'We will not die quietly': Voices from the Third World at Copenhagen

Issue 

It is has become clear that First World leaders are unwilling to commit to what current science indicates we need to do to avoid extremely damaging climate change. Representatives of the poor countries have become increasingly angry and vocal at their marginalisation by the rich governments.

The COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen has inadvertently given a global platform to those leaders of the Third World who are willing to speak out for their peoples' and the planet's future. Here is a sample of the most eloquent and forceful cries for action.

"The social movements have the power to save the planet from the effects of climate change. My message to you is to continue the process of movement building after the conference." — President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives.

"We have been asked to sign a suicide pact." — Lumumba Di-Aping, Sudanese representative and speaker for the G-77 (mostly poor countries) on the "Danish text", which proposed World Bank administration of an emissions-reduction deal, fewer emissions cuts from wealthy nations, and an obliteration of differences and obligations between the First World and developing countries. He later said that a deal that fails to ensure warming below one degree would be "climate fascism" imposed on Africa by high carbon emitters.

"I have been reading some of the slogans painted in the streets … One said, 'Don't Change the Climate, Change the System!' And I bring that on board for us. Let's not change the climate. Let's change the system! And as a consequence, we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species." — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

"The budget of the United States is US$687 billion for defense. And for climate change, to save life, to save humanity, they only put up $10 billion. This is shameful." — Bolivian President Evo Morales

"Do the rich think they can go to another planet when they've destroyed this one?" — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

"If the climate were a bank, they would have bailed it out already." — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

"European leaders are acting as if they were climate sceptics. Fundamentally, they are saying this problem does not exist and therefore they are providing no finance whatsoever ... $10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins." — Lumumba Di-Aping on the $10 billion sweetener for Third World sustainable development offered by the UN as part of an emissions-reduction deal.

"What is Obama going to tell his daughters? That their [Kenyan] relatives' lives are not worth anything? It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West we [Africans] are still considered 'disposables' ... My good friends…we've got to get together and fight the fight." — Lumumba Di-Aping

"I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace." — Lumumba Di-Aping

"One Africa, one degree. Two degrees is suicide." — Slogan of the G-77

"We will not die quietly." — Chants from G-77 negotiators at the COP15, following the leak of the "Danish text"