Britain's Prescott dampens environment meet hopes
On a visit to Brazil to help draw up an agenda for the meeting in South Africa, Prescott said it would be "disastrous" if the World Summit on Sustainable Development set overly ambitious goals and was ultimately seen to fail.
Prescott is Britain's front man in pushing world leaders to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement the U.S. government rejected, irking Britain, the European Union and other supporters of the accord.
He said it was already too late to achieve some of the goals proposed for the South African meet. Those included an energy program and partnerships between government, civil society and the private sector, he said, without elaborating.
"Do not set impossible demands that can't possibly be met, and then the people say it's a failure," Prescott told journalists in Brasilia after meeting President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the nation's environment and foreign ministers. "Some of the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) are already doing this, quite frankly."
He also expressed concern that after the Sept. 11 attacks on America the environment had been given a low priority as Washington and its allies fight the war against terrorism.
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair and other world leaders will meet for the so-called Rio+10 summit in South Africa Aug. 26 to Sept. 4., marking a decade after the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro.
In Rio, countries pledged to preserve natural resources, cut greenhouse gas emissions and wealthy nations agreed to help poor countries protect their environment.
Brazil, Latin America's largest country, has been a vocal supporter of the environment, being home to the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon.