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News > Latin America

Correa Calls on Rich Nations to Pay for Environmental Damage

  • Ecuador's President Rafael Correa waves before meeting with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, Oct. 12, 2015.

    Ecuador's President Rafael Correa waves before meeting with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, Oct. 12, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/David Mercado

Published 12 October 2015

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said there can be no environmental justice without combating economic inequality and making rich countries pay their debt.

Climate justice cannot be achieved until affluent countries compensate poorer countries for the damage they have caused to the environment and end mass contamination, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said at Bolivia’s Climate Summit.

In his address, the Ecuadorean President said everyone is responsible for protecting the environment, but affirmed that the bulk of responsibility lies with those wealthy countries who contaminate the most.

“A rich citizen emits 38 times more CO2 emissions than his poor counterpart,” Correa said.

He added that the most important solution to global warming is environmental justice, which would require the “largest contaminators to compensate those countries most affected by climate change.”

Correa concluded that environmental justice is a “political struggle,” rooted in combating global economic inequality.

The aim of the conference was to give people affected by climate change a say on the shape of future environmental policy.

RELATED: Bolivia's Climate Summit Opens with Cheers and Calls for Action

Social movements and representatives from more than 40 countries attended the conference in Bolivia, determined to have their say.

Activists and ordinary people are everywhere, huddled in groups, meeting wherever they can to come up with practical solutions and real plans to address the climate “crisis.”

“Droughts. Fires. Floods. Landslides. Glaciers melting. Oceans turning to acid. Mother Earth is giving us a warning,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference on Saturday. “We must listen. And we must act.”

The focus is slowly turning to the next big U.N. climate change conference in Paris, which begins late November.

RELATED: The People's Conference on Climate Change: What to Expect

The personal stories, proposals and practical solutions that emerge from Cochabamba will be submitted for consideration at the event in Paris.

Noting that “a transformative deal in Paris” was in sight, the U.N. leader concluded by saying that developed countries must meet their pledge of US$100 billion a year to fight climate change by 2020.

Before Ban left, President Morales presented the secretary-general with a 10-point plan to defend Mother Earth to be discussed at the U.N. Paris Summit.

One of the Bolivian proposals is to create an Environmental International Court of Justice "to make it easier for countries to fulfill their international commitments to climate change.’’

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also joined Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa at the conclusion of the conference, on Monday.

WATCH: Morales, Ban Discuss Climate Change and Poverty

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