Bolivia summit inspires NSW audiences

Ben Courtice addresses a forum in Glebe, Sydney on May 11, 2010. Photo by Peter Boyle.

Melbourne-based climate activist Ben Courtice toured Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong from May 10 to 12 to report back from the World People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place in Bolivia in April.

The conference was held in Cochabamba and attracted about 35,000 activists. Bolivia’s radical indigenous President Evo Morales convened the summit. Organisers said people from more than 140 countries attended.

In Sydney, 45 people attended a reportback meeting on May 11, sponsored by Green Left Weekly.

Earlier that day, Courtice spoke at a meeting organised by Resistance at the University of Western Sydney in Bankstown.

Courtice said the summit’s final declaration called for world governments to agree to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to under 300 parts per million and aim to limit the average global temperature to a maximum 1°C of warming.

He also said the summit identified the capitalist system as the root cause of dangerous climate change. It called for activists to strive for a new kind of system not based on unlimited growth and consumerism, but designed to restore harmony with nature and between human beings.

This vision was summed up by Morales as “living well, not better”.

In Newcastle, 15 people attended a May 10 meeting with Courtice, organised by the Socialist Alliance. Discussion ranged from how best to show solidarity with developing countries, to the Bolivian government’s policies on coca leaf cultivation.

Courtice said the Australian climate movement was right to argue that Australia, a wealthy country, should lead the way in emissions cuts and provide cash and technology to allow less developed countries to cut their emissions while still improving their standard of living.

He said one of the best ways the Australian climate movement could demonstrate its solidarity with developing countries was to campaign for the elimination of racist anti-refugee policies.

Courtice also addressed two meetings in Wollongong on May 12.

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