Thursday, April 19, 2012

Needs high, prospects low for Rio Summit

Terra Daily via AFP: With two months left before leaders assemble for the UN's Rio Summit, prospects for a radical fix of the planet's worsening environmental ills and poverty seem remote. Around 100 heads of state and government are expected in Rio de Janeiro for the June 20-22 summit on sustainable development.

It takes place 40 years after the first big global environment meeting and 20 years after the near-legendary Earth Summit, where the United Nations set up two fora to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. That initiative nailed environment firmly to the top of the world's political agenda. Yet two decades later, the problems are worse than ever.

Indeed, many experts gloomily say mankind is destroying his future by the reckless drive for prosperity today. Scientists at a pre-Rio conference in London last month said the UN's goal, enshrined less than 18 months ago, of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is already out of reach. "We have to realize that we are looking at a loss of biodiversity that is unprecedented in the last 65 million years. We are clearly entering the (planet's) sixth mass extinction," said Bob Watson, former head of the UN's climate panel and chief advisor to Britain's environment ministry.

The summit faces a triple task of tackling this crisis, eradicating entrenched poverty and placing growth onto a sustainable path, with measures to stimulate the green economy. But -- in contrast to 1992 -- no-one is expecting a horizon-sweeping master plan...

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