News Release

Earth Summit: Another Global Snub by the U.S.?


The Earth Summit — or World Summit on Sustainable Development [see ] — begins on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa. The following analysts are available for comments:

A policy analyst with Friends of the Earth, Freeman said today: “Clearly, the promises of the Rio Earth Summit of 10 years ago have not materialized. Friends of the Earth’s view is that one of the principal causes — if not the principal cause — has been the failure of many corporations to act in a socially and environmentally sound manner and be held accountable. Institutions such as the World Trade Organization have provided multinational corporations far-reaching legal rights and benefits unaccompanied by corresponding affirmative obligations to ensure responsible corporate behavior or measures to safeguard citizen rights…. President Bush’s recent statement that corporate self-regulation is insufficient in the financial and accounting arenas is equally true for environmental and social protections. Yet the administration has steadfastly resisted any proposals to develop binding measures to hold corporations accountable globally.”
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Vice president for international programs for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Dawkins said today: “Discussions about the water problem often focus only on the symptom: they quote the number of people without access to water to meet even basic needs. This is also likely to be the focus at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. However, while it is true that 1.3 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and that 2.3 billion people do not have access to healthy sanitation facilities, a little-known fact is that 90 percent of the world’s water-poor live in rural area. Centralized water supplies and sanitation are unlikely to be the answer to their woes. The multinational water companies are primarily interested in capturing a specific market, that of urban growth centers, particularly in developing countries. That will not help meet the basic needs of the water-poor. The solution lies in ensuring healthy ecosystems. The global water crisis will worsen — especially in the developing world — if water is commodified.”
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Wysham is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network. She said today: “Since the 1992 Earth Summit, despite commitments to curtail global emissions of carbon dioxide, public finance institutions have poured over $60 billion into fossil fuel projects in the developing world. Most of these financial aid packages are designed to feed the growing appetite of the rich world for oil, coal, and gas. The vast majority of the more than 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide (potent greenhouse gases) that these projects will produce will come from power plants, S.U.V.s, and other combustion points in the Western world. U.S. taxpayers are also paying for the financing of climate destruction since the U.S. government is the leading backer of many of these projects. This financing should be redirected toward renewable energy.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167