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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A VIENNA INTERNATIONAL CENTER CONFERENCE.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: PERSPECTIVES FOR THE POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA.

ACUNS Vienna Annual Conference 2015
Lessons Learned from the Millennium Development Goals and Perspectives for the Post- 2015 Development Agenda
January 14-16, 2015 Vienna International Centre with pre-conference April 13, 2015 events,

The UN General Assembly is recommending that all UN Departments and Agencies concentrate on seventeen sustainable development goals. The list of SDGs includes poverty eradication, food security, health, education, inclusive economic growth and industrialization, reducing
inequality, safer cities, energy for all, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable natural and marine resources exploitation, combating climate change, and promoting peaceful inclusive societies with access to justice for all, and accountable institutions. The Vienna UN Agencies already sought to redefine themselves according to these new UN priorities. At the ACUNS Vienna Conference, senior UN representatives will speak in interactive panels with diplomats, academics, and students about the activities they are pursuing to reach these objectives. The discussion will address whether these new goals are repackaging the preceding MDGs, and the extent to which the Vienna-based Agencies are committing their efforts towards achieving the SDGs.

January 14-16, 2015
Vienna International Centre
Wagramer Str 5 1 1400 Wien, Vienna, Austria

The Conference is hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and will be organized in cooperation with UNODC, IAEA, UNCITRAL, UNOOSA, UNIS, and Austrian Foreign Ministry. On the third day of the Conference the closing session of the Regional Academy on the UN (RAUN) will take place.

CONFERENCE FEES
????> 30 EUR Practitioners > 20 EUR Students
Payable on-site

E  gmail.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Additional Events
9:30–12:30
12:30–14:00 14:00–16:00
16:00–18:00
IAAI — ACUNS Workshop:
“Innovative Resource Mobilization for Post-2015 Multi-Stakeholder Action and Youth Engagement” (Conference Room C5)
Lunch break
ACUNS Academic Forum
“Target & Indicators for peaceful, inclusive, justice societies for sustainable development” (Goal 16) (Conference Room C5)
UNODC — ACUNS Youth Forum “Young People’s Ideas about the Drug Problem” (Conference Room C5)

A C U N S S E C R E T A R I A T – Academic Council on the United Nations System – Headquartered at Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 > T 226.772.3121 > F 226.772.0016

ACUNS exists to stimulate, support, and disseminate research, analysis on the United Nations, multilateralism, and international organization.  www.acuns.org/

In Charge of this Conference – ACUNS Vienna Liaison – Chaired by Michael Platzer


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

8:00–9:45 Registration (Gate 1)

10:00–12:00 Opening session (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Welcoming remarks: Mr. LI Yong, Director General, UNIDO (tbc)
Chair: Mr. Abiodun Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, Academic Council on the UN System (ACUNS) and President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice

Opening:
H.E. Mr. Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council (tbc)
Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Executive Director, UNODC (tbc)
Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, CTBTO
H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the United Nations in Vienna
Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director, UNOOSA
Ms. Margit Bruck-Friedrich, Chief of Protocol & Senior External Relations Officer, Director General’s Office for Coordination, IAEA
Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,
ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer
Keynote speech:
H.E. Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and International Affairs

12:00–13:00 Lunch break

13:00–14:30 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Ambassador of the Philippines to Austria Speakers:
Mr. Ludovico Alcorta, Director, Development Policy, Statistics and Research Branch, UNIDO Mr. Kitaoka Kazuki, Strategic Planning Unit, UNIDO
Ms. Petra Bayr, Member of the Austrian Parliament, Spokeswoman for Global Development Mr. Uwe Schubert, Professor, Society for Industrial Development

15:00–16:30 United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UNODC
Mr. Gautam Babbar, Programme Management Officer & Inter-Agency Affairs Officer, UNODC
Mr. Michael Obrovsky, Head of Research Department, Austrian Foundation for Development Research Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer

17:00–18.00 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (Preparatory Commission) (CTBTO) Briefing: “The Contribution of the CTBT to International Peace, Security and Development” (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO

19:00 Reception at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
(Courtesy of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the International Organizations in Vienna)
Welcoming speech: “Future of rule- based societies”
H.E. Mr. Hans Winkler, Director, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

Thursday, January 15, 2015

09:00–9:30 Registration (Gate 1)

10:00–11:30 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Science and Technology:– The Unique Contributions of Nuclear Techniques to the Post 2015-Agenda (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc)
Short film: ”Food for the Future” Speakers:
Mr. Ferenc Toth, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA
Mr. Carl Blackburn, Acting Section Head, Food and Environmental Protection Section, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, IAEA
Mr. Neil Victor Jarvis, Section Head, Division of Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation, IAEA Ms. Monika Froehler, Communications Officer, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)

12:00-13:30 United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Space policy, science and technology: accelerating development in the post-2015 era (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc) Speakers:
Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section
Mr. Luc St- Pierre, Senior Programme Officer, Space Applications Section
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Science & Technology Space Apps. Section Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor of International Law, University of Vienna
Mr. Walther Lichem, Professor, f. Austrian Ambassador to Canada

13:30-14:30 Lunch break

14:30–15:50 UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
The importance of a solid commercial legal framework for sustainable development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Cristian Istrate, Ambassador of Romania to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jernej Sekolec, Former Secretary UNCITRAL, Independent Arbitrator Mr. Timothy Lemay, Principal Legal Officer and Head, Legislative Branch Ms. Anniko Szalai, Professor, University of Szeged

16:00–17:30 The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN)
Gender Equality and the Post-2015 Agenda
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Anu Laamanen, Ambassador of Finland to Austria
Speakers:
Ms. Ursula Bauer, Chief Executive Office, Executive Group for Organisation, Safety and Security, City of Vienna
Ms. Lilly Sucharipa, President, Austria National Committee for UN Women
Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Ms. Ivana Kristic, Professor, University of Belgrade

18:30 Social event: Wiener Heurige (Courtesy of the City of Vienna)


Friday, January 16, 2015

7:30–8:00 Registration (Gate 1)

8:30–10:00 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Information Service (UNIS), United for Education and Sustainable Futures (UESF), IAAI– Innovative Ways for Youth Engagement and Volunteerism in UN Post-2015 Development Agenda Context
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: Mr. Martin Nesirky, Director, UNIS Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Matteo Landi, Industrial Development and Youth Employment Expert, UNIDO
Ms. Hanna Heikkila, Associate Expert, Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, UNODC Mr. Daniil Chugunov, Psychologist, Associate Professor of the Institute of Management and Law, St. Petersburg
Ms. Kehkasan Basu, UNEP Major Group Children and Youth (tbc)
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, IAAI
Mr. Billy Batware, UESF and Regional Academy on United Nations
Ms. Viktoriya Luchka, 2014 Ukrainian Youth Delegate to the UNGA

10:00–10:15 Coffee break

10:15–13:00 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group I – International Development and Trade
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Inclusive and Sustainable Business Strategies: The Role of Self-Regulation – UNIDO I
Financing young entrepreneurs and young enterprises: Review of needs, difficulties, and challenges that young enterprises face when accessing finance – UNIDO II
New Eyes: ‘A look from above’ on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the growing relevance of UNOOSA – UNOOSA
Supporting Post-2015 Development Agenda through Investor-State Arbitration Rules in the field of Energy – UNCITRAL

Judges:
?Mr. Jacek Cukrowski, Chief, Institute for Capacity Development, UNIDO
Ms. Aygul Duysenhanova, Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Applications Section, UNOOSA
Ms. Katharine Sarikakis, Professor, Institute for Publication and Communication, University of Vienna
Ms. Margarete Maria Grandner, Professor and Program Director, Department of International Development, University of Vienna
Mr. Grzegorz Donocik, Former Chief, Europe and NIS Programme, UNIDO
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, Secretary General, IAAI

