Greens Head to Johannesburg for Earth Summit II.
THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED
WASHINGTON, DC -- As members of the Green Party of the United States sent a delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development ("Earth Summit"), Greens sharply criticized the Bush Administration for pressing meeting organizers to remove trade, aid, and debt relief from the summit's agenda. Greens also condemned Bush's decision to send Secretary of State Colin Powell in his place to the meeting, which will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from August 26 to September 4.
"What's happening is that, thanks to the Bush delegation, multinational corporations are going to run the show, and only self-regulated 'public-private partnerships' to save the environment will be seriously considered," said Kurt Shotko, Green candidate for the 10th Congressional District in Pennsylvania. "That means global warming measures that won't interfere with the profits of fossil fuel companies -- or affect the deteriorating pace of global climate change."
The environmental group Friends of the Earth recently got hold of a copy of a letter to Bush from 31 groups and individuals asking him not to attend the Earth Summit and urging him to make sure that the U.S. delegation blocks any measures to slow climate change. The list include think tanks, lobbies, and pressure groups supported by major corporations, such as Exxon-Mobil, which funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Capital Research Center, and National Center for Policy Analysis, all of which have repaid Exxon-Mobil by pressuring officeholders to sabotage the Kyoto accords. Bush's policies reveal a quid pro quo to the oil and gas companies that contributed over $10 million to the Republicans in the 2002 election cycle.
"At the time of the first Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil ten years ago, the U.S., with 5% of the world's population, was responsible for 24% of the world's energy consumption and 30% of the raw materials consumed," explained Mike Feinstein, Green Party Mayor of Santa Monica, California, who is attending the summit. "Today, the materials we consume has increased by 10%, prime energy consumption by 21%, and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 13%. The average world temperatures continue to rise, glaciers are melting, forest and ocean wildlife are disappearing, industrial chemicals are poisoning food supplies even in the most remote regions of the planet, while the gap between rich and poor continues to increase, both in developing and industrialized countries."
A recent report released from the U.N. found that if the current pattern of development continues, nearly half of the world's people will suffer from water shortages within the next 25 years, and the use of fossils fuels and greenhouse emissions will continue to grow while the worlds' forests continue to disappear. The report noted that air pollution kills three million people a year, one billion people already lack access to clean water, and the Asian Brown Cloud, a three kilometer thick layer of smog, menaces much of South and Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Green delegation to the Earth Summit includes Annie Goeke, co-chair of the party's International Committee and Mike Feinstein. The Global Greens have issued a set of five demands for the Earth Summit, including a halt to the privatization of water, access to renewable energy sources, and environmental and social protections overruling trade pacts. (The list of demands is appended below.)
"It is a major concern for us that citizens in the United States are not governing their own government like so many other nations, and allowing them to do as they please," said Marta Benavides, a U.N. delegate from El Salvador and Green Party member. "It is time for the United States people to see themselves as planetary citizens."
"President Bush is rapidly causing the U.S. to lose the respect and confidence of the rest of the world," said Annie Goeke. "Bush is turning the U.S. into a rogue state, ripping up the global warming and antiballistic missile treaties, threatening a unilateral invasion of Iraq, undermining the international criminal court, and attempting now to overrule the agenda of a meeting he refuses to attend."
Global Greens Key Demands
for the World Summit on Sustainable Development Johannesburg
10 years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, truly sustainable development remains a near-impossibility for many countries because of obstacles caused by wars and conflicts, lack of human rights, political corruption and non-democratic governments. For others, sustainable development requires political will to change the way we live and co-operate with other nations in order to adopt polices which put social and ecological justice before narrow self-interest and economic greed.
The list of actions needed is almost infinite, including the promotion of gender equality, defeating the HIV/AIDS virus, reversing desertification, and stopping the destruction of our rainforests. Nevertheless, all countries have a responsibility to respond to these challenges and we present our political leaders with 5 achievable demands for action at the Rio +10 Johannesburg Summit which will, as a minimum, contribute to moving our planet and its people in a sustainable direction.
DEMAND 1. 1 billion people do not have access to clean water and 2.4 billion lack basic sanitation. 3 million die annually from water-related diseases. The WTO GATS agreement for trade in services promotes private corporate control in place of public and governmental responsibility. Provide affordable access to clean water sources and basic sanitation. STOP WATER PRIVATISATION.
DEMAND 2. One-third of the world's population (2 billion people) does not have access to adequate energy services. Public investment in solar power and other clean energies will reach these people and take us away from our dependence on fossil-fuels. Provide affordable access to clean and renewable energy sources. Set targets and timetables for a substantial shift to renewables and create an independent International Renewable Energy Agency to promote this policy.
DEMAND 3. 10 years after Rio, we have international treaties on climate change (Kyoto), control over trade in GMOs (Cartegena), exploitation of genetic resources (Convention on Biological Diversity and FAO treaty), access to environmental justice and information (Aarhus), control of fish stocks (UN/FAO Action plans). None of these is fully implemented or effective. Consolidate the environmental progress made since Rio. Ratify and implement these and other green Treaties now.
DEMAND 4. The WTO has a powerful and secretive disputes settlement mechanism which can over-rule environmental, social and public policy decisions. It should be subject to a higher, comprehensive and independent judicial process. Place environmental and social rules ahead of trade rules. Transfer the finalpower of arbitration from the WTO to an independent Court.
DEMAND 5. Private corporations are not accountable for the public and social consequences of their business activities. Voluntary arrangements are not a satisfactory solution. Create a legal framework for corporate social and environmental responsibility and accountability of private corporations.