Declaration - Climate change: the responsibilty to make a difference

SI Council, Costa Rica, 23-24 January 2012



The Socialist International Council, gathered in Costa Rica, has held in-depth exchanges on “Our struggle for climate justice: the tasks after Durban and the road to Rio+20”. Our definition of climate justice is centred on our stated objectives for reductions in emissions, limiting the global temperature increase, promoting sustainable development and biodiversity and ensuring adequate funding for mitigation and adaptation.

San José is a highly symbolic place from which to be reaffirming our commitment to a sustainable future for our planet. We are in a country where biodiversity is celebrated and the natural environment is given great importance. Costa Rica ranks 3rd in the global Environmental Performance Index; the proportion of the country covered by forest has risen from 24% in 1985 to around 46% today. The actions taken by our comrades in government here in Costa Rica should be a model for our movement.

Equally, the Caribbean is an area of the planet where climate change threatens to have the greatest impact, as the region of the world containing the most Small Island Developing States (SIDS); 23 of the 52 SIDS listed by ECOSOC are in the Caribbean. All SIDS are vulnerable from higher exposure to external shocks which leave them requiring international support that has to date been inadequate and suffer more frequent and intense natural disasters as well as fuel, food, and financial crises. The gravest danger facing many SIDS, however, is their complete disappearance, threatened as they are by rising sea levels caused by the global temperature increase.

For all these reasons, the Council of the Socialist International resolves to renew the commitment of the organization to multilateral action on climate change, to ensure that areas of biodiversity such as those found throughout Costa Rica are preserved for generations to come, to protect the continued existence and development of SIDS and to enable a future where all development is sustainable, the green economy and climate justice is the standard by which the impact of all actions is measured.


Recognising the contribution of the government of South Africa to the agreement of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, the Council underlines the need to continue working within the structure of the UNFCCC as the only way to conclude the legally binding agreement for which our movement has striven.

Alongside the UNFCCC process, which will continue with COP18 in Qatar at the end of 2012, the Council recognises the importance of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June and welcomes the publication of the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document, which contains many positive commitments, echoing our goals in its resolve “to pursue the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

The Council calls on all Heads of State and Government from our political family to make the commitment to attend the Earth Summit and make it a success. Our organisation has member parties represented in the governments of over 40 countries on all continents and we must ensure that this is converted into global political influence. To this end, the Socialist International will hold a meeting of leaders and representatives from our member parties attending Rio+20 to discuss our common aims and objectives for the summit.

More than two years have now passed since Copenhagen and the hopes we then held for a conclusive, legally-binding agreement on emissions reduction have yet to be realised, remaining some distance away. We have been on this path for some time and as social democrats we have to try ever harder to achieve these goals.

The Socialist International and its Commission for a Sustainable World Society have been at the forefront of calls for action on climate change, but we need a movement-wide effort. In government and in opposition we have to place climate change front and centre on our agenda and our manifesto. To make this a success we need to convince the electorate using the arguments we have heard here in Costa Rica and elsewhere to underline that the longer we wait for decisive action the more costly it will be in the long run.

Action and climate change and recovery from the financial crisis are not mutually exclusive and can go hand in hand. We must reject any notion that the sacrifices required under austerity measures imposed in various countries necessitate a reduction in investment in renewable energy and the green economy.

Development can and must be green. Investment in the green economy brings both short and long-term benefits and must be encouraged at every opportunity. As we have stated, for developing countries to realised their potential their economies must be allowed to grow, and the only way to do this in a sustainable way is with financial assistance, technological support and close partnership and cooperation.

In order to make ourselves heard we must lead by example. SI member-parties in government must make their administrations the greenest ever and challenge others to do the same. In opposition we must come up with viable greener alternatives to policies that would harm our planet. Members in developed countries have an even greater responsibility to both reduce emissions and ensure that the Green Climate Fund is adequately funded.

With our 160 member parties and organisations united behind our common goal of a low carbon society with climate justice at its core, the Socialist International can truly make a difference, and each of us carries this responsibility away from Costa Rica. Time is running out and it is our task to make 2012 a year when the world begins the process of halting and reversing climate change.