13:00-14:00 Lunch break

14:00–15:45
RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group II – Human Rights
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Modern Forms of Slavery and Human Trafficking “Female offenders in the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation – Victims or perpetrators?” – UNODC I
Irregular Migration in the Mediterranean: – problems, questions and possible solutions in light of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – IOM
The Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Testing: – How the nuclear test-ban treaty adds to the realization of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, and how international humanitarian law can be useful for enforcing non-proliferation – CTBTO
Post-2015 Development Agenda within the United Nations Policy Framework: Towards a future without violence against women – UNWOMEN

Judges:

Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO
Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor, University of Vienna
Mr. Fabrizio Sarrica, Research Officer, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons Unit, UNODC Mr. Gunther Hauser, National Defence Academy, Vienna
Mr. Diman Dimov, Project coordinator, DTA/OSB/ISS, UNODC

15:45-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:30 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group III – Energy, Environment, and Safety
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)

Benefits of Nuclear Energy to Overcome Climate Change: the example of China – IAEA
Evaluation of Battery Storage Technologies: Sustainable, rural electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa – SE4ALL

Sustainable Cities and Personal Security: “Goals, approaches, outcomes” – Why is it worth keeping sustainable cities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda? – UNODC II

Judges:

Mr. Slawomir Redo, Senior Programme Adviser (ACUNS, Vienna); Visiting Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY, NY, USA)

17:30-18:00 RAUN Award Ceremony
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Op-Ed | Timothy Egan
Obama Unbound
By TIMOTHY EGAN

The president is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.
 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/opinio…

Obama’s trademark caution in a crisis still serves him well. He kept his head during the Ebola meltdown when everyone else was losing theirs. Had we gone jaw to jaw with Putin over Ukraine, rather than building the case for sanctions, the world would be far messier. But in finally learning how to use the tools of his office, Obama unbound is a president primed to make his mark.

There may not be a lightness to his step, a lilt in his voice or a bit of jauntiness returned to his manner. The office ages everyone prematurely, and makes spontaneity all but impossible. But President Obama is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.

He promised to be transformative. Instead, especially in the last two years, he’s been listless, passive, a spectator to his own presidency. Rather than setting things in motion, he reacted to events. Even Ebola, the great scare that prompted so much media hysteria it was awarded Lie of the Year by PolitiFact, was somehow his fault. No more. Of late, the president who has nothing to lose has discovered that his best friend is the future.

On normalizing relations with Cuba, on a surprising climate change initiative with China, on an immigration gamble that’s working, and executive orders to protect the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery in Alaska or try to root out gender pay disparities, Obama is marching ahead of politicians fighting yesterday’s wars. In setting an aggressive agenda, he has forced opponents to defend old-century policies, and rely on an aging base to do it.

Are Republicans really going to spend the first year of their new majority trying to undo everything the president has done — to roll back the clock? Will they defend isolation of Cuba against the wishes of most young Cuban-Americans? Will they restore a family-destroying deportation policy, when Obama’s de-emphasis on sending illegal immigrants home has already given him a 15-point boost among Latinos? Will they take away health insurance from millions who never had it before? Will they insist that nothing can be done on climate change, while an agreement is on the table for the world’s two biggest polluters, the United States and China, to do something significant?

The President Obama of the last six weeks is willing to take that bet. The tediously cautious, adrift president who governed before his party was rejected in November never would have.

Of course, it helps to have the wind at his back — gusts of good news.

Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by the end of his first term? Obama has done him one better: two years ahead of schedule, unemployment is 5.8 percent. The economy added 321,000 jobs last month and average hourly wages actually rose, on pace to make 2014 the best year for financially battered Americans in almost a decade. And if there’s a Republican somewhere who predicted that gas prices would be well below $3 a gallon in year six of the Obama presidency, bring that prescient pol forward.

Remember, also, the man-crush that Republicans had on Vladimir Putin? Ohhh, Vlad — such a leader! Forceful, militarily aggressive, a manly man. Obama the plodder was getting played by Putin the Great. Now, the Russian president better keep his shirt on, for his country is teetering, increasingly isolated, its currency in free fall. Plunging oil prices have shown just how fragile a nation dependent on oil can be.

Perhaps the best thing to happen to him was the crushing blow his party took in the midterm elections. Come January, Republicans will have their largest House majority in 84 years — since Herbert Hoover was president. Granted, no politician wants to join Hoover and history in the same sentence. But Obama is not cowering or conceding. He’s been liberated by defeat, becoming the president that many of his supporters hoped he would be.

East Jerusalem.
Editorial

The Embattled Dream of Palestine

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

A one-state solution? A two-state solution? Any solution?
… from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and for recognition of a Palestinian state. He has …
 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/opinio…

With negotiations stalled and Israel narrowing the space for a peace deal by expanding settlements, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has made a desperation play for a two-state solution. He is pushing the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that would set a deadline for full Israel withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and for recognition of a Palestinian state. He has strong support from Europe, where some governments have ratcheted up the pressure on Israel by individually endorsing Palestinian statehood.
The United States, trying to protect Israel’s interest, wants at the very least to delay a Security Council vote until after the Israeli election. That makes sense, since a showdown now almost certainly will benefit the opponents of a two-state solution. The campaign — in which a coalition formed by Isaac Herzog, head of the opposition Labor party, and Tzipi Livni, the recently dismissed justice minister, favors a two-state solution — is likely to focus on domestic issues. But the outcome could well determine the prospects for the elusive dream of a Palestinian state.

Op-Ed Contributor
Bring On the Dark
By CLARK STRAND

Night was once the only thing that put the human agenda on hold.

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — WHEN the people of this small mountain town got their first dose of electrical lighting in late 1924, they were appalled. “Old people swore that reading or living by so fierce a light was impossible,” wrote the local historian Alf Evers. That much light invited comparisons. It was an advertisement for the new, the rich and the beautiful — a verdict against the old, the ordinary and the poor. As Christmas approached, a protest was staged on the village green to decry the evils of modern light.

Woodstock has always been a small place with a big mouth where cultural issues are concerned. But in this case the protest didn’t amount to much. Here as elsewhere in early 20th-century America, the reluctance to embrace brighter nights was a brief and halfhearted affair.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice. There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on.

In the modern world, petroleum may drive our engines but our consciousness is driven by light. And what it drives us to is excess, in every imaginable form.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the availability of cheap, effective lighting extended the range of waking human consciousness, effectively adding more hours onto the day — for work, for entertainment, for discovery, for consumption; for every activity except sleep, that nightly act of renunciation. Darkness was the only power that has ever put the human agenda on hold.

In centuries past, the hours of darkness were a time when no productive work could be done. Which is to say, at night the human impulse to remake the world in our own image — so that it served us, so that we could almost believe the world and its resources existed for us alone — was suspended. The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world.

Advances in science, industry, medicine and nearly every other area of human enterprise resulted from the influx of light. The only casualty was darkness, a thing of seemingly little value. But that was only because we had forgotten what darkness was for. In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life. Now that deeper darkness has turned against us. The hour of the wolf we call it — that predatory insomnia that makes billions for big pharma. It was once the hour of God.

