“This summer’s sustainable development conference in Brazil, known as Rio+20, is emerging as an overt attempt by U.N. officials to shift away from the divisive politics of climate change to a broader debate on the green economy and how to bring it to developing nations.”
On the heels of arguably little movement on an international climate pact during U.N.-sponsored talks in South Africa, Mexico and Denmark, officials here now say they view Rio+20 as a way to get past intractable policy fights between developed and developing nations over greenhouse gas emissions cuts, to focus on core issues like trade and technology.
The head of Brazil’s delegation during the most recent talks, in Durban, South Africa, last week made it clear that his role in the Rio de Janeiro conference will be to press the conversation elsewhere. Sustainable development as part of an emerging new economy, not climate change, will be the featured attraction this summer, in what appears to be a directed strategy to enter new territory during U.N. negotiations.
“Climate change … has very strong resistance from sectors that are going to be substantially altered, like the oil industry,” Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago said. “Sustainable development is something that is as simple as looking at how we would like to be in 10 or 20 years.”
The diplomat went on to admit that the political situation in the United States is a key concern, as contenders for the Republican nomination to the White House have vied with each other over the past year to distance themselves from policies to trim greenhouse gases. Add to that Capitol Hill’s failure to deal with warming, as well as discord with more advanced developing nations like China and India, and what seems to be emerging here is a strong desire for a new approach.
Enter what they hope will be the new angle: Rio+20. The new tack in strategy was evident last week during a U.N. workshop on Rio, where senior U.N. trade officials met to start hashing through their “zero draft” document for trade proposals that could be on the table this summer.