Let me just start this post by explicitly stating my views on the upcoming Rio+20 convention, set to kick off later today in Brazil, which may hold the keys to a future radically different from our current one, either for the bad or good. I wholeheartedly hope and wish that something good comes from this meeting of leaders, that a proper binding agreement, with goals, punishments and harsh realities, one that actually kicks our lazy society into gear truly does rise from the ashes and usher in a new day; I would love nothing more than for this to be accomplished, and I have always thought this.
However, whilst hoping for this, I believe in an entirely different outcome - that nothing useful, meaningful or optimistic will result from Rio+20, or any future global event, and that not only will it simply prove to be a stage for multiple nations to bicker and fight for three days straight, but will also prove to give nothing towards to the future we want.
I nurture this gut feeling from past experience and current knowledge of the structure of such conventions on environments, energy and development. Most, if not all of the past +whatever conventions have resulted in absolutely squat, with the Kyoto Protocol the only real agreement I’ve seen which may have actually made a difference to our global society, and even that is set to die this winter without any hope of a successor. Add to this the fact that multiple powerful nations, of which I feel I do not have to name, have continually proven to be like children stubbornly refusing to go to bed, blocking all hope of a unifying agreement on anything from carbon emissions to green job investment. None of this has changed this year.
In my opinioin, when Rio+20 finally opens it’s door to its many leaders and closes it behind them, all that will proceed will be a mad scramble to see who can shout the loudest, point the straightest finger and pull the angriest face. Think of it this way; when you have some of the most powerful people in the current political and economical sphere, all whom harbour untold morals, ethics, hidden motives and plans under their bonnets, and who have all their life grown up not listening to others but actively seeking to control them, it is daft not to think nothing whatsoever will be accomplished. Continuing with this notion, it is not hard to stretch the imagination to the point where it is simply children fighting over a candy bar.
To take us back down to earth once again, consider this approach. Some leaders will want clear goals on emission reductions, such as Europe and Japan, some want advances in renewable energy investment and green sector growth, some want CCS and natural has to take centre stage, whilst others simply want to end the whole thing there and then and go back to their fossil fuel rich lands without legal requirement to stop pillaging them. You cannot expect to put so many powerful voices against one another and expect a resoundingly democratic response to come out of it, and that is the horribly unfortunate truth of the matter, one I’ve tried to ignore for so long.
Thinking along these lines, it staggers me to think how anything ever got done through this mass gathering process, and yet progress of a small calibre has been made in some areas. REDD+ was at least recognised and drafted in the mid-noughties, Kyoto set tough but realistic emission goals and the backing of giants such as US and China finally came on board to at least listen to the rest of the world in the past several conventions. These made future gathering look like ever closer to the final ‘this is it’ moment, when a real, legally binding, sustainable agreement would be ratified by all involved. But here lies the problem. Every time one fails to achieve what it set out to do so, everyone simply shouts that the next one is when it will really happen, and that waiting another year for something to result is perfectly acceptable, despite the ravaging the environment undergoes during this time.
This time however is looking just as bleak as the last, with many nations causing trouble across the entire board. The US has effectively rewritten the initial draft in favour of vague terms and practically pointless prose, whilst the UK has ruined its own climate policies and energy roadmaps with slashes in prices and restrcutrings entirely unnecessary. Couple this with the current economic crisis, elections and Euro woes keeping Obama and Cameron from even attending the talks, and highly destructive logging and fossil fuel practices in Brazil, the host nation for the damn convention, and we have a perfect storm of absolutely zero progress in any direction.
Despite this, there is perhaps a glimmer of hope. This year, the talks are party to the first attempt by a globalised social network of concerned citizens and supporters to actively influence decisions on the global stage. The endfossilfuelsubsidies Twitterstorm, Avaaz, 350, Rio+Social and multiple other outlets have all acted together to slam home how much this means to the global society, and that we desperately want our voices heard by each and every leader.
Alongside this, more and more nations now recognise the extreme threat that warming climates, rising seas, carbon emissions and biome degradation really carry, and with the science only getting stronger, there is less room for them to squirm around in and avoid the real issues. Perhaps, with a determined and combined pincer attack by the socially active public and the obvious knowledge that we have screwed with our planet for too long, something may actually come from Rio+20, just something.
I’m certainly not thinking of anything truly legally binding and goal-setting, but just maybe, a draft which demonstrates that our global leaders, the rich who hold the power to change how we treat this world, have listened for once, and considered what their public have to say. For me personally, a true decision on redirecting fossil fuel subsidies into renewable investment is my highest of priorities. The only thing that rides higher than this, is that we finally realise that by flunking this convention, we cannot hope to believe the next one will be ‘it’, because it won’t be. We are rapidly running out of time for these events to be occurring, so something must be done now.