Document approved by the working group on Climate Debt, during the World Conference of Peoples on Climate Change and the Rights of mother Earth, Bolivia, April 2010
1. Climate Debt Concept
Climate debt is an obligation of compensation that is generated because of the damage done to Mother Earth by the irrational emissions of greenhouse gases. The primary responsible for these irrational emissions are the so-called “developed countries.” inhabited by only 20% of the world population, and which emitted 75% of historical emissions of greenhouse gases.
These states, which stimulated the capitalist development model, are responsible for climate debt, but we shouldn’t forget that within these states, there live poor and indigenous peoples which are also affected by this debt.
The most affected are the poorest developing countries, future generations and our Mother Earth.The colonization of atmospheric space has produced climate change, which poses a serious threat to the islands, coastal areas, glaciers in the Himalayas, the Andes and the mountains of the world, the poles of the earth, hot regions like Africa, water sources, growing natural disaster—affected populations, plants and animals, and ecosystems in general, generating climate debt.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change recognizes that obligation by affirming that developed countries are historically responsible for those emissions, and in sustaining that they should take the initiative to combat climate change. This fact is expressed in the existence of the Kyoto Protocol, under which countries obligated to reduce greenhouse gases are the developed countries listed in Annex 1 of the Convention.
2. Climate Debt Components
The responsibility for the climate debt of each developed country is established in relation to the level of emissions, taking into account the historically emitted amount of tons of carbon per capita.
a. Emissions Debt We understand as the emissions debt the over-use of space atmospheric by greenhouse gases pollution by developed countries, taking into account the equal rights of all countries in the world to have access to the use and enjoyment of atmospheric space. Developed countries must compensate as follows:
- They are required to reduce high concentrations of greenhouse gases they caused,
- They also have to reduce their emissions and absorb greenhouse gases,
- They must ensure a space for development for poor countries.
We express our rejection of the fact that developed countries decide to choose freely how deep cuts they intend to do, as proposed in the Copenhagen Accord.
b. Development Debt Developing countries are entitled to the same opportunities for development, to provide basic services to the entire population, and a degree of industrialization which allows the country’s economic independence; But this development must not harm the environment and atmosphere. To achieve this development within a highly restricted access to the atmospheric space, they need access to all technologies -according to their worldview — for the development and funding required for it implementation. Among the technologies we require are: recycling of waste materials, improvement of traditional techniques with new technologies, access to clean energy sources— solar, wind and biogas digesters, forms of protection against natural disasters, research into vaccines and medicines diseases enhanced by climate change, among others.
c. Adaptation Debt The impacts of climate change make the rain loose its seasonality, loss of fresh water sources, increased hail, frost, droughts, floods. They decrease crop and livestock production. The population is suffering from an increase in various diseases. These impacts have many implications on economical and development level, wherefore those who caused the climate crisis have the responsibility to compensate all damages, through: investing (with funding and technology) in the prevention of major impacts, full compensation for the negative impacts that actually happen and compensating opportunity costs, which involve the deviation of development funds, among others.
d. Migration Debt Due to climate impacts, millions of people find their own land uninhabitable, converting them into climate migrants. The compensation of the migration debt implies that the so called ‘developed’ countries must drop its restrictive migration policies, receiving them in their countries with dignity, and recognition of their human rights and cultural rights.
e. Debt to Mother Earth The debt to Mother Earth is impossible to compensate completely, because the atrocities committed by humanity have been too terrible. However, the minimum compensation of this debt consists in:
- recognition of the damage done,
- the restoration of harmony with Mother Earth
- the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Mother Earth’s Rights, to ensure that the same abuses will never be repeated in future.This is to ensure that capitalism and the drive for profit does not contravene the ultimate interests of Mother Earth and the peoples of the world.
3. How Can Debt Be Compensated?
Compensation for climate debt is to be done through multiple ways, which complement each other. Indispensible minimal elements are:
- The re-absorption and cleaning the atmosphere by developed countries.
- Payment in technology (eliminating patents) and in knowledge according to our worldview for both clean development and for adaptation to developing countries.
- Changes in immigration laws that allow us to offer a new home for all climate migrants.
- The adoption of the Declaration on the Mother Earth’s Rights.In addition we need to work on the structural causes that caused the climate debt, providing education for children, political awareness, and respect for Mother Earth.
Climate debt is part of a larger ecological debt, which in addition to gas emissions includes all environmental damages that were made in developing countries for the benefit of developed countries.
4 . Strategies to Ensure Climate Debt Compensation
To ensure full compliance with the climate debt are needed:
- The establishment of an international body that determines the responsibilities of polluter countries
- The creation of an International Tribunal for Climate Justice, impartial, which has jurisdiction in cases of default of repayment of the debt
- To encourage a research study the responsibilities of climate change, determining the climate debt
- To promote international awareness that the fulfilment of the climate debt is an obligation on the part of developed countries, and is not aid granted us.
- We hold the capitalist system and the developed capitalist countries as the main cause of climate change generated climate debt.
- From this pre-conference we demand the enforcement of the payment of climate debt.
- We, who live in harmony with Mother Earth, and we are her main defenders; from here we call on all humanity to join the struggle for the preservation of life.