WTO Public Forum 2009: Global Problems, Global Solutions: Towards Better Global Governance
Further down are the transcripts of
The impact of the global economic crisis on developing countries, in particular LDCs, and the role of trade financing.
Finance for Trade: Effort to restart the enginePart transcript from the forum Audio. [For the scientific comments (rejoinders) that the forum format (one question, one "answer") did not allow to be advanced: See our letter to Letter to Mr Pascal Lamy ]
"My name is Helmut Lubbers. I represent civil society, by means of a small NGO.
Last year I had a question and then I got a reply.
This time I have a statement and after the statement I want to ask a question.
Last year I asked whether the people would understand that the earth is finite.
This time... And I got the wrong answer and I wrote this to Mr. Lamy.
This time I would like to make a statement by showing a picture.
The picture is this one:
And the picture says, the picture says that if we "restart the engine", which is the title of this session, we are continuing to grow the economy and to accelerate the depletion of non-renewable resources.
And my question is still the same question as every time in every one of these single meetings: Why do you not understand that we cannot continue to grow?
And I have another another book here. Normally I don't take books. It says "Overshoo...". Well, "Overshoo..." is lacking one letter or two letters. It says "overshoot". Which is a prediction of overshoot. Actually, we have overshot the Earth's carrying capacity.
And this is not an ideology. This is an environmentally, scienfically proven fact. Scienfically, environmentally proven fact is also that economic growth is always material.
And what Mr Lamy answered last year, by saying that we have to internalise the externalities: It does not work. It does not reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources."
The theoretical concept of internalisation has no practical value. How could one measure the value of a singing bird and then internalise this in the cost of cutting down a hedge between two fields? ]
"Again the question we had last year about the exhausting [of] available resources. And I am afraid my answer this year will be very similar to last year's.
We know we now have to operate under environmental constraints. Everybody agrees with that.
The question is: How do we do that? And there are several ways of doing it.
But in a market economy the normal avenue is to internalise environmental costs that are not factored in by market forces. Now you can do that through regulation. You can do that through taxation. You can do that through semi-market mechanisms like carbon trade for CO2. The toolbox is there.
The question is: How much of that can be done individually and how much of that has to be done collectively?
And the environment is an obvious place where doing things individually doesn't make much sense. Hence the necessity to step up at international level the sort of internalisation machinery. And we know that inevitably at international level things will be slower than at national level. But there is no other option than doing this. And we are well placed in the WTO to know that that's the right way to accept collective disciplines. But you have to negociate them.
And you have a very good example of this in Copenhagen, where the problem of the burden sharing, of who does what, is on the table.
And you know, unless and until people agree to accept and sort of internalise these constraints, things will not happen. I'm sorry. But at the end of the day this is something which is a political issue.
Now, NGOs pushing, that's absolutely fine. Why do we have now a negotion in the WTO on disciplines on fisheries subsidies, which was not our sort of normal cup of tea? If you look at 60 years of GATT, we never stepped into fishing or fisheries activity. Now the reason why we now have a negotiation on this is because the problem of depletion of fish resources and a part of this has to do with subsidies. And then a discipline has to be put on subsidies, which of course creates a big negotiation on what's a big boat, a small boat, coastal fishing, high sea fishing, all this negotiating that needs to enter into international level. But I don't thinlk there is any other way out.
And on the zero growth: I have exactly the same answer as my neighbour, which by the way happens to be the answer I gave last year. Which is that if I'm in Laos, if I'm in Benin, if I'm in Paraguay, if I'm in Yemen: Preaching zero growth attracts zero attention. For an obvious reason, which is that people are extremely poor and that they want to be a bit better off."
Letter sent to Mr Pascal Lamy: