Category Archives: Rio+20

Rio Earth Summit: tragedy, farce, and distraction

By Anne Petermann, September 2012.  Source: Z Magazine

As I flew to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 12 for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)—the 20-year anniversary of the historic “Rio Earth Summit”—I read an article in the Financial Times titled “Showdown Looms at OPEC After Saudi Arabia Urges Higher Output.” The article explained that Saudi Arabia was urging OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to increase their output of oil in order to ensure that the global price of oil would not exceed $100 per barrel in order to “mitigate the risks that high oil prices pose to the global economy.”

The article pointed out that ensuring the health of the global economy requires expanding oil production. This, as we know, will worsen the climate crisis. The takeaway message of the article, therefore, is that the global economy will only thrive by destroying the life support systems of the planet.

At the Rio Earth Summit, this was also the underlying logic of the so-called “green economy” proposals that have polarized and paralyzed the talks since the first preparatory meeting for Rio+20 in May 2010.

According to Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, who wrote about the Rio+20 summit’s preparatory meetings for the Guardian back in March 2011, “Far from cooking up a plan to save the Earth, what may come out of the summit could instead be a deal to surrender the living world to a small cabal of bankers and engineers. Tensions are already rising between northern countries and southern countries…and suspicions are running high that the…‘green economy’ is more likely to deliver a greenwash economy or the same old, same old ‘greed’ economy.”

At the Rio+20 summit, industrialized countries and multinational corporations, accompanied by institutions like the IMF and World Bank, led the push for development of the green economy—that is, to use the very ecological devastation caused by global capitalism to create markets in so-called “environmental services” by turning them into tradable commodities. These new markets would help prop up the global economy in a greenwashed version of business as usual.

“Environmental services,” provided by intact natural ecosystems—which include such things as the storage of carbon, the purification of air and water, and the maintenance of biodiversity—would be given a monetary value in the market, enabling them to be purchased and supposedly protected. In reality, however, it would allow companies to destroy a biodiverse ecosystem in one area, by purchasing the protection of an equivalent ecosystem.

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20

Three responses to Bill McKibben’s new article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”

The following three pieces, by Anne Petermann, Dr. Rachel Smolker, and Keith Brunner were written in response to Bill McKibben’s new article in Rolling Stone magazine, titled, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – make clear who the real enemy is.

The System Will Not be Reformed

Response by Anne Petermann

Bill McKibben, in his new Rolling Stone article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” does an effective job at summarizing the hard and theoretical numbers that warn us of the devastating impacts of continuing to burn the Earth’s remaining fossil fuel reserves–yet it somehow falls short of its stated goal to help mobilize a new movement for climate action.

While the article is full of facts and figures and the future they portend, it falls into several traps common to US-based environmentalists, which undermine its movement-building objective.

The first and most obvious trap is relying on math to mobilize a movement. Environmentalists, often worried about attacks on their credibility, or afraid they will be labeled “emotional” by industry, tend to focus on statistics, mathematical analyses and hard science to make their case.  Unfortunately statistics like “565 Gigatons or 2,795 Gigatons” do not inspire passion.

While McKibben is focusing on Gigatons and percentages and degrees Celsuis, however, corporations like Shell are running multi-million dollar ad campaigns with TV commercials that feature families having fun, hospitals saving lives, children getting good educations, because of fossil fuels.  Coal = energy security; natural gas = maintaining the American way of life.  And as Dr. Rachel Smolker of BiofuelWatch points out below, some of these very same companies are moving into the bioenergy realm–wreaking yet more havoc on communities and ecosystems in the name of supposedly “clean, renewable energy.”  They are playing both sides of the field in the effort to ensure Americans do not feel their way of life is in any way threatened–ensuring them that they can have their cake and eat it too.  For while China may have surpassed the US in total annual carbon emissions, the US still leads, by far, the per capita release of CO2 emissions.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Rio+20

Audio: Michael Dorsey on the 1992 Earth Summit vs the 2012 Earth Summit

Lindsey Gillies, for Climate Connections Earth Audio, interviews Michael Dorsey, professor at Dartmouth College.  Dorsey was a youth delegate at the original Earth Summit in 1992. He talks about his experiences in 1992 and looks at pressing issues at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Michael Dorsey

To listen to the interview or to download the podcast, click here

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Earth Radio, Green Economy, Rio+20

Audio: Earth Minute – corporations try to advance the green (greed) economy in Rio

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show for weekly Earth Minutes and weekly Earth Segment interviews.

