web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Countdown: 36 days to go

Written By: - Date published: 3:36 pm, May 16th, 2012 - 11 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, Environment, sustainability - Tags:

There are 72 days to the Olympics, which is what many people are counting down to – but the planet will be much more interested in the Rio+20 conference in 36 days.  This is the chance for world leaders to put global society on a sustainable path.

Sustainable development is not no development:

Three billion people living on less than $2.50 a day. One billion with insufficient access to clean water; about 2.4 billion people without a decent energy source; 1.2 billion suffering from chronic hunger – all this, said UN climate convention (UNFCCC) chief Christiana Figueres at the Barbara Ward Lecture in London, is “morally unacceptable”.

We already have population overshoot with current living standards, before we fix that which is morally unacceptable.  The New Zealand Institute warns we’ve passed an environmental tipping point globally.  But something must be done – morally and environmentally.

And we have other problems.  The OECD warns of huge greenhouse gas rise.  We’ve passed peak-conventional oil – and our governments are making global energy predictions that say we’ll massively increase use to improve our lifestyles while simultaneously massively decreasing our use to reduce climate change and because the oil and gas aren’t there to burn.  We’re warned that even a “green” country like us isn’t doing near enough on emissions.

climate change is one of the issues that threatens to exacerbate the situation – raising sea levels, increasing drought in drought-prone areas, reducing crop yields, and so on – a familiar list by now, I’d think, to anyone who follows these issues.

And the corollary: that however people are brought out of their various types of poverty, it mustn’t be done in a way that worsens climate change or pushes any of the other planetary boundaries beyond stretching point, because that would in time cancel out the gains.

There are those that are fighting against change from “business as usual” – extremists like the Heartland Institute who compared those who admit to global warming to mass-murderers, and other powerful interests like Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp.  Poland is holding back the whole EU with their climate-change denial stance.

On other issues proposals to regulate global fishing will meet resistance from strong fishing countries, and others will be unhappy about regulation of extractive mineral industries – both important items on the agenda at Rio.

On the other hand many countries and companies are making progress on their own.  South Korea recently became the 34th country with an emissions trading scheme.  Australia is working out how to link their ermerging scheme to ours.  A proposal for a 500MW solar scheme in the Sahara to power Europe and North Africa continues.  Scotland is investing in wave power; California is embracing renewable energy, clean fuels aand emissions trading; Ecuador has innovative schemes to protect it’s forests from drilling; China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, is aiming to tackle energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

So where can Rio+20 get to, compared to where we need it to?  It will struggle to reverse the 30% decline in global wildlife since 1970 – biodiversity is in some respects a bigger crisis than climate change.  It’s unlikely to get binding commitments on anything in under a week – reducing poverty and inequality, our rampant resource overuse or greenhouse gases.

Our best hope is probably that they manage to set some progress measures so that pressure can be more focussed on governments, and that they can set the areas that need to be covered in a firm 3 year agenda to set the exact goals that will be aimed for – so that the goals can replace the Millenium Development Goals in 2015 when they end (mostly in failure).

It feels glacial, but – as Poland shows – those not on board can scupper the whole thing.

Here’s hoping that the leadership deficit isn’t too bad and things go well in Rio

11 comments on “Countdown: 36 days to go”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    ‘This is the chance for world leaders to put global society on a sustainable path.’

    ‘global society’ and ‘sustainable’ are mutually exclusive concepts

    CO2 is 396+ppm. After a short-lived decline, due to photosynthesis in the Northern Hemisphere, it will rise to 398ppm or 399ppm next April-May. (The acknowledged ‘safe; upper limit is 350ppm.)

  2. Afewknowthetruth 2

    ‘A proposal for a 500MW solar scheme in the Sahara to power Europe and North Africa continues.’

    I bet the people who are currently starving to death in Chad, Mali, Niger etc. will be very impressed.

  3. Afewknowthetruth 3

    ‘ South Korea recently became the 34th country with an emissions trading scheme. ‘

    The scam to make money out of emissions whilst doing nothing to reduce them is obviously working well for the moment.

    Just what will happen when the global financial system implodes over the next 3 years is anybody’s guess.

    • emissions trading scheme.
      Is like a fat person paying someone to run around a track, to lose weight, while eating donuts

      • Zorr 3.1.1

        Is a good analogy if the goal wasn’t the overall decrease of weight. If the fat corporate stays as heavy as usual but the person running round the track loses weight then that is a form of success. As a planet, we are only interested in the overall result, not the individual results (though individual effort DOES matter)

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1

          The fat corporate will get fatter while the people (usually the poor) running around the track will lose weight.

  4. Bill 4

    Free societies and us, the individuals within them, from the various strangleholds of the market and we might develop sustainable systems of production and distribution moving forward.

    But if, as the post suggests, the focus is going to be on the sustainabilty of societies rather than the unsustainability of the market, then forget it. All that will deliver (if anything) is a list of prescriptions for how societies might soften potential landings (assuming that when we hit the ground we’ll still be alive) while ignoring the very thing that has us in a death grip.

    The Heartland Institute and all the rest of them are nothing but so many shoals of red herrings we, as individuals and groups keep chasing. The stupid endless debate about whether that which is as clear as the nose on the end of my face is actual or not, is a mindless distraction that allows us all to defer decisive action.

    Simply? Either you do something or you don’t. Most people are choosing ‘don’t’. Which suits the market. And government. The Koch’s and their ilk express the rule rather than the exception. Anyone who has built up any position of privilege or power or even simply a given standard of living is going to be clinging on for dear life to the very habits, behaviours, systems and institutions that may well be eliminating all of humanities possible futures.

    If ever there was a scenario deserving consciencious objection…non- compliance, non- participation…, then what the market has brought about is that scenario, no?

  5. captain hook 5

    there is no sustainability.
    humanity is the dominant species.
    they hunt and eat anything and everything including themselves.
    they can run down any other animal.
    the desire for goods is insatiable.
    its like a clock that wont stop till everything is used up.
    I wont be here when it happens but it will.
    happen.

  6. MrSmith 6

    The Olympics has to be one of the greatest monuments to our own stupidity, history will record how one of the human races most egotistic moment comes every few years, when anyone (mainly the rich) get to watch the privileged few trying to be first.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    Apparently the 1B without access to sufficient clean water may be a wild understatement. The UN General Secretary said recently that “improved water” meant that only 800M were now without “safe” drinking water.

    However, 80% of “improved” water supplies are actually still not fit for drinking e.g. piped and pumped water from a dirty river is considered “improved” water.

    The most likely estimates of persons without daily safe drinking water probably rests between 2.0B and 3.0B people.

    But forget that, we need to focus an extra billion more dollars in vaccine development money to be spent by advanced western universities and medical schools because by jove that will help compensate for a couple of billion people still not having a sanitary toilet and fresh water in the 21st century.

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18020432

  8. Ad 8

    The first RIO was a great surge that idealistic governance could work.

    I am more skeptical now that multilateral agreements stick, particularly after the failure of the RIO+10 event in South Africa, the unrecoverable breakdown of a world trade system through the WTO, and of course the breakdown of Copenhagen’s climate change conference.

    I think the future of the world’s change belongs to city and metropolitan action and governance. I hope I am wrong but I see the aftermath of the GFC as the sign that nations will at least for the old European and United States nations, finally start the accelerating downward slope to their deaths.

    I don’t ever like willing apocalyptic collapse, but this does feel like the beginning of no-growth for decades. I see effective government at least in New Zealand retreating to cities, and outside of that, no effective government at all.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 7

