International,  Science,  The Left

Chavez’s blind spot on climate change

While most of the opposition to serious and realistic action against manmade climate change comes from the political Right, we shouldn’t forget the role of certain elements of the Left– who are content simply to denounce capitalism as the culprit and suggest that no solution is possible without its demise.

The Australian reports that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez “brought the house down” when he spoke at the Copenhagen climate summit.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ – “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell….let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.

And the Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi – who made a sensible and considered and detailed proposal about how to get financing to help climate change adaptation and mitigation in poor countries? He was far less enthusiastically received.

The irony– which I’m sure some people will miss and others with deliberately ignore– is that Chavez is in charge of the world’s fourth largest oil producer, the state-owned PDVSA.

You know, oil. Black gold, Texas tea. As in fossil fuel, as in leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, as in the resource on which the Venezuelan economy almost solely depends and which has enabled Chavez to tighten his grip on power over the past 10 years.

There’s a fuller account of Chavez’s speech on the pro-Chavez I can find no evidence that he acknowledged Venezuela’s utter dependence on exports of oil– or that he has thought about Venezuela’s future in a less oil-dependent world.

(Hat tip: Caracas Chronicles)

Meles Zenawi is the prime minister, not the president, of Ethiopia.

(Hat tip: Michael Cross)

Further update: Caracas Chronicles has a chart comparing Venezuela’s per capita CO2 emissions to other Latin American countries.