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Progress on the Sidelines as Rio Conference Ends

RIO DE JANEIRO — Burdened by low expectations, snarled by endless traffic congestion and shunned by President Obama, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ended here as it began, under a shroud of withering criticism.

里約熱內盧——聯合國可持續發展大會(United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) 在低期望值中進行,被沒完沒了的交通堵塞攪局,為奧巴馬總統所避忌。它的開幕和結束一樣,都被包圍在猛烈的批評聲中。

The antipoverty organization CARE called the meeting “nothing more than a political charade,” and Greenpeace said the gathering was “a failure of epic proportions.” The Pew Environment Group was slightly more charitable. “It would be a mistake to call Rio a failure,” the group said, “but for a once-in-a-decade meeting with so much at stake, it was a far cry from a success.”

反貧困組織CARE稱大會“就是個政治把戲”,綠色和平組織(Greenpeace)則稱大會是“史詩級別的失敗”。皮尤環境組織(Pew Environment Group)稍微仁慈一點,說“將里約峰會稱為失敗是錯誤的,但對一個關系重大、十年一度的會議來說,它距離成功相差甚遠。”

But while the summit meeting’s 283-paragraph agreement, called “The Future We Want,” lacks enforceable commitments on climate change and other global challenges, the outcome reflects big power shifts around the world. These include a new assertiveness by developing nations in international forums and the growing capacity of grass-roots organizations and corporations to mold effective environmental action without the blessing of governments.

峰會達成的協議名為《我們憧憬的未來》(The Future We Want)。該文件長達283個段落,卻在氣候變化和其他全球問題上缺乏具有法律效力的承諾。盡管如此,會議成果反映了世界范圍內的權力格局巨變。這種變化包括發展中國家在國際舞臺上展現的全新主動性,以及在沒有政府幫助的情況下,草根組織和企業機構采取有效環保行動的能力日益增長。

The Obama administration offered no grand public gestures here, opting to focus on smaller-scale development projects like clean cookstoves and local energy projects.


Europe, traditionally the driving force behind environmental action yet distracted now by efforts to contain a financial crisis, was considerably more active than the United States, taking part in nearly every corner of the sprawling conference, called Rio+20 to commemorate the anniversary of the first Earth Summit held here in 1992.

傳統上,歐洲一直驅動環境行動,盡管目前為控制金融危機的努力所累,仍然比美國活躍得多。為了紀念1992年在里約熱內盧進行的“地球峰會”(Earth Summit)二十周年,本次的宏大會議叫做“里約+20”。歐洲出現在大會的幾乎每個角落。

“Probably those who are most frustrated, and who say they are frustrated, are the Europeans,” André Corrêa do Lago, Brazil’s chief negotiator at Rio+20, said in an interview. “They think they can still indicate paths which others should follow.”

“大概,心里最為沮喪的就是歐洲人了,他們自己也公開這樣表示,”在一次采訪中,“里約+20”的巴西首席談判代表安德烈·科雷亞·多拉戈(André Corrêa do Lago)這樣說道。“他們仍然認為應該是自己指路別人跟隨。”

The sheer size of the gathering — nearly 50,000 participants including more than 100 heads of state or government — may have raised expectations, in spite of the mixed record of previous such gatherings. The first Rio summit meeting produced two landmark treaties, on climate change and biodiversity, that have so far failed to live up to their promises.

盡管之前大型會議的結果好壞參半,里約峰會的規模——近5萬參會者,包括100多個國家元首或政府首腦——可能在會前抬高了期望值。 二十年前的第一次里約峰會在兩個領域達成了里程碑式的協議:氣候變化和生物多樣性。不過到目前為止,這兩個協議都未能達到人們的預期。

Yet despite this record, the activity outside the main negotiating sessions here produced hundreds of side agreements that do not require ratification or direct financing by governments and that offer the promise of incremental but real progress.


“Even a complicated, diverse world can address problems not through treaties, but by identifying the goals that then inspire decentralized actions,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

“即便是在一個復雜多樣的世界里,也可以通過確定目標、分散行動的方式來解決問題,而不是通過法律條約,”哥倫比亞大學地球研究所(Earth Institute at Columbia University) 所長杰弗里·薩克斯(Jeffrey D. Sachs)說。

For instance, Microsoft said it would roll out an internal carbon fee on its operations in more than 100 countries, part of a plan to go carbon-neutral by 2013. The Italian oil giant Eni said it would reduce its flaring of natural gas. Femsa, a Latin American soft-drink bottler, said it would obtain 85 percent of its energy needs in Mexicofrom renewable sources.


In fact, Microsoft expects to achieve carbon neutrality sometime in 2013.


The Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, already experiencing dangerous sea-level rise, announced what it said would become the world’s largest marine reserve, encompassing all 1,192 of its islands by 2017. A group of development banks announced a $175 billion initiative to promote public transportation and bicycle lanes over road and highway construction in the world’s largest cities.


But the ubiquity of corporate and financial sponsorship made some uneasy.


“If George Orwell were alive today, he would be irritated, and then shocked, by the cynical way in which every lobby with an ax to grind and money to burn has hitched its wagon to the alluring phrase ‘sustainable development,’ ” said Jagdish N. Bhagwati, a professor of economics at Columbia, in an essay called “Rio’s Unsustainable Nonsense.”

哥倫比亞大學的經濟學教授賈格迪什·巴格瓦蒂(Jagdish N. Bhagwati)寫了一篇名為《不可持續的里約荒誕劇》(Rio’s Unsustainable Nonsense)的文章,他說“如果喬治·奧威爾(George Orwell)還在世,他會感到憤怒而震驚,每項別有用心、大把撒錢的游說都給自己封上‘可持續發展’這一誘人字眼,這太具諷刺意味了。”

Still, some with decades of experience with such summit meetings take a more nuanced view. Thomas Lovejoy, an American conservation biologist who was a driving force behind the first Earth Summit in 1992, said he remained discouraged by the lack of action in reducing carbon emissions.

盡管如此,一些有幾十年這類峰會經驗的人持有的觀點更為平和。美國生態保護學家托馬斯·洛夫喬伊(Thomas Lovejoy)曾是1992年“地球峰會”背后的推動力量,他說自己仍然為缺乏削減碳排放的行動感到氣餒。

But Mr. Lovejoy, who began working in the Amazon in 1965, also said he could recognize how some important progress had been made, especially in Brazil, since then.


“There was one national forest and one demarcated indigenous reserve,” said Mr. Lovejoy, 70. “Now, 50 percent is under some form of protection.”


Brazil, with command over its vast forests as well as an estimated 12 percent of the world’s fresh water, remains crucial to any international preservation efforts. The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon recently fell to its lowest level since record-keeping began in 1988.


Still, others who came here for the conference, like the indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire, 82, a chief of Brazil’s Kayapó tribe, said such advances meant little. He said he found himself emphasizing the same things he spoke about at the original Earth Summit in 1992.

雖說如此,另外一些參會人員,比如巴西卡亞波(Kayapó)部落的酋長拉奧尼·梅圖蒂雷(Raoni Metuktire)卻說,這些進步無足輕重。他還說,發現自己現在強調的東西跟1992年“地球峰會”上說的一模一樣。

“Deforestation continues,” said Mr. Metuktire, who is normally referred to as Raoni, through an interpreter. “The river is having dams built into it; the people don’t listen,” he said. “They don’t respect me.”

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