Bolivia to file post-Cancun lawsuit | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 14.12.2010
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Bolivia to file post-Cancun lawsuit

Bolivia says it won't accept the agreement reached at the recent Cancun climate summit, calling it a 'hollow and false' victory. The Bolivian government is now planning to file a lawsuit in The Hague.

Activists demonstrate in the streets of Cancun over the climate conference

It's not only activists who weren't happy with the Cancun climate summit

While environmentalists generally supported the final accord reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, which came to an end last week, many still held reservations. Critics said that although the agreement represented a step forward in multilateral negotiations, it did not do enough to effectively combat climate change.

Yet few of the 194 nations in attendance at the Mexican summit opposed the final accord so vocally as the South American nation of Bolivia. The majority voted in favor of reaching some compromise and postponing further discussion to the next summit in South Africa.

"Bolivia has made it clear that the results of Cancun don't comply with the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change," Greenpeace expert Martin Kaiser told Deutsche Welle.

He said the accord neglected a significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions. "That's why Bolivia refused to support the decisions and is now asking for corrections."

On the second-last day of the summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales told a press conference that any failure to drastically curb emissions soon - would cause millions of preventable deaths.

"If, from here, we send the Kyoto Protocol to the rubbish bin we are responsible for ecocide and genocide because we’ll be sending many people to their deaths," he said.

Greenpeace activists form the word hope as a question with their bodies, next to a giant life saver, during a demonstration near the site of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico

Many climate experts are hoping for a better outcome at the South Africa summit

'A hollow victory'

The Bolivian envoy to the United Nations, Pablo Solon, called the final accord "a hollow and false victory".

"This has violated the multilateral rules," the diplomat said. "They didn't respect the consensus." Solon also revealed that Bolivia is planning to file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice in The Hague in order to oppose the document. He says the results of Cancun will see the Kyoto Protocol gradually replaced with another instrument that will hold industrial countries less responsible.

Right to the end of the almost two week-long summit, Solon had been demanding a 50 percent reduction of industrial countries' greenhouse gas emissions by 2017 compared to 1990 levels. He claimed that the summit's final resolutions would result in global warming of four degrees Celsius instead of the anticipated two degrees Celsius. Those extra two degrees, he said, would mean "genocide" and "ecocide".

A woman piles up wheat after harvesting at a farm in village Majra Khurd of Haryana state in India

Unchecked climate change would be a disaster for food security worldwide

The Bolivian delegation had hoped to reach an agreement limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.1 degrees Celsius. But the major industrial countries tended towards a limit of 2 degrees Celsius.

Other countries including Ecuador originally shared Bolivia's concerns, but by summit's end, even the country's traditionally close allies - including Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua - supported the summit's final document. Last year in Copenhagen, a handful of nations led by Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Sudan refused to ratify the conference’s climate accord over objections to the deal's treatment of developing nations.

Back to South Africa

According to Martin Kaiser, Barack Obama's role in this year's climate summit was "weak". He said that the refusal of the United States and other countries to make substantial progress would make the whole issue particularly complicated.

"Negotiations will continue to be difficult, but we can't wait any longer. Global warming is proceeding at a staggering pace," the Greenpeace expert said.

European Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard of Denmark gives a news conference ahead to Climate negotiations at Climate Change Conference in Cancun at the EU council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser says Europe did a bad job in Cancun

However, Kaiser says that the issue needs action, not words. "This time, Europe did a bad job," he said. "Europeans need to take up responsibility now and travel to South Africa with ambitious goals to reduce emissions. They need to offer a better basis for negotiations. And the United States needs to break up the issue's domestic stalemate, so that there is more room for compromise at international summits."

Environmentalists also agree that the coordination between the various member states needs to be improved, so that a final accord cannot be blocked by just one country. However, they think it's even more important that the major environmental polluters - about 22 states produce 80 percent of the poisonous gases - agree to take up more responsibility and work together to make a difference.

Autor: Eva Usi (ds)
Editor: Sophie Tarr

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