Greenpeace comment on new Brazilian negotiating text for Rio Earth Summit

Press release - 17 June, 2012
Daniel Mittler, Greenpeace International Political Director said: “If broadly adopted, the latest text from the Brazilian government would condemn the world to a future of pollution, plunder and destruction. There is no action here, no commitment, no future we want.

“As a snap shot: out of 287 paragraphs, only seven begin with “we commit”. “Voluntary” features 16 times; while “as appropriate” – UN language for doing nothing – dominates with 31 entries. Statistics are not everything, but these numbers show that governments, overall, are in the business of delaying and doing nothing in Rio.

“One saving grace is the commitment to an Oceans Rescue Plan for the High Seas.  Whether governments commit to an Oceans Rescue Plan is now a key test of whether this Summit delivers anything at all.”

Greenpeace media contact in Rio: Steve Smith, +55 21 9236 8518 and

Background Briefing on key aspects of new Brazil Rio+20 negotiating text


We are pleased that oceans has been prioritised as a key issue for the Summit and a paragraph that agrees to negotiate an Oceans Rescue Plan- a high seas biodiversity agreement is in the new Brazilian text. This is positive news and now a test case whether this Summit delivers anything at all. The paragraph needs to be further strengthened and a deadline of concluding this agreement by 2016 reinserted.

Sustainable Development Goals

The text fails to address the urgency of action on key issues such as climate change, energy, zero deforestation and oceans protection. It even fails to define topics and themes for the new goals to be agreed. Instead, it only offers to start a process, with a request for a report by September 2013. The language on mobilising financial resources is nothing more than a token gesture in response to G77 pressure (see Means of Implementation).

Means of Implementation

The text is weakened overall. There is no longer any reference to concrete financial targets (such as 30 billion by 2017). The financial mobilization framework demanded by the G77 has been turned into a more generic “strategy“. While reference to “innovative finance” is a step forward, if governments were serious about delivering action here they would commit to a Financial Transaction Tax. The creation of an intergovernmental process for finance is still up for discussion, including the creation of a committee and a 2014 deadline.

International Framework for Sustainable Development

The text fails support the creation of the institutions needed to finally deliver sustainable development. It only aspires to “build on” the toothless Commission for Sustainable Development. Instead of creating a new body on Sustainable Development at Rio, all we have is a proposal to start negotiations on a new High Level Forum to be agreed in September 2013.

There is no proposal to upgrade United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to Agency status. The extra cash proposal is positive, even although it is to be drawn from the already overstretched UN core budget. This would at least finally end UNEP´s predicament of having to beg for funds every year.

Green Economy

The Green Economy text is meaningless. The Agenda 21 agreement of 20 years ago was more meaningful text than what is being proposed. What we have is nothing short of an invitation to Greenwash, with countries such as Korea prooting nuclear power as the green economy.


The forest text is an overwhelming embarrassment. The already weak target on deforestation has been eliminated.

Food and Agriculture

This text is an insult for small farmers who need urgent support to transition to ecological agriculture. There are no commitment, no targets and no dates. The only ones happy with this text will be the agribusiness companies that can continue to push their chemical-intensive industrial farming systems unchallenged.

Climate Change

The text is simply useless: it does nothing but repeat the sad state of negotiations in the UNFCCC.


This text has been weakened. While it talks of achieving more use of renewable energy sources there are no targets backed by much talk of “low-carbon technologies“, a euphemism for dangerous and expensive technologies like nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies

There is no action on fossil fuels subsidies, no time frame for eliminating tem, only vague mention of “inefficient“ fossil fuel subsidies.