet. The rate of extinction of the species that today make up the complex organism of biodiversity is accelerating and extending alarmingly, just as Commander Fidel Castro Ruz warned in that famous call of conscience he made 30 years ago at the Rio Summit in Brazil. I quote: “An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive liquidation of its natural conditions of life: man,” and prophetically warning the following: “Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago”. He also pointed out that savage and predatory capitalism is largely responsible for the threat against nature.
It will be useless, as it has been until today, any effort we undertake to alleviate the consequences of this environmental disaster, if we do not have the courage to recognize that this and this alone is the cause of the coming disaster.
In 2009 in Copenhagen, Commander Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías had the courage to say it plainly and directly. Allow me to bring some of his ideas here today. I quote: “What is the cause of climate change? The cause is the dream of seeking happiness through material accumulation and endless progress, using techniques with which all the earth’s resources can be exploited in an unlimited way” (…) “Let us not change the climate, let us change the system” he declared.
The imbalance and the environmental crisis created in nature are comparable to the conditions of inequality and injustice that capitalism has created against humanity. A system that normalizes exploitation among human beings has no ethical conditions to respect other forms of existence. Capitalism sees resources where other cultures see life and the sacred. It therefore feels entitled to possess and destroy everything in its path.
President, fellow dignitaries: It is necessary to reach real and effective agreements in the face of the structural problem but we must also design today, right now, a concrete agenda of actions to protect the vulnerable populations of the world, who suffer the most from the consequences of this environmental tragedy: famine, the loss of millions of homes, the proliferation of multiple diseases and the human displacements that have been causing desertification and the sinking of entire fertile territories.
Humanity cannot continue to be orphaned. It is necessary to materialize, without delays or bureaucratic obstacles, the fund for climate losses and damages that we have been talking about for some years now in previous summits. We must work on this urgent proposal down to the last detail. Let us fine-tune the mechanisms so that the financial assistance is direct, fair, timely and expeditious, so that compensation for environmental damage reaches the most affected peoples.
Any agreement reached today must attack the root of the problem and give attention above all to the most vulnerable.
It is necessary to take into account the singularities of the countries that make up the globalized world and to assign, according to their responsibility in the destruction of the environment, concrete tasks to save humanity and alleviate the effects of ecological imbalance.
The abysmal inequality between the countries of the so-called first world and the rest has increased and deepened in recent decades at the same pace as environmental destruction. There is a connection between the environmental crisis and global poverty. The indiscriminate exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources, in addition to producing environmental misery, is responsible for social misery on a planetary scale, since it exacerbates it. This cannot be ignored at the moment of creating drastic measures and effective plans to correct and regulate the activities of civilization for the future.
Finally, we advocate as a sovereign country for the protection of the Amazon: as the last great jungle of this planet where all the biodiversity, water resources and the living memory of the native peoples, who never in their millennia of existence have left an irreparable mark on that sacred soil.
On the contrary, it is the native peoples who teach us that nature is not a separate and inanimate being, separated from human beings, but our totality: we are the physical and spiritual extension of nature and nature is ours.
The ancestral and native cultures of an entire continent, from the Sioux of North America to the Yanomami of the South, conceived the earth as a living being that feels and thinks like us. Let us wake up to this truth and get out of the anthropocentric arrogance that prevents us from seeing the sacredness of the world.
Venezuelan men and women are not known for being pessimists. We have with us a tireless spirit of struggle and an immense love for life that elevates us to think of a new humanity, from a new spirituality. A humanity reconciled with nature, reconciled with itself and reconciled with the future.
As the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan said: “There are no more passengers on this spaceship called Earth: we are all crew members”. I know that there is not a man, nor a woman who is willing to see this beautiful adventure that can be the new humanity eclipsed. Nor will we sit back and watch the end of days.
Let the world count on these hard-working and hopeful people, ready to join forces with everyone to save the planet. The illusion of infinite development is over: let us now put a limit to the damage caused to Mother Nature.
Chairman, brothers and sisters:
The time for speeches is over, as well as the time for lamentations.
There is only one present to act radically and with certainty in favor of another possible world and a true life.
And even if the present is an instant in the eyes of eternity, it will be enough if there is a will to live.
Thank you very much.
This article was republished from People's Dispatch.