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"Continuation of the Kyoto Protocol Cannot be Put Under Conditions"

Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s Envoy for Climate Change, during an Interview with Democracy Now

“The continuation of Kyoto cannot be put under negotiation, conditions or blackmails, because it’s the only legally biding agreement we have to actually control the emissions from the big countries,” said Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s especial envoy for climate change, during an interview with Amy Goodman broadcast by Democracy Now from Cancun.

Delegates from 193 nations are gathered in Cancun to participate in the XVI Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held until December 10.

“Kyoto is important for the world because it’s the only legally binding agreement we have to actually control the emissions of the big countries, which are actually historically responsible for what we are living right now,” she emphasized during the interview.

Salerno also represents the member-states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) in the Cancun negotiations, when this alliance agrees to participate as a bloc in the negotiations. ALBA is a Latin American political alliance formed by Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.

When asked about whether ALBA countries would pull out of the talks in case a legally biding agreement is not reached, Salerno clarified that this regional bloc never considered abandoning the discussions. “We, the ALBA countries, never said that we would leave this process if something doesn’t come up. We criticized that blackmailing approach (…) No, even in the worst minutes of Copenhagen we did not leave, and we will never ever leave,” she highlighted.

Additionally, Salerno said that the countries that didn’t sign the Kyoto Protocol, such as the United States, should not have the power of decision in an agreement they are not part of. “It’s an irony how the system is functioning. The only country that is not part of the Kyoto Protocol [the U.S.] has the power to end it. That’s unfair. It’s unfair to the rest of the countries that signed it and ratified it,” she emphasized.      

“Obligation cannot be blackmailed, obligations have to be enforced and fulfilled,” added the Venezuelan negotiator.

The U.S., whose Congress did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, doesn’t want to assume a commitment for a second round of obligations in this agreement, once the first deadline for achieving those commitments finishes in 2012. Japan, for its part, announced in Cancun this same position, which has created an environment of disconcert and keeps the negotiations at a standstill. According to the experts, this would mean the death of the Kyoto protocol.

During the interview, broadcast by WPFW Pacifica Radio, Salerno pointed out that Venezuela, even as an oil-exporting country has a long tradition of commitments with the environment. Furthermore, she highlighted that Venezuela is part of the Amazonian basin and has one the largest protected areas in Latin America.

“We were the first country in Latin America to have a Ministry of Environment, and the first country of the region to have a penal law on the environment, so we are very committed with the environment,” Salerno added.

As an example, the Venezuelan diplomat said that 60 million conventional light bulbs were replaced by energy-saving light bulbs in Venezuela, part of a joint project with the country’s  communities.

In several meetings, President Chávez has reiterated his government’s commitment with the environment and, therefore, with the rational consumption of natural resources in Venezuela. The Venezuelan leader has also insisted on the need to change the predator model of the neoliberal system, which is destroying nature.  

See the full interview in Democary Now here. (Minute 13:00.)

Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / December 7, 2010

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