Invisible Dust

London | Wednesday 16 January
Pollution level: Moderate

MEPs cancel Rio+20 participation


With about one month to go, the European Parliament announced last Tuesday that it will not be sending a delegation to the UN’s Rio+20 summit on sustainable development.

Coordinators of the European Environment Commission blamed the decision on excessively high costs in regards to accomodation and travel, claiming it is unjustifiable to spend so much during a recession. Dutch EU deputy Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy criticized the host country on Twitter saying “Brazil should control the prices in order to keep the conference from being a failure”.

Gerbandy criticized organisers on several points, like demanding that reservations be made for a whole week, even though they don’t need that much time. He mentioned that the Brazilian government should take into account the fact that they will be hosting two major global events in the following years (World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016) and should think about a measure to control abusive hotel prices (up to 600 euros a night). A 2011 research by consulting firm Mercer placed Rio as the 12th costliest city in the world.

In a debate that took place in the European Environment Commission on April 26, German MEP Matthias Groote explained that the estimated price of lodging for the delegation would be 10,000 euros more expensive than the expected 100,000 euros per person. “It’s too bad that the organizers –although they’re not the only ones– brought us to this point. When you want to invite the whole world, you have to treat your guests better”.

While a delegation from the European Commission led by Janez Potocnik, European commissioner for the environment, will still attend, it seems the event is not being seen as a priority by many world leaders. Other no-shows include German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron (even though the summit had its dates altered so as to not coincide with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations).

While we at Invisible Dust sympathize with the decision to cut costs and applaud it on the basis of the reduction of air travel with its high CO2 emissions , we feel there are other ways in which the European Deputies should be enabled to be part of the event, such as live feeds, skype, twitter, etc.  The European Parliament should also push for a more dynamic conference with virtual attendance.



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