Europe and the Global Green Economy

Europe leading the "Global Green Economy" ? : Rio +20

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The fragile agreement – seen as a positive surprise - on cutting carbon emissions reached at the end of 2011 in Durban, is widely held to have emerged thanks only to the vigorous efforts of the EU contingent. Europe proved itself, still, to be a key player. But can Europe now lead the way towards a genuinely sustainable, green, economy?

Questions on the table include: What are the new economic and social benefits of a green economy? Can Europe - and surrounding regions - afford a green economy if no binding UN agreements are reached on carbon emissions, labor rights or environmental protection? What economic and development sacrifices can, and will, Europe make in the quest for such agreements? What role shall be played by the E.U. in making this happen? How should Europe work with powerful countries such as the US, and China, and Russia? Are sanctions possible - and ethically acceptable - to ensure binding and meaningful agreements?


We invite students and scholars to enter the discussion by contributing their views on issues surrounding the conference. Interested participants should contact the Europaeum office with submissions.

Is 692 a Lucky Number?

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 10/09/2012 by Sheena Miller, graduate student, Helsinki University 2011-13

Some are still applauding the 692 voluntary agreements made at the historic United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which recently t ended.  Combined, these agreements ambitiously aim to tackle manifold issues, ranging from gender empowerment and poverty to youth unemployment and access to clean water, are worth unimaginable amounts, estimated at some $513 billion US dollars.

It seems to me, a few of the agreements do indeed have impressive financial  support behind them. For example the Asian Development Bank along with eight additional multilateral development banks pledged to invest nearly $200 billion in the development of sustainable transport systems. The sheer size of these numbers reflects an unparalleled pledge from governments, civil society and the private sector to the fundamental principles at the core of sustainable development and economic well-being. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon even remarked “These huge numbers, [give] a sense of the scale and growth of investment going into sustainable development.”

Risks of climate disaster

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 09/08/2012 by Laurent Lambert, Oxford University Centre for the Environment,
Europaeum Research Director for 2012 Prague Workshop and for 2010 Paris Workshop

Two remarkable scientists have just written a short and sharp piece for the Financial Times on how our focus on the global economic crisis has totally eclipsed the issue of climate disasters.

They articulate why it'll be more devastating in the (not so) long term because of our societal inertia and invite the scientific community to join in the debat to make a change. You can also make one it by reading their enlightening call

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7563449e-dd56-11e1-8fdc-00144feab49a.html

Rio+20's Oceans for a sustainable 21st C.

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 30/06/2012 by Laurent Lambert, Oxford University Centre for the Environment,
Europaeum Research Director for 2012 Prague Workshop and for 2010 Paris Workshop

When debating Earth' environments, Oceans and seas have too often been the forgotten ones for decades. In only 6 minutes however, Peter Neil, Dr. of the World Ocean Observatory, made a refreshing podcast on how Rio+20 addressed this major issue, and then replaced it into its global environmental governance context. Definitely worth listening.

You can find it below and explore through their website a whole under-explored dimension of our world's environment. A blue one. Enjoy. http://thew2o.net/world-ocean-radio

Rio+20: Third PrepCom and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)

Tags: Event Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Reprinted from UNCSD summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)-- United Nations Office

On 22 June 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) adopted the outcome document titled “The Future We Want," and, following statements by governments, UN officials and Brazilian President Rousseff, the meeting closed at 8:41 pm. The final day of the three-day event opened with statements by 8 Heads of State and Government and 45 Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and heads of delegation. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the speakers, and announced a partnership between the US and African nations, with US$20 million in funding, to unlock private financing for clean energy projects in Africa and beyond. In her closing statement, Brazilian President Rousseff pledged US$6 million to UNEP’s fund targeting developing countries, and will direct US$10 million towards climate change challenges in Africa, least developed countries, and SIDS. A similar pledge had been offered earlier in the meeting by Wen Jiabao, Premier of China, and total pledges of US$513 billion in funding were reported to have been committed by governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups in response to a call for voluntary commitments to achieve the Conference’s goals. In closing the Conference, Rousseff stressed that Rio+20 was the most participatory conference in history and was a “global expression of democracy.” She also said that Rio+20 has demonstrated multilateralism is a legitimate pathway to build solutions for global problems. In all, 12,000 individuals were reported to have registered to attend the official Rio+20 event and its 500 official side events, and another 30,000 participated in one or more of the up to 3000 unofficial parallel events that took place throughout Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

At Rio+20, the green economy won’t save the planet. But green democracy will.

