China org: China celebrates 30 yrs of conserving biodiversity




НазваниеChina org: China celebrates 30 yrs of conserving biodiversity
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AND (Spain): Cronología de la lucha internacional para controlar el cambio climático


11th April 2011


La Convención Marco de Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático clausura hoy en Bangkok una nueva ronda de conversaciones sin un acuerdo mundial, cuando el año que viene vence el Protocolo de Kioto.

El Grupo Intergubernamental sobre Cambio Climático (IPCC) pronosticó hace cuatro años que la temperatura aumentará entre 1,8 y 4 grados en este siglo y advirtió a las partes negociadoras que se trata de un fenómeno "inequívoco" y que algunos de sus efectos son ya "irreversibles".

A continuación se ofrece una cronología de la lucha contra el cambio climático desde la que está considerada la primera reunión sobre el efecto invernadero.

1960.- Se celebra en Londres la tercera sesión de la Comisión de Climatología de la Organización Meteorológica Mundial (OMM).

1972.- Primera conferencia internacional de Naciones Unidas sobre Medio Ambiente Humano, en Estocolmo, de la que surgirá, al año siguiente, el Programa de la ONU para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA).

1979.- Primera Conferencia Mundial sobre el Clima, en Ginebra.

1985.- La Conferencia de la ONU en Villach (Austria) aborda el papel de los gases responsables del efecto invernadero.

1983.- Se crea la Comisión sobre Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas (CNUMAD).

1988.- Se establece el Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre Cambio Climático (IPCC).

1990.- El IPCC publica en Sundsvall (Suecia) su primer informe de evaluación con evidencias científicas del cambio climático.

1992.- Se adopta la Convención Marco de Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático, declaración de principios que entrará en vigor el 21 de marzo de 1994.

- En junio, se celebra en Río de Janeiro (Brasil) la Cumbre de la Tierra, en la que se firma el convenio marco que compromete a los países firmantes a adoptar medidas para mitigar las emanaciones de gases responsables del calentamiento atmosférico.

1995.- Se inaugura en Berlín la Primera Conferencia de las Partes (COP1), órgano supremo de la Convención Marco de la ONU sobre el Cambio Climático, con la misión de examinar regularmente la aplicación de la misma.

1996.- COP2, en Ginebra: ya se habla de "comercio de emisiones".

1997.- COP3 en Kioto (Japón).

- El 11 de diciembre se adopta el Protocolo de Kioto, un acuerdo sin precedentes que obliga a 38 países industrializados, más la Unión Europea (UE), a reducir en un 5 por ciento las emisiones de seis gases responsables del efecto invernadero sobre los niveles de 1990 entre los años 2008 y 2012.

1998.- El Protocolo de Kioto se abre a la firma en la sede de Naciones Unidas, en Nueva York.

- El 29 de abril, los países de la UE lo firman conjuntamente.

- Se clausura COP4 en Buenos Aires sin concretar los mecanismos de protección acordados en Kioto.

1999.- COP5, en Bonn (Alemania): se agrandan las divisiones entre países ricos y pobres.

2001.- COP7, en Marraquech (Marruecos): establece los aspectos jurídicos del Protocolo de Kioto.

2006.- Entra en vigor el Protocolo de Kioto el 16 de febrero, con la incorporación de Rusia y las ausencias de Estados Unidos, China, India y Australia.

- Se inaugura en Oslo la primera bolsa mundial para la compraventa de emisiones de dióxido de carbono (CO2).

2006.- COP12, en Nairobi: aprueba iniciar una revisión del Protocolo de Kioto en 2008.

2007.- El IPCC presenta en Valencia (España) el 17 de noviembre un informe que afirma que el cambio climático es un fenómeno "inequívoco" y que algunos de sus efectos son "irreversibles".

- El 3 de diciembre, Australia ratifica el Protocolo de Kioto.

- El 15 de diciembre, se clausura la COP13 en Bali (Indonesia) con el acuerdo de negociar un acuerdo que sustituya al de Kioto en 2012.

2009.- COP15, en Copenhague: las divisiones dejan en suspenso el papel de la ONU en la lucha contra el cambio climático.

2010.- COP16, en Cancún (México): se rescata el proceso multilateral y el protagonismo de Naciones Unidas y se crea el Fondo Verde.

2011.- En abril, los grupos de trabajo de la Convención Marco de la ONU sobre Cambio Climático se reúnen en Bangkok para intentar acercar posiciones.

