Rio Earth summit on shaky ground

2012-06-04 13:25

Cape Town - Major players pulling out of the Rio Earth summit is an indicator of the awkward politics and negotiations to move forward with climate change policies, an environmental organisation has said.

"There is a lot of scepticism around the Rio+10 and the Rio+20 agenda. It has become a cumbersome beast that I think has too many items for action and many of those are not really actionable," Saliem Fakir, WWF head of the Living Planet Unit, told News24.

US President Barack Obama has announced that he will not be attending the summit from 20 - 22 June. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also declined to attend the summit.

The heart of the Rio summit is focused on how countries should proceed on climate policy once the Kyoto Protocol lapses. It was signed in 1997 to force developed countries to commit to limiting their greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.

"Despite the fact that some serious governments are not attending, we've got to figure out a way to make this work or not. We're also not sending a massive delegation because we don't want to increase our carbon footprint by having 60 people go and attend a meeting, but we are taking a strategic view on this: By trying to influence it, if we can, in the right direction," said Fakir.

Resource demands

Environmental organisations have been advocating for stronger action, particularly in the run-up to the Durban climate conference, saying that economies needed to shift to place more emphasis and focus on "green" technologies.

"We do believe that it shouldn't just stop at nice sounding statements about consumption, but one of the things that is on the table is a complimentary set of goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which is meant to be linked to the Millennium Development Goals."

According to the McKinsey Global Institute's Resource Revolution report, three billion people, mainly from India and China, are expected to join the middle class by 2030, accelerating energy and resource demands.

"They identified 13 areas, and one of it is around resource efficiency. I think that's very achievable; companies are already doing that," said Fakir who served as director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN-SA) office for eight years.

Retailer Woolworths has been driving its sustainability programme and reduced its energy use by 23% from a 2004 benchmark. The company also saw an R80m saving because of energy efficiency initiatives.

"In a very practical way, companies are pursuing energy efficiency; they're doing it because their bottom line is affected," Fakir said.

The McKinsey report found that up to $1 trillion is needed annually in resource management to meet demand as more people enter higher income brackets.

"Say a billion people are suddenly now - in the next 20 years - going to be in the middle-class category, they are going to have a bigger shift on sustainability issues than the global conference would because of their demand," Fakir added.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

  • ludlowdj - 2012-06-04 14:16

    As already stated by 16 top scientists in the field, the proof of global warming is tenuous at best and the cost of implementing any of the suggested methods is to high to be sustainable or even viable.

      Ernst - 2012-06-04 16:16

      16 top scientists? Yeah right. As far as "your" pitiful list is concerned, see X: J. Scott Armstrong, Roger Cohen, Edward David, William Happer, Rodney Nichols, Harrison H. Schmitt. X: a) These people have NO climate science publications b) They are members of at least one climate denialist group: - GWPF (advisory board), - George C. Marshall Institute (board of directors or roundtable speakers), - Australian Climate Science Coalition (advisory panel), - Heartland Institute (board of directors), - and/or ExxonMobil. As far as the following are concerned see Y: Claude Allegre, Jan Breslow, Michael Kelly, James McGrath, Burt Rutan, Antonio Zichichi, Y: a) no climate science publications or have climate denialist group membership

  • nteroes - 2012-06-05 13:01

    Haa these two guys frm first world, had probably failed to commit to the demands of the recent cop so now they ar refusin to attend..,. Based on preconcieved...

  • pages:
  • 1