PRESSMEDDELANDE: Per Gahrton talar vid Global Greens kongress i Dakar
Torsdagen den 29 april inleddes Global Greens kongress i Dakar, Senegal. Kongressen pågår till söndagen den 1 april, och samlar gröna politiker från hela världen. Värdar är Fédération Démocratique des Ecologistes du Sénégal (FEDES) tillsammans med African Green Federation och Global Greens.
Högst upp på agendan för kongressen i Dakar står krav på verklig demokrati i Nordafrika, behovet av en global, fundamental ekonomisk reform och en Green New Deal. Lösningar på det globala klimathotet och energiförsörjningen kommer att diskuteras, samt hållbara lösningar för att trygga planetens biodiversitet, speciellt i marina miljöer. Kongressen kommer även utveckla metoderna för gemensam handling och starkare samarbete mellan gröna partier och politiker över hela världen.
Per Gahrton, ordförande för den gröna tankesmedjan Cogito, är på plats och håller ett anförande om förhoppningarna inför den globala miljökonferensen Rio +20 i sommar.
-För att undvika ett fiasko i likhet med Rio-konferensen 1992, är det av yttersta vikt att det under mötet sommaren 2012 tas globala krafttag för en tuffare, demokratisk global styrning som ett svar på den klimatkris och den ekologiska kris som inom en mycket snar framtid kan slå ut mycket av jordens liv. Fortfarande har vi chansen att vända den pågående utvecklingen, men tiden börjar att rinna ut.
Kongressen i Dakar är den tredje i sitt slag. Den första kongressen hölls i Canberra, Australien 2001, och den andra i Sao Paolo, Brasilien, 2008.
Rio +20 - another Rio fiasco? There is a need for more efficient global governance on Green issues!
By Per Gahrton, president of the Green think tank COGITO, Sweden (former MEP, present in Rio 1992)
When I study the zero draft of the outcome document for the UN conference on Sustainable development due to take place in Rio de Janeiro in June this year, I get invaded by a nightmarish dejà vu. Is the fiasco of 1992 going to repeat itself in 2012?
In #7 of the document with the visionary title “The future we want”, the political leaders are supposed to confirm their “commitment to advance progress in implementation of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21”, as well as a number of other declarations and actions plans. The Rio declaration and Agenda 21 were agreed twenty years ago – and they still need implementation?
But maybe I shouldn’t be upset. The commitments of Rio 92 were not that revolutionary! As a matter of fact the expectations of Green parties and NGO:s were low and the outcome confirmed most of the pessimism. One southern voice, the Third World Resurgence, already in the Spring of 1992 warned: “Transnational corporations hijack the earth summit” (nr 20, April 1992).
Two hundred Greens, present in Rio for the First Planetary Meeting of Greens, on May 30 1992 made a “last minute appeal” to the UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development = Rio -92) where they expressed their feeling that “all signs point to failure, with dramatic consequences for the environment and peoples of the earth” (reproduced in Green Leaves, published by the Greens in the European Parliament, September 1992). In the appeal the Greens urged the OECD countries to introduce energy taxes and phase out nuclear energy. It was also suggested that a new UN Commission, directly elected by the General Assembly, should be established, with a mandate to oversee the implementation of Agenda 21 and given necessary financial means. The appeal estimated that a cut of military expenditures with 10 percent would make it possible to establish a Green Fund with 125 billion dollars per year to meet the goals of the UNCED.
The ambitions of UNCED were great. Leaders of the world were presented with five documents: 1) The Rio declaration, which was a schizophrenic mixture of solemn environmental promises and pledges to safeguard free trade and national sovereignty.
2) A convention on climate change, which because of demands by the USA and others did not contain either time limits or concrete goals.
3) A convention on biodiversity, which was rather inefficient because the USA did not accept it.
4) Agenda 21, which was a partly green, 800 page analysis of the state of the world, but full of loopholes and lacking a recipe for mobilizing the 125 billion dollars required for implementation. 5) A declaration on forestry, which some environmentalists considered worse than nothing.
