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Bolivia climate talks ask rich countries to listen to world’s poorest

Rich polluting countries should halve greenhouse gas emissions and set up a court to punish climate crimes, agreed an international ‘peoples’ conference on climate change in Bolivia. Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales, who set up the three-day forum, also announced plans within the next year to invite two billion people to take part in a referendum to come up with solutions to the climate crisis. Some 20,000 environmental activists, indigenous leaders and unionists at the Cochabamba forum, voted to call for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 50 per cent by 2020 at the next United Nations climate meeting in Mexico in December.

A 50 per cent reduction could limit the warming of the planet to 1.5 degrees, instead of the two degrees agreed to in Copenhagen but would not be met under pledges by individual countries. It also laid out a demand for 300 million US dollars a year to be set aside by richer countries to address the problems. The conference, which ended on Friday also laid out a demand for £200m ($300) a year to be set aside by richer countries to address the problems. Speaking on the final day of the talks, Morales called on the UN to listen to the voice of the poorest. "The UN has an obligation to listen to its peoples and social forces. If the UN doesn't want to lose its authority, they should apply the conclusions of this conference. And if they don't, I am convinced that the peoples will apply their wisdom, recommendations and documents," he said.The conference agreed to push for plans that keep fossil fuels in the ground, protect the rights of tribal peoples, and reject plans to pay countries not to cut down forests "This alternative has to succeed because the alternative to Cochabamba is Copenhagen and Copenhagen came out with a so-called solution to climate change that in no way meets the severity of the climate crisis," Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein told the Guardian newspaper.

Some doubt whether world leaders will pay much attention to the talks. And the meeting has no direct effect on the UN climate talks, but it was set up for grassroots campaigners to put pressure on governments to on climate change. "They cannot simply ignore that something happened here. This is better and more real than the Copenhagen accord that did not take off, this is the real forum for tackling the climate problems," said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International.

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