Tiquipaya II: Lead by example

[Pablo Solon / September 1, 2015]

Five years have passed since the First Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, and the Bolivian Government recently has called for a second meeting from 10 to 12 October in Tiquipaya. In these five years the situation has worsened dramatically. In 2010, an agreement was approved in Cancun of voluntary pledges to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 that will have dire consequences. All countries should have agreed to reduce annual global emissions to 44 gigatones (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2020 to ensure that the temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (Cº). However, with the pledges for emission reductions made in Cancun, we will reach 56 Gt of CO2 by 2020 or more.

Today, we approach a new appointment in Paris to set a new climate agreement until 2030. The main polluting countries have already sent their offers of emissions reductions, and the outlook is bleak: instead of annual global emissions down to 35 gt of CO2 by 2030, we will be by 60 Gt CO2 at the end of the next decade. This means an increase in the temperature of 4 to 8° degrees Celsius in this century.

Governments want to show they are doing something, but the reality is that not a single State is putting forward a proposal to do what science recommends: leave underground 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). Large multinationals and governments addicted to the black gold are totally opposed to it. In the climate negotiations they speak about everything except the issue of putting a limit on the extraction of fossil fuels.

A couple of weeks ago one thousand climate activists stopped for a day Gelände, the main coal mine of Germany. Tiquipaya II has to take into account this reality and show with facts that there is coherence with what is preached. In the case of Bolivia this means to reduce deforestation, which is the main cause of greenhouse gases emissions in the country. More than two thirds of our emissions are due to fires and deforestation. Between 2001 and 2013 we have lost 8.3 million hectares of forest areas, about 14% of the forests that we had at the beginning of this century.

Bolivia is not among the main countries that cause climate change, but nonetheless we cannot allow that our forests continue to burn irrationally. The Government, being consistent with Section 15.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, should reduce deforestation to zero by 2020, preserving at least 50 million hectares of forests. Different studies show that more than 20% of deforestation triggers the gradual death of an Amazonian forest. When deforestation exceeds certain limits the right of the forest to regenerate is violated and a crime against Mother Earth is committed.

If we stop deforestation, the country will no longer send each year to the atmosphere 80 million tons of CO2. A figure that is twice the emissions of the largest coal power plant in Europe: Belchatow, Poland, 37 million tones of CO2 in 2013.

There are other series of measures to be taken in Bolivia: 25% increase in the share of solar energy in electricity generation by 2020; eliminate subsidies for diesel for agribusiness of GMOs and direct those resources to peasant ecological agriculture that cools the planet; avoid dangerous nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams that increase deforestation and natural disasters; and guarantee the rights of Mother Earth. In short, Tiquipaya II must lead by example with concrete measures and not just with words.

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