There is, of course, no need to fear the dark, much less prevail over it. Not that we could. Look up in the sky on a starry night, if you can still find one, and you will see that there is a lot of darkness in the universe. There is so much of it, in fact, that it simply has to be the foundation of all that is. The stars are an anomaly in the face of it, the planets an accident. Is it evil or indifferent? I don’t think so. Our lives begin in the womb and end in the tomb. It’s dark on either side.

We’ve rolled back the night so far that soon we will come full circle and reach the dawn of the following day. And where will that leave us? In a world with no God and no wolf either — only unrelenting commerce and consumption, information and media … and light. We need a rest from ourselves that only a night like the winter solstice can give us. And the earth, too, needs that rest. The only thing I can hope for is that, if we won’t come to our senses and search for the darkness, on nights like these, the darkness will come looking for us.

Clark Strand is the author of the forthcoming book “Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

December 19, 2014 from EESI located in Washington DC

WA Gov. Inslee Includes Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Carbon Pollution Rules

On December 17, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) unveiled the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act for Washington State, which includes a carbon cap, a low-carbon fuel standard, and incentives for renewable energy sources. Faced with a growing deficit, as well as a 2008 state mandate to lower state agencies’ greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Inslee’s proposal is expected to generate $1 billion in the first year alone. While Inslee recognizes that consumers may see an increase in costs initially, the program’s overall goal is to shift the state to a low-carbon economy, which would eventually save them money “It’s impossible for [companies] to pass along the cost of carbon when consumers aren’t using any,” he noted.
Read More

U.S. Forest Service Meets 2014 Forest Restoration Goals

On December 16, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that more than 200,000 tons of biomass in federally-owned forests have been removed through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to be used as renewable energy in 19 facilities across 10 states. These diseased and dead trees – often referred to as ‘hazardous fuels’ due to their ability to fuel some of the most dangerous forest fires, have accumulated in National Forests and lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management following decades of fire suppression rather than controlled burning. Prolonged heat, drought, and increased pests are making the situation ever more pressing. The BCAP program allows the Forest Service to partner with farmers, ranchers and foresters to deal with forestry residues that would otherwise be costly to remove. According to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), under the BCAP program (which provides $12.5 million annually for biomass removal), USFS has met its forestry restoration goals for fiscal year 2014.
Read More

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor to the New York Times, December 18, 2014

Coal, an Outlaw Enterprise

By ROBERT F. KENNEDY Jr.

The outsize influence and campaign donations of King Coal subvert democracy in Appalachia.
 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/opinio…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama Finally Acts Like a Nobel Laureate.

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

18 December 2014

Normalizing relations with Cuba was an act worthy of consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The diplomatic thaw can lead to more peace and justice if it is the first step. The most important move that can be made would be to lift the cruel and unjust embargo against Cuba. For over 50 years the embargo has made a poor country poorer.

The failed policy has not weakened the Castro Government, instead it has exacerbated poverty in what was one of the most vibrant economies prior to the Cuban Revolution.

According to the Smithsonian: “By the late ’50s, U.S. financial interests included 90 percent of Cuban mines, 80 percent of its public utilities, 50 percent of its railways, 40 percent of its sugar production and 25 percent of its bank deposits – some $1 billion in total. American influence extended into the cultural realm, as well. Cubans grew accustomed to the luxuries of American life. They drove American cars, owned TVs, watched Hollywood movies and shopped at Woolworth’s department store. The youth listened to rock and roll, learned English in school, adopted American baseball and sported American fashions.”

For the Cuban elite and American investors all was great. But for many in Cuba, the resources were concentrated in the hands of an elite class that was enjoying life with their partners, the American Robber Barons. The inequality led to the Cuban Revolution. When the Batista regime fell and American-owned resources were nationalized by Castro, the capitalists in Washington decided that they would do all they could to make sure the revolution failed.

The Cuba policy reminds me of the Republican strategy for dealing with Barack Obama’s presidency. They did everything they could to make sure more Americans would suffer and blame the President for their pain.

The US embargo on Cuba was designed to inflict pain on the Cuban people and force them into regime change.

Regime change never came. Some would argue that the embargo helped Fidel Castro unite the Cuban people against the “real” boogeyman in Washington.

President Obama, while not fully lifting the embargo, did make some moves that will increase commerce between the two nations. While these actions should be applauded, we must be vigilant. A return to the day when Cuba’s economy is dominated by US corporations is not what the Cuban people need. Exploitation is not the answer, but if you listen to Obama’s cabinet it may be exactly what they seek.

In a statement released by the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “This new course will not be without challenges, but it is based not on a leap of faith but on a conviction that it’s the best way to help bring freedom and opportunity to the Cuban people, and to promote America’s national security interests in the Americas, including greater regional stability and economic opportunities for American businesses.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said: “These historic actions by the President chart a new course for our country’s relationship with Cuba and its people. It will improve the lives of millions and will help spur long overdue economic and political reform across the country. Expanding economic engagement between the Cuban people and the American business community will be a powerful catalyst that will strengthen human rights and the rule of law.”

So buyer beware, while increased economic activity between the United States and Cuba could be a good thing, we must make sure it does’t lead to more exploitation by Cuba’s powerful neighbor.

President Obama said in Cuba yesterday: “There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 – just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.”

Those differences have hardened for many Cuban Americans, but at the same time younger Cubans living in the United States support the president’s actions. They are the future, voices of hope and reconciliation. Let’s not listen to the voices of the past, being amplified by politicians like Marco Rubio who I am convinced express the view of an ideological fraction of the Cuban American community that will soon become the minority.

If we follow the direction the Obama administration is taking on Cuba, one day liberal Cuban politicians will start prevailing in South Florida and extremists like Marco Rubio will be out of office.

In a statement on Cuban television, Raul Castro called on President Obama to lift the embargo through executive action. Many are saying it will require an act of Congress. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait on the “just say no” Congress – since this policy was initiated by Obama, we know they will do everything they can to reverse it.

The Cuban and American people are pawns in the GOP’s political strategy. They will continue to do everything they can to make sure the Cuban and American people suffer, in hopes that they will blame the Castros and Obama. Let’s instead support the president’s Cuban policy and point the finger at the cruel politics of the Republican Party.

Scott Galindez was formerly the co-founder of Truthout.

==================================

Republicans were quick on Wednesday to accuse President Obama of appeasing our nation’s adversaries and showing weakness.

“First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba: One More Very Bad Deal Brokered by the Obama Administration,” blared the subject line of a release from Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) office.

“Unfortunately, this is yet another example of this administration continuing to show the rest of the world and dangerous leaders like those in Iran and North Korea that the United States is willing to appease them,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said.

“It is par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran or in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing, and that’s what’s happening here,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Fox News.

But there’s one very important way in which Cuba differs from all of these other bad actors on the world stage. And it’s this: Americans aren’t scared of Cuba — like barely even a little bit.

Despite Cuba’s proximity to the United States (about 90 miles from Florida) and its alliance with other antagonistic countries like North Korea and Russia, Americans have grown progressively less and less concerned that the island country actually poses a threat to the United States.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll earlier this year, in fact, showed that just 5 percent of people viewed Cuba as a “very serious threat” and 21 percent said it was a “moderately serious threat.” Another 72 percent said it wasn’t a threat at all or “just a slight threat.”

Back in 1983, two-thirds of Americans viewed Cuba as at least a “moderately serious threat,” but that numbers has fallen steadily since then.

In addition, Cuba today simply can’t be compared to the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea and the others as far as the threat it poses. Seven in 10 Americans say each of those countries poses at a least a “moderately serious threat,” compared to 26 percent for Cuba.

As President Obama makes his case that normalizing relations with Cuba is a good idea, this is a major factor working in his favor. As long as Americans aren’t afraid of Cuba, they will likely be more accepting of a diplomatic relationship.

