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Sustainability the devastating regression of environmental thinking

Originally, it was clear: Ecology takes precedence over Economics. In the environmental debate of the 1970s and 1980s, not even conservative parties would have dared to portray Profit and growth as equivalent to protecting the environment and preserving livelihoods. Although practical action in the heads of parties, administrations, governments and corporations looked different, this is also the case today. Although social issues have almost always been forgotten by environmental organisations, the idea of the sustainability debate was to give the economy an independent and high value that is equal to the protection of the environment and the needs of people.

This was raised in the 90s with considerable propagandistic and financial effort. However, the term is much older – and debunking. He described purely economic goals in the forestry sector from which he comes. No more wood should be cut than planted. The aim was to be able to exploit the forest in the long term. This could also be spruce or pine monocultures, pure wood sacks.

It is no coincidence that the concept of sustainability supplanted other environmental protection concepts precisely in the 1990s. That was the height of neoliberalism. In all policy fields has been privatized, converted to market-based methods-why then not also with regard to environmental protection?

After the Brundtland report, which fed the term into global environmental debates for the first time, the starting point was the World Environment Conference in Rio. Although their final paper “Agenda 21” as a neoliberal battle paper reads and many spoke of a failure after the conclusion of 1992, the changed way of looking at things prevailed in the mid-90s.

“2.37 … the main objective would be to simplify or eliminate the restrictions, regulations and formalities that make it more difficult, expensive and delayed the creation and management of companies in many developing countries …”

Although the neoliberal final documents of Rio had not changed, more and more organizations made the failure either a departure, a global sign of hope or even a myth. The “spirit of Rio” has been invoked more and more frequently, and since then follow-up conferences have been held every ten years, which in fact resemble their model: nothing meaningful comes out.

“26.1 … Indigenous Populations … Their ability to participate fully in a sustainable development-oriented approach to their country has so far proved to be limited due to economic, social and historical factors. In view of the interrelationship between the natural environment and its sustainable development on the one hand and the cultural, social, economic and physical well-being of Indigenous Peoples on the other hand, national and international efforts to implement environmentally sound and sustainable development should recognize, adapt, promote and strengthen the role of these people and their communities”.

Nevertheless, sustainability has become a central figure in the environmental debate. The triumphal march documents a money-driven flattening of environmental policy positions up to corrupt indifference towards content in the hunt for donations and subsidies.

From the mid-1990s, the sustainability concept had supplanted the previous Environmental Protection positions and had become the leading culture of thought. Thus, Environmental Protection was compatible with profit and power ideas. As a by-product, mass cooperations and Fundraising by previously shunned corporations and Environmental Protection Associations emerged, the Greens changed their economic program into a growth ideology supposedly driven by ecological innovations, the number of supposedly green companies exploded, which tried to achieve profits with their products under ecological labels.

“16 … As an innovative, knowledge-intensive research area, it offers a variety of useful process technologies for human-made changes in DNA (genetic material) or genetic material in plants, animals and microorganisms, the result of which are extremely useful products and technologies”

Over the ecotax, environmental protection policies changed to the modern climate protection strategy, in which previously unsaleable environmental goods such as the air were thrown onto the murderous workbenches of stock exchanges and international trading venues.

“22.4 States should, where appropriate, in cooperation with the relevant international organizations, a)… (C) safe interim storage, transport and disposal of radioactive waste, as well as the disposal of cleared sources of radiation and spent nuclear elements from nuclear reactors in all countries, but especially in developing countries, by facilitating the transfer of relevant technologies to those countries and/or by returning the sources of radiation to the supplier after their end of use … promote; …”

When we moan about the consequences today, we should always keep a clear eye: the environmental associations themselves, along with the Greens and the then PDS, were always reliably on the side of the corporations and ideological supporters of market-shaped, growth-driving strategies, that is, of a simply capitalist ideology, at the climate conference 2001 in Bonn, when it came to the concrete methods of climate protection, and other occasions. Those who forget this and today in the course of the climate debate such parties or environmental NGOs applaud blue-eyed again, should mentally prepare themselves to be betrayed again.