Rio conference ends with a whimper

2012-06-23 11:46

The world’s most significant environmental conference in 20 years has finished the way it started – with a whimper.

At the heart of the disappointment around the Rio +20 summit was a wide-ranging outcome document setting out action to create a sustainable planet – The Future We Want.

Environmental groups were scathing about the document’s lack of commitments and pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, as well as firm targets to grow renewable energy.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo labelled the summit a failure.

“We didn’t get the future we want in Rio, because we do not have the leaders we need. The leaders of the most powerful countries supported business as usual, shamefully putting private profit before people and the planet,” Naidoo said.

But the EU’s environment commissioner, Janez Potocnik, said the agreement was the best the world could get at this stage.

The conference was marred by the tension between the developed and developing world on how to make the world more sustainable, but at the same walk a tightrope of economic growth.

Insiders said though the G77 and China negotiated as a block against the richer countries, there are deep fault lines in the coalition.

According to reports the Chinese and Indians delegation was quite satisfied with the final watered down text, while much of the developed world was less than thrilled.

The BRICS countries asserted their influence on the conference, with Brazil taking charge.

All the BRICS heads of states, including President Jacob Zuma, attended – but their European counterparts stayed away.

WWF-South Africa said it was optimistic that sustainable development goals could still be achieved.

“And the good news is that sustainable development is a plant that has taken root; it will grow regardless of weak political leadership here,” said WWF Director General Jim Leape.

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