To listen to or download this week’s Earth Minute on KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show, click on Earth Minute 27 June 2012.

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

Last week, government leaders convened in Rio de Janeiro for the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.  One of the goals: develop a Green Economy built on so-called “green growth” basically–a greenwashed version of the same Greed Economy that has trashed communities and ecosystems to enhance the profits of a very few.  In response, social movements, Indigenous Peoples, organizations and Southern countries stood fast in Rio to oppose this Greenwash Economy.
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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Earth Minute, Green Economy, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rio+20

Rio+20 Breaking News: GJEP and Biofuelwatch disrupt industry event with Richard Branson

For Immediate Release 21 June 2012

Activists Disrupt Sir Richard Branson at Avoided Deforestation Rio +20 Event

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–Activists from Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch disrupted Virgin Airlines owner Branson’s speech with chants and placards at the Rio+20 Earth Summit event titled “Advancing Public-Private Partnerships for Deforestation-Free / Sustainable Agriculture” today at the Windsor Barra hotel in Rio.

“We came here to interfere with this event because we recognize that the negotiations inside the UN’s official Rio+20 Conference are essentially irrelevant,” stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. “The real negotiations that will determine the fate of the planet are being held outside of the UN space at these industry-sponsored events,” she added.

Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of USAID was clear on this point when he stated during his presentation at the event, “these [public-private partnership] events are not side events, these are the main events.”

“Biofuelwatch took part in this action because of Richard Branson’s key role in promoting large-scale biofuels for aviation, geo-engineering and other destructive techno fixes,” stated Almuth Ernsting. “Branson is responsible for vast carbon emissions from his airline to which he now wants to add space tourism – his ‘solutions’ include more destructive monoculture plantations which harm forests, peoples and climate.”

Parallel to the negotiations that have been going on around Rio+20, the UN Climate Conferences and other UN forums, industry is coming together with countries like Norway to create ways to implement highly controversial market-based approaches like REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that cannot be passed in the multilateral meetings.

Participants in the event included executives from Coca Cola and Unilever, both of which are implicated in serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction.

“We took this action in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, local communities and small farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by the privatization of their lands for Green Economy-style projects”, stated Keith Brunner of Gears of Change and Global Justice Ecology Project. “Public-private partnerships, such as those discussed here, are driving a vast transfer of wealth, resources and land into private hands–from the 99% to the 1%.”

After the disruption, participants in the action left the premises.

Contact: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project +55.21.8079.0538

Email: [email protected]

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20

Earth Audio Podcast: Sacajawea “Saki” Hall on KPFK Sojourner Truth Show, June 21, 2012

Interview with Sacajawea “Saki” Hall, the membership coordinator at the US Human Rights Network, in Rio de Janeiro with the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, on KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show, June 21, 2012.

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show for weekly Earth Minutes every Tuesday and Earth Segment interviews every Thursday–as well as daily interviews during international gatherings such as the Peoples’ Summit in Rio.

Click here to listen/download

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20

Earth Audio Podcast: Ta’kaia Blaney and Jeff Conant on KPFK Sojourner Truth Show

Interview with Ta’kaia Blaney, 11-year-old indigenous activist from the Sliammon nation, and Jeff Conant of Global Justice Ecology Project on KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show, June 20, 2012.

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show for weekly Earth Minutes every Tuesday and Earth Segment interviews every Thursday–as well as daily interviews during international gatherings such as the Peoples’ Summit in Rio.

Click here to listen/download

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth Radio, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Rio+20, Tar Sands

Rio+20 Photo Essay: Peoples’ march takes over the streets of Rio

by Anne Petermann, reporting from the streets of Rio, 20 June, 2012

Occupy activists march in Rio. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

“Against the dismantling of national environmental policy.” Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Indigenous 11 Year old Ta’Kaia Blaney of British Columbia protests the tar sands. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

La Via Campesina, the international movement of small farmers, had a large presence in Rio at the Peoples Summit. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

“Against Amazonian Genocide. Xingu (Afro-Brazilian freedom fighter) Lives Forever.” Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Can’t have a march in Latin America without Che. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Funeral for Brazil’s national environmental policy. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rio+20