Friday, June 22, 2012

Another freaking MEETING on the environment

Although Veblen didn't include large conferences in his list of preserved archaic traits, I'll bet he would have if he were still around.  The idea of flying a bunch of people to Rio to tell each other what everyone already knows (or should know) is in itself an environmental obscenity.  But since mass meetings and pilgrimages are what the Leisure Classes do, why should we be surprised that is what Leisure Class environmentalists think will actually solve problems.  I would much rather that resources would go to inventing and perfecting better ways to transmit and store solar energy—but that's just me, I guess.

There was another mega-conference on climate change in Durban South Africa just last December with many of the same participants but I guess some folks need regular booster shots to keep up their enthusiasm for what exactly—meetings?  Thankfully, I am no longer alone in my disgust with these things.

The World from Berlin

'Rio+20 Has Become the Summit of Futility'

Twenty years ago, the United Nations summit held in Rio de Janeiro paved the way for landmark agreements on the climate and the environment. This year's meeting, on the other hand, has been widely criticized for its lack of vision in the face of accelerating degradation of the planet. German commentators are critical as well.

"Let me be frank. Our efforts have not lived up to the measure of the challenge." That is the verdict handed down by none other than United Nations Secretary General Bank Ki-moon during his opening statement at Rio+20 on Wednesday. "Nature does not wait. Nature does not negotiate with human beings."

Ban is not alone in his assessment of the conference, which had set as its target the establishment of clear goals for sustainable development, poverty reduction and environmental protection. Even as up to 100 heads of state and government are expected to attend the conference, known officially as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, many delegations have criticized the draft document to be signed on Friday as weak.

"I was disappointed that we did not go further," said Nick Clegg, the deputy British prime minister. French President François Hollande echoed the sentiment, saying "disappointment, yes, there's always a bit of disappointment."

Many have also cited the fact that several world leaders have declined to attend the conference at all, including US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Compared to the first Rio conference 20 years ago -- which achieved landmark agreements on biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions, paving the way for the Kyoto Protocols -- this meeting lacks anything in the way of bold action.

About the only achievement that leaders can point to is a movement toward including environmental degradation on company balance sheets and factoring the environment into countries' gross domestic products. Several countries, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany, have agreed to create "natural capital accounting" rules. But China, one of the world's biggest polluters, and Brazil, which fears that its exploitation of the Amazon rain forest would weigh heavily, have declined to participate.

It seems unlikely that the draft agreement will become much stronger by the time the conference ends on Friday. "Everybody has things that they have given up in the document in one way or the other," said Todd Stern, the US special envoy on climate change. "This is the thread that once you start pulling on it, it unravels quickly." more
And from France 24.

Rio Earth Summit opens under shower of criticism

Thousands of activists staged a protest in Brazil on Thursday against the UN's Rio+20 summit, where world leaders are discussing measures to reduce poverty and protect the environment. Greenpeace has called the summit "an epic failure". By News Wires

AFP - World leaders attending a UN summit in Rio on Wednesday weighed steps to root out poverty and protect the environment as thousands of activists marched through the city center in protest.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned that "time is not on our side" for fixing a mounting list of problems as he formally opened the UN summit on sustainable development.

The high-profile Rio+20 event, attended by 191 UN members, including 86 presidents and heads of government, comes 20 years after Rio's first Earth Summit when nations vowed to roll back climate change, desertification and species loss.

But thousands of activists attending a counter-summit staged a good-natured and colorful protest in central Rio to denounce Amazon rainforest deforestation, the plight of indigenous peoples and the "green economy" being advocated at the UN gathering.

The march drew environmentalists, workers, civil servants, black militants, homosexuals, indigenous peoples and feminists.

Organizers said 50,000 people turned up but police estimate the crowd at no more than 20,000.

At the summit, Maldives President Mohamed Waheed announced that his Indian Ocean archipelago planned to set up the world's biggest marine reserve to protect its fisheries and biodiversity.

He said the Maldives would become "the single largest marine reserve in the world," where only sustainable and eco-friendly fishing will be allowed.

A total of 191 speakers were to take the floor until Friday when the summit leaders are to give their seal of approval to a 53-page draft document agreed on by their negotiators Tuesday.

Has climate change slipped from the global agenda?

The draft outlines measures for tackling the planet's many environmental ills and lifting billions out of poverty through policies that nurture rather than squander natural resources.