- Del 28 de noviembre al 9 de diciembre, se celebrará la COP17 en Durban (Sudáfrica), la última reunión prevista antes de que venza el Protocolo de Kioto.


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Diaria Ecologia (): La capa de ozono llega a su peor deterioro en la historia de la humanidad


8th April 2011


La capa de ozono en el Polo Norte sufre un nivel de destrucción sin precedentes. A finales del mes pasado, la disminución de la capa que protege la Tierra de los rayos ultravioleta fue del 40%, según ha informado el Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas francés (CNRS). Este récord se debe a los fuertes vientos conocidos cómo ‘vórtice polar’ que aísla la masa atmosférica sobre el Polo Norte e impide que se mezcle con el aire procedente de latitudes medias.

Como resultado, se ha dado “un invierno estratosférico muy frío y persistente que ha conducido a una destrucción del ozono importante y prolongada hasta el inicio de la primavera”, argumenta el CNRS. La luz del sol de marzo ha golpeado esta masa de aire frío liberando átomos de cloro y bromo que destruyen el ozono. La zona norte del planeta sufre temperaturas muy bajas, creando condiciones similares a las que ocurren cada invierno sobre la Antártida. Este hecho esta ligado a la presencia en la atmósfera de diversos compuestos químicos emitidos por el hombre. Los encontramos en aerosoles, coches, frigoríficos, aire acondicionado, calefacción….Esos compuestos a 80 grados bajo cero, son especialmente nocivos para el ozono. Pues emiten esos gases ricos en cloro y bromo que permanecen durante años en la atmósfera. Por ello, los científicos no descartan que una destrucción similar a la de este año se repita si vuelve a haber inviernos tan fríos.

Este tipo de radiación UV-B daña a los seres humanos, animales y plantas. La radiación ultravioleta puede provocar cáncer piel y cataratas. El Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) pronostica que “a una tasa anual de 10 por ciento de pérdida de ozono durante varias décadas, el aumento en casos de cáncer de piel rondará los 250.000 por año”. Además, la luz ultravioleta reduce la efectividad del sistema inmunológico. La exposición a la radiación UV-B bien puede hacer que el sistema inmunológico tolere la enfermedad en lugar de combatirla.

Si todos y cada uno de nosotros cuidamos los recursos naturales y tratamos de disminuir la contaminación, podríamos acabar con las grandes amenazas a las que se enfrenta el mundo entero. Pues sin la Capa de Ozono seria imposible la vida en nuestro planeta.

¿Qué es la capa de ozono?

A pesar de su frecuente utilización, el término “Capa de ozono” es entendido, generalmente, de una manera que se presta al equívoco. El término sugiere que, a una cierta altura de la atmósfera, existe un nivel de ozono concentrado que cubre y protege la tierra, a modo de un cielo que estuviese encapotado por un estrato nuboso. Lo cierto es que el ozono no está concentrado en un estrato, ni tampoco por lo tanto, está situado a una altura específica, si no que es un gas escaso que está muy diluido en el aire y que, además, aparece desde el suelo hasta más allá de la estratosfera.

La capa de ozono se encuentra en la estratosfera, aproximadamente de 15 a 50 Km. sobre la superficie del planeta.

El ozono es un compuesto inestable de tres átomos de oxígeno, el cual actúa como un potente filtro solar evitando el paso de una pequeña parte de la radiación ultravioleta (UV) llamada B que se extiende desde los 280 hasta los 320 manómetros (nm).

La radiación UV-B puede producir daño en los seres vivos, dependiendo de su intensidad y tiempo de exposición; estos daños pueden abarcar desde irritación a la piel, conjuntivitis y deterioro en el sistema de defensas, hasta llegar a afectar el crecimiento de las plantas y dañando el fitoplancton, con las posteriores consecuencias que esto ocasiona para el normal desarrollo de la fauna marina.

El ozono es un gas tan escaso que, si en un momento lo separásemos del resto del aire y que lo atrajésemos al ras de tierra, tendría solamente 3mm de espesor.

El ozono está en todas partes y a cualquier altura. Incluso en los niveles estratosféricos de máxima concentración relativa es un componente minoritario de la mezcla de gases que componen el aire. En ninguna altura , llega a representar ni el 0,001% del volumen total de aire.


