EarthAction intern Amber argues in favor of UN Agenda 21, despite strong opposition in the US:
Across the country, members of the political movement referred to as the Tea Party have been protesting against government implementation of ‘green projects.’ They argue man-made global warming is a hoax, and that investments in technologies and projects to combat climate change are a waste of tax-payer money. In a recent New York Times article, Leslie Kaufman and Kate Zernike explain that "green projects" are seen as part of a United Nations conspiracy that impedes upon the rights of American citizens.
The specific ‘conspiracy’ they refer to is the United Nations Agenda 21, a proposal compiled by the United Nations in 1992 that called for a “...global partnership for sustainable development". Agenda 21 identifies sources of climatic problems, provides a basis for why they should be combatted, details actions that can be taken to alleviate the problem, estimates the cost of taking those actions, and predicts the benefits of those actions. The main goal of Agenda 21 is to recognize global environment and development concerns and address them locally in order to ensure “the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, a better protected and managed ecosystems, and a safer, more prosperous future”.
No where in the document, does it advocate for or suggest a centralized global government or socialism as a solution to these problems; only for a collaborative organized effort of developed and developing countries to combat global warming as a global problem in such a way that is appropriate for individual countries.
Members of the Tea Party and The Republican National Committee resolution complain that, “The United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called ‘sustainable development’ views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment”. This argument is not explicitly stated in Agenda 21, it can be inferred based on what are identifies as problems that Agenda 21 would classify many aspects of the American way of life as detrimental to the environment.
What the opponents of the Agenda ignore, is the fact that although the USA is home to less than 5% of the world’s population, it is responsible for over a quarter of global carbon emissions.
This graphic demonstrates the carbon emissions in each country. Click here for the original source and a closer look.
Agenda 21 and government funding of improved, more efficient public transportation and alternative modes of transportation do not infringe upon American freedom or property rights as Tea Party members seem to believe (Kaufman and Zernike). Agenda 21 is non-binding, and is better viewed as a collection of suggestions for environmental action rather than a centralized government plot or a set of specific demands.
A proposal for more bike lanes is not a demand revoking Americans’ rights to drive a car, it is simply trying to make it more feasible for people to use alternative modes of transportation. So far, there has been no legislation passed that limits the rights of Americans in order to combat global climate change. Advocacy for more efficient lifestyles does not mean a loss of choice. The standard American way of life is still entirely possible.
However, in the name of environmental conservation and the preservation of the livability of the Earth for humans and all other forms of life, it is ideal that Americans, as major contributors to environmental degradation and global leaders, recognize that their standard way of living is indeed harmful and take actions to improve it.
Agenda 21 does not single out the US as a nation requiring environmental reform, but rather stresses a collaborative effort of all countries to address this global problem that requires a global initiative. It should not be regarded as a conspiracy, but a viable solution. It has been 20 years since it was formatted and little progress has been made in the fields it identifies as concerns. In fact, the world has regressed, and climate change has only accelerated since 1992.
The time to take action is now, the world can not afford to wait another 20 years before any real progress is made, quite frankly, by then it will be too late.
Kaufman, Leslie and Zernike, Kate. “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot.” The New York Times. 3 February 2012. Accessed 20 February 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/us/activists-fight-green-projects-seeing-un-plot.html?_r=1&hpw
United Nations. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Division for Sustainable Development. Agenda 21. 1992. 20 Feb. 2012. < http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/index.shtml
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