  • Ministers must answer questions on IRD blowout
    The current and previous Revenue Ministers must front up and explain how the child support system had a budget blowout from $30 million to $210 million in just four years, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove. “Peter Dunne was Revenue… ...
    11 hours ago
  • Curb stratospheric public CEO salaries
    A review of the way MPs’ pay is set should also look at ways to curb excessive rises in the salaries of public service chief executives, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Some of these CEOs have had stratospheric pay increases… ...
    15 hours ago
  • 50 cents? Makes no sense.
    The minimum wage rose by 50 cents this month from 14.25 to 14.75. While it’s a small step towards ensuring minimum workers get a fair share, it’s important to remember that real wages only rose 1.5% while productivity rose by… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 days ago
  • The Serco corrections circus
    It should seem obvious to employers, private or public, that it’s important to do what you can to retain your best, most experienced staff. They make life easier for you because they’re effective, attentive and often respected by those around… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    2 days ago
  • Time for NZ to prohibit the killing of great apes
    That ban was widely hailed, and spurred efforts in other countries to get similar bans. However, apes are still being exploited, abused and killed, both in captivity and in the wild. Examples of cruelty, neglect and abuse abound. Apes are… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    4 days ago
  • Auckland building consents: Tragic
    The only word to describe the latest building consent figures for Auckland is ‘tragic’, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Whatever the Government is doing to address the Auckland housing crisis, it is clearly not working. ...
    5 days ago
  • A whiff of a new biosecurity scandal?
    A pest which could create havoc for New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sector must be as much a focus for the Government as hunting out fruit flies, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “While the Ministry for Primary Industries is… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government shrugs off health sector crisis
    Despite new evidence showing that cuts to health spending are costing lives the Government continues to deny the sector is struggling, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Health services in New Zealand are in crisis. ...
    5 days ago
  • Parata lowered the bar for failing charter school
    When Hekia Parata became aware that the Whangaruru charter school was experiencing major problems her first action was to drop standards by reducing the number of qualified teachers they had to employ, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins has revealed. “Hekia… ...
    5 days ago
  • National not being straight about the economy
    John Key and Bill English need to be straight with New Zealanders about the damage their failure to diversify the economy is doing, after new figures show export growth plunged due to a collapse in dairy exports, says Grant Robertson.… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mind the Gap
    This week the International Monetary Fund released a report on the wider economic value in closing the gender pay gap. When even the bastions of free-market economics start to raise concerns about gender pay gaps, we have to realise how… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Labour will hold National to parental leave promise
    Labour will hold National to its promise to increase the support given to new parents of premature, multiple birth and babies born with disabilities, Labour’s paid parental leave campaigner Sue Moroney says. "I am naturally disappointed that after battling for… ...
    6 days ago
  • It was all just pillar talk
    Steven Joyce’s confession that he can no longer guarantee a pillar-free design for the New Zealand International Convention Centre shows the Government has abandoned its dream of creating an ‘iconic’ ‘world-class’ structure, says Labour Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “Steven… ...
    6 days ago
  • Australians move on offshore speculators
    John Key might want to have a quiet word with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about Canberra's just-announced crack down on offshore speculators when he visits New Zealand this week, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says."Tony Abbott's centre right government… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government at odds on overseas driver crashes
    National backbencher Jacqui Dean has spoken out about overseas driver crashes, putting herself at odds with Prime Minister John Key who is on record as saying it’s not a big issue, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “I’m not surprised… ...
    6 days ago
  • Human Rights and the Palestine Crisis
    Last week I heard two Palestinians speak at Wellington events about the ongoing crisis in their country. Samar Sabawi spoke to a full house about the history of Palestine and gave us a lucid and disturbing account of the situation… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • Time to take real care of our kids
    An Amnesty International report has once again criticised New Zealand’s track record on looking after our kids, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The annual report, which looks at global human rights abuses highlights not only the fact that high… ...
    7 days ago
  • John Key wrong about Labour’s war vote
    John Key’s desperate claims that the former Labour Government didn’t put combat troop deployment to a Parliamentary vote are simply wrong, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “It was disgraceful that the Prime Minister ran rough shod over democracy and… ...
    7 days ago
  • Māori language bill needs work
     It is clear that the first draft of the Māori Language Bill was about structures and funding rather than the survival of te reo Māori, Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.  “Labour is pleased that the Minister of Māori… ...
    7 days ago
  • Report proves troubled school shouldn’t have opened
    The long-awaited release of an Education Review Office report into Northland’s troubled Whangaruru charter school proves it should never have been approved in the first place, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This report identifies problems with absenteeism and disengaged… ...
    1 week ago
  • Manus Island and the New Zealand Government
    This week the Greens have participated in awareness activity about Manus Island, the refugee camp on an island in Papua New Guinea where Australia dumps asylum seekers. John Key says that he has every confidence in the Australian Government’s claim… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Election Inquiry – Getting accessible voting on the agenda
    James Shaw has been doing a series of blogs on the Election Inquiry into last year’s general election.  I thought this was a great opportunity to raise an issue very dear to me – accessible voting. Last year’s general election… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • RMA changes no solution to Christchurch housing
    Housing will continue to be a big issue in 2015. The latest Consumer Price Index, released last month, shows both good news and bad news on the housing front. After years of being the most expensive place to build a… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Saving kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges
    It is amazing that you can hear the song of the endangered North Island kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges, less than 50 kms from the central city. A heavy schedule of policy workshops at the Green Party’s Policy… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Let’s not turn a blind eye to human rights
    The Cricket World Cup has just opened in New Zealand, and it’s an opportunity for us to shine on the world stage. International sport can be a chance for us to build relationships with other countries, and examine what it… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Its Just Not Cricket
    This week it was my privilege to work with Sri Lankan Tamil communities in this country and host Australian journalist and human rights advocate Trevor Grant. I knew a bit about Trevor from his biography but I didn’t know just… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Time for NZ to #BeCrueltyFree
    The Government is about to progress the final stages of the Animal Welfare Amendment bill. This will be our last opportunity to get changes made to improve the bill to ensure a better outcome for animals. I have put forwards… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago
  • We want access!
    Access to buildings is a big issue for many New Zealanders. It looks like that, due to the hard work and persistence of people in the disability community, the Government may finally be starting to take access to buildings seriously.… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Greens call on Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels
    The Green Party today called on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Fund) to divest from fossil fuels, starting immediately with coal. The call was accompanied with a new report, Making money from a climate catastrophe: The case for divesting… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere