How climate change got removed from the agenda of the Rio+20 Summit

In These Times reports: The Durban Climate Conference last winter ended in almost unqualified failure. The original framework of U.N. climate negotiations was all but abandoned in favor of a new global pact that may or may not be negotiated by 2015 and may or may not be legally binding. Climate change deniers literally crashed the party by parachuting onto a beach in Durban carrying a “Climategate 2.0” banner—and public perception in the U.S. on the reliability of climate science continued to shift in their direction, cementing the stalemate on a domestic climate deal.

Now, it would seem, many international negotiators have altogether given up on the idea of establishing a global regulatory framework for reducing carbon emissions. Next week, more than 130 national leaders will gather at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to discuss proposals ranging from replacing GDP as the indicator of economic prosperity to conducting annual “state-of-the-planet” assessments. Notably absent, particularly given a new U.N. study finding that carbon emissions have increased by 40% in the past two decades, will be any concrete negotiations on climate change.

The summit, to be held in Rio from June 20 – 22, is the follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit that produced multilateral agreements on climate change, biodiversity and desertification. But this time, no binding agreements are expected to result from the three-day meeting. At best, the talks may result in a commitment to drafting new goals for sustainable development by 2015.

The summit’s dodge of continued climate talks is an intentional move to avoid politics in favor of platitudes. After Durban, U.N. officials sought to redirect the agenda for Rio away from the contentious territory of emissions cuts and climate finance and toward issues of trade and technology. In an interview with Reuters in January, when pre-Rio talks were underway, Brazilian negotiator Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago acknowledged that the focus on sustainable development was more palatable to politicians and business leaders with a stake in the negotiations. [Continue reading…]

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