Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa called Friday for the creation of an international climate justice court where developing countries would be able to hold wealthy countries accountable for what Correa described as an “ecological debt.”
Correa said lower-income countries that are rich in biodiversity and forests, such as Ecuador, should receive compensation from polluting countries for mitigating the impact of climate change by preserving the environment.
“Generally, countries that pollute are the rich and strong countries,” said Correa during a speech at the University of Poitiers, in France. Before becoming president, Correa was a distinguished university professor.
This is not the first time Correa has championed the concept of an “ecological debt” from rich to poorer countries.
Shortly after first arriving to power, the government of President Rafael Correa asked the international community to contribute 50 percent of the value of a portion of the oil reserves in Ecuadorean Amazon, an estimated US$3.6 billion, to refrain from extracting the oil. Ultimately, though, just over US$100 million was pledged. Of that only US$13.3 million was actually donated, forcing the government to abandon its plan not to extract oil from the Amazon.
Correa is in Paris ahead of the COP21 climate change summit, where, in addition to representing his country, he will also speak on behalf of the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in his capacity as the president pro-tempore of the bloc known as CELAC.
“If we fail to achieve binding agreements, this could be the beginning of the burial of our civilization,” warned Correa.
The Ecuadorean president said that in addition to the creation of a new climate court, he will stress the concept of “climate justice.”
Underpinning the idea of climate justice is that efforts to address climate change must take into consideration historical injustices.
Lower-income and developing countries find themselves in the difficult position of working to develop their economies while facing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, developed countries were able to freely contaminate the environment as they became industrialized economies.
In addition, the countries of the global South are seen as those more likely to be forced to confront the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.
ANALYSIS: COP21 – A Climate Summit Without Marches
Before departing for Paris, the Ecuadorean president said he was skeptical a deal could be brokered at COP21.
“We don't have great expectations, because at the end of the day everything is a question of (who wields) power. The world is governed by power, not justice,” said Correa on Wednesday.
COP21 is set to begin on Nov. 29, one day earlier than previously scheduled. President Correa is scheduled to speak on Nov. 30.