More good news from the Earth Summit, despite overall failure

Clearly, no major milestones toward sustainable development came out of the three-day Earth Summit in Rio: no binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions, no treaty, no pledges of monetary support by rich nations to enable developing countries to industrialize through green energy–and only a weak, non-binding agreement to end fossil-fuel subsidies. But there are several positive signs that people aren’t waiting for governments to tame rapacious corporations or act sensibly in time to save the Earth. (The stated goal of Rio+20 was sustainable development, although slowing global warming by reducing carbon emissions was the crucial objective.)

To go with two recent posts about action taken beyond the framework of a global treaty and beyond Rio+20 at the grass-roots level, here is news about a coalition of 16 nations including the US working to combat short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon, soot, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. As reported in Climate Progress, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition has in just four months developed a model of international cooperation to tackle SLCPs using existing solutions. The group claims to be on track to cut cut the rate of global warming in half in the short term. (SLCPs are short-lived but potent, so the effect of shutting them off is dramatic.) This bodes well for the health of people as well as of the Earth, because SLCPs cause respiratory disease and premature death of millions each year, and they cause crop losses as well as Arctic ice to melt. See my post of a few months back that presented two perspectives on whether reducing SLCPs such as black carbon from cookstoves was the way to go or if focusing on this goal  would mean neglecting the longer-lasting pollutant, carbon dioxide. Entitled “Don’t let good news on one climate-change front cause neglect of the main chance” this post quoted from a summary that asked, “Should we fight soot instead of CO2?” If you don’t want to go back to the archive, the answer is, “it’s not a choice–we must fight both.”

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