EU to strive to make Earth Summit a success
Author: Robin Pomeroy
Environment ministers from the EU and the bloc's candidate countries ended a weekend of discussions to prepare for next month's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, which is likely to pit the EU against the United States.
"The EU has to play an active role, create confidence and assume leadership with the aim to reach a global deal in Johannesburg," the Danish environment ministry, which chaired the meeting, said in a draft statement.
But while Europe plans to call for strong multilateral action, Washington is likely to resist binding targets, which could leave developing states critical of inaction by rich countries.
Diplomats who have attended the talks said a political declaration and action plan, meant to show how the world can lift millions out of poverty without destroying the environment, was still far from being finalised.
The Johannesburg meeting comes 10 years after the Rio Earth Summit, which set out goals for environmental protection including a pledge to fight global warming in a deal since undermined by a U.S. pullout.
The EU wants to ensure this summit sets clear targets on getting clean water, sanitation and power to the world's poor without forgetting environmental concerns.
"The environment is a prerequisite if we are looking at the long-term combating and eradication of poverty," said Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt.
In particular, the EU wants countries to develop their own 10-year plans for making more environmentally-friendly use of natural resources aimed at breaking the link between economic growth and environmental damage.
The Earth Summit takes place from August 26 until September 4 with some 60,000 delegates and observers expected to attend.