October 2, 2012
Brian Winters – Reuters, 10/01/2012
Major emerging economies’ obligations to cut emissions under a climate change agreement should not be the same as those of rich countries, Brazil’s chief negotiator said, signaling a retreat to an old position that has hamstrung years of U.N. negotiations.
Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado told Reuters during last week’s U.N. General Assembly that Brazil is committed to working toward a global pact to cut emissions in both developed and developing nations as agreed at last year’s climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
But Figueiredo said that agreement should adhere to the U.N.’s principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” a line between developing and developed countries drawn in 1992 that enabled countries such as Brazil, China and India to escape mandatory carbon cuts, which the Durban summit had supposedly eliminated.
June 27, 2012
John Vidal- The Guardian, 6/27/2012
Read the post mortems and commentaries from Rio+20, and you’d think a global disaster had taken place. The UN multilateral system is said to be in crisis, the environment is falling off the edge, and every blade of grass and hillside is for sale. Pundits and NGOs scream that it was “the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war”, “a bleak day, a disastrous meeting” and “a massive waste of time and money”.
Perspective, please. Reaction after the 1992 Rio summit was uncannily similar. Countries passed then what now seem far-sighted treaties and embedded a slew of aspirations and commitments into international documents – but NGOs and journalists were still distraught. They said the climate change agreement was too weak, that sustainable development was too abstract a concept, that the promised aid was inadequate, and that the US had guaranteed the felling of the Amazon forest by refusing to sign the biodiversity convention. There were, they said, no agreements on population growth or subsidies, or oceans, or trade, or women’s rights … and myriad other issues. In short, just like Rio 2012, the meeting was said to be a dismal failure of governments to co-operate.
I was pretty downhearted then, too. So when I returned I went to see Richard Sandbrook, a legendary environmental activist who co-founded Friends of the Earth, directed the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and profoundly influenced a generation of governments, business leaders and NGOs before he died in 2005. Sandbrook made the point (I paraphrase) that NGOs always scream murder because it is their job to push governments, that pundits exaggerate because they are controversialists, and that UN conferences must disappoint because all views have to be accommodated.
June 26, 2012
Kenneth R. Weiss – The Los Angeles Times, 06/22/2012
RIO DE JANEIRO — After days of quiet backroom dealing and soaring public rhetoric, global leaders on Friday approved a plan to bring clean water, sanitation and energy to the world’s poor without further degrading the planet.
The agreement, widely criticized for its watered-down ambitions, was overshadowed by a flurry of financial commitments and side deals announced at the three-day U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development.
Government leaders, bankers and corporate CEOs took advantage of the gathering of 50,000 people — the largest meeting in U.N. history — to announce new partnerships, programs and investments.
June 25, 2012
Xinhua Net, 06/22/2012
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 22 (Xinhua) — Developing countries like Brazil and China have played an important role in helping achieve consensus on sustainable development at a just wrapped-up UN conference, a Brazilian delegate said here Friday.
“Thanks to partners like China, we managed to reach an ambitious document, which preserved the main concerns of developing countries,” Andre Correa do Lago, Brazil’s chief negotiator to the conference, told Xinhua.
He referred to an agreed final document issued at the end of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
June 25, 2012
Paulo Sotero - *O Estado de Sao Paulo, 06/22/2012
The sense of frustration left by the low ambition of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference in Sustainable Development final document, especially among environmentalists, should surprise no one. The global economic crisis raging since 2008 put governments and the more established non-governmental organizations on the defensive and seriously limited what could be achieved long before President Dilma Rousseff opened the gathering of leaders on June 20th. Not much should have been expected from an official gathering that President Barack Obama could not attend for fear of hurting his chances of reelection in November. The lack of significant progress in the implementation of the Climate Change and Biodiversity conventions adopted in the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and the refusal of rich nations to consider setting up a $30 billion fund (a fraction of what they spend on security, defense and wars) to assist poor nations in the transition to the “green economy” proclaimed as goal by all severely limited what could be achieved. “One should not ask for ambition in action where there is no ambition in financing,” said Brazilian chief-negotiator Luis Alberto Figueiredo Machado, responding to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, who at one point expressed his disappointment with the modesty of conference results.