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Reprinted from The Commonwealth Advisory Bureau - Opinions series by Raj Patel and Martin Crook

Coverage of the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit has tended either to express exasperation at the futility of a single conference attempting to address multiple planetary crises or to bemoan the fact that, while laudable, the little that is being done comes too late. Both views are wrong. There is, in fact, a great deal being done in the environment’s name and much more of it will be pushed between 20–22 June in Brazil. Unfortunately, the central solution presented by policymakers – The Green Economy – will make matters worse. This concept, a way of putting a price on the use of natural resources previously considered ‘free’, is being touted as the only way to prevent future crises. In this Opinion, we explain how the green economy approach – relying as it does on the kinds of broken mechanisms that precipitated the current financial crisis – will only further incentivise the exploitation and destruction of the ecosystems on which we all depend. And while humans are accelerating the rate of species extinction, it is not too late to adopt the kinds of policies that have demonstrated success in combatting the global crises in food, energy and climate change. Policymakers at Rio+20 ought to look away from the greenwash, to the concrete proposals already enacted by social movements around the world. Their environmental solutions have the advantage of enfranchising the poor, transforming social relationships with nature and, most importantly when compared to the Green Economy approach, they actually work.

Click here to read the CA/B Opinion! http://www.commonwealthadvisorybureau.org/opinion.html

Children and Youth at the Rio+20 Conference

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 23/05/2012 by Mariana Spratley, European Studies graduate from IEP, Catholic University of Lisbon

Children and Youth is one of the Major Groups at the Rio+20 Conference. There will be an official preparatory event, the Conference on Youth for Rio+20 (aka Youth Blast), on 7-12 June, to prepare and empower the children and youth who will be present at the Conference. Numerous countries have also already chosen youth representatives to become part of their delegation.

This shows that indeed many positive preparatory steps are being taken, but the question will remain of how much voice will be given to the youth perspective and those who are so often called the planet’s future leaders. We will only be able to judge this in the aftermath of Rio+20, but, even though the focus will fall mainly on the current world leaders, the smartest move is to engage young people in the politics of sustainable development and to use the opportunity of a high-profile, prominent event to do so: to listen to their views and truly consider them as relevant contributors to the debate and include them in the decision-making itself. If the Conference is successful, participants will need to commit to specific goals and policies of which children and young people will be great beneficiaries, if not the greatest. It is necessary that they be seriously given an active role rather than a passive one.

Short summary of the Rio+20 preparatory negotiations

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Reprinted from The Earth Negotiations Bulletin Summary byLangston James "Kimo" Goree VI, Vice President, Reporting Services and United Nations Liaison, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)-- United Nations Office

NOTE: The following short piece is an up to date summary of the latest rounds of preparatory negotiations in the run up to Rio+20, written by the Vice-President of the International Institute of Sustainable Development (the 'IISD', which monitores most UN environmental conferences). Definitely worth reading. - Laurent Lambert, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Europaeum Research Director for 2012 Prague Workshop and for 2010 Paris Workshop

Outsourcing environmental politics: why environmental ombudspersons are not an obviously good thing

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Reprinted from —socialjusticefirst on 27/04/2012 by Joseph Markus

A blogpost on the Guardian website, written by Christopher Weeramantry, former ICJ judge, Ashok Khosla and Scilla Elworthy, makes the case for the appointment of environmental guardians. These ‘ombudspeople’—destined to form an element of the talks at the Rio+20 summit this June—will hold a mandate to promote sustainable development for future generations.

At face value this seems to present a good idea. Future generations, as such, don’t have a political voice. They have no lobbyists, no-one to protect their interests. This is very much in contrast to the other end of the spectrum, covered by the Heartland Institute and the insidious ‘Kochtopus’. The environmental ombudsperson could fill this gap and ensure that some concept of intergenerational equity features, to some extent, in global environmental policy-making. (Though, of course, when it comes to global warming, the younger generations will experience at least some of the anticipated fallout, so it isn’t entirely true that ‘the future’ has no voice. It’s just that the voice of youth is more usually ignored.)

A sustainable transition. Overcoming the crises from Rio to Rio and beyond

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 18/04/2012 by Laurent Lambert, Oxford University Centre for the Environment,
Europaeum Research Director for 2012 Prague Workshop and for 2010 Paris Workshop

Executive Director at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner was asked to deliver the Aurelio Peccei Lecture in Rome, 30 March 2012. the full version of the lecture “Learning to Live on Only One Planet—Towards the UN Summit in Rio” is available there, on the website Climate Science&Policy.

