Rio 20

Rio-Inspired Optimism (If Not Optimism About Rio)

If the goal was to get the world focused on sustainable development, then this definitely counts as terrible timing.

With global leaders pressured by the unending European debt saga—which most recently has engulfed Spain, the euro zone’s fourth largest economy—it’s not surprising that environmental concerns aren’t exactly at the front of their minds. Accordingly, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, and David Cameron aren’t attending the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (dubbed “Rio+20”), which opens in today in Brazil’s “Marvelous City.” They’re dispatching their administrations’ next tier personages in their stead—still heavyweights (especially in Hillary Clinton’s case), but the move hardy suggests that Rio is at the top of the global agenda.

Indeed, the gloom and pessimism about this mega-environmental conference is manifest. In one sad tweet, Bill Easterly of New York University commented, “Delegates gather in Rio to commemorate 20 years of nothing happening since a UN Summit where nothing happened.” In fact, leaked negotiating text from the summit suggests we can expect a statement full of good intentions, expressing much concern, oh yes much concern about our environmental plight–but few commitments to do anything.

In other words, more of the same.

In the 20 years since the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the world has clearly failed to fulfill that event’s lofty goals. And perhaps that was too much to ever expect. Describing the ethos of that bygone era, Mikhail Gorbachev recently put it this way: “there was an overwhelming air of enthusiasm and hope for the future. It was a time of optimism and, in retrospect, innocence, as everyone celebrated the end of the Cold War.”

Breaking: Leaked Rio+20 Earth Summit Final Agreed Text - Utterly Inadequate Response to Global Crises

DeSmogBlog has obtained the final negotiating text that will emerge from the Rio+20 Earth Summit and it is an utter disappointment to anyone who hoped that world leaders would pull together a meaningful global agreement on ending fossil fuel subsidies or other needed steps to protect future generations from resource depletion and global climate change.

Read the final text here: “The Future We Want”[.DOC] or [.PDF provided by DeSmog for those without Word]

Update: The Guardian (which first posted the text earlier today) has this summary of the implications:

Barring a last-minute rejection by one of the main negotiating blocks, the draft that will be presented to the 100 leaders attending the summit will contain almost no timetables, definitions or ways to monitor new sustainable development goals, nor will it strongly commit nations to move to a “green economy” that integrates environmental and social costs into decision-making.

Instead, civil society groups say the new text simply acknowledges the world's dire environmental and social problems without spelling out how to deal with them. 

Read the early reactions to the final text below from Greenpeace and WWF

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