September 27, 2007–New York–While dozens of heads of state convened at the United Nations (UN) in New York this week for a forum to address the threat of climate change and the need for a global reduction in emissions, President Bush did not attend these discussions. Instead, today the US will begin a two-day parallel conference, setting forth the Bush administration's approach in a meeting with sixteen nations. MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, today highlighted the need for worldwide partnership to tackle climate change and condemned President Bush's lack of engagement.
Political mobilization at the UN has intensified, in preparation for a climate conference to be held in Bali, Indonesia in December. This gathering is set to forge commitments for reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to pre-1990 levels. While the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, the US has refused to sign on and continues to oppose international limits on emissions, citing a risk to the US economy.
Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director of MADRE, said today, "In a time when the focus of governments around the world must be on working together to counter the dangers of climate change, Bush has, time and again, chosen unilateralism over cooperation. Meanwhile, reports from the UN warn that soaring temperatures are likely to lead to rising seas and droughts. These dramatic changes threaten the lives of millions of people across the planet, and women–who are responsible for food production and maintaining natural resources in much of the world–will bear the brunt. This is the time for urgent action to halt this trend and for the Bush administration and the US Congress to require US industries to curb emissions."
President Bush's proposals center on allowing industries to regulate themselves and on promoting "clean" energy, including "biofuels." However, MADRE cautions that the promises of these "biofuels" are a false remedy and are more likely to perpetuate the injustices of land rights violations against Indigenous and local people, increase global hunger and destroy biodiversity. More information can be found in the MADRE statement "Feed People, Not Cars: Agrofuels are no Solution to Climate Change, " located here: /index.php?s=4&news=101.
MADRE emphasizes that the damages of climate change will be felt most severely among those least at fault and at the greatest risk. The organization further stresses the centrality of Indigenous Peoples, particularly women, in this discussion, whose input is often ignored by governments but whose knowledge is essential to preserve local biodiversity and food security.
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Yifat Susskind, MADRE's Communications Director, worked for several years as part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian human rights organization in Jerusalem before joining MADRE. She has written extensively on US foreign policy and women's human rights; her critical analysis has appeared in online and print publications such as TomPaine.com, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The W Effect: Bush's War on Women, published by the Feminist Press in 2004. Ms. Susskind has been featured as a commentator on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio. She is the coordinator of MADRE's upcoming Food for Life Campaign.
Victoria Tauli Corpuz is Executive Director of the Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Center for Policy Research & Education), which has United Nations consultative status and is based in Baguio City, Philippines. Ms. Tauli Corpuz was the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations; serves as the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples (UNPFII); and is a member of the Asia Indigenous Women's Network. She has a Nursing degree; is an Indigenous activist who is committed to the recognition, protection, and promotion of Indigenous Peoples' rights worldwide; and has been defending the rights and cultures of Indigenous Peoples for more than 30 years.