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Former Soviet president warns conference is doomed if climate change is ignored

19 Jun 2012

The Irish Times

FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor, in Rio de Janeiro

FAILURE TO act on climate change will "doom" Rio+20 - the upcoming UN conference on sustainable development - according to a high-level task force convened by former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Gorbachev said he was concerned that "the draft final document of the Rio+20 conference does not give proper attention to climate change [and] it looks like there is backsliding on this issue".

Speaking on behalf of the Climate Change Task Force, he said if it was not addressed adequately, "all of the other problems and tasks that will be set by the final document [of the conference] will not be accomplished and will become meaningless".

His statement came as Brazil - host of the conference marking the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit - achieved the dubious honour of winning a "Fossil of the Day" award.

The Climate Action Network, which presented the award, said Brazil was "using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments".

Brazilian foreign minister Antonio Patriota presented a consolidated version of the 80-page negotiating text and set a deadline for agreement to be reached on it before world leaders arrive for Rio+20's "high-level segment", starting tomorrow.

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