EDITORIAL: Green economy a global challenge
Ever since the oil crisis in 1974, the scientific consensus was that the world would run out of oil by about 1990. We were told then that we needed to find alternatives to fossil fuels.
Not much has changed since then, except we are being told that the globe is getting warmer as a result of greenhouse gases escaping into the atmosphere. However, there has not been consensus among scientists on the effect of such warming.
Against this background, there was a recent Rio+20 Summit in Brazil held under the auspices of the United Nations. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart headed a Barbadian delegation to this summit and reaffirmed Government’s commitment to move to a green economy.
The fear of a repeat of Cancun, when the Word Trade Organisation negotiations collapsed a few years ago, causing a stalemate to trade talks from which the spirit of multilateralism is yet to recover, has forced an uncomfortable consensus on the Rio+20 conference in Brazil.
Even as Rio+20 Summit took centre stage, debates on sustainable development were haunted by the report of a group of scientists who had earlier in the year presented theories on why the caution against climate change is too much ado, arguing that the planet is not warming.
If the intention of the scientists were to scuttle positive discussion on what is arguably the biggest challenge that mankind faces, they needn’t have worried. Global summits, of late, have a tendency to fizzle out on their own, as was the case with Rio+20.
The global meeting, aimed at resolving differences that continue to be unaddressed even after two decades, left few people happy. While the global leaders agreed on the need to restore the health of the environment, a clear policy for sustainable growth still seems a distant reality.
Yes, a deal has been reached. But, all the same, it was couched in a language of hope, the realisation of which will take more painful struggles by the victims of inequitable development of the global economy.
The upside of the deal is that it goes a long way in reaffirming, with tentative caution, the main pillars of the Rio principles of 1992, including the controversial Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).
More disheartening, however, is the problematic dichotomy between equitable and sustainable developments, particularly given that the corporate sector of the world economy is expected to become the main driver of these two obviously inseparable goals.
The challenge, however, is how to turn the ambiguous statement mobilizing the required resources for the implementation of the Rio+20 agenda, since no firm commitments found their way into the final document.
It should be borne in mind that there is a huge cost in going green. Without firm commitments regarding who will foot the bill in accordance with principle of CBDR, it will be business as usual.