It’s no coincidence, after all, that the sharp decrease in fear of Cuba has coincided with a sharp rise in support for diplomacy.

================================


Obama secures Latin legacy

World leaders have welcomed a historic move by the US to end more than 50 years of hostility towards Cuba and restore diplomatic relations.

Pope Francis joined leaders from Latin America and Europe in praising the “historic” deal which saw the release of prisoners from both countries.


US-Cuba relations: Global praise for normalization of ties.

The BBC News, December 18, 2014
 www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-amer…

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Op-Ed Columnist – The New York Times, December 18, 2014
Welcome Back, Cuba!
By NICHOLAS KRISTOF

Sending in gunmen to liberate the Bay of Pigs failed, but perhaps we’ll do better with diplomats, tourists and investors.

Op-Ed Contributor – The New York Times, December 18, 2014
Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights
By DIOSDADO CABELLO

Instead of punishing my country, the U.S. should check its own record.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency – for what it is worth this December (2014)

News Brief: Iran unveils monument to Iran-Iraq War Jewish ‘martyrs’
December 18, 2014 5:40pm

(JTA) — Iran unveiled a monument to Jews who died during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

IRNA, the official Iranian news agency posted photos of the ceremony Monday, headlined “Monument to Jewish Martyrs Unveiled in Tehran.”

The page was captioned, “Iran on Monday unveiled a monument to the Jewish citizens who lost their lives in the 8-year Iraqi imposed war on Iran.”

The monument, a gold colored slab with inscriptions in Persian and topped by an artistic representation of the Hebrew phrase, “Peace Forever,” appears to be set in a Jewish cemetery.

Another slab bears a tiled depiction of a gold seven-stemmed Menorah set against a royal blue background.

There also are photos of officials speaking at a podium next to a large seven-stemmed Menorah, and of Jews praying and paying respects at tombstones in the cemetery.

The Iranian parliament’s vice-speaker, Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, praised the relationship between the government and Iran’s Jewish community during an address at the ceremony.

“The explicit stances of the Jewish community in supporting the Islamic Republic’s establishment and their obedience to the Supreme Leader of the (Islamic) Revolution demonstrate the bonds originating from the teachings of the divine religions,” he said, the Tasnim news agency reported.

He also praised the Jewish community for its condemnation of U.S. demands on Iran, Israeli actions visa vis the Palestinians, and the “violent and inhumane” behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Read more: www.jta.org/2014/12/18/news-opini…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change is glad to inform you on updates of news and stories around Climate Science&Policy.

What really happened in Lima? Climate Science & Policy: news, stories and updates.

[CENTRO EURO-MEDITERRANEO PER I CAMBIAMENTI CLIMATICI - CMCC -
un Consorzio di istituti di ricerca e università italiane che punta
ad approfondire le conoscenze scientifiche nel campo della variabilità climatica.]

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A different view on COP 20
Carlo Carraro comments the outcomes of the COP20 in this post taken from his blog: “The emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well)”.
 www.cmcc.it/article/a-different-v…

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
As expected, the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties in Lima wrapped up with a compromise text, a road map pushing for 2015 deal in Paris
 www.cmcc.it/article/lima-climate-…

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Many comments on the outcome of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) recently held in Lima have already been circulated. Most commentators focus on the broad consensus to adopt national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Some of them highlights the important benefits of reaching such broad consensus, even though not yet on ambitious mitigation targets. Others complain about the distance between existing commitments and the mitigation effort needed to maintain future temperature increase below the 2°C degree target. All of them agree on the crucial role of COP 21 in Paris to reach a final agreement on both ambitious Individually Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and on an effective verification system to compare these mitigation efforts.

This emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well), namely the difficulty of agreeing on the resources that must be devoted to achieve mitigation targets, on their distribution across different world regions, on the mechanisms to fund the huge investments that will be necessary for both mitigation and adaptation.

The discussion in Lima was centered on the Green Climate Fund, established in Copenhagen in 2009, but the debate was more on distributional issues (how much will developing countries receive and how much will they contribute) rather than on efficiency issues (how best can the fund be used).

The Green Climate Fund
While there have been some murmurings of the need to focus on technology development, technology transfer and capacity building, the climate finance debate has been overtaken by the Green Climate Fund. How much should be given? Should quantitative limits be set? Should there be a legally binding system? Since there was so much focus on the Fund, it is encouraging to see that the first real milestone in this process – USD 10.2 billion pledged by the end of 2014 – has been achieved. Further, since 50% of the Green Climate Fund is to be allocated to adaptation measures, the prominence of adaptation in the COP 20 agenda should be welcomed. Specifically, the promise that a “loss and damage” scheme would be introduced to help poorer countries cope with the financial implications of a warming planet. Despite these steps forward, the funding required to decarbonize the global economy by 2050, address adaptation and meet the rising cost of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events, will be in the region of trillions of dollars over the upcoming decades. As such, the Green Climate Fund, even when it will hopefully reach the USD 100 billions in 2020, will be far from covering both the required investments in adaptation to deal with the impacts of ongoing climate change, particularly in developing countries, and the costs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Policy signals:

One of government’s main roles in enabling climate finance is to send a clear, consistent, long-term signal to investors that there is a safe market for low-carbon technologies. There is a great deal of aversion to be overcome in this respect. Currently, low-carbon technologies are perceived to come only at a short to medium term trade off with economic growth.

This misconception (built into many model assessments) is based on the assumption that economies are perfectly efficient. As a result, any climate change policy is expected to lead to short and medium term costs. However, in reality, many such policies, particularly technology policies, in fact reduce market failures and the rigidities that lead to inefficient allocation of resources.

This understanding was woefully overlooked at COP20. Indeed, the very fact that governments spent so much time publicly quibbling over what to implement is signal enough to the private sector that investments in low-carbon technologies may not be supported by a sound policy environment (e.g. by a tax internalizing carbon externalities).

Some nations even went to say that private sector needs to be the driving force behind the transition. While developments in private sector do anticipate policy, their success is often dependent on a fertile policy environment.

As such, Brazil strongly cautioned against too strong a reliance on the private sector.

Even Australia was able to recognize the need to motivate businesses.

Kick-starting innovation:

There are two channels that governments can exploit to provide these policy signals.

First, government needs to stimulate innovation. Innovation is key to a low-carbon future. OECD projections of population growth indicate that population will increase from 7 billion people (2010) to more than 9 billion people (2050). With this, global GDP will nearly quadruple, requiring 80% more energy. To sustain this growth, energy must be mostly generated in a carbon neutral or low carbon manner.

At COP20, countries were asked to support all low-carbon technologies and not pick winners. Even so, each country demonstrated its aversions to specific technologies, notably nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).The main way to incentivize innovation in low-carbon technologies is to put a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing is one of the strongest signals that governments can send to say they are serious about low-carbon. Not only does this provide a way – if effectively implemented – of progressively moving away from fossil fuel energy, it also provides financial benefits. Lobbying and sideline action abounded with pressure to develop carbon pricing mechanisms. Like the drop of water on stone, this is making an impact nation by nation. However, no concrete progress came forth from COP20 on this, even though important signals came from the UN Summit in New York last September and much more will emerge in 2015 in preparation to COP 21.

Investing:

Second, governments need to look to how and when they invest in low-carbon solutions. No public sector actors are yet fully successful in setting regulation, incentives, co-investment, risk-sharing instruments or other policy measures. Most developed countries firmly opposed internationally accountable commitments to climate finance.