Greenpeace was soon ready to declare that “UNCED is a failure”. Most of the tens of thousands of activists from 160 countries who participated in the alternative Global Forum in central Rio, probably agreed. While they held thousands of open meetings and seminars in 35 tents and 675 stands, the politicians met behind closed doors, in a suburb, two hours by bus from the NGO-people.
WWF and Greenpeace presented reports that claimed that unlimited free trade hurts the environment. The Rio Declaration wanted to “eradicate non-sustainable forms of production and consumption”, but also stated that environmental policies may not contradict free trade! The head of the Human Development Reports of UNDP, Mahbub ul Haq, suggested a CO2 tax of 3 dollars a barrel, which would give 100 billion dollars a year. But such proposals were not taken seriously by world leaders.
It was estimated that if cuts in CO2 emissions were equitably shared the USA would have to reduce its emissions by 80 percent, Germany by 66 percent. China would be allowed to double its emissions, Pakistan increase them eightfold. Such realities were of course not compatible with the declaration by President Bush Senior, that “the American lifestyle is not negotiable”.
According to Greenpeace Bush was “degenerated” and the UNCED suffered from seven cardinal sins:
1. The Greenhouse effect will continue without control.
2. The flood of money from the South to the North will continue as before.
3. The overconsumption in the North will not diminish.
4. Transnational corporations and the World Bank have been strengthened.
5. Hazardous waste will continue to be exported.
6. There will be no restrictions on nuclear power and nuclear arms.
7. Ecosystems continue to be destroyed.
WWF attacked four myths that were spread by mainstream media and political leaders from traditional parties:
Myth 1: That UNCED was just a beginning. But the first UN environmental conference took place in Stockholm in 1972. If it is necessary to start from the beginning every time, it probably is no beginning at all.
Myth 2: That expectations had been too high. But in fact expectations had been very low, much lower than strict adherence to scientific knowledge would have motivated.
Myth 3: That the North cannot sign an in-blanco check for the South. But in fact every year 70 billion dollars moved from the South to the North. And it was estimated that the protectionism of the North against the South (so much for “free trade”!) cost the South 500 billion dollars every year. If every country in the North would adhere to the stated UN goal of giving 0,7 per cent of its GDP in development aid, the US would have to increase its assistance by 27 billion dollars, Germany by 4,2 billion and France with 2,2 billion.
Myth 4: That it is necessary to wait until everybody is ready to cooperate. But Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands had planned a Greener declaration by “like-minded states”. Unfortunately it did not get support by neither the EU nor the Nordic countries, which preferred to hide behind the refusal of the USA to cooperate.
Very late, after tough deliberations, the international environmental NGO:s presented their alternatives: An alternative Earth Charter and three alternative conventions, on economy, climate change and fishery. A basic point in the alternative Earth Charter was a statement that “national sovereignty does not imply isolation from collective responsibility to protect and restore the ecosystem of the Earth”. The alternative convention on economy attacked neoliberalism, market extremism, GATT (which later became WTO), IMF and the World Bank and stated that the ideology of free trade undermines the possibility of states to pursue efficient environmental policies. The alternative proposed was an economy based upon the self-rule of local communities and a “relative self-reliance”. It was also demanded that the debts of developing countries should be abolished, and that developed countries should have to pay their environmental dept. Military expenditure should be redirected to green projects, all arms trade should be stopped, energy consumption should be reduced by fees and taxes. CO2 emissions in developed countries should be reduced by 25 percent from the level of 1990 until 2005; in the long run the reduction should be 60 per cent.
While the official UNCED tried to give the impression that in reality everybody – except, maybe, the USA – agreed on the basics and were concerned and worried about environmental degradation and hazards, despite their unwillingness to make efficient decisions, the NGO-people showed that there were profound differences in the overall perception. The NGOs didn’t conceal that some power groups were staunch enemies of Green policies, for example the transnational corporations, the military-industrial complex and some governments, mainly in the North but also some in the South.
After many deliberations, the NGOs could agree on a very radical Green program. But with what effect? All these NGOs were too weak to compete with the economic and political power elite.
