Petro Raises a Global Transformations Agenda at CELAC Summit

The Colombian president proposes to use renewable natural resources and ecosystems of global importance as “cards” of geopolitical negotiation.

Jan 24, 2023

On Tuesday, Colombian President Gustavo Petro spoke at the 7th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Buenos Aires, where he presented an agenda to face the global climate crisis through concrete economic transformations.

After highlighting the importance of integration and recalling the European experience, he pointed out that Latin American countries can overcome their development limitations if they come together to increase the region’s geopolitical weight in the current world order.

To achieve this, he proposes to collectively address what constitutes the main problem facing humanity today, which he defined by referring to the exponential imbalances that contemporary capitalism generates in ecosystems.

Petro then pointed out the need to gradually generate a form of capitalism that accepts public planning on a global scale to achieve the energy transition. This process, in turn, requires an international financial system that agrees to swap foreign debt for climate-related projects.

In contemporary capitalism, the consumption of oil, gas, and coal, as well as the voracity to accumulate profits, can render human societies unviable in a matter of a couple of centuries, Petro argued.

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To prevent this trend from consolidating, the Colombian President proposed protecting the Amazon rainforest, a territory that harbors “life possibilities for humanity.” Protecting this critically importan ecosystem will be more feasible if societies begin to “devalue fossil capital,” that is, to reduce oil and gas investments.

“The climate crisis can kill us all, even if we reforest the whole world,” he said, adding that “the only way out is to reduce the consumption of oil and coal to zero. This task implies a real change in power relations,” he said.

Finally, Petro proposed setting up an integrated electrical grid in the Americas, which could go from southern Patagonia to Alaska. In this way, the existing renewable resources could be used to the maximum, which also constitutes a geopolitical negotiating card.

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