Switzerland notably refused legally binding aims. Part of the unanimous aversion to strong investment is the fear that policies would require prolonged public sector support for low-carbon technologies. This assumption ignores the fact that government only needs to promote low-carbon innovation for a limited time. Just long enough to kick-start the low-carbon pathway. Once the technology is rolling along this path, the economy will be locked-in to low-carbon and there is no need for further regulatory intervention.

Another investment deterrent is the presumed high-cost, low-return nature of low-carbon energy. However, the higher upfront costs in low-carbon technologies are offset by avoiding the operating and financing costs that characterize fossil fuel energy. And by the increasing benefits of reducing GHG emissions and therefore the concrete, very costly, negative impacts of climate change on our economies.

The Lima Legacy:

COP20 concluded with a document that called for an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that considers the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. This common-but-differentiated-responsibilities approach has characterized climate change talks since 1992. It reflects the strong divide and attribution of responsibility that still exists between poor and rich nations. Meek language asking countries merely to go beyond their “current undertaking” on climate action does not instill you with confidence that any of the INDCs that will be announced over the first quarter of 2015 will be sufficient to keep the globe within the 2°C limit.

Perhaps, there is hope in the fact that some of the desired measures indicated above can be developed without the need for international agreements.

Even so, at the moment, none of these issues that will really make a difference in the effective deployment and use of climate finance have been seriously addressed by COP 20.

Much of this is unsurprising. Asking 194 countries to find consensus on the many issues implicated in climate change – not only climate finance – is, as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres puts it, “very, very challenging”. Therefore, the resulting “range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation” should be welcomed. However, as ever, we cannot let complacency take root and must maximize the pressure for the forthcoming INDCs to be meaningful and verifiable commitments.

Overall COP 20 in Lima was consistent with expectations. Together with other important events (the UN Climate Summit in New York, the EU Policy Framework on Energy and Climate, the US-China deal, etc.) it contributed to pave the way for an important agreement in Paris. The idea of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was already circulated and debated months ago. It became concrete in Lima and this is a very positive change, crucial to achieve a large participation to the Paris agreement. Now it’s time to go back to climate finance and to agree not only on the size of additional resources to be devoted to climate mitigation and adaptation, but rather on the policy signals to redirect the huge amount of resources devoted every year to energy infrastructures, buildings, city development and transports towards a low carbon transition path.

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Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru, closed on Sunday, December 14th adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.

Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.

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Major outcomes of the deal can be summarized as follows:

– common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances: developed and developing countries have both to act to cut their carbon emissions but considering their different financial and infrastructural capacities;

– Greenhouses gas plans: the document reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by the end of March 2015 in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding. The information provided may include quantifiable information such as time frames and / or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.?INDCs will be published on the UNFCCC website by the UN climate change secretariat which will prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the overall climate effect of the INDCs communicated by Parties;

– Loss and Damage: a “loss and damage” mechanism was established to protect developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change in order to receive economic compensations;

– Climate finance: the document urges developed countries to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. Donations to a Green Climate Fund, launched to help poor countries cut their GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, have already surpassed the $10bn.

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For more information:

The full text of the deal

The summary of key outcomes provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Overview of decisions adopted at COP20 and CMP10

The infographics realized by the Italian Climate Network, a synthesis of the Parties’ different positions

Events
IAERE Third Annual Conference

Adaptation Climate Change Impacts Climate Change Risks Climate Projections Energy Efficiency ETS – Emission trading scheme Extreme events Forestry management GHG – Greenhouse gases Hydrogeological Risk International negotiations IPCC Land use Mediterranean Area

Mitigation National policies Public opinion Rio+20 Sustainable development UN Climate Change Conference – COP

Related content:

COP20, a positive step forward or a skirmish before the real battle?

A different view on Lima COP 20

From Lima to Paris 2015: challenges on the road to 2°C

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima

Safe navigation in the Mediterranean sea

Research papers:
RP0233 – High resolution climate scenarios on Mediterranean test case areas for the hydro-climate integrated system
RP0232 – The Passive Use Value of the Mediterranean Forest
RP0231 – Loss & Damage: a Critical Discourse Analysis
RP0230 – Performance evaluation of integrated system to model the climate change impacts on hydro-geological hazard
RP0229 – The stability and effectiveness of climate coalitions:
A comparative analysis of multiple integrated assessment models


Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici
Via Augusto Imperatore 16, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Tel. +39 0832 288650 Fax +39 0832 277603 Email:  info at cmcc.it

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the IISD Reporting Services that help the UN manage its information flow to Conference participants.

Lima Climate Change Conference – December 2014
1-12 December 2014 | Lima, Peru

 www.iisd.ca/climate/cop20/

The Lima Climate Change Conference convened from 1-14 December 2014, in Lima, Peru. It included the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 10). Three subsidiary bodies (SBs) also met: the 41st sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 41) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 41), and the seventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-7).

The Lima Climate Change Conference brought together over 11,000 participants, including approximately 6,300 government officials, 4,000 representatives from UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 900 members of the media.

Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP necessary to advance towards an agreement in Paris at COP 21 in 2015, including elaboration of the information, and process, required for submission of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as early as possible in 2015 and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations on a draft decision for advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, COP 20 adopted the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action,’ which sets in motion the negotiations in the coming year towards a 2015 agreement, the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs, and enhancing pre-2020 ambition.

Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Declaration on Education and Awareness Raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris next year, by capturing progress made in elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope, upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.

The Summary and Analysis of this meeting is now available in PDF format

at  www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12619… and in HTML format at
 www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12619e.html

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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE LIMA CLIMATE CONFERENCE

“Brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.”
– Attributed to Roman Emperor Hadrian

Arriving in Peru, delegates were welcomed by a decidedly positive spirit. As COP 20/CMP 10 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal observed in his opening speech, prior to the Lima Conference, the world had received a number of “good signals” from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, the initial resource mobilization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), “historic” announcements by several major greenhouse gas emitting countries, including the EU, the US and China, as well as momentum generated from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. This spirit of “unprecedented optimism and achievement,” as described by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, was expected to help advance work on a number of key deliverables intended to provide what ADP Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh referred to as a “solid foundation” upon which to build a new agreement to be adopted in Paris.

In October, in an address to the ADP, Pulgar-Vidal indicated the outcomes he expected in Lima, including: a clear, structured and substantive text on the elements of the new agreement; defining the information to be submitted in 2015 as part of parties’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs); and a concrete plan for the pre-2020 period, including actions to ensure compliance with existing obligations, and the implementation of policy options with the greatest mitigation potential. He also emphasized the importance of confidence and trust in the process, as well as among parties. As many have learned from previous climate change meetings, no foundation for the future can be built without confidence and trust.

This brief analysis will assess to what extent these outcomes expected from Lima have been delivered, the implications of the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ for the negotiations towards the new climate agreement, and whether the Lima Conference succeeded in laying a solid foundation for constructing an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris, under which each country is able to find a “room.”

LAYING BRICKS

A fervent facilitator and an invisible enabler, the Peruvian Presidency spared no effort in ensuring that time during the Lima Conference was managed effectively. With most formal negotiating sessions scarcely going over the 6:00 pm mark and the Subsidiary Bodies concluding their work unprecedentedly early, delegates were able to roll up their sleeves and get down to work on the building blocks for the new agreement, the draft decision text on INDCs, and enhanced pre-2020 climate action.

