New York Times 23 June 2012.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Burdened by low expectations, snarled by endless traffic congestion and shunned by President Obama, theUnited Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ended here as it began, under a shroud of withering criticism…
…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.
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.
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 2030. 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 Mexico from renewable sources.
(Editorial note: Perhaps the only way forward is for individuals and individual businesses and individual countries to act according to their individual consciences and do what they have to do. It appears to be a complete waste of time waiting for our politicians to do anything meaningful.)