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Naomi Klein at G20: Use Robin Hood Tax to Pay Climate Debts

A call for a global movement ahead of COP16 (the UN Climate Conference being held in Cancun, Mexico, later this year) was launched at Massey Hall in Toronto last night as part of the Shout Out for Global Justice event held just blocks from the well-guarded bunkers that are home to the G20 summit in town.

“You're all part of a global movement for mother earth,” said Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, to a rousing ovation from the thousands in attendance. “We have presented the UN with the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, and that is, for us, the key. The key thing of this century.”

“We took the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth to the UN and to the G77 General Secretary,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “It is our hope that it takes its place as the companion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This will be proof that we can take a step forward as a species every now and then.”

Developed at April's World Peoples' Conference on Climate and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochamba, Bolivia, after the perceived failure of the Copenhagen climate conference, The Declaration extends the human rights earned under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to all species and demands such things as “stabilizing the climate at levels that allow human life to flourish.”

Last night, Solon and Barlow called on the global community to embrace the new Declaration. The two were joined in their call to action by a host of high-profile speakers including author Naomi Klein and activist Vandana Shiva.

Klein said that it remains to be seen whether or not the United Nations will be able to recover from the blindsiding it took in Copenhagen, and it has the G20 countries to thank for it.

“They went behind the backs of the rest of the world and rammed through the Copenhagen Accord,” Klein said. “The official UN process was completely blindsided and rendered irrelevant. We'll have to see whether it can come back in Mexico.”

Klein also had a message of her own for the G20 meeting in her hometown: Use the financial transaction tax as a tool to enact a progressive social agenda at home and in the Global South.
“Impose the financial transaction tax and earmark the revenue for social spending and climate change here and in the developing countries,” she said.

Although Canada is fighting to keep the financial transaction or “Robin Hood” tax off the agenda at the G8 and G20, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been pushing for its inclusion since winning EU support for the initiative earlier this month.


Ron Johnson
Is based in Toronto, Canada, where he is an editor for Post City magazines and contributes to The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, The National Post and the London Business Times.

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