Good COP, Bad COP

Viva Chavez!
by -- December 16th, 2009

Hugo Chavez addresses the COP15 conference

Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, leader of the Bolivian Revolution, delivered a fiery speech today aimed right at the heart of capitalism.  While not in the room, I watched him speak, along with a crowd of attendees who had gathered around the close-circuit TV.

Here are a few highlights:
“There is a ghost lurking…a ghost running through the streets of Copenhagen.  That ghost is silent.  It’s capitalism.  Capitalism is that ghost.   Nobody wants to name it.  Out there.”
“The destructive model of capitalism is eradicating life!”
“If the climate were a bank, they’d have already saved it.  If the climate were a bank, a capitalist bank.”
President Chavez says climate change is the most devastating problem of the century, but says not to lose site of the cause of all this.  “The cause of this problem is the destructive model of capitalism.”
“Can an infinite model exist on a finite earth?  How long can we go on with this?…We won’t wait with our arms crossed, waiting for humanity to die…If we don’t to this, then the great creation of the universe will disappear.”
He ends by thanking the UN President, and telling the delegates to enjoy their lunch.
Of course, whether or not one agrees with Mr. Chavez, this being a climate convention, it begs the question, what exactlyis Venezuela doing about climate change?  As most folks know, Venezuela sits on top of vast petroleum reserves, and is a major oil exporter (6th largest in the world).  Venezuela also heavily subsidizes the cost of gasoline and other petroleum products, keeping domestic prices low, and thereby increasing demand. Venezuelans currently pay around 17¢/gallon of gasoline.
While the atmosphere doesn’t care a lick about whether GHG emissions are produced under a capitalist or socialist system, Chavez’s speech is just one more example of the many divides – ideological, economic, geographic, etc. – that must be bridged in order to fashion a global agreement on climate change.


  1. Schock
    Dec 16, 2009

    I haven’t researched what venezuela _is_ doing about climate change, but it would be nice to know. The fact that they’re a major oil exporter doesn’t actually answer that question – in theory, they could be spending a large part of their oil revenues to develop green sustainable energy technology. I’m just saying.

    Also, you have to hand it to him: “If the Climate were a bank, it would have been bailed out by now.” So true. Or if it were a War. The US ngotiators are suggesting what, 1.5 Billion contribution to help developing countries transition to sustainable energy? Compared to how many trillions for bank bailout (17, was it?) and for war? Shameful.

    Finally: “Can an infinite model exist on a finite earth?” Ummm, he kind of has a point, no? If our entire economic system is based on Growth (ie, produce, market, distribute, and consume every increasing amounts of Stuff), but the resources required to produce the Stuff are finite… Houston, we have a problem.

    • Luis Barragan
      Dec 17, 2009

      Chavez speech can convince many people with his speech… I agree with him on these:

      “If the Climate were a bank, it would have been bailed out by now.”
      “Can an infinite model exist on a finite earth?”

      As a Venezuelan I’m glad to hear him support and promote the idea of changing the current system, but as a Venezuelan I also know that Chavez talks a lot and never delivers… a nice speech without actions won’t change the system, and after 10 years of having him as a president anyone can see that his “revolution” has been sponsored by the oil prices.

      P.S: @Writer, in the first line you wrote “Bolivian Revolution”, it should be “Bolivarian Revolution”.

  2. KatW
    Jan 5, 2010

    I find it ironic that Chavez says, “If the climate were a bank, they’d have already saved it. If the climate were a bank, a capitalist bank.”

    No *capitalist* would advocate for government intervention. Capitalists don’t believe in “saving” any bank or business.

    However, a socialist would. Who is Chavez really criticizing here?

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