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Estadado (Brazil): Bolívia critica resultados de negociação


9th April 2011


A Bolívia, que foi o único país a não aceitar o Acordo de Cancún no ano passado, novamente criticou os resultados da negociação climática. O embaixador Pablo Solón ressaltou que, com as metas anunciadas até agora pelos países para cortar as emissões dos gases-estufa, as nações em desenvolvimento farão um esforço maior do que as industrializadas.

Ele também lembrou que essas metas ainda estão longe de atingir a ambição necessária para limitar o aumento da temperatura do planeta a 2ºC - que é o nível considerado ainda seguro pelos cientistas.

Suas fontes de informação são o Programa das Nações Unidas para o Meio Ambiente (Pnuma) e o Instituto Ambiental de Estocolmo. "É muito triste o fato de que 16 meses depois da COP-15, em Copenhague, nenhum país melhorou suas metas", afirmou Solón.


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Other Environment News


The Guardian (UK): Search for Japan tsunami victims continues


10th April 2011


Thousands of troops conduct searches, with less than half those killed in disaster thought to have been found

The search is continuing for victims of the tsunami that struck Japan's north-east coast almost a month ago, while officials said they hoped to stop pumping radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea.

More than 20,000 Japanese troops and 110 from the US conducted land, sea and air searches for the thousands of victims whose bodies have yet to be recovered.

One month since the 11 March disaster, fewer than 13,000 of the estimated 28,000 who died have been found. The likelihood of finding more is fading because many have probably been swept out to sea. A similar search last week recovered only 70 bodies.

On a visit to Ishinomaki, where 2,600 of the 163,000 residents were killed and 2,800 are still missing, the prime minister, Naoto Kan, vowed to support the city's recovery. About 17,000 people are still living in evacuation centres, while Ishinomaki's fishing industry, which accounts for 40% of the local economy, may never fully recover. "The government will do its best to help you," Kan said. "We will do everything we can to enable you to start fishing again."

The operation to stabilise the Fukushima plant, meanwhile, is about to enter its fifth week, with no end in sight to the world's worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Nuclear officials said they hoped to stop pumping contaminated water into the sea amid criticism from neighbouring China and South Korea, which have accused Tokyo of incompetence in its handling of the crisis.

Engineers said the buildup of radioactive water during recent attempts to cool Fukushima's overheating reactors left them with little choice but to pump it into the ocean, where it quickly dissipates.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), apologised for the nuclear crisis, which has prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, contaminated local food and water supplies and caused panic as far away as Tokyo, 150 miles to the south. "I would like to offer my deepest apologies for the concern and trouble we are causing due to the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere and water," Tepco's vice-president, Sakae Muto, said.

Workers have been struggling to dispose of 60,000 tonnes of radioactive water that have built up beneath some of the plant's six reactors. "We cannot say what the outlook is for the next stage," Hidehiko Nishiyama, the deputy director-general of Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency, said. "As soon as possible, we would like to achieve stable cooling and set a course towards controlling radiation."

Nearby radiation levels in the sea have fallen in recent days, but pockets of high radiation have frustrated attempts to repair the reactors' cooling systems. On Thursday, workers had to evacuate the plant after a strong aftershock shook the region.


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BBC News (UK): New York set to be big loser as sea levels rise

8th April 2011


New York is a major loser and Reykjavik a winner from new forecasts of sea level rise in different regions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in 2007 that sea levels would rise at least 28cm (1ft) by the year 2100.

But this is a global average; and now a Dutch team has made what appears to be the first attempt to model all the factors leading to regional variations.

Other researchers say the IPCC's figure is likely to be a huge under-estimate.

Whatever the global figure turns out to be, there will be regional differences.

Ocean currents and differences in the temperature and salinity of seawater are among the factors that mean sea level currently varies by up a metre across the oceans - this does not include short-term changes due to tides or winds.

So if currents change with global warming, which is expected - and if regions such as the Arctic Ocean become less saline as ice sheets discharge their contents into the sea - the regional patterns of peaks and troughs will also change.

"Everybody will still have the impact, and in many places they will get the average rise," said Roderik van der Wal from the University of Utrecht, one of the team presenting their regional projections at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna.

"But places like New York are going to have a larger contribution than the average - 20% more in this case - and Reykjavik will be better off."

Of the 13 regions where the team makes specific projections, New York sees the biggest increase from the global average, although Vancouver, Tasmania and The Maldives are also forecast to see above-average impacts.

Gravity trap

One peculiarity of the projections is that areas closer to melting ice sheets will experience a smaller sea level rise than those further away.

This is because ice sheets such as those on Greenland or Antarctica gravitationally attract the water.

