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COP 20, 21: Shall we change the climate or the economic system?

COP 20, 21: Shall we change the climate or the economic system?

By Walter Chamochumbi (1)

Pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from 1994 to date 19 Conferences of the Parties-COP have been held under dissimilar political and economic contexts and in light of the global agenda that industrialized countries, The main responsible for the environmental and climate crisis continue to impose mitigation and adaptation policies and complementary agreements within the framework of the negotiations on the reduction of GHG emissions quotas. Thus, before COP 20 in Lima and COP 21 in Paris, it is worth wondering if the new Global Climate Agreement would be superior to the Kyoto Protocol, since the latter seems to be on the way without an objective and in-depth evaluation by the signatory countries of the reasons for its failure as a global agreement.

If we take as a background the inconsequential COP 19 of Warsaw 2013, where developed countries continued without recognizing their responsibilities and without making binding commitments to finance the mitigation and adaptation of the effects of CC in developing countries, we wonder why COP 20 and 21 would have to be substantively different in relation to this new Global Climate Agreement, when it is evident that despite the illuminating 5th IPCC report, the denialist and economically interested positions persist systematically on the part of the industrialized and emerging countries of the G-20 , main responsible in this matter. [1] In this context, the recent announcement of a supposed climate agreement between the United States and China, the two countries with the greatest responsibility for the problem of global warming, although it may be a positive sign, there remain several doubts about how much commitment they will be able to really assume in ahead.

Despite the little progress made by the international community in reaching a serious and binding agreement on the global climate, the prevailing official discourse persists around joining forces and political will to face the challenges of the fight against CC. The statements of Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, point in this regard: "I firmly believe that each of us can become a leader in the fight against climate change." [2], like the official speech of officials of international organizations and governments of the countries, as if the CC were a natural enemy that must be fought as part of a global crusade. A position that does not recognize the underlying issue, which does not reside in the CC phenomenon per se, but in the structural causes that cause it: the neoliberal economic system and the prevailing industrialization and development model of the countries, at the cost of resources of finite nature and the environment where native peoples and local communities live. Fundamental issue in question that has been picked up by activists and organized social and environmental movement of the "People's Summit against Climate Change" under the slogan: "Let's change the system, not the Climate", as an alternative social summit to the COP 20 from Lima.


Peru COP 20: Weak environmental institutions and social inequality

The outlook for COP 20 seems to complicate the actions of President Humala and that of the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), who arrive politically and institutionally weakened to consistently take on the challenge of leading the negotiations of the world climate summit, especially if we consider that Peru is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of CC and that there is little it can show to date in terms of an advanced national strategy on risk mitigation, adaptation and prevention mechanisms. There are initiatives in this regard, such as the draft CC Framework Law, which proposes to redefine the role of MINAM as the governing body of the CC National Strategy, as well as strengthen its institutional framework and enable the effective participation of civil society through aNational Commission of CC. Unfortunately, the approval of this and other initiatives from civil society is diluted in the Congress of the Republic due to the political calculation, the dispersion and divergence of interests of the political parties together with the lack of leadership and the capacity for dialogue on the issue of the nationalist bench.

Although the year 2014 the government of President Humala declared it as: "Year for the Promotion of Responsible Industry and Climate Commitment", the truth is that its management is far behind in the region in terms of policies, laws and regulations to favor of mitigation and adaptation to CC. According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) prepared by the Universities of Yale and Columbia of the United States, in its 5th report 2014 on performance in environmental policies of a nation in terms of impacts on health, quality of air, water and sanitation, water resources, agriculture, forests, fishing, biodiversity-habitat and climate-energy, indicates that Peru ranks 110 out of 178 countries in the world, and that at the level of Latin America it is far behind the Chile (29), Ecuador (53), Venezuela (57), Uruguay (70), Brazil (77) and Bolivia (87).

The national environmental institutional framework is very weak and centralist, and the nationalist government does not achieve consistent progress on the issue as it is more concerned with reversing the economic slowdown and subject to the factual powers and the neoliberal technocracy of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, than since The reductionist approach to the economy has been influencing the executive with a series of reactivating measures, at the cost of weakening and subordinating the role of MINAM and its competent bodies such as the OEFA.

Although the official figures are auspicious in terms of reducing poverty in the country, the nationalist government continues to face the possibility of reversing the indices of economic inequality and social exclusion in the different regions, such as areas where there are extractive projects for natural resources. and persistent indices of poverty, pollution and environmental liabilities. In fact, today there is a greater risk of conflict, because 20% of the national territory is concessioned for extractive projects of natural resources. Therefore, it is urgent to advance in planning and better ordering the territory, in order to reverse and prevent socio-environmental conflicts, apply redistributive policies and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as mitigation and adaptation measures to CC and variability extreme climatic conditions, which mainly affects the poorest populations in rural areas.

Economic growth versus environmental quality in the region: constant crossroads

Latin America continues to be one of the most unequal regions in the world, where the policy of prioritizing growth and the uneven distribution of economic income affect the link between the level of income per capita and environmental quality, this being the main negative factor that affects on the care and quality of the environment in the countries of the region. Thus, faced with the dysfunctional trade-economic growth relationship versus caring for the environment, it is necessary to deconstruct paradigms and fallacies that continue to gravitate within the framework of a deregulated free market and ensnare international negotiations on CC.

In the midst of a fluctuating international market, with the uncertainty of the economic crisis that does not end, governments of the left and right of Latin America continue to promote the increase of their exports based on non-renewable natural resources with little added value and high environmental cost. Hence, as long as they do not internalize the environmental variable in their government policies and programs and do not develop a sustained strategy of productive diversification and selective transformation, as well as having a strict framework of national environmental norms and regulations compatible with international standards, they will remain vulnerable and dependent economies. Especially today with the risks and effects of CC that make their economies more vulnerable.

Recent research has been investigating the relationship between the climate and social conflict with the country's levels of economic development, finding evidence that inequality is the cause of various conflicts in addition to those related to climate issues. In this sense, we require more inquiries, but above all to assume a new political attitude and stance, a critical and resilient thinking to analyze the traditional forms of relationship that have existed - and that persist - between natural and social systems versus the logic of freedom. market and the prevailing economic system. Relativize the fallacious economic thinking that trade is an end in itself from which growth and then environmental improvements are consequently dynamized.

Faced with the environmental and climate crisis derived from the prevailing economic model, it will be necessary to transcend the inertia of the neoliberal technocracy, which maintains a biased analysis of the evolution of the cycles of the global economy and the primary export model of natural resources. In this sense, we must project ourselves beyond political calculations and short-term populist measures, because neither the uncertainty due to the crisis nor the environmental conflict nor the social dissatisfaction will disappear by themselves.

Changing the rationale for easy profit in the exploitation of natural resources will not be easy, especially for a certain corporate corporate sector, public sector and politicians who follow a compulsive behavior after perverse objectives of the global economy. In this sense, the COP 20 in Lima is the propitious scenario to change the approach and analyze self-critically that the negotiations on the CC imply the discussions on the economic and social development model to follow in the face of the problem.

Social and environmental movement converge around climate justice and system change

The COP 20 scenario represents a unique opportunity for the germinal Peruvian environmental social movement (ecologists, indigenous people, trade unionists, OSB and other expressions of participatory democracy in the interior of the country) to overcome its local fragmentation, articulate and transcend its claims and demands by giving a convergent leap with the struggle of the peoples and world civil society, which demands climate justice and change the hegemonic economic system. The role that as civil society is able to influence around the points of the climate agenda to be discussed by the participating countries will depend on this.

In Peru, in recent years different social organizations and development entities, academics, politicians, and civil society actors have been putting forward a series of demands and proposals on the need to promote a set of important reforms in the Peruvian state. Redirect its role and relationship as a state-society, reassessing the scope and impacts of the neoliberal economic model, its social and environmental implications related to the country's economic growth, as well as the national and local context of the problem of inequality, poverty and development with inclusion .

The permanent conflict between the economy and the environment will not be resolved in the framework of COP 20 and 21, if those mainly responsible for this global climate crisis insist with the rhetorical discourse of sustainable development, green economy, eco-efficiency without assuming any self-criticism. and responsibility. In fact, it is necessary to change the development paradigm and lay the foundations for social and environmental change, implying its effective harmonization with a humanized economic policy. A new political and principled stance that questions and addresses the greater social and environmental gap that exists between the privileged minority sectors of the neoliberal economy and the large majority social sectors that continue to be excluded from the processes of modernization, development and inclusion in Peru and the world.


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