LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – Silver Linings to the Storm Clouds of Rio

Last week we linked to an article by former party leader Paddy Ashdown headed “Rio+20 is a chance to secure our children’s future“.

Over on Huffington Post he has now given his assessment of the summit.

 … as the summit reached its conclusion on Friday criticism from environment groups, charities working on poverty issues and the mainstream media over the strength of the agreement was becoming louder.

And yet the news coming from Rio has not been all bad. Indeed, some positive outcomes have emerged from the summit. These include both a recognition of climate change as a “cross-cutting issue” and of disaster risk reduction as a central part of long-term development – something I was especially glad to see as this was the centre piece of a recent report I wrote for the government on humanitarian emergency relief.

He adds:

In the next decade, up to 175 million children are likely to be affected every year by the kinds of natural disasters brought about by climate change. To avert humanitarian crises it is essential not just to tackle the causes of climate change but also to build resilience to disasters.

By helping communities to adapt to risks we can help avoid humanitarian disasters in the future. This includes setting up early warning systems, equipping and educating communities, increasing the capacity of Governments to cope, introducing alternative livelihoods that are not as dependent on natural resources and changing agricultural practices to be better suited to a drier climate. Adaptation is often “development” that doesn’t just respond to the needs of the past, but looks ahead to prepare for the future.

You can read the full article here.

* Paddy Ashdown is President of Unicef UK.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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5 Comments

  • Huw Jones – Good comment and good link. I’ve downloaded the Foresight report on The Future of Food and Farming. Will read it in detail.
    You say:
    “Sorry, I hope that this is not too gloomy, but whatever happens life is going to be increasingly difficult for the rest of our lives.”
    Yes, it’s a gloomy message, but if the situation IS gloomy, how do you sugar coat it to make it palatable? Being potentially labelled as ‘a Doomer’ is an occupational hazard. But too many people still believe that with a few tweaks of the economy, a bit of QE here and there, and a couple of new technology tricks we can get back to BAU, (Business as Usual). It’s a bitter (red pill), we have to swallow, but as you say ‘ life is going to be increasingly difficult for the rest of our lives’
    Here is a report commissioned by the US government in 2005, and then promptly ignored when they read the final submission. The Hirsch Report (2005)
    http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/oil_peaking_netl.pdf
    Warning – DO NOT read it if you are of a nervous disposition.
    And for further info –
    http://www.peakoil.net/

  • Huw – Thanks for the response. Yes these are big issues, and some of the proposed solutions can be counter intuitive in the face of peak oil.
    ( Many are not aware that supply of crude oil has peaked or plateaued at around 74 million barrels per day since 2005. The world, presently, needs 86 million barrels per day. So the shortfall of 12 mbpd, is being made up from biofuels, gas to liquids, coal to liquids etc. These manufactured fuels have a poorer energy content than petrol/diesel. They also have a dreadful EROEI, or Energy Return On Energy Invested. However, these manufactured fuels are, temporarily, masking the overall problem of crude oil supply. We are in for a shock within the next 5 to 10 years. Indeed, many believe that the financial trauma the world is presently experiencing, is the leading edge of the oil shock tsunami. )
    Apologies for the gloom.
    A snapshot of what could be ahead, happened in 1998 at the time of the Russian Collapse. At that time their virtual outpost Cuba, could not be supplied with oil as it had been in previous years. Their [Cuban], oil imports fell off a cliff overnight. I’m not suggesting that will happen here, in fact for us it may well be a slow decline over 15/20 years. But the important observation to make is how Cuba handled the problem in terms of agriculture. Further industrialisation of the agricultural system does not seem to stack up, in the face of an increasingly more expensive and dwindling supply of oil.
    We are living in interesting times.

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