This pulls the water towards the coast, effectively making it pile up to an extent that can be measured in centimetres.

If the ice begins to melt, it raises the average sea level simply by entering the sea; but the gravitational pull is now smaller, so locally the sea level may go down.

"So if the Greenland sheet melts more, that's better for New York; but if Antarctica melts, that's worse for New York - and it's equally true for northwestern Europe," Professor van der Wal told BBC News.

The effects are particularly pronounced for Reykjavik, the closest capital to Greenland, which is projected to receive less than half the global average sea level rise.

Ice sheet question

Roderik van der Wal is one of scientists working on the sea level projections that will be included in the next IPCC assessment, due out in 2013-4.

Before then, other scientists are likely to have completed more regional models that can be put into this mix

"We're right at the beginning of making regional projections, and at this point there is still a lot of uncertainty," commented Stefan Rahmstorf, a sea level specialist from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

"But it is clear that some parts of the world will feel sea level rise much more quickly than other parts; and an additional factor is land movements.

"In some places such as a lot of the Scandinavian coastline, the land is rising so fast that they will not have any problem with sea level rise in the near future, whereas in other places the land is subsiding - that includes some of the world's big delta cities."

Just before the last IPCC report came out in 2007, Professor Rahmstorf published research showing that sea levels had been rising faster that climate models predicted.

Since then, he and others, using various techniques, have concluded that somewhere between half a metre and two metres is likely by the end of the century.

He came to the EGU with a further analysis putting the likely range at 0.75-1.9m - the range reflecting uncertainties in how ice sheets may melt, and in how society may or may not respond to the findings of climate scientists by controlling greenhouse gas emissions.


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AFP: EU warns climate talks too slow


8th April 2011


The European Union warned Friday that diplomacy on climate change was moving too slowly after UN-led talks in Bangkok eked out an agreement on an agenda for further negotiations this year.

"Our overall sense is things are moving slow, too slow for Europe's taste. And we cannot achieve what we need to achieve before the end of this year with this speed," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

"Too often too much time is spent on how to proceed," she told reporters on a visit to Washington. "What we need is to come down to the content side of this and that is urgent."

The four-day session in Bangkok, which was marked by feuds between wealthy and developing countries, eventually achieved its goal of setting an agenda leading up to an annual UN climate conference in South Africa in November.

But the Bangkok talks largely put aside big picture issues on how nations will cut their greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Hedegaard said it was critical to move soon on cutting emissions, pointing out that national pledges have not come close to the UN-led goal of containing global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

"What people sometimes forget is that there is a time factor when we talk about the climate. It actually does matter whether we start acting globally sooner or later," she said.

The European Union has championed international action on climate change, including through its "cap-and-trade" system that restricts carbon emissions but allows businesses to trade in credits.

Before Washington, Hedegaard visited California, which is launching the first cap-and-trade system in the United States. The effort by the largest US state marks a sharp contrast with skepticism over climate change in the US Congress.

Hedegaard said she agreed with Governor Jerry Brown to keep in touch so that the EU and California systems may eventually be linkable.

"California is not just a very huge American state, it's also the seventh or eighth largest economy of the world. So of course it's a rather strong signal if it gets done," Hedegaard said.

A bill supported by President Barack Obama to set up a nationwide cap-and-trade system died last year in the Senate, with the rival Republican Party arguing that it would be too costly.

Hedegaard met in Washington with lawmakers from both parties as well as officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, which Obama has tasked with regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Hedegaard said she was fully aware of the political realities in Washington but hoped the United States could move forward.

"It is very hard to understand that in this country it would not be possible to make a policy on, for instance, how to address energy efficiency, because the potential is just that big," she said.


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AP: World stumbles toward climate summit


9th April 2011


Nineteen years after the world started to take climate change seriously, delegates from around the globe spent five days talking about what they will talk about at a year-end conference in South Africa. They agreed to talk about their opposing viewpoints.

Delegates from 173 nations did agree that delays in averting global warming merely fast-forward the risk of plunging the world into "catastrophe." The delegate from Bolivia noted that the international effort, which began with a 1992 U.N. convention, has so far amounted to "throwing water on a forest fire."

But the U.N. meeting in Bangkok, which concluded late Friday after delegates cobbled together a broad agenda for the December summit, failed to narrow the deep divisions between the developing world and the camp of industrialized nations led by the United States. These may come to plague the summit in Durban.

