COCHABAMBA, Bolivia, April 23 (UPI) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales, closing an international conference of grassroots climate groups, announced plans for a world people's referendum on climate change.
In a Los Angeles Times editorial Friday, Morales noted that at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last December developing nations "were effectively being left in the cold while a tiny group dominated by a few rich governments met in private to produce an unacceptable compromise."
Morales said that's why he organized the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which convened last Tuesday-Thursday at the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, noting that "it is time for the people to decide."
More than 31,000 people from more than 140 countries attended with official representation from 48 governments, Morales said, noting that he had expected just 10,000 people in Cochabamba for the first conference of its kind.
"Everyone came to work," he said, to produce concrete documents and proposals on 17 different themes related to climate change, which he referred to as "the single most important issue of our lifetime."
Morales said he would take the strategies and proposals to the November U.N. climate conference in Mexico.
"The United Nations has an obligation to listen to its peoples and social forces," the Bolivian president said Thursday at the conclusion of the Cochabamba conference. "If the United Nations doesn't want to lose its authority, they should apply the conclusions of this conference. And if they don't, I am convinced that the peoples will apply their wisdom, recommendations and documents."
Proposals agreed upon at the conference include the creation of a multilateral organization to manage environmental issues, protection for climate migrants, a ban on privatizing knowledge and the fullest respect for the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples, states the final document.
Conference participants stated their opposition to carbon compensation schemes, carbon trading and other profit-based financial mechanisms, saying these were irrelevant to the real solution.
The conference's final document also calls for the elimination of all new forms of colonialism and for rich countries to follow a new phase of commitment to real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.
"Developed countries should take very seriously what happened here," said Angelica Navarro, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, The Guardian reports.
"This is real democracy. We are trying to bring a solution onto the negotiations table, coming from the people … from people that are really suffering, that are at the forefront of the battle, it will be a mistake not to hear their own people."
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