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Rio U.N. green conference a bust?
Question of the Day
‘Unplug the city’
Meanwhile, with a nearly 20,000-bed shortage expected during Rio+20, according to estimates by a group representing Brazil’s hotel sector, Mayor Eduardo Paes appealed to citizens to rent out their apartments to delegates.
To facilitate what the city sunnily dubbed “home guest houses,” the tourism authority had planned to launch a dedicated website by early April. The website is still not online.
Mr. Paes also has pushed to have the conference dates decreed a three-day, mid-week holiday, with the closure of schools and public institutions, in a bid get cars off the streets and ease the city’s notorious gridlock.
Nikhil Seth, director of the U.N.’s division for sustainable development, defended the government’s handling of preparations for the conference, which he said was the largest ever organized by the U.N.
“We were quite happy with all the interaction we had with the local government there and with the central government and the efforts they’re making to make the logistics work,” Mr. Seth said.
Mr. Seth insisted that the protracted preconference negotiations didn’t bode poorly for the success of the event; despite the probable absences of Mr. Obama, Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Cameron, it still is expected to attract some 135 heads of state and government or vice presidents, he said.
That could top the 2009 Copenhagen summit, which was attended by 110 heads of state or government and with about 15,000 delegates.
“Some want to see [the extra round of talks] as a dark cloud that shows the difficulties ahead. But it also shows the importance which all the countries attach to this outcome document and to the conference,” Mr. Seth said.
For urbanist Vinicius Netto, Rio is once again resorting to stopgap measures instead of investing in lasting solutions.
“Instead of addressing the serious infrastructure problems, including urban mobility, the government is proposing to unplug the city and its economy,” said Mr. Netto, a professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminense’s architecture school.
The official explanations also didn’t cut it for Greenpeace’s Mr. Mittler.
“There is no question that the preparations for this conference have been a shambles in every respect,” he said. “It will be very difficult for them to pretend that they have succeeded. But you can be sure that they’ll try.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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