Generally, developing nations, pointing to the industrialized world as the main culprit behind global warning, want an international treaty that would legally bind countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Washington and others reject it, focusing instead on building on the modest decisions made at last December's summit in Cancun, Mexico.

The Durban agenda calls for discussion on both viewpoints.

"I believe that we now have a solid basis to move forward collectively and that governments can deliver further good results this year, provided every effort is made to compromise," the U.N.'s top climate change official Christiana Figueres said. She expressed regret that the road to Durban is proving a slow one.

Although the Bangkok conference was not geared to tackle the core issues, some movement was at least expected in implementing decisions reached at Cancun. These included the formation of a multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund to aid developing nations obtain clean-energy technology, setting up a global structure for these nations to obtain patented technology for clean energy and climate adaptation and rounding out a plan to compensate poorer nations for protecting their climate-friendly forests.

Some deadlines for accomplishing these have already passed and it appears little of substance was accomplished in Bangkok, with that work being passed on to the next meeting set for June in Bonn, Germany.

Although also not a pledging session, there was no indication that nations were prepared, in U.N. parlance, to "raise their ambitions," or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases above earlier pledges.

The current total pledges are deemed by the United Nations to fall way short of cuts required to keep temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels — an agreement reached in Cancun by 193 countries.

"We have regrettably spent the entire week negotiating the agenda," said Dessima Williams from the Caribbean island of Grenada. "This is unacceptable, and especially so for small islands who are running out of time if we are to avoid damage from rising sea levels and other climate change impacts. We cannot go on negotiating forever."

But that's what seems in the cards.

Developing countries are keen to preserve the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only international existing agreement on reducing emissions. It is expiring at the end of 2012 and some countries, including Russia and Japan, have signaled that they would not make further pledges under an extended protocol.

The European Union is undecided and the United States, which rejected Kyoto, favors each country setting its own targets for emissions but has not ruled out an international pact if all major economies, including China, now the world's no. 1 emitter, are parties.

"We are not prepared to go forward with the binding obligation for ourselves which would not apply to the other major economies," chief U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing told a news conference.

Environmental activists at the conference mostly backed the developing world position, and, noting the unfolding nuclear plant disaster in Japan, urged a global move away from both fossil fuels and nuclear power toward clean, renewable energy sources.

"For five years, rich countries have been ducking and weaving over their commitment to legally binding targets. The Bangkok meeting has finally given us clarity on countries' real intentions — most of them have been paying lip service to being serious about tackling climate change," said Asad Reham of Friends of the Earth.

Pablo Solon, the Bolivian delegate, said that even reaching the 2-degree goal would prove "unsafe for millions of lives and livelihoods across the world."

Citing figures from the U.N. and Stockholm Environment Institute, he said that to meet even that target, the world would need to cut emissions by 14 gigatons each year by 2020. At best, he said, countries currently have pledged to reduce emissions by 8.7 gigatons, at worst 6.6 gigatons with more of the pledges coming from the developing rather than industrialized world.

Under the 1992 U.N. treaty, the world's nations promised to do their best to rein in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases emitted by industry, transportation and agriculture.

Since then, scientists have warned that without dramatic reductions in emissions, the world will risk inundation of islands and coastal areas as polar ice caps melt. Other foreseen dangers include the melting of river-feeding glaciers, the extinction of plant and animals species and extreme, unpredictable weather conditions.


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The Guardian (UK): Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother Earth


10th April 2011

Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation

Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".

"It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all", said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. "It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration."

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

But the abstract new laws are not expected to stop industry in its tracks. While it is not clear yet what actual protection the new rights will give in court to bugs, insects and ecosystems, the government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman. It is also committed to giving communities new legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries.

Bolivia has long suffered from serious environmental problems from the mining of tin, silver, gold and other raw materials. "Existing laws are not strong enough," said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. "It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels."

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia's traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change. "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values," he said.

Little opposition is expected to the law being passed because President Evo Morales's ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.

However, the government must tread a fine line between increased regulation of companies and giving way to the powerful social movements who have pressed for the law. Bolivia earns $500m (£305m) a year from mining companies which provides nearly one third of the country's foreign currency.

In the indigenous philosophy, the Pachamama is a living being.

The draft of the new law states: "She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation."

Ecuador, which also has powerful indigenous groups, has changed its constitution to give nature "the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution". However, the abstract rights have not led to new laws or stopped oil companies from destroying some of the most biologically rich areas of the Amazon.
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