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Rio Summit: Environmentalists slam agreements as too weak

Rio Summit: Expectations were low, and environmentalists say that texts diplomats agreed upon fail to set sustainable development goals.

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"There's no sign of that here. Almost a billion hungry people deserve better."

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The draft text omitted a clause calling for governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which have nearly tripled since 2009, despite a pledge by G20 countries to eliminate them.

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 would reduce annual global energy demand by 5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 6 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.

Oil producing countries, including Venezuela and Canada, blocked inclusion of the clause, despite a huge social media push on Monday to include phase-out language in the text, with over 100,000 tweets on Twitter with the hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

An eagerly awaited decision on a governance structure for the high seas was also postponed for three years, after the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia and Venezuela opposed strong language to implement it.

"There's no commitment - it's like telling your girlfriend you promise to decide in three years whether or not to decide, whether or not to get married," said Susanna Fuller of the High Seas Alliance, a coalition of NGOs.

FOCUS ON IMPLEMENTATION

Others were slightly more optimistic.

"The document represents a positive step forward. While it is not the major breakthrough we had 20 years ago it puts us on the pathway to sustainable development," Selwyn Hart, diplomat for Barbados, told Reuters.

"The formal negotiations might be over but (leaders here tomorrow) need to focus on the implementation of some of the central issues dealt with in the document," he added.

Separately, in a meeting of big-city mayors at an old fortress in Rio, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and colleagues from around the world sought to show how cities, can make progress even if a multi-national agreement isn't possible.

Cities are responsible for up to three-quarters of global greenhouse gases.

Measures already underway in major cities, the mayors said, are on track to reduce their combined emission of greenhouse gases by 248 million tons by 2020, an amount equal to the current annual emissions of Mexico and Canada together.

The measures, the mayors said, include everything from better waste management to more efficient lighting, and would include biofuel and electric-powered municipal transport.

Noting the sluggish pace of the multi-national negotiations, Bloomberg said cities "aren't arguing with each other. We're going out there and making progress."(Additional reporting by Paulo Prada; editing by Todd Eastham)

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