Canada is going to Rio+20 summit, despite its hostility to fossil fuels
The Rio+20 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development, which starts in two weeks, will be a farce, even if everybody keeps a straight face. The grand UN-based system conceived to co-ordinate the activities of all mankind has proved utterly unsustainable, a dysfunctional mess that generates nothing but endless meetings, agendas and reports.
That sustainable development would inevitably collapse under its own contradictions was inevitable. What is fascinating is why every country on Earth — including Canada — would earnestly have committed to a concept hatched by a cabal of ardent socialists. Equally fascinating is the almost universal reluctance to acknowledge the organizational disaster that has ensued.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade declared that the “composition of the Canadian delegation” was “still under consideration,” although apparently Environment Minister Peter Kent will be going, as will Quebec Premier Jean Charest. When I asked the spokeswoman for background information on Canada’s approach to Rio+20, she suggested that I file an access to information request. Doesn’t sound very transparent (a key tenet of sustainability), but then the federal government’s position does appear a little conflicted.
Since one of sustainable development’s key objectives is to kill the fossil fuel industry, it hardly seems to fit the Conservatives’ promotion of Canada as an oil and gas superpower. Equally, Ottawa’s decision to streamline environmental regulation goes entirely against sustainability’s thrust of increasingly comprehensive consultation. As for the even more controversial move to tighten up — that is, apply the existing tax rules to — the political activities of foreign-funded environmental “charities,” how does that fit with the Harper government’s solemn commitment, in its submission to Rio+20 summit, to promote the involvement of the very same non-governmental organizations? Welcome to sustainable development’s world of devious ideological purpose, ridiculous bureaucratic pretension, bogus “civil society” and political hypocrisy.
The phrase “sustainable development” first achieved wide currency as the result of the 1987 report of the United Nations’ Brundtland commission, a body of self-styled “eminent persons” who appointed themselves to prepare “a global agenda for change” in the face of the alleged “interlocking crises” of failing economic development and deteriorating environment.
Behind Brundtland’s seemingly reasonable definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” lay the implication that free markets were unsustainable.
Sustainable development was rooted in projections of environmental apocalypse due to catastrophic man-made global warming, species extinction, resource depletion, and any number of other apocalyptic scenarios that would be brought about by unfettered capitalism.
What was needed to fix this (projected) mess was greater political oversight and control, which would delicately balance the triple bottom line of the economy, the environment and social issues. As Brundtland commissioner Maurice Strong, who orchestrated the 1992 Rio conference, declared: “[W]e must devise a new approach to co-operative management of the entire system of issues.” As for the impossibility of either gauging or fulfilling “needs,” that wasn’t a problem for the Brundtland gang. They would simply tell us what our needs should be.
So how is the dream looking after 20 years?