The European Greens could boast that the European Parliament before the UNCED adopted twenty out of twenty-one Green amendments, which gave the EP resolution “a decidedly green tinge”. This, however, did not prevent the EU Commission from missing an opportunity to take on a leading Green role in Rio. The Environment Commissioner Carlo Ripa di Meana (who later became Green MEP) wanted to go to Rio with a proposal for a CO2 tax. But, “an unprecedented lobbying effort by energy-intensive industries paid off”, the CO2tax proposal disappeared. The Greens in the EP stated that they “deplore Europe’s abysmal failure of leadership in Rio”.
So what conclusions could be drawn from Rio -92?
I think there are two major conclusions:
1. The first conclusion is that there is still a profound contradiction between the dominating economic system, characterized by GDP growth, unrestricted free trade, unrestricted financial profit seeking corporations and environmental concerns and quality of life.
This contradiction was very visible 1992 and is still paramount in 2012. When the market economy is hit by a major crisis the political reaction, as we have seen, is sharp and swift (which does not mean that it is adequate and socially just). But the ongoing environmental crisis is not met in the same way, a fact that is admitted in a report by the UN General Secretary for the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, 17-19 May 2010.
In # 10 of this report the development since Rio 92 is summarized in one sentence: “While progress has been made on the economic front and in the amelioration of poverty in some regions, the dividends have been unequally shared between and within countries, many countries are not on track for achieving key Millennium Development Goals, and most of the environmental indicators have continued to deteriorate (emphasis by PG)”…”Greenhouse gas emissions, remain stubbornly high in developed countries, at several multiples of those in developing countries.”
2. The second conclusion is that there is a lack of efficient governance on the global level.
The above mentioned UN report by the General Secretary states: “There are several critical gaps with regard to the fulfillment of national and international commitments, although a number of achievements have been made”. The report also observes that “in the immediate aftermath of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, there was considerable interest in local Agenda 21 processes. A report prepared by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives in preparation for the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, showed that 6,416 local governments in 113 countries had committed to the local Agenda 21 process by 2001, and of these 61 per cent had advanced to an action planning phase; almost all (89 per cent) had been developed with stakeholder involvement. No comparable survey has been undertaken recently, although anecdotal evidence does not indicate an equivalent level of activity or enthusiasm.”
The zero draft for Rio +20 is full of commitments to good Green principals but also to traditional national sovereignty. # 28 recognizes that “each country will make the appropriate choices”, #31 that a transformation to “green economy” must not “restrict the policy space for countries to pursue their own path to sustainable development”; # 38 wants to encourage “all states to develop their own green economy strategies”.
Of course, in a democratic world there must be democracy on all levels. Communities, states, regions etc should be able to choose different social and economic systems – as long as they don’t harm other communities, states, regions – and the Earth. It is obvious, from the experience of Rio 92 and many other similar conferences, that without a system for governance, the commitments made by sovereign states are often rather worthless.
Thus, a global governance system that is stronger than what exists today is indispensable. In a recent article in Science, presented as “a key contribution of the science community to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)”, this subject is treated. The article proposes a “fundamental overhaul of global environmental governance”. A UN Sustainable Development Council should be established. UNEP should be upgraded, civil society should get stronger consultative rights and last, but not least, there should be a stronger reliance on qualified majority voting in international decision making. (Science, vol 335 No 6074, 16 March 2012).
The other day while surfing on TV-channels of the world I got stuck somewhere, probably a German channel, on a program on a possible Chinese expedition to the planet Mars in some years. An old space expert said that he welcomed the endeavor but added: “I hope they will meet Mars as representatives not of China but of mankind”. I am not sure that a like travels to Mars at all, but the point is serious: If in front of Mars or the rest of the Universe we are one mankind – what about here at home, facing our own fate and future, is it not high time that we cooperate on a global level to safeguard our common future? Ecologically the Earth has always been one integrated system. Now it must be a major task for Greens to make people understand and accept that the human way of life must be adapted to ecological realities. Which means that the famous slogan “Think globally, act locally” must be redefined – it is not enough to think globally, we must also act with a global responsibility and create the institutions for a global democracy that can safeguard our common survival.
info ( at ) cogito.nu