Tag 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

La Via Campesina at Rio+20: The people of the world say “No to the Green Economy”

For a week throughout the People’s Summit, Via Campesina, the global movement of peasant farmers, mobilized in Rio de Janeiro to say “No to the Green Economy” and to reinvigorate the process of building new alliances thanks to plenaries, social movements’ assemblies, street demonstrations to show the real needs and aspirations of our peoples.

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Green businesses set to lead creation of Rio’s+20 “Future We Want” (yea, right…)

Note: As logic tells us, Capitalism will not solve problems caused by Capitalism; the economic system driving deforestation will not stop deforestation; corporations whose sole purpose in existence is to make profits for their shareholders will not act in ethical ways that risk future profits; and the 1% will not solve the problems for which they are responsible.  Solutions come from the bottom up, not the top down.  The “Future THEY Want” is clearly not the “Future WE want.”  One example: large-scale biofuels and hydropower are NOT renewable energy.  They devastate land, air, water and communities.

Time to get off this train before it barrels off the cliff.

–The GJEP Team

Governments and businesses pledge £330bn during Rio +20 Earth Summit, including plans to eliminate deforestation from the retail supply chain

By Jessica Shankleman

Cross-Posted from BusinessGreen, 25 Jun 2012

It has been impossible to avoid the glut of criticism from green NGOs and politicians left deeply disappointed by the lack of ambition on display at the Rio +20 Earth summit last week.

However, business leaders maintain that that while the so-called “Future We Want” is unlikely to deliver sweeping economic and environmental changes on its own, it could still mark a turning point for the green growth agenda.

Malcolm Preston, global lead for sustainability and climate change at PwC, said that during the summit United Nations leaders effectively passed the baton of responsibility for building the green economy to the business community.

He said the text would only achieve successes if governments worked in tandem with businesses to drive the green growth agenda forward, predicting that as a result of the summit we will see an increasing number of public-private green project partnerships formed over the coming years.

According to UN figures, governments and companies made 692 individual pledges during the summit, totalling $513bn (£330bn) of investment in projects aimed at boosting sustainable resource management. It is the one area where the summit can be compared favourably with the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where no corporations were present and few investment pledges were made.

One of the more ambitious pledges was an announcement by the US government to partner with more than 400 companies and brands in the Consumer Goods Forum to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020.

The two parties agreed on Thursday that they would meet in Washington in the next 100 days to discuss how to achieve this goal, which would focus in particular on commodities such as soy, palm oil, paper, and beef that are thought to be responsible for half of the world’s deforestation.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, said the agreement showed the importance of businesses and governments collaborating on boosting the sustainability agenda.

“Individually both governments and business have already mobilised significant resources to address the challenge of deforestation but we all recognise that much more can be achieved if we align our efforts and work in partnership,” he said.

Preston added that this ambitious goal would require companies to start this year to meet the demanding target of delivering zero net deforestation by 2020.

“The implications of this commitment are huge as it requires eliminating deforestation in packaging, production, the use of raw materials for the member companies of CGF,” he said, adding that it would also put pressure on countries such as China, which currently have limited demand for sustainable palm oil.

“It’s really pushing towards a segregated supply chain, rather than using certification schemes,” he said. “With the speed that technology is advancing, it is not unrealistic that we will be able to trace it all by 2020, however whether there is sufficient volume so we could achieve these targets is another question.”

The summit also gave the go ahead to the creation of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are expected to compliment the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. However, it remains unclear precisely what those goals will be.

The United Nations General Assembly is now expected to appoint a group of representatives from 30 countries by September to develop the goals, which are expected to focus on areas such as food, water, and energy.

UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said efforts should now focus on “turning words into action”.

“Rio+20 has shown that there is political ambition for change,” she said. “Now we have to make sure that will is not squandered. We have already started to make headway in the talks held since the text was agreed, such as good progress towards deciding on the themes the SDGs should cover.”

However, Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics, argued the UK should underscore its commitment to the agreement by formally backing the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which requires public and private organisations make green energy commitments by 2030.

The Brazil government, for example, pledged to invest $235bn (£151bn) over 10 years in renewable energy, mainly in hydropower and biofuels.

