A Tepid Agreement Takes Shape at Rio+20 Summit

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World leaders attending the UN’s Rio+20 sustainability summit appear prepared to rubber-stamp an agreement that has been widely criticized by environmental groups and some government officials as ineffectual.

As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other leaders arrived in Rio, participants at the conference seemed resigned to approving an agreement that fails to set concrete goals, timetables, or methods of financing for ensuring environmentally sustainable economic growth, particularly in the developing world.

“Let me be frank — our efforts have not lived up to the measure of the challenge,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in opening remarks. “Nature does not wait. Nature does not negotiate with human beings.”

Government officials and diplomats said that the host country, Brazil, was determined to avoid the chaos that surrounded the failed climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009. As a result, delegates from 193 countries drafted a non-committal agreement that heads of state are expected to sign with few changes on Friday.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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