Which would you like first: the good news or the bad news? Much like the extremely changeable weather, June contained a mixed bag of international, national and local decisions on climate change. Governments that met as part of the Rio +20 Earth Summit between 20 and 22 June produced ‘The future we want’, a document including a plan to set global sustainable development goals.
Unfortunately, ministers failed to decide exactly what the sustainable development goals would be and these are unlikely to be decided until September 2013. These vague commitments will do little to stop the global temperatures rising significantly over the coming years, causing the onset of irreversible climate change. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not sure that this is quite the future I had in mind.
However, June’s climate news wasn’t all doom and gloom. World leaders at Rio +20 did agree that the UN Environment Programme will receive a more secure budget and stronger powers to coordinate global environmental strategies. In the UK, the hard work of local Stop Climate Chaos groups helped ensure that 90 MPs signed up to the Rio Declaration, in which they stated their commitment to the UK Climate Change Act and pledged to show international leadership to make the EU’s 2020 climate targets more ambitious.
In the same week Nick Clegg announced that public companies in the UK will be the first in the world to publish full details of the greenhouse gases they produce. Businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange will have to list their emissions by April next year. Other large companies may be added to this list when the policy is reviewed in 2015. This new measure will allow the environmental impact of big businesses to be monitored and the worst polluters to be held accountable for their actions. Encouragingly, this measure was backed by the Confederation of British Industry and other business groups because it will enable businesses to be compared more fairly and lead to cost savings.
So despite the miserable British weather and the disappointing international talks, June hasn’t been a complete climate washout after all.
Read more about how you can protect the world’s poorest people from climate change.