Questions as Rio Summit nears

2012-06-11 08:29
The year 2010 has tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record for global surface temperature, US government scientists have said. (AP)

The year 2010 has tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record for global surface temperature, US government scientists have said. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Twenty years ago, a burst of sunny optimism radiated from Rio de Janeiro as world leaders staged a meeting that would prove pivotal.

Amid post-Cold War euphoria and a desire to tackle the problems of the looming millennium, the UN's 1992 Earth Summit inscribed protection of the planet on the world's priority list.

It set down a blueprint, Agenda 21, for sustaining nature rather than destroying it, and created UN mechanisms designed to stop the oncoming juggernauts of climate change, desertification and species loss.

Leaders gather once more in Rio from June 20-22 for the 20-year follow-up to that great event.

But how very different the world is today, and how much darker the mood.

Financial calamity

By almost every yardstick, as the UN Environment Programme (Unep) reported in a landmark assessment last week, our planet is sicker than ever.

Despite the rising prosperity in China, India and other emerging giants, billions remain in the rut of poverty.

And as the world's financial calamity nears its fourth anniversary, the ability - and will - of countries to embrace green growth is badly constrained.

"Governments are mired in crisis and their eyes are fixed on the present, whereas Rio+20 requires them to calmly draw up a future for the planet," said Brice Lalonde, a former French environment minister who is co-coordinator of the summit.

"It's hard to do the two things at the same time. But that, in principle, is what heads of state are there for."

Around 115 leaders are expected for the summit, which will cap more than a week of meetings gathering as many as 50 000 activists, business executives and policymakers.

This frenzy of contacts and deal-making could well be more fruitful than the UN process itself, say some. The nation-state system remains traumatised by the failures of the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen.

Panic

There is "a risk of division between developed countries, emerging countries, poor countries, the risk of failure because there may be other pressing matters", France's new president, Francois Hollande, said on Friday.

"The world is today turned toward the economic crisis, the financial crisis, and is worried about a certain number of conflicts, such as Syria... might easily turn away from what is however the top priority, the environment."

Already, many in the green movement fear that Rio+20 will fall dismally short of guiding the planet toward better health and a brighter future 20 years from now.

Behind the scenes, there is incipient panic over the draft summit communiqué.

The charter is supposed to sum up the challenges and spell out pledges to nurture the oceans, roll back climate change, promote clean growth and provide decent water, sanitation and electricity for all.

There have so far been three rounds of "informal informal" negotiations on the document, the last of which - an emergency session - ran in New York from 29 May to 2 June.

Out of 329 paragraphs, only 70, or 21%, have been settled.

Protest

The rest of the text is lost in a sea of brackets, denoting discord, as countries squabble over the level of ambition.

The biggest divergences lie in four areas, according to sources close to the negotiations.

They include action on climate change, protecting the oceans and achieving food security, and whether "Sustainable Development Goals" should replace the Millennium Development Goals when these objectives expire in 2015.

The drafting panel meets in Rio for three days from Wednesday in a new bid to end the deadlock.

"As things currently stand, we are facing two likely scenarios - an agreement so weak it is meaningless or complete collapse," said WWF's director general, Jim Leape.

For radicals, a parallel "People's Summit" in Rio will be the chance to ram home their message that the world's economic model is broken and tinkering with it is pointless.

In their view, it has neither protected the environment nor ended poverty, and now its failure has engulfed many rich countries too.

"The tone of the People's Summit will be one of protest," said Bazileu Alves Margarido of a Brazilian NGO, the Institute for Democracy and Sustainable Development.

"We see Rio+20 as offering no hope, no political will by countries to change things."

Read more on:    un  |  climate change  |  rio climate conference
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA ad scores nearly half a millions hits on YouTube

The DA's "Ayisafani" (It's not the same) election TV advert - originally pulled off the air by the SABC - has garnered nearly half a million views on YouTube.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.