Colombia’s Leftist Ex-Guerrilla President Debuts ‘Ten Commandments’ for Climate Change

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - AUGUST 07: President of Colombia Gustavo Petro speaks during the presid
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Colombia’s far-left President Gustavo Petro delivered a speech to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt on Monday in which he called for an immediate halt to using fossil fuels and presented a list of “ten commandments” to fight off climate change.

Petro, a former member of the Marxist M19 guerrilla, waged a fierce campaign against fossil fuels — which is at the top of Colombia’s export list — throughout his presidential campaign and has continued condemning them after he took office as the South American nation’s first leftist president in August.

On several occasions, Petro has denounced hydrocarbons to be “more poisonous” to mankind than cocaine, offering a passionate defense of the drug during his first U.N. General Assembly Speech in September. His fierce condemnation of fossil fuels through his COP27 speech is a continuation of Petro’s crusade against coal, oil, natural gas, and other critical fuel sources.

Both of Colombia’s oil and coal industries will soon see hefty tax hikes as part of Petro’s ambitious and extensive tax reform, recently approved by the Colombian Congress.

“Science has spoken. The climate crisis is humanity’s main problem, it can and has the potential to end life on the planet and the existence of the human species,” Petro began his speech.

During his approximately seven-minute address, Petro claimed that the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings no longer provide answers and that “time has run out” to fight off climate change.

As such, Petro, on behalf of Colombia, presented a list of “ten commandments” that, according to him, will “save the life of the planet and avoid the extinction of the human species.”

“Decarbonization is a real and profound change in the dominating economic system. It is the hour of humanity and not of the markets,” Petro asserted. Much of Petro’s list of ten “world-saving” demands is intended to completely steer the world away from fossil fuels, calling for heads of state and world leaders to put “politics in command to generate the global plan to disconnect from hydrocarbons and decarbonization.”

“The market is not the main mechanism to overcome the climate crisis. It is the market and the accumulation of capital that produced it and they will never be its remedy,” Petro’s second demand read.

“It is only public and global, multilateral planning that allows us to move to a global decarbonized economy. The UN must be the scene of such planning,” his third demand continued.

“The climate crisis can only be overcome if we stop consuming hydrocarbons. It is time to devalue the hydrocarbon economy with defined dates for its end and to value the branches of the decarbonized economy. The solution is a world without oil and without coal,” Petro’s sixth demand read.

Petro’s ninth commandment demanded, “The world’s private and multilateral banks must stop financing the hydrocarbon economy.”

Petro dedicated one of his ten demands to attacking the International Monetary Fund (IMF), demanding the organization “initiate the program of exchanging debt for investment in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change in all the developing countries of the world.” 

Petro also stated through one of his “commandments” that Colombia will budget $200 million per year for 20 years to “saving the Amazon Rainforest.” 

“We look forward to global contribution,” Petro said. Petro’s proposals to “save” the Amazon rainforest were backed by Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, who was also participating in the COP27 summit.

On Tuesday, Petro once again lashed out against the IMF for its alleged role in fighting climate change.

“We don’t need them [IMF] to give us the money from the budgets of the rich countries. We need many of the poor countries, all the developing countries, to be freed from debt payments, so that the money that today goes to the financial sector, goes towards climate action,” Petro claimed.

The Colombian president’s condemnation of fossil fuels was met with backlash from Colombian politicians. Colombian former Sen. Jorge Enrique Robledo criticized Petro’s speech as “nonsense” on Monday.

“If Colombia only contributes 0.5 percent of the world’s total carbon, how does our sacrifice serve humanity? How long are you going to insist on your nonsense, so harmful to Colombia?” the former senator asked.

Federico Gutiérrez, a conservative candidate Petro defeated for the presidency, accused Petro of putting Colombia on the path to “misery.”

“President Petro, wouldn’t it be better to make a serious and responsible energy transition? Dispensing with oil and coal in the short term will lead Colombia to levels of misery. Did you know that Colombia contributes 0.4 percent of greenhouse gasses worldwide?” Gutiérrez wrote.

Petro’s predecessor, Iván Duque — who was also present at the COP27 summit to promote a book — limited himself to “advise” Petro on the state of Colombia’s economy at a time when the value of the nation’s currency, the Colombian peso, has dropped to historic lows of over 5,000 Pesos per United States dollar.

“We must maintain confidence in the country, continue bringing investment to Colombia and that the country can stabilize its currency,” Duque said. “There are several currencies that have been depreciating, a year 2023 is coming that can be very hard. If confidence cannot be maintained, the devaluation will continue.”

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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