I guess if you're going to be at Rio, you've already arrived and are enjoying the sunshine, beach, traffic – and that frisson of excitement of being there when history is made – and, of course, the sheer fun of all those people's conference meetings! But is it historic? The portents are not great, judging from what I read a few thousand miles away. Gloom seems to have been packed into suitcases, ready have its creases hung out and worn for all to see. It does seem, as Michael McCarthy noted in the Independent, a summit looking for a purpose.
BBC Breakfast had what I felt was a surprisingly good discussion about it yesterday morning with two UK sustainability types who, like me, had chosen to remain here. Their message was pretty clear: what matters is what we do here (and others do in their countries) – the we being government, business, civil society institutions, and you and me. It was significant, however, that what you and I were urged to do, was not all those usual (and easy) things (recycling / woolly jumpers / lower speeds / walking / composting / more salads / etc / etc) which more of us are doing more of anyway, more of the time. Rather it was the more citizenly stuff: getting involved with others, doing something – and pressuring government / business (and civil society institutions!) to bring about necessary changes that individuals cannot. All that action competence stuff – any schools listening I wonder?
So, respect to all those academics and fellow travellers (in both senses) who've saved up the carbon in their travel budgets, and stamina in their reserves, to make it to Rio; I hope it's fun. Just don't expect that what you will do will make a difference to anything. You'll have to wait till you're back home for that.