TIQUIPAYA, Bolivia (Reuters) - Big polluting countries must aggressively cut greenhouse gases and listen to ideas from small nations to reverse global warming, activists and left-wing leaders concluded on Thursday at a meeting billed as an alternative to the failed Copenhagen summit.
The gathering in Bolivia’s Cochabamba region was meant to give voice to countries and environmental groups that said they were excluded from an active role at the Copenhagen summit in December, when world leaders negotiated behind closed doors.
Activists say the big industrial powers sabotaged the Copenhagen summit by not agreeing to major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and insist the next big climate change meeting in Mexico in December must include other voices.
The Cochabamba summit called for leading industrial nations to cut emissions by 50 percent, a much more ambitious goal than the pledges of cuts from 7 percent to 16 percent in the Copenhagen Accord.
“Developed countries ... in the meeting of heads of state in Mexico in December, they’ve got to listen to the people, take decisions to better the lives of all,” Bolivian President Evo Morales told the summit.
Earlier in the summit, Morales drew controversy when he said eating chicken fed with hormones causes “sexual deviation” in men and that European men lose their hair because they eat genetically modified food.
Capitalism, genetically modified food and global warming were all targets at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which drew some 20,000 environmentalists and representatives from 90 governments.
Representatives from indigenous groups from all over the world took part in the meeting in the small village of Tiquipaya, which was free and included concerts, theater, a handicrafts market and artists painting murals.
Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, which belong to a leftist group of Latin American countries, as well as Sudan and Saudi Arabia, have been strong critics of the Copenhagen accord.
“Climate change is a crisis that was created in the north and its effects are overwhelmingly lived in the south. If you acknowledge that simple fact of justice and decency, that means that southern countries are no longer begging for aid,” said Canadian author Naomi Klein.
Klein, a prominent activist against global warming, said Cochabamba could help cement an alliance among nations that are already suffering the effects of climate change. “That’s a much more empowered position” which calls for “a lot more unity between developing countries,” she said.
The Cochabamba meeting resolved that an international tribunal should be created to hold those to blame for global warming accountable. It also called for a global referendum on climate change and the creation of a fund to help affected nations cope with global warming.
The resolutions are not binding, but countries and social organizations who took part in the summit have pledged to drum up support for them ahead of December’s United Nations summit on climate change in Cancun, Mexico.
Alicia Barcena, the top U.N. representative at the meeting, told reporters on Tuesday it was time for the organization to admit it had excluded grassroots groups from the Copenhagen summit, but she was pessimistic about Cancun.
“Rio+20 should be our goal, because I don’t think Cancun will solve the problems,” she said.
Late last year, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution agreeing to hold the Rio+20 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.
Editing by Peter Cooney and Todd Eastham