Far-Left Colombian President Tells Davos Humanity Must ‘Overcome Capitalism’

President of Colombia Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego talks on a podium at the World Econom
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

Colombia’s far-left President Gustavo Petro told the World Economic Forum, a gathering of the world’s global elite, on Wednesday that surviving climate change requires humans to “overcome capitalism.”

Petro proposed at the annual gathering taking place in Davos, Switzerland, that the solution was to create “decarbonized capitalism” to “prevent the planet’s extinction.”

The remarks were given during a WEF panel titled “Leading the Charge Through Earth’s New Normal,” where Petro, a former member of the Marxist M19 terrorist guerrilla, participated alongside former vice-president Al Gore and other speakers.

Petro told the other members of the panel the planet is reaching “a point of no return” in regard to combating climate change. 

“Can the capitalism that we have known in the last 30 or 40 years overcome the climate crisis that it helped to cause?” Petro asked the panel. He answered his own question by stating that, “if the answer is no, we are wasting time, as we approach the point of no return.”

The far-left president continued his denouncement of capitalism by saying that free economies have “caused a kind of global anarchy of capitalisms, of individual corporate capitalists trying to maximize their profit,” which, according to him, relies on the use of coal, oil, and gas as sources of energy.

Petro has maintained a fierce crusade against the use of fossil fuels – some of Colombia’s top exports – since long before his election to the presidency. On several occasions, Petro has claimed that hydrocarbons are “more poisonous” to mankind than cocaine, most notably during his first U.N. General Assembly speech in September 2022.

The Colombian president continued his gloomy address to the WEF by saying, “we have to put an end to this if we wish to live on our planet.”

“Can our capitalism do this? Based on the current data, we won’t be able to do so,” Petro continued. “If capitalism is not capable, either humanity is extinguished by capitalism, or humanity overcomes capitalism to be able to live on the planet.”

As such, he proposed “decarbonized capitalism” as a solution to the world-ending scenario he fervently presented, one that he said would have to make “some fundamental changes in the way of living.”

“For example, that capitalism would have to say explicitly that the only way to stop the climate crisis is to bring coal and oil consumption to zero. Zero emissions,” Petro explained.

The Colombian president added that, for his vision of a “decarbonized capitalism” to work, the United Nations’ Climate Change Conferences (COP) must have binding power.

“That is, that their decisions are orders,” Petro suggested, which “would imply that the treaties of the World Trade Organization, that the treaties of the International Monetary Fund, are subject to climate agreements and not the other way around.”

During his participation at the Climate Change Conference (COP27) held in Egypt in November, Petro made calls for the immediate end of the use of fossil fuels and 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.”

Petro referred to his words espoused during his COP27 participation, where he demanded that countries be “freed from debt payments” so that money can go towards “climate action.”

“Today, all countries are over-indebted. How are we going to get more into debt to make the transition?” He asked.

The Colombian president concluded his participation at the WEF panel by asserting that “these issues, which a decarbonized capitalism would address, are not in the discussion today. And as long as they are gone, there is no human capacity to move to a decarbonized economy.”

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


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