Rio+ 20: An English High Tea

By: Hemul Goel



What was possibly supposed to be the sharpest minds coming together in terms of planning, development and policy were being screamed upon by the Associated Press for being ‘An unhappy environmental summit’. When we look towards the future we look forward to opening up of newer avenues, better opportunities, chances of development and improvement. However as it has been widely noticed, The Zero Draft/ The Future We Want that was released at the Rio+ 20 was full of reaffirmation of older plan of action and principles of the United Nations. We don’t say that these reaffirmations are a bad thing but when are we going to write newer plans of action? Haven’t we already seen and sensed the inability of our governments to take some hard hitting, meaningful action because of the economic meltdown.

But what I fail to understand is that where has the passion gone? Where is the panic? How can you still be in the same composed state even after knowing that your backyard could drown any moment? Why are the leaders not running around tearing their hair and creating plans of action that can be implemented? Perhaps this is where Mr. Obama, Mr. Cameron and Ms Merkel step in, to set examples for other leaders by NOT attending an environmental summit as they had earlier in the same week attended the G-20 summit (involving the economy of course) at Los Cabos and by ditching the Rio Summit they were able to reduce their respective air carbon footprints. Bravo!

Complacency feels so good and procrastination even better but all is not so rosy when the same puts your own future at risk. I am not suggesting that we should set up targets that are unachievable but can’t we at the least set goals for ourselves which are structured and legally binding. They say strike the iron when it is hot and right now it is flaming hot, otherwise how else does Greenpeace keep on moving from one successful campaign to another or keep on filing petitions after petitions? The citizens of the global community today are active and ready to work and connected to each other in ways unfathomable to mankind before. Give the youth a chance, entrust them with responsibility, they won’t disappoint.
Some good commitments have come out of this summit too as the UN News Centre’s website informs us. According to which, “Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by Governments, Ghana, one of the first countries to partner with the initiative, has developed a national energy action plan to support capacity-development and innovative financing mechanisms. Countries initiating or completing similar assessments include Bangladesh, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, Tajikistan, Uruguay and Vietnam. Meanwhile, Brazil, the host country for Rio+20, has committed to investing a further $4.3 billion to achieve universal energy access at a national level by 2014.
Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by private sector corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises, Microsoft has committed to going carbon neutral and will be rolling out an internal carbon fee that will apply to Microsoft’s business operations in over 100 countries. Italian energy company Eni has earmarked approximately $5 billion to achieve its gas flaring and carbon intensity reduction goals; and, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed approximately $5 billion to commercialize affordable zero-emission vehicles.
Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by financial institutions, donors and development banks, the Bank of America has set a ten year $50 billion environmental business goal, while the World Bank Group has committed to doubling the leverage of its energy portfolio by mobilizing private, donor and public contributions to World Bank-supported projects, as well as supportive policies to expand energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by non-governmental organizations, artists, academia, and individuals, members of the rock band Linkin Park have launched a campaign urging world leaders at Rio+20 to end energy poverty, while India’s Energy and Resources Institute has committed to expanding lighting services to households in several developing countries, using solar and other clean energy technologies, by 2018. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, along with 40 other professional associations, has pledged to mobilize their two million members worldwide in support of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.”
You say this is Sparta? I say this is sustainable development, green economy and a better future we are talking about. I hope I live to see a day when the faces of our leaders will be full of passion and fury just like that of Gerard Butler’s while they debate, negotiate and plan for not only the earth, but also our own better future.


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