Speech by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers at the Rio-20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, June 21, 2012
Twenty years ago, on June 12, 1992, in this same conference hall, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz stated, and I quote, “An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions: humanity.” End of quote.
What could have been considered alarmist, today constitutes an irrefutable reality. The inability to transform unsustainable models of production and consumption is threatening the balance and regeneration of natural mechanisms which sustain life forms on the planet.
The effects cannot be hidden. Species are becoming extinct at a speed one hundred times faster than those indicated in fossil records; more than five million hectares of forests are lost every year; and close to 60% of ecosystems are degraded.
In spite of the landmark signified by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, carbon dioxide emissions increased by 38% from 1990 to 2009. We are now moving toward a global increase in temperature which will place at risk, in the first place, the integrity and physical existence of numerous developing island states and will produce serious consequences in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
A profound and detailed study undertaken during the last five years by our scientific institutions is in basic agreement with reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and confirms that, during this century, if current trends are maintained, a gradual and considerable rise in average sea levels will take place in the Cuban archipelago. This forecast includes the intensification of extreme meteorological events, such as tropical hurricanes, and an increase in the salinity of underground water sources. All of this will have serious consequences, especially for our coastal areas, so we have initiated the adoption of appropriate measures.
Equally, this phenomenon will have serious geographic, demographic and economic implications for the Caribbean islands which, moreover, must confront the inequalities of an international economic system which excludes the smallest and most vulnerable.
The paralysis of negotiations and the lack of an agreement which could make it possible to halt global climate change are a clear reflection of a lack of political will and the inability of developed countries to act in accordance with obligations concomitant with their historical responsibility and current position. This has been demonstrated in this meeting, despite the extraordinary effort made by Brazil, for which we are grateful.
Poverty is increasing, hunger and malnutrition are growing and inequality is expanding, aggravated in recent decades as a consequence of neoliberalism.
During these 20 years, wars of a new kind have been launched, focused on the conquest of energy resources, as was the case in 2003, on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction which never existed, and the recent war in North Africa. Acts of aggression against Middle Eastern countries which can now be discerned will be compounded by others, with the objective of controlling access to water and other resources in the process of being exhausted. It must be made clear that attempting a new division of the world will unleash a spiral of conflicts of incalculable consequences for a planet already seriously insecure, and moreover, sick.
In the last two decades, military spending has grown to the astronomical sum of $1.74 trillion, almost double that of 1992, which is leading to an arms race in other states which feel threatened. Two decades after the end of the Cold War, against who will these arms be used?
Let us stop the justifications and egoisms and seek solutions. This time, everyone, absolutely everyone, will pay for the consequences of climate change. Governments of industrialized countries which are acting in this manner should not commit the serious error of believing that they can survive a little longer at our cost. The waves of millions of hungry and desperate people from the South toward the North will be uncontainable, as will the rebellion of the peoples in the face of such indolence and injustice. No hegemonism will be possible then. End the plunder, end war, let us advance toward disarmament and destroy the nuclear arsenals.
We are required to make a transcendental change. The only alternative is to build more just societies; to establish a more equitable international order based on respect for the rights of all; to ensure the sustainable development of nations, especially those of the South; and place advances in science and technology at the service of the salvation of the planet and human dignity.
Cuba aspires to good sense and human intelligence prevailing over irrationality and barbarity.
Thank you very much (Applause).