Climate Change Colombia Gustavo Petro Stanford

A Conversation with Colombian President Gustavo Petro

A Conversation with Colombian President Gustavo Petro was cosponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, Stanford in Government, and the Stanford Society for Latin American Politics. The sold-out event was promoted under, Environmental and Social Justice: A Look from Latin America.

In his lecture, President Petro highlights Latin America’s Potential to Generate Clean Energy and Move Towards a Decarbonized Economy

San Francisco, California, April 18, 2023

“We have enormous potential, in that we are the region of the world, according to current technologies, with the greatest capacity to generate clean energy. Therefore, we have an important role to play in the hypothetical and future scenario of a decarbonized economy.”

This was highlighted by President Gustavo Petro on Tuesday when speaking at the event, “Environmental and Social Justice: A Look from Latin America,” a conversation organized by Stanford University, in the city of San Francisco, California; as part of Petro’s visit to the United States.

According to the President, the development of Latin America’s clean energy potential implies that “Latin America would win,” although it should be taken into account that this future scenario of the decarbonization of their economies has a certain time limit that, according to scientists, covers between ten and twenty years.

“Because – he said – in the scientific theory of the climate crisis there is a point of no return, a point where, whatever you do, the effects are already irreversible and growing, regardless of the will of the human being.”

In this sense, before directors, teachers and students of the university faculty, the Head of State warned that decisions to accelerate said transition must be made quickly, since the climate crisis clock does not admit delays.

“The decisions are now,” he maintained and added:

“It is this decade, it is this government and the next one,” because “if the next government is one of the people who do not believe, they refuse or respond to fossil interests, economically or politically speaking , humanity will run out of time.”



For this reason, President Petro considered that it is a huge mistake to continue insisting on the extractivist economies of oil and coal as the basis of economic development in Latin America and, in general, in the world.

“It is a huge mistake. This is the discussion in my country, which has lived off oil for decades. It is a huge mistake, first, economic, because humanity has to give up oil and coal. So to depend exclusively on that is to depend on a thread that is going to break.”

In his speech, the President also considered that the climate crisis is the effect of capital accumulation, and in this regard he stated: “Can capitalism overcome the climate crisis? From the pure concept of political economy, the answer is no.”

According to the President, dependence on fossil fuels has generated what at the recent Davos Summit has called the “polycrisis” that currently overwhelms humanity.

Faced with this polycrisis, which threatens to lead the human being to extinction, President Petro raised two fundamental elements to put into practice: planning the transition towards a decarbonized economy and the leadership of a new public power, which is the people. itself, capable of carrying out and making this transition a reality.

On these two elements, the Head of State explained: “We have to accept a short and pragmatic path, which also implies political complexity, and that is not the market that is going to solve the climate crisis and, therefore, the life of humanity, but we would have to build a new space from the point of view of the history of planning the transition of technological change from fossil capital to a decarbonized economy.”

“There should be more public power, capable of planning. And this public power would not have to be exclusively national, but would have to make the States of the world operate in a new multilateralism,” he maintained.

For President Petro, it is a “global public power, capable of regulating capital, to do the task that capital cannot do, which is the transition to a decarbonized economy, in order to save life on the planet.”

To learn more, read Petro’s speech


Dr. Soledad Quartucci | Founder

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