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U.S. Government as Climate Criminal: The View from the Global South

For related articles and more information please visit OCA's information page for Climate and Agriculture and our page on Politics and Democracy .

As climate talks start this week in CancĂșn, the common refrain that pervades the media and some negotiators is of "low expectations." I wonder whose expectations they are talking about. Do they think the one million people in the Bolivian city El Alto, who face increasingly chronic water shortages from the disappearance of glaciers, have low expectations? Do they think Pacific islanders whose homelands will soon disappear beneath the rising sea have low expectations? I believe that the majority of humanity demands and has high expectations that our political leaders should act to stop runaway climate change.

The reality is that the talk of "low expectations" is a ploy by a small group of industrialized countries to obscure their obligations to act. They are playing politics with the planet's future. If the CancĂșn talks set sail with no wind, then no-one will be angered when they stall. Sadly, rather than express moral outrage, much of the media and even some environmental organizations have subscribed to this cynicism of the powerful. Last year we had Hopenhagen and worldwide public outrage when the richest nations failed to act. This year will it be Can'tCun and a whimper?

Visible evidence of climate change is all around us.It can be found almost daily on the TV screens of people in rich countries - Pakistan's floods, Russia's heatwave, the unprecedented Arctic snow melt - in Bolivia, we are struggling to cope everyday with limited resources and ever more unstable weather. This year a drought throughout Bolivia meant we had to provide emergency food aid to hundreds of thousands of people. As we see our high Andean mountains, revered as apus or spirits by our indigenous peoples, lose their white peaks, we feel a visceral loss of our culture and our history.


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