Over six days, parties exchanged views on the Co-Chairs’ non-paper containing the elements for a draft negotiating text and made various proposals, which were all reflected in a revised document published on the UNFCCC website early in the morning on Monday, 8 December, by which time the text had swollen from 23 to 33 pages. Some worried that a proliferation of options, while indicating that the negotiating process is clearly party-driven, did not add to the draft negotiating text’s clarity and structure, and could complicate future work.

In the end, delegates agreed to annex this text to the COP decision on further advancing the Durban Platform with a disclaimer contained in a footnote stating that the elements for a draft negotiating text reflect “work in progress” and “neither indicate convergence on the proposals presented, nor do they preclude new proposals from emerging in the course of negotiations in 2015.” This disclaimer addressed concerns raised by many developing countries that annexing the elements text to the COP decision might preempt the legal form, structure or content of the Paris agreement and were therefore against “formalizing” any language that could potentially exclude some options from consideration in 2015, while locking in others. Limited substantive progress on the elements will no doubt put pressure on ADP negotiators meeting in Geneva in February 2015, which is expected to deliver a draft negotiating text for parties’ consideration later in the year.

MOVING WALLS IN A “DIVIDED” HOUSE

Discussions on elements for a draft negotiating text and on the draft decision advancing the Durban Platform were both underpinned by a number of broad political issues. These included differentiation, the role of the Convention and its principles and provisions in the future agreement, and the issue of legal parity between mitigation and adaptation, on the one hand, and mitigation and financial and other means of support, on the other. Many delegates pointed out that on those issues the ADP had a distinctly “divided house”?to the point that some felt trust among parties dissipating.

The question of how differentiation will be reflected in the Paris agreement permeated the ADP negotiations. For example, most developing countries, in particular the LMDCs, maintained that there should be differentiation, both in the 2015 agreement and the INDCs, in accordance with parties’ obligations under the Convention, and reflecting the principles of CBDR and equity. On the other side, the US advocated differentiation in accordance with CBDR and respective capabilities in line with varying national circumstances. The LMDCs also strongly opposed the formulation “parties in a position to do so” in relation to providing support to developing countries for the preparation and implementation of their INDCs, and to providing additional resources to the GCF, the GEF, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Fund, arguing that such language disrupted Convention-based bifurcation, effectively dismantling the wall between Annex I and non-Annex I parties.

A related issue, namely that of legal parity between different components of the 2015 agreement, was also the subject of heated debate. Developing countries repeatedly cautioned against a “mitigation-centric” approach to INDCs, and urged for a balanced reflection of adaptation and means of implementation, with provision of finance taking the center stage. Of particular importance to AOSIS and the LDCs was that loss and damage be reflected as a separate element of the future agreement not only in the elements text, but also in the decision on the ADP.

Parties’ inability to reach consensus led to the adoption of a three-pronged approach, including continued negotiations under the ADP, ministerial consultations, and consultations by the COP President. After the Presidency’s consultations with negotiating groups that continued late into Saturday night?many hours after the Conference was supposed to conclude at 6:00 pm on Friday, the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ was concluded. This outcome document, arguably, shifts the wall of differentiation. Although the work of the ADP “shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles” and the new agreement “shall address in a balanced manner” not only mitigation, but also adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, and transparency of action and support, the ADP’s commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 is nevertheless described as reflecting CBDR and respective capabilities “in light of different national circumstances.” This formulation appears to open the door to a subjective interpretation of differentiation. Some also wondered if it modifies the interpretation of CBDR as reflecting historical responsibility, even if it avoids using the controversial terms “dynamic” or “evolving.” On the issue of parity, however, the final text provides some assurances to developing countries by giving adaptation a more prominent role in the future agreement and parties’ INDCs, as well as, and in relation to, provision of support.

The Lima Call for Climate Action also refers to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage in the preamble. Following the adoption of the decision by the COP, Tuvalu, for the LDCs, made a statement requesting that it be recorded in the report of the meeting. He stressed that the preambular text on the Warsaw International Mechanism, in conjunction with “inter alia” in the operative paragraph listing INDCs components, is, in the LDCs’ understanding, a “clear intention” that the new agreement will “properly, effectively and progressively” address loss and damage. While legally redundant, such declarations reaffirm parties’ positions and interpretations of agreed text, maintaining their relevance and visibility.

During the negotiations, an additional concern expressed by developing countries, similar to the one raised in relation to the elements text, was that a COP 20 decision on advancing the Durban Platform could be prejudicial to the outcome in Paris. In this regard, the Lima Call for Climate Action explicitly states that the INDCs-related arrangements specified in it “are without prejudice to the legal nature and content” of parties’ INDCs, or to the content of the future agreement.

TEARING DOWN THE WALL?

COP 20 was generally expected to help strengthen INDCs as a core component of the new agreement by clarifying their scope and specifying information required to facilitate their clarity, transparency and understanding. However, parties were also divided on their expectations for the text on INDCs, relating to information-related requirements, scope and communication. While the Lima Conference fulfilled these expectations to some extent, many parties and observers felt the decision has important shortcomings.

The Lima Call for Climate Action succeeds in delivering on a mandate from Warsaw to identify the “information that parties will provide when putting forward their contributions,” by referring to quantifiable information, time frames, coverage, methodological assumptions, and a subjective evaluation of fairness and ambitiousness. However, by stating that INDCs “may include, as appropriate, inter alia,” these various aspects, the text fails to set a minimum level of common types of information to be communicated by all parties, thus significantly weakening the prospects of comparability across, and a meaningful aggregation of, contributions.

A major area of divergence of views related to the scope of INDCs. This debate centered on the interpretation of the Warsaw decision, which states that INDCs should be aimed “at achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2.” Developed countries interpreted this as referring to mitigation being the only component of INDCs, while developing countries insisted on the need to include adaptation and means of implementation as well, with developing countries providing information on their means of implementation needs and developed countries providing information on their financial contributions, as a precondition of enhanced action by developing countries. As a compromise between these two views, the Lima Call for Climate Action invites parties to “consider including” an adaptation component in their INDCs, which reflects broad agreement that adaptation action requires strengthening alongside mitigation. Parties were also able to agree on recognizing the special circumstances of LDCs and SIDS by allowing them to present “strategies, plans and actions” for low-emission development. Meanwhile, all other countries are implicitly expected to do something more. This latter aspect is yet another example of built-in flexibility, which translates into a lack of a clear requirement for parties to prepare a strong, quantitative mitigation component in their INDCs. Furthermore, in relation to the scope of INDCs, parties were unable to agree on any language on finance or other means of implementation, which left developing countries disappointed. Issues related to finance, therefore, remain a fundamental area for further trust building in 2015.

Another issue on which parties disagreed was how INDCs would be communicated and what their possible ex ante consideration or review might look like. Many developing countries insisted that Lima should only focus on the process of communication. Some delegations, including the US, preferred a “consultative” process or period. Others, such as the EU and AOSIS, demanded a strong review that would assess the aggregate effect of INDCs against the latest climate science and what is deemed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. Considered by some the weakest link of the Lima outcome, the decision text simply requests that the Secretariat publish the communicated INDCs on the UNFCCC website and prepare, by 1 November 2015, a synthesis report on their aggregate effect. This translates into an absence of any kind of ex ante review of individual contributions in 2015. Further, it also leaves parties with less than a month for possible upward adjustment prior to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Resulting from strong opposition by some, such as the LMDCs, to a review of their INDCs, this outcome left many disappointed. Some disenchanted observers, however, felt that, irrespective of its content, the decision would not have strong implications for global climate action, suggesting that the major factors driving the level of ambition of national contributions are in any event external to the UNFCCC process.

