Environmentalists are disappointed that Barack Obama will not be attending a major environmental summit taking place in Rio de Janeiro later in June. In his stead the President is sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the leading representative of the US.
Clinton will be joining over 100 other international leaders on June 20th through the 22nd to discuss such pressing issues as global warming, poverty and food insecurity at what will be the 20th annual conference of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
Accompanying Clinton to Rio will be the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Nancy Sutley the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones and Todd Stern, State Department special climate envoy.
Two of the international leaders who will be in attendance are Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande. The fact that such high-ranking leaders will be there, combined with the fact that President George H.W. Bush made a surprise appearance at the last minute at the first Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992 has stirred the hope in the hearts of environmentalists that Obama might decide to attend at the last moment. Just like Obama today, President Bush was also running a re-election campaign back then.
Director of global strategy and advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council Jacob Scherr commented that,
“We’re of course very pleased Secretary Clinton will be there, but at the same time it’s important that President Obama find ways to demonstrate that the United States remains committed to addressing climate change and sustainability issues, both around the globe and at home, and both during and after Rio+20.”