In his opening remarks, the UN secretary general praised Brazil, the summit host, for securing a deal on the summit's final draft statement.

"The world is watching to see if words will translate into action as we know they must... It's time for all of us to think globally and long term, beginning here now in Rio, for time is not on our side," he said.

French President Francois Hollande described the deal on the draft as "a step" but "an insufficient step".

"It will be up to world leaders to make a positive step," he told a press conference.

"We recognize that the old model for economic development and social advancement is broken," Ban said later at a ceremonial event.

"Rio+20 has given us a unique chance to set it right... to set a new course that truly balances the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable prosperity and human well-being," the UN chief said.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was elected president of the conference, said she had no doubt "that we will be up to the challenges that the global situation imposes on us."

From the International Space Station, US, Russian and European astronauts sent greetings to the summit leaders, courtesy of the US space agency NASA.

As the summit got under way, eight multilateral development banks announced that they would set aside $175 billion to finance sustainable transport systems over the next decade.

The pledge was made jointly by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank and Islamic Development Bank.

Some of the most contentious issues discussed at the 10-day UN conference were proposed measures to promote a green economy and the "Sustainable Development Goals" that are set to replace the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals after they expire in 2015.

Environmentalists were scathing in their criticism of the summit, with Greenpeace calling it "an epic failure" while WWF said it was "significantly disappointing." more
I have included the following, not because I find it especially informative, but because I first wrote that ONLY enlightened Producers have a chance of solving the environmental dilemmas we face in Elegant Technology—Part Three, The industrial-Environmental Solutionand this is sort of like it.  Bethge is largely on the same track as I was although I am convinced real solutions will require MUCH more that getting environmentalists and businesspeople speaking the same language.  (I have come to believe that the best strategy is to just ignore Leisure Class environmentalists because after decades of trying, the best they can come up with is another damn conference.)
Don't Complain, Do Something!

It's Time for Business to Take Lead on Environment

A Commentary by Philip Bethge   06/21/2012

Inter-governmental attempts at environmental protection have failed. It is time for environmentalists to recognize that fact and turn to industry. The "Green Economy" has become the new watchword at the Rio summit. But can Starbucks, Shell and Nestlé really save the planet?

It was predictable. The Rio+20 environmental summit looked like a failure even before it really began. On Tuesday evening, the delegations of United Nations member-states agreed during the preliminary negotiations of Rio+20 to adopt a final declaration that isn't worth the paper it will be printed on.

More than 100 heads of state and government have gathered at Sugarloaf Mountain to bore us with their dry declarations of intent and flat discussions. They talk and talk, and in the end they will disappoint us to no end.

And that's not necessarily such a bad thing.

Governmental attempts at environment and climate protection have failed spectacularly. It would be irresponsible to continue depending on political leaders. The recognition of that fact must be viewed as an opportunity to pursue a different course. Twenty years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, hardly any of the problems addressed then have been solved. Now, only a Faustian bargain can help. The "Green economy" will be at the center of the discussions in Rio, the new slogan of the environmentally minded everywhere. The economy, so goes the new theory, should take over where politics has failed.

"The private sector has the ability to change things on the ground. They have got the means, but also the interest in doing it," says Carlos Manuel Rodríguez of the environmental organization Conservation International. Those concerned about the future of the world, in other words, would do well to turn to Nestlé, Shell or Starbucks.

A pact with business requires sacrifices, and environmentalists must cast off some of their ideological ballast. Company heads, on the other hand, must understand that rising stock prices can't be pursued at the expense of nature and society. In order for that to happen, environmentalists and businesspeople must agree on a common language.

This attempt will be made. It is about quantifying "ecosystem services," explains Pavan Sukhdev, a visionary of the Eco-economy. How much does it really damage the environment and the quality of life, when a cell phone or T-shirt is sold? Pioneers like Sukhdev believe it is quantifiable. Their calculation models are already being used.

Just last month, 10 African countries signed the Gaborone Declaration, in which they pledged that in the future the economic value of their forests, coral reefs or savannahs will be integrated "into national accounting and corporate planning and reporting processes, policies and programs." more

1 comment:

  1. This a very appreciable effort by the publishers and I want to say more that if the directions advised by both the makers are adopted by the public, then there is no doubt about the drastic changes in the society...
    Although it is not that easy as one says or types, but it is also not that difficult as one assumes.
    And the result of these kinda meetings will be there on that day when there shall exist some real change in environment of our lovely and great MOTHER NATURE.