Are the Rio+20 goals too green-as-usual?

Great piece by the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Switchboard blog on efforts afoot in Latin America to step up on green in anticipation of Rio+20, which will be held here in the region this June. The goals and standards being contemplated, however, fall far too short. They're too green-as-usual.

First, the focus is disproportionately on energy, in a region that houses the Amazon and other priceless biodiversity resources, which should therefore place the reversal of deforestation and resource overshoot dead center on the agenda.

And second, the region's goals are far too timid for the challenge we face. With scientists insisting we have only until 2020 to reverse warming emissions and resource depletion, it's time we stop talking about a goal of 20% or 30% renewable energy by 2025 or 2035, or protecting 25% of our oceans by 2040.

The time has come to get radical on our goals. There was a lot of lament at Durban over the ambition gap, remember? That's a great phrase we must never forget, at least not until we close the gap. The counter at Durban was that it's hard enough to get countries to agree on timid goals, so imagine the radical type.

Yeah, that's the state of the world right now. Agreed. But what are we to do? Simply accept the failure of ambition and allow the planet and everyone on it to warm into oblivion? Trade survival for "realism" and keep our arms crossed in one big "Oh well" shrug? No!!!! We just can't do that.

Which brings us back to Latin America, my parents' birthplace and the region I studied, have covered as a journalist and have lived at for the last 24 years. Someone has to lead and aim higher. Someone has to insist on meeting the 2020 deadline. Someone has to stop the lunacy of today's "realism" and usher in the new and inevitable radical normal. Some country. Some region.

Why not Latin America? The modern environmental movement began right here at the 1992 Rio Summit and returns now for Rio+20. We are once again hosting the environmental world, as we did two years ago at Cancun. But this time, there can be no Cancun in terms of results. No Copenhagen. No Nagoya. No Durban. Time is fast running out. We only have until 2020. The ambition gap must close.

The place is here. The moment is Rio+20.

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Alex Diaz
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