English translation of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s speech at the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), held in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, is presented here.
Honorable President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi,
I extend my greetings of solidarity and gratitude to you and to the glorious people of Egypt for hosting the Twenty-Seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and especially for the invitation to an event such as this, given the imminent nature of the danger that threatens life and humanity.
Greetings for the honorable heads of state and government of the world and all the delegations present here.
The terrible environmental imbalances that today dramatically affect life throughout the planet seem to indicate that climate change, called so 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. This is 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 Protocol 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 Climate Agreement also aimed at improving 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, the unwillingness of the denialist elites to move forward at the right pace and in the right direction: that of life.
We still remember the police repression in the streets against the environmental movements, and the corporate bureaucratic confabulations that were installed since then to avoid agreements and firm commitments to build together a sensible and relevant solution to the climate situation that was already in a critical state.
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 has given us everything with generosity but that today is beginning to take a huge toll for the abuses committed.
Recognizing the failures of civilization in this area is the beginning of a radical rectification. Previously, we were threatened by climate change, but today it is the absolute collapse of the ecosystem that stands before us as a fatal destiny. The latest projections say it: if we continue at this self-destructive pace, in 30 or 40 years the planet will be uninhabitable.
This climate crisis, as we know, has and will have definitive consequences on the planet that should force us to modify the 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 nitrogen oxides 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 living conditions 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 will be interrupted; if there is no pollination plants cannot reproduce and that would decrease oxygen in the atmsophere.
Let’s look at these data:
• The average annual global temperature in the last 100 years rose 0.8ºC, and it is expected to exceed 1.7ºC over the next five years.
• Greenhouse gases 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 industrial and commercial reactivation—surpassed the record of 2019 when they were approximately 12% higher than in 2010 and 54% higher than in 1990. In 32 years there was an increase that should have taken centuries to happen.
• Phenomena such as droughts and extreme rainfall are increasing accordingly and disorderly: 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 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 those centimeters have risen in the last 25 years. Each year, the seas are rising by 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.
Certainly, human civilization is responsible for this serious effect that the planet is experiencing today. However, this statement is incomplete and would be hypocritical if it is not highlighted that this civilization is profoundly unequal: it is composed of countries that have been indiscriminately exploiting the planet’s natural resources for two centuries, while others barely have enough to feed themselves and remain under a pre-industrial mode of production.
Venezuela is responsible for less than 0.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the Venezuelan people have to 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 system of biodiversity is accelerating and spreading alarmingly, 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: humans.” He prophetically warned: “Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.” And he pointed out that savage and predatory capitalism is largely responsible for the threat against nature.
Any effort we undertake to alleviate the consequences of this environmental disaster will be useless, as it has been until today, if we do not have the courage to recognize that capitalism, and nothing else, is the cause of the coming disaster.
In 2009, it was Commander Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías who had the courage to say it plainly and directly. Allow me to recall today some of his ideas. I quote: “What is the cause? 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’s not change the climate, let’s change the system.”
The imbalance and environmental crisis created in nature are comparable to the conditions of inequality and injustice that capitalism has created against humanity. A system that normalizes the exploitation of human beings has no ethical basis with which 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 are the ones who suffer 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 are provoking desertification, and the sinking of entire fertile territories as a daily consequence of the disaster.
Humanity cannot continue to be orphaned. It is necessary to create, without delays or bureaucratic artifices, the fund for climate losses and damages that we have been talking about for some years 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 peoples most affected by it.
Any agreement reached today must attack the root of the problem and give priority attention 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 correlation between the environmental crisis and global poverty. The indiscriminate exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources, in addition to generating environmental misery, is responsible for social misery on a planetary scale, since environmental destruction exacerbates social misery.
This cannot be ignored at the moment of outlining drastic measures and effective plans to correct and regulate the civilizational activities for the future.
Finally, as a sovereign country, we advocate for the protection of the Amazon: as the last great forest 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.
Venezuelans are not pessimists. We are assisted by an indefatigable spirit of struggle and an immense love for life that elevates us to think of a new humanity, with a new spirituality. A humanity reconciled with nature, reconciled with itself and reconciled with the future.
There are no longer, as the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan said, “passengers on this spaceship called Earth: we are all crew members”. I know that there is no common person who is willing to see this beautiful adventure that can be the new humanity be eclipsed. Nor will we sit back and watch the end of days.
Let the world count on this 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.
Chairperson, brothers and sisters,
The time for speeches and lamentations is over.
We have only one present: to act radically and firmly in favor of another possible world and of 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.
scorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/sahelicot92/November 26, 2023