Rich nations owe more to combating global climate change: Brazil

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.

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Rio+20: reasons to be cheerful

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.

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U.N. sustainability summit ends with $513 billion in pledges

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.

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China, Brazil play important role in reaching consensus at Rio+20: Brazilian diplomat

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).

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Rio+20 and the World of Clarice

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.

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*An earlier version of this article appeared in Portuguese in the Brazilian daily “Estado de S. Paulo” on June 20, 2012.

UAE’s Mubadala Targets Brazil for Energy Partnerships

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.

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Rio+20 ending with weak text, emboldened observers

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.