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WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva - Climate Summit in Copenhagen

Economic Crisis, Climate Crisis, Social Crisis:
It’s Time to Change Course!

From 30th November through 2nd December, a WTO ministerial conference will be held in Geneva, a week before the climate summit in Copenhagen. Concerning both trade and the climate, policies that have been pursued in the past have failed catastrophically. Yet our leaders have not questioned them!

The WTO and “free” trade: two big failures
Thirty years of neoliberal globalisation policies and fifteen years of the WTO have done nothing but increase poverty in the South and inequality, unemployment and job instability in the North. In the end, these policies have plunged us into the worst capitalist crisis since 1929. The WTO promises to get us out of it… by beating the same drum: “liberalise” trade. This would benefit no one except transnational capital; it would impose fierce competition that would further accentuate pressure on jobs, working conditions, social security and public services.

Trade versus the environment

Those same policies have also had disastrous consequences on the climate. They have bankrupted millions of small farmers by promoting industrialised agriculture, even though the latter – highly dependent upon fossil fuels – is a major source of greenhouse gases. They have caused disastrous deforestation in the largest rainforests, the planet’s lungs and the habitat of indigenous communities. They have created a globalised production network with high energy-consuming means of transportation, simply in order to exploit labour to the highest degree.
Unfortunately, in Copenhagen the players will be the same, and the same interests and false “market solutions” will be on the agenda, though their failure is patently obvious. Twelve years after Kyoto, the CO2 emissions of developed countries have risen to higher levels than ever before.

Tempted by the Titanic?

Neither the socioeconomic crisis nor the environmental crisis will be resolved by the same logic that created them. The current economic system has brought about poverty, inequalities and wars; it has thrust us into the worst crisis since World War II. Today we are confronted with the ever more pressing need to give up on the absurd idea of infinite growth on a finite planet. But our leaders, whether in thrall to the well-to-do or debilitated by tunnel vision, are not looking for a way out. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, the interests of society and the environment must trump blind profit. We can live well – and actually live better – if we do away with the unsustainable waste of a system in which the pursuit of profit forces us to either seek unlimited growth or go bust trying.

Hundreds of representatives of grassroots movements from all over the world will be in Geneva and then in Copenhagen to demand a radical change of direction. Let’s all meet in Geneva and…

Mobilise against the WTO, because building a better world is an urgent issue!

Demonstration: Place Neuve, Saturday 28th November, 2p.m.

Other action will be taken during the summit.

Their model is not the Eldorado!

Here’s the truth about “free” trade: recently, the Peruvian government opened fire on thousands of indigenous people who had gathered in Amazonia to protest against a new free trade treaty with the United States. In Peru, mining companies already have access to 23 million hectares of land, thus endangering the lands of 3,200 local rural communities. 75% of Peruvian Amazonia has already been doled out to oil companies without consulting the local population in any way. Also, for the Copenhagen summit there is a proposal to “fight against deforestation” through a programme called REDD. In reality, this programme might strip the native inhabitants – peoples who have always lived in respect for the forest – of their rights, to satisfy the interests of private investors. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have been dispossessed of their land to make way for “green deserts” of biofuels. That’s Monsanto/Syngenta-style “green capitalism”. It’s the same old pillage politics behind a new mask.

In the North as well, our leaders have found no better way of dealing with the crisis than to bail out a flawed system that preys on the public. And the WTO, a cogwheel that sets disaster in motion, intends to “finish off the Doha round”. Sure, let’s keep going straight ahead! Straight into new famines, more violence, forced migration, more financial and economic chaos. After all, the fat cats always pull through just fine!

“Growth” or the Good Life?

Is there really no alternative to this manic economy where financial competitiveness alone determines who can survive? Can’t we conceive of an economy that simply aims to satisfy our needs? For example, to eat better food, grown closer to home in proper social and environmental conditions? More generally, can’t we produce less, yet produce goods that are more durable, renewable, economical, repairable, local, that serve the public interest? Can’t we do away with all of those parasitic, hierarchical activities (in finance, advertising, the military, etc.), which are at best speculative and frankly harmful?
Both science and good sense tell us that to survive, we must radically change course. We need to move towards more egalitarian societies and live in harmony with nature. In the Andes, that’s what they call “living well”, the good life. They’ve just talked to us about it. We should listen to them!

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