Tough task

The Rio+20 summit that concluded in Rio de Janeiro served more to remind the world of the challenging task of mitigating and minimising the climate change threat than in making any substantial contribution to meeting the goal.

Any agreement on an immediate action plan was not expected either, because of the complex  and difficult nature of the work to be done.

The meeting was more a commemorative occasion of the historic Earth summit of 1992 where some progress had been made in conceptualising the problem, agreeing on the need for collective action and showing a dim road map for this.

The fact that over 120 heads of state or government attended the meet underlined its importance. But the absence of  important leaders like President Obama and Chancellor Merkel also diminished it.

The climate change meetings held since the Rio summit have clarified a host of issues and the latest one also has helped, but the message is that a tough travel is ahead on the still dim road.

The document- the Future We Want – which was adopted by the summit marks a compromise between the positions of the developed world which refuses to take responsibility for the climate change threat and the developing world which does not want to be denied the opportunity for growth on the pretext of united action.

The idea of giving priority to poverty alleviation, the emphasis on sustainable development and recognition of the need to enhance support for achieving these goals may be considered victories for the developing countries. But the phrase ‘’green economy’’ which has found  its place in the document may be a red signal, as it is liable to be interpreted by the rich countries according to suit their interests.

The concept of common but differentiated responsibility, which was being de-emphasised recently by the rich countries, has made a comeback but policies and action based on it are not in sight.

The progress that may be claimed to have been made at Rio+20 in the form of a seeming compromise may turn out to be unreal if there is no concrete follow-up action. Such action becomes difficult when ideas are interpreted differently and interests come into conflict.

There is a long fight ahead for the poor and developing world. One welcome feature of the Rio+ proceedings were the unity, which was sometimes missing in the past, among India, China and the Group of 77 in articulating their positions. This should be maintained.

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