It was in Rio in 1992 that world leaders gathered for the Earth Summit. Twenty years on, the UN decided to see if it's possible to take sustainable development forward. The answer was 'no'. MEPs who attended said only the EU wanted progress. The US was there to block any ambition. China and India were not really interested in a very ambitious deal. So what you saw was that Brazil was looking at all those parties around and then came to the conclusion: I'll follow the line of the US, China and India. The EU will not be happy but they will sign anyway. Water was a big issue for almost 100 leaders and 45,000 others who gathered for what one delegate described as a '12-ring circus'. But proposals on energy access rights and renewable sources were dropped in favour of a non-binding agreement of moderate ambition. MEPs were disappointed but not surprised. The most important thing is to bring economic issues, social issues and environmental issues together and to subject them to modern, new thinking. That is written in the paper but in reality in the Member States there's no success. Undertakings were made about renewable energy but no promises. Ambitious wording was deleted from the final text. Some fear Western nations rely too much on 'the power of market', as Hillary Clinton put it, to come up with a solution. There is a deep economic crisis and also a deep climate crisis. The two add up together to make poor people even poorer around the planet. Therefore the answers cannot be those found in Rio. It seems unlikely there will be a Rio+25. Most climate change campaigners have lost faith in the UN summit process, but that doesn't mean the search for answers is over.
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