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Naomi Klein Calls for Ecological Reparations

Posted: 12/11/09 11:26 AM ET

Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears.

Last night several hundred attendees packed the chairs and bleachers of a converted basketball court in the DGI-Byen Center in Copenhagen, (home of Klimaforum, the alternative 'people's summit' to the official COP15) to attend a panel with Naomi Klein and a number of Latin-American and Bangladeshi NGO representatives.

"A particular model of dealing with climate change is dying. The official summit at the Bella Center is revealing itself as a final scramble over resources." Klein declared, her words simulcast into five languages, "This is a historic meeting. Never before has global media attention been focused on the climate debt reparations movement." The concept of climate debt reparations, which Naomi Klein brought to the forefront in her long Rolling Stone article last month, is that wealthy, developed countries, who've historically produced the most emissions, carry a substantial ecological debt to poor developing countries in the global South, whose resources have been historically exploited and who are sure to suffer more acutely from the effects of climate change, such as island loss, tsunamis, and flooding. The Climate debt reparations movement, led at the forefront by the NGO Jubilee South, evolved from the slavery and First Nations peoples reparations movements. The panelists and Klein argued that to close the ecological inequality gap, wealthy, developed countries need to pay reparations in the form of grants to help developing countries continue to survive and retrofit their infrastructures for climate change.

Klein

The first speaker, Angela Navarro, a Bolivian climate negotiator who took the time from the official COP15 negotiations to come participate in the panel,
urged a much more aggressive climate program than is being presented at the official summit, calling to keep the temperature increase in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees and suggesting that developed countries should contribute 3% of their GDP to developing, or historically exploited countries. After the audience clapped, Navarro seemed elated by the response she received. "When I talk about reparations at the official negotiations, they don't clap. They don't want to hear what we're saying there." Indeed, calls for climate debt reparations are unlikely to be met with sympathy or interest at the official COP15 summit, where delegates from developed countries seem to be holding themselves to one lifestyle standard and one emissions limit while holding poorer countries to a different one, as evidenced by the leaked Danish-text. They seem to be sweating their way through the COP15 negotiations, trying to get away with the most lax emissions limits possible while still being able to come out of the Bella Center at the end with a smile, saying, "We've done something historic."

Sadly, given the death of the public-option, this seems to be the same political tactic with healthcare as well -- provide the illusion of a historic-seeming "victory" while accomplishing the absolute bare minimum to not be disregarded as a failure. Like 'I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!', it looks like change, it tastes like change, but it...isn't change.

The COP15, nearly everyone has agreed, is likely to be a big COP-OUT. Naomi Klein received a resounding applause after the final, stern words of her speech. "Put pressure on governments that say they care about the climate."

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