Why Environmentalism Needs to Come Down From the Summit
August 16, 2012
Peter M. Haas
It is widely accepted that humanity is causing long-term irreversible damage to the planet. Recent scientific studies by groups such as the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the Royal Society confirm that the climate system and many of the world’s vital ecosystems are in danger. There are also serious concerns about water, food, and energy scarcity; it is not at all clear how the world will satisfy the needs of a population that will plateau at nine billion by 2050. Doing so, and doing so sustainably, should be the core objective of international environmentalism.
Summary:Despite high expectations and an ambitious agenda, the Rio+20 Conference failed to deliver meaningful progress on environmental issues. Fortunately, government inaction is not the whole story: the private sector, NGOs, and civil society groups are working to fill the void.
The Rio+20 summit declaration was largely an exercise in kicking the can down the road.