June 20, 2012
Climate Change Agreement Drafted Ahead Of Rio+20
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com
National delegates said on Tuesday that they have reached an agreement on a draft document that will be submitted at the Rio+20 gathering in Brazil this week.
The negotiators drew up the draft outline steps to help tackle the Earth's environmental problems.
Over 100 world leaders are expected to come out for the meeting, which runs from Wednesday to Friday.
The draft statement will be submitted for approval to world leaders during the summit, calling for "urgent action" on unsustainable production and consumption.
Some criticize the preliminary agreement because it gives no detail, or timetable, on how its goals can be achieved. It also gives no clear direction as to how the world can be placed on a more environmentally friendly path.
"After two years of negotiations, we have a text that delivers only more process. This is significantly disappointing. The language is very weak and the outcome of this conference will not be anywhere near what the people and the plant needs," Lasse Gustavsson of WWF said in a statement.
Claudia Salerno, head of the Venezuelan delegation, said delegates wanted to avoid a repeat of the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, when negotiations ended up going nowhere.
The document is expected to be endorsed by world leaders on Friday, setting guidelines for a path for countries to take in trying to establish a more environmentally friendly future and curb climate change.
"We are on the threshold of a future with unprecedented environmental risks," the delegates said in the document. "The combined effects of climate change, resource scarcity, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience at a time of increased demand poses a real threat to humanity's welfare."
Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett told BBC the document shows that Rio+20 lacks what it needs to kick start the changes needed.
"Developed countries have repeatedly failed to live safely within our planet's limits - now they must wake up to the fact that until we fix our broken economic system we're just papering over the ever-widening crack," Bennett said.
The European Union was among those pushing for harder commitments, and for changes to how the world governs the environment.
Some of world leaders attending the Rio+20 summit include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French President Francois Hollande, South African President Jacob Zuma, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh of India and Wen Jiabao of China.
There will be 50,000 activists, business executives and policy-makers that will be attending the conference as well.
The Rio+20 summit is named because it comes 20 years after the Earth Summit that pledged to try and stop climate change, desertification and species loss.
William K. Reilly, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, wrote in a statement emailed to redOrbit.com that it is clear the goals set 20 years ago at the 1992 Earth Summit event have not been met. However, he also went on to say that many critics are missing half the story.
"In the 20 years since we first met in Rio, the concept of 'sustainable development' has evolved from theory to increasingly common practice," Reilly wrote in a statement. "In particular, the world's fast-growing nations are embracing many tenets of sustainability as core to their economic development strategy."
He mentions about how Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by more than 75 percent since 2004. He also says China and Germany are leading the world in renewable energy, while Korea is trying to win the race to develop and export green technologies.
"Around the world, people today are far more likely than in 1992 to believe that sound environmental policies actually bolster economic growth, rather than harm it," Reilly wrote in his "Then And Now" paper comparing the summit 20 years ago to the current one.
"Nations across the world better understand today that solutions depend on harnessing the creativity, energy, determination, and capital of the private sector."
He said nations should change the way they measure progress, and world leaders should ensure countries take ambitious actions to promote clear energy policies and know-how around the world.
"Twenty years ago, we had to invent the policy tools and institutions required for sustainability," Reilly wrote. "We have largely accomplished that. What is missing now is the political will and vision to use those tools to grow responsibly."