“The world needs clear time-bound and funded targets and practical action to get sustainable energy to poor people in all continents,” said Stern. “The UK can help show what is possible by working with countries, for example, in Africa, and their utilities and private sector to support action that gets results rapidly.

“The power of the example is the answer to international prevarication and vagueness. It is through actions rather than words that we will be able to create the future we want for ourselves and future generations.”

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

Rio+20 Breaking News: Activists who spoke at the Peoples’ Summit killed

Cross-Posted from Front Line Defenders, June 28th, 2012

See Action Alert in Next Blog Post

mr_joao_luiz_telles_penetra_june_27João Luiz Telles Penetra.  Photo courtesy Front Line Defenders
EJOLT partner Professor Marcelo Firpo has just send us a sad message:“I was with two fishermen on 19 June in a meeting at Peoples´Summit discussing the impacts of big projects (basically oil, mining and steel) in Rio de Janeiro State. Three days later they disappeared when went to work. They have just been found dead. The media is considering this case without importance and we will need more national and international pressure in order to protect other people and to investigate who have killed them.”

On 24 and 25 June 2012 the bodies of human rights defenders Mr Almir Nogueira de Amorim and Mr João Luiz Telles Penetra were found following their disappearance on 23 June 2012.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra, or “Pituca” as he was known, were both leaders of the Associação Homens do Mar – AHOMAR (Association of Sea Men) which was set up in 2009 to defend the rights of the fisher-folk working in Rio de Janeiro, and particularly those affected by the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras. Since the founding of the organisation its members have reported being subjected to death threats, physical attacks and killings. According to AHOMAR’s members, the attacks are perpetrated by people linked to death squads, security guards hired by the companies in charge of building pipelines and militias operating in the region.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Green Economy, Political Repression, Rio+20

Video: Pablo Solon on what’s next after Rio+20

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Rio+20

NGO views – Rio+20: the good, the bad and the invisible

Cross-posted from Alertnet

This photo, of a sticker produced by Global Justice Ecology Project and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, went around the world on various media outlets. Photo: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino.

LONDON (AlertNet) – Many environment and development groups have expressed disappointment with the political agreement that emerged from the U.N. conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro last week.

The prevailing view is that it was short on specific commitments and targets, and lacked the level of ambition required to tackle the triple challenges of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social.
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What’s wrong with the green economy?: Michelle Maynard of PACJA –

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Rio+20 Peoples’ Summit closes with Declaration and points of struggle

June 25, 2012. One of the opening paragraphs of the Declaration produced at the close of the Peoples’ Summit states:

“The Peoples Summit is a symbolic moment of the beginning of a new cycle in the course of global struggles, which produced a new convergence of the movements of women, Indigenous Peoples, people of African descent, youth, family and peasant farmers, workers, the poor, and traditional communities such as quilombos, those who fight for the right to the city, and religious groups world wide.”

80, 000 people attended the Peoples’ Summit and at least 30,000 mobilized daily in different activities.

The full Declaration has yet to be translated into English (and Climate Connections will publish or link to it when it is), but it closes with these consensus points of struggle going forward:

We are:

  • Opposed to militarization of territories and states.
  • Opposed to criminalization of social movement organizations.
  • Opposed to violence against women.
  • Opposed to violence against LGBT people.
  • Opposed to large corporations.
  • Opposed to imposing payments of unjust financial debt and for popular hearings on them.
  • For guaranteeing the right of the people to land and territory, urban and rural.
  • For free informed and prior consultation and consent, based in the principle of good faith as per Convention 169 of the ILO.
  • For food sovereignty and healthy food, against agrochemicals and transgenics.
  • For the conquest and guarantee of rights.
  • For the solidarity of peoples and countries, chiefly those threatened by military or institutional coups (like the recent one in Paraguay).
  • For the sovereignty of the people over ownership of the commons, against attempts to privatize and commodify.
  • For changing the current energy grid and system.
  • For democratization of the communications media.
  • For a recognition of the historic social and ecological debt.
  • For building towards a worldwide GENERAL STRIKE.

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