Yesterday saw an impressive Twitter campaign to draw attention to next week’s Rio 20 international conference on sustainability.
Using the hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies, activists worked to draw attention, as Robert Redford wrote on HuffingtonPost, to the “subsidizing [of] the destruction of our planet.”
It was certainly impressive in its scale — by one count, the hashtag was Tweeted over 100,000 times.
But leaving aside the fact that, yes, it’s only Twitter, government’s aren’t likely to respond to any pressure, whatever the source.
The Rio 20 is the successor conference to the UN Conference on Environment and Development (or the “Earth Summit”), which took place 20 years ago.
Here are the titles of the principal documents that came out that conference:
- “Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development”
- “Rio Declaration”
- “Framework Convention on Climate Change”
- “Convention on Biological Diversity”
- “Statement of Forest Principles”
- “Agenda 21”
None of these was binding.
What’s more, the U.S. has not exactly been known recently for ratifying international conventions.
The notion of ending fossil fuel subsidies has garnered support on the right in addition to the left.
There’s also a ton of literature out there on their utility (they appear to be basically fiscally neutral given the amount of tax big oil companies pay the government).
Unfortunately, policymakers don’t have to call into question the power of social media — it wasn’t going to make a difference one way or the other.