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.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Housing report earns Nats the red card
    National’s failure to acknowledge and fix the housing crisis will be their legacy. Labour will tackle the housing crisis head-on, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    5 days ago
  • Sluggish growth reflects nine years of drift from National
    Today’s GDP figures reflect an economy that the National Government has allowed to drift along on the basis of growing population rather than improving productivity and adding value, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is important to recognise that ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s campaign of deception an affront to democracy
    Voters this week have a clear choice between Labour’s optimism and honesty, or rewarding National’s campaign of relentless lies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Day after day National has been deliberately spreading lies about Labour, our intentions and what ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s economy scorecard: D for drift
    New Zealand’s economy is failing the very people it is supposed to uplift, characterised by stalled productivity, exports going backwards and a Government content to let it drift, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Voters have a clear choice ...
    6 days ago
  • Another day – another health crisis
    News today that the emergency department at Waikato has turned 180 patients away is another crisis for the Government and its besieged health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “It’s astonishing that the Government has had to rely on ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour will get tough on loan sharks
      Labour will take a tough stance on loan sharks and make sure that the Commerce Commission is properly resourced to protect Kiwi consumers, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson Michael Wood.   “People on low incomes must be protected from ...
    7 days ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    1 week ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    1 week ago
  • Tax cuts when kids go hungry shows National’s lack of moral compass
    National’s campaign of tax cuts that give $400 million to the top 10 per cent of earners, at a time when 120 Kiwi kids every year are being hospitalised for malnutrition, shows they have lost their moral compass, says Labour’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Freight being shifted off planes as fuel crisis worsens
    Export freight is being shifted off flights because of the Government’s failure to manage the risk of disruption to jet fuel supplies, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson Stuart Nash. “It has been revealed to Labour that non-perishable export freight is ...
    1 week ago
  • Apologise now Jonathan
    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman must apologise for his part in a $2.3 billion shortfall that has contributed to delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “All the Minister could say in an interview this morning ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s health report card shows need for new plan
    From increased GP fees, to kids getting sick from cold homes, to denial of important surgeries, National’s underfunding of health has hurt Kiwi families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.   “It’s time to invest in the health of ...
    1 week ago
  • Eye clinic wait downright dangerous
    The fact that 9,500 Kiwis are waiting one and a half times longer than they should to get follow-up eye appointments is unacceptable and dangerous, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “These people are entitled to the reassurance that if ...
    1 week ago
  • National has serious questions to answer over Auckland fuel crisis
    Thousands of air travellers looking for answers to Auckland Airport’s fuel crisis should be demanding the National Government come clean over its failure to secure fuel supply for the airport, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “There are serious questions the ...
    1 week ago
  • Come clean on trade before the election
    In the two days before the election, New Zealand MFAT negotiators will attend a negotiations meeting in Japan on the successor to the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), now called the TPP-11. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy but we ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 week ago
  • National unravels on transport
    The release of extraordinary information showing that the East-West link could be the most expensive road in the world, at $327 million per kilometre, shows that National is fiscally reckless and out of ideas on transport, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Saudi cover-up a perversion of democracy
    The Government has been exposed as dishonest after it was revealed that  they were wrong to claim they paid out $11 million dollars to a Saudi businessmen after legal advice, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Parker.  “OIAs revealed on ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour supporting Te Reo Māori in schools
    Labour will support a future where New Zealanders from every background will have the ability to use Te Reo Māori in everyday conversations, says Labour’s Deputy Leader and Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “Labour will commit to a target that ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National planning a secret fuel tax?
    Sources suggest National is considering a secret fuel tax to fund its controversial Roads of National Significance (RONS) programme, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood. “While the Government keeps up its stream of lies about Labour’s tax policy, sources indicate ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan for West Coast prosperity
    Labour’s regional development plan for the West Coast will build on its strengths in engineering and tourism, while delivering a much-needed upgrade to the Buller Hospital, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “Labour’s vision is for a thriving regional New Zealand, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to fair and progressive tax system
    Labour is committed to a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and where we start to address the imbalances that have fuelled the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson and Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. "Today ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A challenge to Bill English
    ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flavell’s fake news an insult to Māori voters
    A desperate Te Ururoa Flavell has resorted to fake news about Labour’s position on his unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s tax cuts reckless and irresponsible
    It is time for Bill English and Steven Joyce to stop the scaremongering and lies, and front up to New Zealanders about the impact of their tax cuts, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Bill English has no credibility on ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Calculator shows Labour’s Families Package delivers
    Labour has launched a new online calculator that show how much extra families with kids will get from Labour’s Families Package, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Families can go to www.labour.org.nz/calculator and see how much better off they ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Strengthening New Zealand’s identity through Labour’s media and film policy
    Labour has today launched its media and film policy aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s identity and providing sustainability for the industry, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to invest in parents and babies
    Labour will fund an additional 100 Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses to increase the help available for vulnerable parents and babies, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “It’s so important that our children get the best start in life. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to build affordable homes and state houses in Hawke’s Bay
    Labour will build a mix of 240 affordable KiwiBuild starter homes for first home buyers and state homes for families in need in Napier and Hastings, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “In 2016, the populations of Napier and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges more for Whānau Ora
    Labour will strengthen the oversight of Whānau Ora and provide an extra $20 million over four years to improve outcomes for whānau and families, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis.    “We’ve created a new position of Whānau Ora Reviewer ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s housing band aid
    Throwing subsidies at an under-supplied housing market is one last desperate bid by National to be seen to do something about the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “First home buyers have been the collateral damage of National’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing, families, education and environment top priorities in Labour’s first 100 days
    Labour will take urgent action in its first 100 days in office to expand support for families and students, make rental homes warm and dry, find solutions to the mental health crisis and accelerate efforts to clean up our waterways, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges to unlock funding for Te Hiku sports hub project
    The Labour Government will inject nearly $3 million into the Te Hiku Sports Hub project, to help realise a much-needed health and recreational facility for the Far North, says Labour Deputy Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan to get job seekers into better work
    Labour will provide real support for people looking for work by increasing the amount of money someone can earn before their benefit begins to reduce, reinstating training incentives, and putting a renewed focus on upskilling and training, says Labour’s Social ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour sets strong target and plan for climate action
    Labour will set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and take the necessary steps to achieve it, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Climate change is my generation’s nuclear-free moment. We have to take our place ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Are education cuts missing in National’s Fiscal Plan?
    National needs to explain why its plans for cuts to school transport have not been announced in its fiscal plan, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.   “Buried in the Pre-election Budget update is a $5m a year cut to ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce must come clean on Health and Education funding
    Steven Joyce needs to front up to New Zealanders and tell them whether he will fund health and education to meet increasing cost pressures, or risk seeing services cut and costs increase for parents, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  ...
    3 weeks ago