Having participated in the UN Corporate Sustainability Forum held before the official gathering, I left Rio more hopeful about the future than the official part of Rio+20 would allow. As governments clearly fumbled in the face of the complex challenges of imagining and building a more equitable and sustainable economic growth model in the decades ahead, I saw senior business executives and leaders of civil society engaged in intelligent and productive dialogue about difficult issues at hundreds of thematic panels held at the Corporate Sustainability Forum and other sessions held in Rio.
In this sense, Rio+20 signaled a welcome change of dynamic in the public policy debate that may not be apparent but is substantive and potentially consequential.
*An earlier version of this article appeared in Portuguese in the Brazilian daily “Estado de S. Paulo” on June 20, 2012.
June 23, 2012
Diana Kinch – Wall Street Journal, 6/20/2012
RIO DE JANEIRO–United Arab Emirates investment-and-development company Mubadala Development Co. is targeting large companies in Brazil to set up cooperation projects in the renewable-energy area, the director of a Mubadala unit said Wednesday.
“We have been interested in Brazil for some time. Brazil’s high on our agenda,” said Nawal Al-Hosany, director of Mubadala’s Masdar unit in an interview on the sidelines of the Rio+20 sustainable-development summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Last month, Mubadala purchased for $2 billion a 5.6% stake in Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s EBX group, which has interests in areas including energy, oil, mining and real estate.
Mubadala also is interested in health care, information technology, infrastructure and aerospace, Ms. Al-Hosany said.
June 22, 2012
Paulo Prada and Valerie Valcovici - Reuters, 06/22/2012
(Reuters) – Global leaders were wrapping up a U.N. development summit on Friday with little to show but a lackluster agreement, leaving many attendees convinced that individuals and companies, rather than governments, must lead efforts to improve the environment.
Nearly 100 heads of state and government gathered over the past three days in efforts to establish “sustainable development goals,” a United Nations drive built around economic growth, the environment, and social inclusion. But a lack of consensus over those goals led to an agreement that even some signatories say lacks commitment, specifics, and measurable targets.
A series of much-hyped global summits on environmental policy have now fallen short of expectations, going back at least to a 2009 U.N. meeting in Copenhagen that ended in near-chaos. As a result, many ecologists, activists, and business leaders are coming to the conclusion that progress on environmental issues must be made locally with the private sector, and without the help of international accords.
June 21, 2012
Bruce Jones – Foreign Policy, 06/21/2012
At 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, 1,000 or so advanced delegates at Rio+20 (formally, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) laid down their pens and shut off their laptops. At noon, Brazil’s worldly foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, gaveled through the Outcome Document from the chair. And by mid-afternoon, Rio was full of a sound to which that joyous city is unaccustomed: the collective moan of 40,000 environmentalists disappointed about the results. (Yes, you read that right: 40,000. Alongside 10,000 official government participants.) But if the environment movement expected Earth-saving outcomes from Rio, they were clearly enjoying too much of Brazil’s famed cachaça.
That the Rio outcome fell short of the highest expectations was not only predictable, it was predicted — by everybody. A senior European Union negotiator told me last month that the EU’s major focus had already turned to lowering expectations. That was wise: No credible analysis of environmental agreements past tells us that a global summit of this kind, with a broad, encompassing agenda, can actually deliver genuine changes in the way the world does its economic or energy business. Throw in a gloomy global economic situation, and major leaps forward were a non-starter.
There were some avoidable mistakes. Brazil got into an early fight with Mexico, which was simultaneously preparing the Los Cabos Summit of the G-20, about which country would “lead” on green growth issues. (As if the problem is that we have too much leadership on green growth, rather than a dearth of it.) The result was that rather than the G-20 negotiations bolstering Rio, the two processes proceeded in parallel. For the Rio process itself, the U.N. produced a reasonable backdrop analysis but never managed to escape the utterly opaque language of “sustainable development,” and did far less than was necessary to shape the political space for action.
June 21, 2012
Greg Stone – Huffington Post, 6/21/2012
When President John Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, he issued the world a set of challenges. He said, “Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.”
The United States answered his challenge when it came to space exploration, but in many ways, we missed the mark on the oceans. It is only now, more than 50 years later, that the world is finally turning its collective attention to the other 70 percent of Earth which so dominates its appearance from space and affects every aspect of our survival.
This week, world leaders and delegates from over 190 nations are meeting in Rio de Janeiro to address the great challenges of sustainable development and build a new model of green growth in the coming century. One of the most important issues they are discussing is the state of our planet’s oceans, and rightfully so; they are at the foundation of all that we do, and ocean health will determine the direction of our quality of life in the 21st century.