The following article was published in "The Guardian", newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday, September 4th, 2002. Contact address: 65 Campbell Street, Surry Hills. Sydney. 2010 Australia. Phone: (612) 9212 6855 Fax: (612) 9281 5795. CPA Central Committee: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> "The Guardian": <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> Webpage: http://www.cpa.org.au> Subscription rates on request.
****************************** CORPORATIONS HIJACK EARTH SUMMIT The US, Canada, EU and Australia have in the past thwarted attempts by the world's nations to conclude a comprehensive agreement to reverse the destruction of the environment: the Earth Summit in Johannesburg is no exception. As 20,000 people marched on the summit from the Alexandra township demanding an end to poverty and a halt to environmental destruction, the rich nations were busy trying to hijack the gathering. Against sustainable development they were promoting corporate self-regulation; in place of specific and binding guidelines to cut the use of finite, ozone-destroying fossil fuels, they were pushing their globalisation agenda. Driven by big oil the US and those clinging to Uncle Sam's coat tails -- with the Howard Government especially reaching new lows in subservience -- the rich nations set out to deliberately derail the Summit. This has put the chance of an agreement on sustainable development in grave doubt. As The Guardian went to press ministers at the Summit were claiming that a blueprint on issues was being negotiated and that countries had agreed to slow the loss of biodiversity rather than halt it. But the rich nations were still rejecting the means for cutting the use of fossil fuels. Environmental organisations at the Summit have slammed the corporate lobbyists and their government representatives for promoting weak voluntary agreements instead of binding regulations. Friends of the Earth summed up such voluntary agreements as secretive and undemocratic and ineffective and short sighted. On the first day of informal discussions at the Summit Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Third World Network obtained a leaked copy of a joint US/EU negotiating paper which outlined the aim of converting the Summit into a world trade meeting. The groups said that the paper moved forward the rich countries' trade liberalisation and corporate globalisation priorities at the expence of addressing issues of environmental protection, poverty relief and sustainable development. They noted that the Earth Summit is the only political process where governments are supposed to be able to negotiate freely around global environmental and development problems, irrespective of their size or economic power. "The US claims that an unaccountable corporate sector can deliver sustainable development when recent scandals in the US show that corporations such as Enron and WorldCom are not even accountable to their auditors." The Australian Government has played its part, lobbying against even a mention of the Kyoto protocol on climate change in any final agreement. Greens Senator Bob Brown, who is at the Summit, said that the Howard Government had been humiliated by being bumped down the speakers' list to last spot. "Australia is seen as a spoiler at the Summit", said Senator Brown, "and when it was realised that Prime Minister Howard was not coming, the speakers list was changed. It shows how badly Australia is seen here." Senator Brown said the Earth Summit is showing the power of greed over green and leaving the coming generation with some unfixable social and environmental problems. "The neo-liberal economic policies being foisted on the world, primarily by Northern Governments and the international institutions they dominate, are failing people and the planet", said Friends of the Earth International Chair Ricardo Navarro. "Inequality is increasing and poverty in many countries is getting worse. Forests, minerals and fossil fuels are being exploited at an ever-increasing and utterly unsustainable rate. "Democracy is being eroded as economic power is concentrated in fewer hands. Environmental standards, biodiversity and cultural diversity are all under threat." Alternative to corporate globalisation Environmentalists put forward a plan for sustainable economies as a concrete alternative to the corporate globalisation agenda. Its key principles are: * Sustainable development is dependent on the equitable and sustainable use of limited resources. * Sustainability must be based on economic diversity. Different models of development are appropriate in different societies and communities. The "one size fits all" approach of the WTO and IMF is doomed to failure. * Effective corporate control must be introduced, including corporate accountability and liability rules and international anti-trust legislation. * Stronger international institutions and mechanisms are required to protect the principles of equity and sustainability. . -- -- Leftlink - Australia's Broad Left Mailing List mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] Archived at http://www.cat.org.au/lists/leftlink/ Sponsored by Melbourne's New International Bookshop Sub: mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]?Body=subscribe%20leftlink Unsub: mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]?Body=unsubscribe%20leftlink