RAISING THE CEILING

With regard to enhancing pre-2020 ambition (ADP workstream 2), the technical expert meetings (TEMs) emerged as an area where countries could find a common cause. Relating to the key question of how to carry work forward under workstream 2 beyond Paris, there was broad agreement that the TEMs, which have created a technical and less political space for discussions around scaling up implementation and which allow for “bringing down the brick wall of the UNFCCC” by engaging non-state actors, would be the proper vehicle. The Lima outcome sets out a clear process for building on the TEMs’ experience by providing guidance on their purpose, organization and follow-up, and seeking to further engage key institutions and mechanisms under the Convention. Views still diverged, however, on how to ensure the implementation of the Bali Action Plan, in particular with regard to the provision of means of implementation to developing countries, and enhancing mitigation efforts by all parties under the Convention. As a result, the final text does not include a proposed ‘Accelerated Implementation Mechanism’ to assess progress made in these areas?an idea originating in the conviction of developing countries that developed countries’ leadership pre-2020, which currently remains insufficient, will be essential for both addressing climate change and ensuring a successful 2015 agreement.

Discussions under the COP on long-term finance, which developing countries wanted to result in further assurances?such as quantitative milestones?on scaling up of climate finance by developed countries to US$100 billion annually by 2020, and beyond, were also disappointing to developing countries. Yet, an undeniable success was the initial resource mobilization of the GCF, which reached its target of US$10 billion, collecting a total of US$10.2 billion in pledges by the end of the Lima Conference from both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. While developed countries considered it a show of commitment and something they should be recognized for, developing countries felt GCF capitalization, together with the first biennial ministerial dialogue on climate finance organized during the second week as well as biennial submissions by developed countries on scaling up climate finance, were still insufficient. Some suggested that before celebrating the GCF pledges, they would first need to see how and whether they would translate into resources for the Fund.

The first session of the multilateral assessment of developed countries’ mitigation targets, organized as part of SBI 41, reflected a similar divergence in views. Annex I countries celebrated the event for “going beyond simple reporting,” and increasing transparency and building trust, while some developing countries felt the process required further strengthening in the form of a clear “follow-up,” such as substantive conclusions for the SBI’s consideration. Notwithstanding these differences and given the positive “Lima Spirit” characterized by an open exchange of views and transparency that persisted throughout the conference, these developments may have succeeded in “raising the ceiling” of pre-2020 ambition, and thus rebuilding some of the confidence and trust for the tough year ahead.

ENABLING CONSTRUCTION

Many expected that momentum created by the political events of the previous months would contribute to an atmosphere of trust in Lima. These events included the GCF initial capitalization, the EU’s announcement of its 2030 mitigation target and, in particular, the bilateral announcements by the US and China, on their respective mitigation targets for 2025 and 2030, as well as by the US and India, on expanded cooperation on climate change, including on phasing down HFCs. However, it soon became evident that too little time had passed for these external political events and high-level signals of change to translate into cardinal shifts in negotiating positions. Yet, some found discernible indications of a more immediate impact. For example, how CBDR and respective capabilities are defined in the Lima Call for Climate Action decision “in light of different national circumstances,” is a near-verbatim citation from the November joint announcement by the US and China. It remains to be seen if the ADP session in February will see further shifts in negotiating positions when parties have had the time to reflect on these events.

In spite of parties arriving in Peru with different expectations and widely diverging views, at the end most felt that, in the words of the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, the Lima Conference managed to strike a “delicate balance between very difficult issues” and laid “a solid foundation” for work towards Paris.

But did it really? The two key outcomes from Lima, the decision on Advancing the Durban Platform and its annex containing elements for a draft negotiating text, may have served to move the process forward and create a shared feeling of achievement and confidence in the process. However, given that key political issues, including differentiation and finance, remain unresolved, many parties are unwilling to declare the Lima outcome an absolute success.

The year of 2015 will be one that defines the true significance of the Lima Climate Conference. Many wonder if the positive “Lima Spirit” can continue in the run-up to Paris. But perhaps more importantly, the question may be if the Lima outcome can enable the construction in Paris of a “house” where all parties can coexist, while keeping in mind that in this process there is one party that does not negotiate?nature.

This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ©  enb at iisd.org, is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Rishikesh Bhandry, Elena Kosolapova, Ph.D., Mari Luomi, Ph.D., Anna Schulz, and Mihaela Secrieru. The Digital Editor is Kiara Worth. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI . The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this session has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the EC (DG-CLIMA). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA

———————————————————————
Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI
Vice President, Reporting Services and United Nations Liaison
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) — United Nations Office
300 E 56th St. Apt. 11D – New York, NY 10022 USA

Direct Line: +1 973 273 5860 – Plaxo public business card: kimogoree.myplaxo.com

Email:  kimo at iisd.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK TODAY: GOODBYE TO FRACKING!
The New York Times – December 18, 2014

When Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday that he would ban hydraulic fracking, an unusual thing happened outside his office in Midtown Manhattan. A party!

The block, often the site of protests and calls for change, saw environmental advocates rolling their signs into hats and dancing, said The Times’s photographer Chang W. Lee, who shot the celebration.

“It lasted about 35 minutes,” he said. “They were chanting, ‘We made it happen!’”

The question of allowing fracking upstate, a process involving injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to release oil and natural gas, became one of the most heated debates the state had seen in years.

In opposing it, Governor Cuomo cited a long-awaited health study that showed that fracking posed significant risks.

“Everyone was really happy and dancing and thanking the governor and thanking each other,” Mr. Lee said.

As the party was breaking up, a limo pulled up and the governor got out to a hero’s welcome.

“He started talking to everyone, kissing the girls,” said Leslie Roeder, an advocate with New Yorkers Against Fracking.
“It was very endearing.”

On a video posted to Youtube, Mr. Cuomo accepted a “Thank you, Gov. Cuomo” sign from the activists and told them, “You really did a great job of making your voice heard.”

“That’s what democracy is all about,” he continued. “I actually enjoyed seeing it in action — I know it didn’t always seem that way.”

—————————————————————————————


Election over and economy improved, Andrew Cuomo kicks fracking to the curb.

By Philip Bump, for THE FIX, The Washington Post, December 17, 2014

New York state’s acting health commissioner, Howard Zucker, released a report Wednesday that settled one of the most contentious political fights in the state. At some point early next year, New York will ban hydraulic fracturing — better known as “fracking” — because a review conducted by Zucker found “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes” possible from the practice.

It’s far more likely that the real reason the ban will go into effect is that the politics changed dramatically for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). First, the state’s employment picture changed. And, second, he doesn’t need to worry about reelection for a long time — if at all.

Cuomo has avoided making a final decision on whether or not to allow fracking since he came into office. The Post’s Reid Wilson outlines the years-long machinations leading up to the decision. Cuomo, who is a master of working bureaucracy, repeatedly demanded analyses of possible health outcomes like that released this week. Now he stands behind the final product.

NY1 quotes the governor in response to Zucker’s announcement:

“It can create jobs. The negative is it’s dangerous and depending on which side of the table you’re on, that’s the argument. Obviously everybody is in favor of creating jobs, obviously everyone is against creating a dangerous public health or environment situation,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo insists that politics wasn’t involved. But that statement, to some extent, tips his hand.

In 2012, the New York Times reported that Cuomo would allow fracking in the state’s southernmost counties. That area has the strongest overlap with the rock formations in which fracking takes place: brittle shale, which is broken apart to release gas and oil. The Marcellus shale formation extends up from West Virginia into southern and central New York. Cuomo was reportedly considering letting companies drill only in part of it.


