Copenhagen, Dec 8, 2009.
Naomi Klein gave the opening address at the Klima Forum. Unlike the COP15, which had limited access and in fact expelled the majority of NGO representatives half way through the forum, the Klima Forum was open to everyone. Naomi Klein discusses many topics as they relate to climate change, including climate debt, Obama, “Hopenhagen”, and hope. Text transcription excerpts are provided below.
Introduced as a ‘globalization skeptic’, Naomi Klein begins,
“It’s wonderful to be here. I think that word skeptic has been getting a bad reputation lately. Although my friend Johann Hari who’s here had a great piece saying that we shouldn’t call them skeptics, we shouldn’t give them that. We’re all skeptics. We’ve looked at the science, we’re serious about facts. These guys are denialists, they don’t deserve to be called skeptics.”
Further Excerpts from Part 1: “On one level it’s so exciting that the whole world is talking about climate change, and that at the highest levels of power there appears to be some kind of a consensus about the problem. You know, every bus shelter has an advertisement and even the fact that there are these concerts outside, and this is what the world is talking about, and at the it’s all emanating from this city. But then there’s this strange dissonance because we remember that despite the fact that we are all seemingly agreeing – denialists aside – and we have all of this urgency and we’ve been told again and again that this is the last chance to save the earth, and all of this rhetoric, we know that what is being proposed at the Bella Center does not come close to addressing the climate crisis. It’s not on the table. We have to be realistic about that. I think the time for naivite is really over. Just sitting there and hoping and praying for a deal that is not on the table. It’s silly. We know what’s on the table . We know the paltry emission cuts that the Obama administration is talking about – 17% below 2005 levels when science calls for 40% below 1990 levels. We know the levels of funding that they’re talking about for deeply climate affected countries, and they’re insulting. They’re insulting because we in the rich world are the one’s who created this crisis. And on the most basic principle of ‘polluter pays’, or as Colin Powell would like to say before the invasion of Iraq, ‘you broke it you bought it’.”
“This is not about charity. This is not about more aid for the needy in Africa. This is about a crisis that we created through our consumption. 75% of thie historical emissions that created the climate crisis came from 20% of the worlds population in the developed world, in the industrialized world. According to the world bank, hardly a radical source, 75% of the effects of climate change are being felt in the developing world, so there is a direct inverse relationship between cause and effect, between where the crisis was created and where the effects of the crisis are being felt. And then we come here, our governments come here and talk about giving the level of funding that AIG finds you know, loose in the couch, as some sort of a favor to the needy. And this is a conversation that needs to change, this cannot be discussed as some kind of charitable giving.”
Naomi Klein Part 2
Excerpt from Part 2: “But the alternative that I’m finding most inspiring and I think has the most potential to take our movement forward is the idea of climate dept and the fact that the rich world must pay reparations for the creation of the climate crisis. I’ve already talked about those statistics that we know that the rich world is responsible for 75% of the historical emissions and 75% of the effects of those emissions are being felt in the developing world”
Naomi Klein Part 3
Excerpt from Part 3: “So how do you repay a debt like that? Well the position of the Bolivian government, and they have backing from the coalition of least developed countries as well as other countries, is that it’s very clear. You pay this debt in three ways – One: through very deep emission cuts. By creating atmospheric space, freeing up atmospheric space for those countries that have emitted the least and need some of that cheap fuel in order to develop. So it’s not about just splitting the difference the way it’s been formulated here, ‘we’ll cut some, poor countries will cut some’, it’s about rich nations cutting very very deeply in response to this historical debt, the fact that we have taken up so much more of our share of a limited resource. There is a global carbon budget, and we are way over it.”
“The other way you pay a debt is you pay it, you pay it with money, and there’s two areas in which we need to pay it. One is helping countries adapt to the realities of climate change that is already underway. That means responding to droughts, that means building flood walls. That just is the direct response to the way in which the climate is already changing. The world bank estimates that developing countries are facing costs of a hundred billion dollars a year just adapting to current climate change. We can debate those numbers, it’s the world banks so we can assume it is low. A team of uN scientists added what it would cost not just to respond to the reality of climate change, but to leapfrog over fossil fuels and adopt green technologies, green energy, and they put that figure at 500 to 600 billion dollars a year. So it’s a lot, but still, not coming anywhere near the levels of funding that the banks got.”
“So that’s the dept, but what’s exciting about this and why it is really the embodiment of the idea of climate justice, is that we hear a lot about this idea of win-win solutions to climate change – that’s the phrase your constantly hearing from climate entrepreneurs. you know, “we can get rich and save the plaent at the same time”. Well, I think we’re all a little skeptical about that. But this is the real win-win. Because this is the way we get off the carbon path and we tackle the deep inequalities that cleave our world at the same time. We’re talking about a massive transformation…”
“…having gone unpaid, depts for colonial pillage, for slavery. Economists, political scientists have been making the case for years – to no avail – that the case for climate dept is stronger than any of these other historical debts before, and that’s because these 192 countries signed the climate convention in 1992 that recognized the principle of historical responsibility that rich countries, annex one countries have a historical responsibility to cut their emissions and pay the cost of adapting to climate change. So there’s actually a document and there’s a basic principle that the polluter pays, which is a familiar principle, so this is a winnable case.”
Naomi Klein Part 4
Excerpt from Part 4: “What we are witnessing at the Bella Center is an almost unbelievable betrayal – of past promises, like the ones my country [Canada] has made, of past treaties, which have been made a mockery of. And then there is the betrayal that Barack Obama represents, not just a betrayal of his own voters, but of the incredible hope and faith that was placed in him by the whole world. I don’t think Barack Obama is the worst U.S. president by any means, I think he’s is way better than most. But I have certainly never witnessed a U.S. president blow as many once in a generation opportunities as this US President. He has blown so many opportunities in his one year. It is absolutely unforgivable and he needs to hear from the world.”
Report by James George