Rio +20: Hope or Dope?
The convergence of nations and communities at the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this June 20-22 is a key moment for world governments to either act to protect our future, or continue on with the same failed strategies of industrial extraction, production, pollution and waste that have caused great ecological disruption and economic impoverishment the world over.
Among the competing interests at Rio+20 are the “global 1%”—wealthy industrial nations and multi-national corporations--who will unveil their “Green Economy” strategy. As much as ever, these powerful economic interests enjoy a deafeningly loud voice to spread their message, but we know that just calling something “green” doesn’t mean it’s good for people or for the planet.
The so-called “Green Economy” agenda of the global 1%--the wealthiest countries and corporations—intertwines two related but up to now somewhat distinct concepts: “Green Capitalism” and the “Greed Economy.” What it actually means, in practice, is the privatization and commoditization of nature. It would place a dollar value on the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the earth that sustains us. In fact, it would place a patent on life itself. Worse, the Green (or Greed) Economy of the 1% is neo-liberalism in green clothes. It seeks to compel countries and industry to include in their cost-benefit analyses the impact on nature’s ability to continue to produce profit making resources for short and long-term profitability.
The United States government is represented in Rio by both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is leading the US delegation and the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. Initial reports from inside the Summit indicate that the US seeks to only weaken the initial declaration agreed to in Rio in 1992, which created a framework for the UN to seek to address the causes and impact of global warming and resulting climate change.
The People’s Summit for Rio +20
There is another way forward that still creates the economic vitality we need while cooling the planet—a different “green economy” that deepens our relationship to ecology and strengthens our social connections. It protects and respects local knowledge and integration with our environment while creating community-centered jobs that sustain rather than pollute the earth. Hosted by Brazilian landless, indigenous, trade-union, student among other movements, people from the world over have converged in Rio to challenge the status-quo in order to save humanity’s ability to exist on this planet. Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) is contributing to this Summit to re-imagine and strategize around how to build the world we want. GGJ has helped organize a delegation of over 20 organizational representatives from the US from movement groups such as the Indigenous Environmental Network, Jobs with Justice, The LA Labor Community Strategy Center & the Bus Riders’ Union, Black Workers for Justice, among others.
The GGJ delegation states in its official statement on Rio +20:
At the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, we urge everyone to reject the false solutions of the "Greed Economy" and instead invest in solutions to the root causes of the ecological and economic crises that put our communities to work, cool the planet, and transition environmental control back to local economies.
GGJ urges the United States government to:
1) Stop destructive climate projects and unsustainable energy developments including the Canadian Tar Sands, the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, and proposed oil drilling in the off-shore Outer Continental Shelf areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska.
2) Reject REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and other carbon offset models as the pillar of the Green Economy that furthers the privatization of Nature and displaces indigenous communities.
3) End the Era of Extreme Energy: Create just transition pathways out of resource and carbon-intensive industries such as fossil fuels, waste incineration, biomass energy, nuclear power, and industrial agriculture.
4) Commit to reducing emissions by 90% from 1990 levels by 2050.
5) Commit to full-scale investment in inclusive Zero Waste systems, with a transition goal for 2040.