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Earth Summit Update - 2002-09-05


World leaders are winding down their negotiations as the earth summit in Johannesburg nears its end. During this ten-day conference, leaders from 190 countries have argued, protesters have demonstrated, and concessions have been made. The goal: fighting worldwide poverty and saving the environment.

Turning promises made a decade ago at the Earth Summit in Rio into reality was the focus at this South African summit. But, 2100 delegates in Johannesburg faced a few detractors inside the summit venue, where tempers soared; and outside where some protest turned violent.

NATURAL SOUND - protests outside / Mugabe and Blair inside

UN Administrator Mark Malloch Brown says efforts to meet the challenges of global change are overshadowed this year by promises made in Rio.

MARK MALLOCH BROWN, UN ADMINISTRATOR
“`The problem with Johannesburg is that it’s ten years after Rio and it’s as though much of the world’s political class forgot about Rio and woke up on the eve of Johannesburg and said, how have we done?”

This summit’s message may best be summed up by its youngest delegates.

JULIUS NDLHOVU (10), BORN THE YEAR OF RIO EARTH SUMMIT
“We are the entitled to enjoy the expectations for the future for every single boy and girl. Thank you.

OTHER CHILDREN FROM YOUTH SUMMIT (IN UNISION)
“Don’t walk off and forget about the challenges. We finally challenge you, the leaders of the world to accomplish them.”

One key issue resolved this week is Russia’s agreement to ratify the Kyoto pact. It requires industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

But, two of the world’s worst polluters, China and the United States, are taking firm, vastly different approaches. China has promised to ratify the pact, while the U.S. is refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol as it is currently written.

U.S. President George W. Bush is among few world leaders who did not attend this summit, sending Secretary of State Colin Powell instead. Mr. Powell arrived Wednesday and made a speech, by which time most world leaders had left.

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