Working off of the success from the climate negotiation actions over the years, NGO groups and youth representatives at Rio+20 have been awarding at daily “Rio Fossil Award” to those governments and decision-making bodies who have been doing the most to slow the processes of creating a strong outcome here. As the Human Impacts Institute’s Brendan Schoenman has become the “face”of the fossil award to many here in Rio, he has also been a youth leader in the front lines of developing the creative actions on raising awareness over the need for real change out of Rio+20.
The Rio+20 Fossil of the Day Awards are decided in cooperation with numerous policy analysts from Climate Action Network’s 700+ member organizations, as well as other groups represented here in Rio, including the Human Impacts Institute. With each award comes a rationale for the decision, including specific policy action or inaction here in Rio that results in a weakening of agreements for sustainable development action. Recipients to date have included the U.S., Canada, G77, major oil companies and many more. You can see more about the Rio Fossil of the Day Awards, recipients and reasoning here.
Yesterday’s award was a strong call from the Fossil of the Day team to the high-level delegates who are streaming into the conference center today. The award was given to all of the governments attending the Rio+20 summit for “the adoption of a shockingly weak outcome text, which did NOT reflect the future they want”. See the full speech delivered below:
“For the first time ever, yesterday, we awarded Big Oil a Fossil of the day – and the Fossil itself became the target of a protest by some angry billionaire CEO’s. Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up, Canada for tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The United States and Japan, for wielding the literal and metaphorical delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon, and the other Big Oil states for weakening language on subsidies and trying their best to cut the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn’t feel like that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook. The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure. Yet all governments have applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand success.
This is NOT the future we want, if anything this is the future that big polluters have bought.
With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry – yet here in Rio they’ve all come up with empty pockets. The first step is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the planet, and like I said, that’s just the first step. There is still miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future. Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, this fossil is for every single nation here, and for all the world leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.
There are 3 days left here in Rio, and without a change this summit will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, Heads of State and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole world is watching, the planet is burning, and they are holding matches.”
Although theatrical and sarcastic by nature, these innovative awards are not only engaging the media here at the often uninspiring discussions at Rio Centro, but are also an outlet for creativity and anger over the pace and commitments of the lackluster negotiations. The many actions from Civil Society throughout the past weeks, including the End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Flash Mob co-facilitated by the Human Impacts Institute, Earth Day Network, and 350.org
It is clear through these actions, as well as through the NGO statement and Youth Statement from today’s opening of the high-level negotiations, that civil society is ready to commit to sustainable development and real, meaningful action. But the question is, are our governments?
By Tara DePorte, Human Impacts Institute Founder and Executive Director