Today a personal journey ends for me, not just the Rio Earth Summit. I have been involved in the Rio Earth Summit process for two years. I never had much hope for this summit, but as it is ending I am also not as depressed, as you might expect. Greenpeace exists to give the earth a voice - and we certainly spoke loud and clear on the abject failure of our governments here. We succeeded in preventing governments passing off a Polluter´s Charter as a success. I am reminded of how I felt 10 years ago, when I was leaving Rio+10 in Johannesburg. It´s the same sense of anger and renewed determination. It is not despair.
At the end of Rio+20 itʼs plain for the world to see that the transformational change we need was not delivered. We saw an epic failure of responsibility at Rio. Rio+20 should have been be about zero deforestation, an energy revolution based on renewable energy and energy efficiency, about healthy oceans, liveable forests, and ecological food for all. Instead, it delivered no action, no targets and too many weasle words. The Oceans Rescue Plan for the High Seas, for example, was bulldozed by an unholy alliance of the US and Venezuela, together with Russia and Canada, at 2am on Tuesday morning.
Rio+20 will go down in history as Greenwash+20. There is no good news in the official negotiation outcome. But there has been good news over the last two weeks. The campaign to introduce a zero deforestation law in Brazil grew from strength to strength at the People´s summit - with thousands signing up to join a coalition which has the support of indigenous peoples groups, faith leaders and environmental organisations, as well as those most Brazilian of national heroes – some of their most famous footballers.
And today, unlike 20 years ago, more solutions are proven and exist at scale. The energy sector is already changing, for example. In Germany, 81% of all installed power capacity in the last decade was renewable. Last year, investments in renewable energies globally were higher than investments in old and dirty fossil fuel technologies.
Action for the environment is popular. That is why citizen power is achieving real change around the world. A referendum in Italy stopped nuclear power last year. Old coal-fired power stations in the US are being decommissioned and new ones stopped by an unprecedented alliance of grassroots groups, federal regulators and investors who no longer believe the lie that “coal is cheap”.
As the warnings of 20 years ago are turning into reality and the Arctic is melting at a shocking speed, opposition is also building. Here at Rio, Greenpeace launched a new mobilization to save the Arctic yesterday. It is our signal of hope against the despair of the official outcome. After Rio+20 the world needs people to mobilize and force change. The Arctic will be a first key battleground. It needs masses of people from around the world to stand up and demand action to protect it. A ban in the Arctic on oil drilling and industrial fishing would be a huge victory against the forces that won out at Rio+20 and would provide a future for the four million people who live there.
Beyond Rio+20 lies a road worth taking: Through a groundswell of public mobilisation, social movement alliances, smart businesses investing in the future and enough governments daring to lead by regulating effectively and banning unsustainable practices, a liveable future is still in our grasp. Rio+20´s failure is above all a call to action. We still need a global deal to tackle the threats of climate change and ecological destruction, and the miseries of poverty, hunger, disease and inequality. But to make that happen, we will need to make it impossible for our leaders to do anything less.
I will certainly not miss the endless meetings in windowless rooms that led to this summit. I can´t wait to spend more time with my daughters. But their future was gladly not decided over the last three days. Their future is decided by all of us, who must unite to build a movement of movements to force the future we want.