In 1987 (sustainable development) was about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland) but now in 2007 – the bill we hand our children may prove impossible to pay (Steiner UNEP)
The GEO4 report, Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development launched yesterday by the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programe ) should be read and considered in the context of the contribution that the global built environment has made to our current environmental crisis. (Just under 50% of global carbon emissions, 50% of all UK waste etc, etc- the figures, although varied, have been well documented in many places)
The GEO4 report received much news coverage and hopefully will be the last wake up call we need, and seen as another key milestone in our awareness of what we are doing, along side the Brundtland commision, the Stern Report, Inconvenient Truth etc
“all too often [the response] has been slow and at a pace and scale that fails to respond to or recognise the magnitude of the challenges facing the people and the environment of the planet,” said the environment programme’s executive director Achim Steiner.
“The systematic destruction of the Earth’s natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged – and where the bill we hand to our children may prove impossible to pay,”
The report said irreversible damage to the world’s climate will be likely unless greenhouse gas emissions drop to below 50% of their 1990 levels before 2050. To reach this level, the richer countries must cut emissions by 60% to 80% by 2050 and developing countries must also make significant reductions, it says.
The 550-page report took five years to prepare. It was researched and drafted by almost 400 scientists, whose findings were peer-reviewed by 1,000 others.
One of the report’s authors, Joseph Alcamo said that race is on to determine if leaders move fast enough to save the planet. “The question for me, for us perhaps, is whether we’re going to make it to a more slowly changing world or whether we’re going to hit a brick wall in the Earth’s system first,” he said.
“Personally, I think this could be one of the most important races that humanity will ever run.”