In substance, Achim Steiner argued that Rio+20 needs to be more than just economics and has to cope with fundamental barriers. A suite of persistent, evolving and emerging crises is becoming real and is going to affect our lives in the long term. To deal with subsidies is good in the short period but is not enough and we should focus on critical sectors of the economy such as human and natural capital, said Steiner. Starting from a question that was raised twenty years ago: did the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 fail? It did not; for Achim Steiner, it rather laid the foundations upon which a new generation of leaders must build something.

Taking the lead in the negotiations

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 15/04/2012 by Sijmen Groot, Leiden University Law and EU Studies graduate

The EU can only play a role in battling climate change (if that is possible at all) if it still exists in the future. Therefore the EU negotiators have to secure the interests of the EU Member States. That does not mean that the EU is there to frustrate the talks, on the contrary. The EU wants to show leadership, a good example and ‘a positive outcome for all in Rio’ (see here). The EU’s Environmental Commissioner Potočnik said that “Europe has the duty and the responsibility to take the lead at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June”(see here). Indeed, taking the lead is the best way of prioritizing one’s own interests.

Turning water utilities green, à la World Bank

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 13/04/2012 by Laurent Lambert, Oxford University Centre for the Environment,
Europaeum Research Director for 2012 Prague Workshop and for 2010 Paris Workshop

The World Bank published last year an interesting report entitled TURNING LATIN AMERICA’S WATER UTILITIES GREEN: LESSONS FROM SPAIN. For me, this was a highly controversial title for what it is.

The authors argue that Spain is“at the forefront of water management strategies that address both climate change and efficiency (…)(due to) the country’s first hand experience with climatic shifts.

They explain Spain’s achievements by a combination of internal factors (“the severity of drought periods and the inadequateness of management approaches in the 1980’s and 1990’s resulted in rivers running dry and cities, in risk of evacuation, requiring emergency supply from water tankers”) and an external driver of change: “the European Union’s emphasis on responding to climate variability has also played an important role in spurring the development of institutional structures to facilitate adaptation and mitigation plans in Spain.”

Climate change as a catalyst for change or as a threat to environmental governance?

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 03/04/2012 by Laurent Lambert, Oxford University Centre for the Environment,
Europaeum Research Director for 2012 Prague Workshop and for 2010 Paris Workshop

Getting close to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, we can observe that many debates approach the environment through the specific perspective of climate change. The European University Institute is by the way organizing soon a workshop with a title that says a lot about this situation: ‘The dominance of climate change in environmental law: taking stock for Rio+20’.

This dominance could have unanticipated negative consequences because of the relative neglect of equally important environmental issues such as biodiversity and endangered species protection, the fight against deforestation and desertification, developing sustainable agriculture practices, etc. All these problems are inter-connected and consequently require an integrative and coherent environmental global governance to be solved.

Sustainable growth and self-interests

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Submitted on 06/04/2012 by Sijmen Groot, Leiden University Law and EU Studies graduate

One must be realistic and see that, like every international political agreement, Rio +20 will be a game where every party serves its own interests. The EU will look past the ideological side as well and focus on the economic interests at stake. After all, for this reason the 27 EU Member States united, to be stronger in pursuing their economic interests.

While Laurent Lambert writes about the dichotomy between the believers in sustainable development and the ones that talk about ‘degrowth’, I believe that - regarding the position of the EU at the Rio +20 World Summit - it is clear-cut: advocating sustainable development / growth is the only viable option for the EU. An ideological approach which pursues less growth in Europe, in order to give space to the environment, is not an option.

New: the EU budget - it has never been so green

Tags: Europe and the Global Green EconomyEurope and the Global Green Economy

Reprinted from The European Energy Review on 23/02/2012 by Sonja van Renssen, Freelance climate, energy and environment journalist

For the first time ever decarbonisation is an explicit goal of the next EU budget. And it shows: the European Commission wants to devote fully 20% of the €1 trillion budget, which runs from 2014 to 2020, to climate-related actions. The goal: to change the face of the European energy system and sow the seeds for a low-carbon economy in 2050. But it is the Member States who will ultimately have to make up their minds whether they want to make the EU's green dream come true. Sonja van Renssen reports from Brussels.