Gauteng and NW Province

Talks on UN blueprint to save planet hit snags

SAPA-AFP

Negotiations on a UN blueprint to fix damaged environment eradicate poverty and promote green jobs have hit snags before a global summit.

Brazil wants to seal a deal swiftly to ensure that a three-day gathering, aimed at reviving the momentum of the 1992 Earth Summit, is not wrecked by squabbles.

But delegates attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Brazil, said the draft was mired in discord.

Disputed issues include text on climate-altering fossil fuels, promoting the green economy and funding for poorer countries.

Another is how to strengthen world governance for the environment, an area where national sovereignty is jealously guarded.

A further problem area is “Sustainable Development Goals” that would replace the UN’s Millennium Development Goals after these objectives expire in 2015.

German Environment minister Peter Altmaier said the talks were “moving in the right direction, but it is just the beginning of the final, not yet critical, stage of negotiations”.

About 100 heads of state and government are expected to attend the summit starting today, although US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be absent.

The meeting is designed to crown a 10-day event bringing together about 50 000 activists, policymakers and business executives to showcase sustainable development.

Twenty years have elapsed since the first Earth Summit, where the community of nations declared war on poverty and environmental ills. They set up three conventions to tackle climate change, desertification and species loss and drew up a bible, Agenda 21, intended to guide their actions.

But on almost every count, the planet is sicker than before.

Scientists warn that emissions of climate altering fossil-fuel gases are scaling even-higher peaks, a trend that will stoke worse floods, droughts and storms and imperil small island states with rising seas.

“I am very concerned and worried because the draft final document of the Rio+20 conference does not give proper attention to climate change,” former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said. “It looks like there is backsliding on this issue and that worries me so much, because without addressing climate change, all of the other problems and tasks that will be set by the final document will not be accomplished and will become meaningless.”

Pretoria News, Wednesday June 20, 2012

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