Why part? Almost certainly because the area was hard-hit economically. Upstate New York (here defined as “north of New York City”) has been struggling for years as the national economy has shifted, and after the recession, that got worse. Counties along the state’s southern border are not only more politically conservative (generally favoring Mitt Romney in 2012 and, therefore, more amenable to oil exploration), but they also needed jobs.

But even in western New York, there was contention. The Finger Lakes region, a bit further north, depends heavily on tourism. In 2012, I spoke with the Chamber of Commerce in Penn Yan, N.Y., at the tip of Keuka Lake, to gauge how the business community felt about the possibility of fracking. A representative said they were split: businesses that depended on tourism were worried about pollution in the lake, other businesses supported the possibility of job growth (which is very real; three cities in North Dakota were among the fastest-growing in the country in 2013, thanks to the boom in the Bakken shale formation in that state).

That was 2012. Over the past year, unemployment rates in the state have fallen, just as they have broadly across the country. Where the Finger Lakes were peppered with pro- and anti-fracking signs two years ago, this year, the signs dealt more often with Cuomo’s also-contentious gun control bill. While a lot of people upstate are still out of work, the urgency has faded a bit.

Also over the past year, Cuomo won reelection — handily, but not in a massive landslide. He took great pains in both the Democratic primary and general election to ensure as smooth a path as possible. If you believe that Cuomo didn’t defer a decision on fracking in part due to concerns about his campaign, you are less of a cynic than me.

In the end, Cuomo kicked the decision downstairs, leaving it up to the experts to decide. They decided against, certainly with Cuomo’s blessing. He’s not out of the woods politically; the economy could head south once again, so to speak.

But for now, Cuomo can at long last wash his hands of the issue — in pure, unpolluted Finger Lakes water.

———————–
Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

==============================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Launch of the ‘Open Geospatial Data for Energy Access’ Survey

from: Yann Loic Tanvez  ytanvez at worldbank.org

OPEN GEOSPATIAL DATA FOR ENERGY ACCESS

Phase 1 / Survey: Understanding the Practitioners’ Needs

Access the survey by clicking on the following link: goo.gl/forms/OY1bE5vFE6

Access to quality information and data is crucial for the need assessment, planning and monitoring of basic services delivery in developing countries. In the energy sector, and specifically in the context of providing energy access to currently un- or under-served populations, the use of ground level geospatial data for strategic planning at both national and project levels remains in an early stage. Yet, interest and uses have increased in recent years as public and private sector stakeholders intend to prioritize, rationalize and accelerate centralized and decentralized energy infrastructure-related investments.

The World Bank Group and the European Space Agency are joining forces in a pilot initiative capitalizing on existing ground level geospatial data and collecting missing information via satellite Earth Observation. Starting from the requirements of energy access practitioners, this collaboration seeks to identify relevant datasets, demonstrate their potential and formulate best practices for their use in energy access related projects.

The first phase of this pilot initiative is the following survey that aims to identify the various geospatial datasets required by the different stakeholders across the energy access value chain. The findings of this survey will be made available to the wider community through a short publication. Phase 2 will provide identified datasets on a demonstration basis in two selected countries, to assess their utility and test the project rationale in real-world investment scenarios.

We are grateful for your time in completing this survey. The information you provide below will inform the broader energy access agenda, as well as the World Bank Group team leading this initiative by ensuring it effectively responds to the data needs of the various energy access practitioners.

For any further information, or for discussing a deeper engagement with this initiative, please do not hesitate to contact M. Yann Tanvez at  ytanvez at worldbank.org.

This activity is part of the WBG initiative “Incubating Innovation for Rural Electrification”. Further information, knowledge resources, as well as recordings and materials from previous events are available on the initiative’s online collaborative platform. The platform is accessible at collaboration.worldbank.org/grou….

If you would like to join the energy-l at IISD Mailing Lists

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

At Snails’ Pace on the Road to Paris
Wuppertal Assessment of the Lima Climate Summit

This year’s annual United Nations Climate Change Conference took place from 1 to 12 December in Lima/Peru. While in the run-up to the conference, China and the US in a surprise bilateral move had announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions that exceeded expectations, the conference was characterised once again by a deep division between key players from the former so-called “developed” and “developing” world. The negotiations thus took 32 hours longer than planned and ended on Sunday morning at 1.22 am.

More importantly, the conference failed almost completely to resolve the tasks it was supposed to do in order to prepare the last round of negotiations before next year’s conference in Paris 2015, which is supposed to deliver a comprehensive future climate agreement.

A team of researchers from the Wuppertal Institute attended the conference and has compiled their first assessment of the results, which you can download here:
 wupperinst.org/uploads/tx_wupperi…

Best regards
Lukas Hermwille

……………………………….
Lukas Hermwille
Research Fellow

Wuppertal Institut fuer Klima, Umwelt, Energie
Forschungsgruppe 2: Energie, Verkehrs und Klimapolitik
Doeppersberg 19
42103 Wuppertal
Tel.: +49 202 2492-284
Fax.: +49 202 2492-250
 lukas.hermwille at wupperinst.org
 wupperinst.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Support – Truthout and BuzzFlash at Truthout – with a tax-deductible donation

Truthout and BuzzFlash don’t just provide news through a prism of justice. They also offer extensive coverage of individuals and organizations who advocate for positive social transformation. You can read the news you won’t find in the corporate media, and you can be inspired by those who are improving the human condition through resistance and systemic change.

Offering stories that point to solutions helps Truthout’s readers engage in creating a better world. You can play a vital role in this mission by supporting our work. If you make a tax-deductible donation tonight, your contribution will count double thanks to a generous matching grant offer!

Can you help Truthout and BuzzFlash meet this challenge so we can continue our vital mission? We’ll only be eligible for this matching grant if we can raise $10,000 by the end of tomorrow. Pitch in now!

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You can also donate by check, made payable to:
Truthout, P.O. Box 276414, Sacramento, CA 95827
(Please include your email address on your check.)

Sincerely,
Mark Karlin, Managing Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Sustainable Development 2015 programme has updated its interactive timeline of the key milestones of the three primary Post-2015 and Post-Rio+20 processes: The Expert Committee on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy; the High Level Political Forum; and the Sustainable Development Goals. It outlines the key meetings and outputs from the previous and forthcoming activities which will define the UN’s universal development framework.

Click  www.sustainabledevelopment2015.or… to view the timeline

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Breaking News from CNN December 17, 2014:

President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions, a shift he called the end of an “outdated approach” that “for decades has failed to advance our interests.”

Speaking from his own country, Cuban President Raul Castro lauded the move: “This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people, and I want to thank and recognize support from the Vatican.”

and then: President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions, a shift he called the end of an “outdated approach” that “for decades has failed to advance our interests.”

Speaking from his own country, Cuban President Raul Castro lauded the move: “This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people, and I want to thank and recognize support from the Vatican.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was harshly critical of the move: “By conceding to the oppressors, this President and this administration have let the people of Cuba down.”

KUDOS FROM ALL OVER LATIN AMERICA THAT LONG AGO HAS ESTABLISHED RELATIONS WITH CUBA.
FROM OUR ANGLE – BACK TO THE 1970s WE ARGUED THE US CAN LEARN FROM CUBA ABOUT HOW TO DECREASE DEPENDENCE ON OIL IMPORTS.
THIS AFTER LEARNING IN !978 ABOUT THEIR USE OF BIOMASS AT A UNIDO MEETING IN VIENNA, AND THEN OUR ATTEMPT TO INVITE THEM TO MAKE A PRESENTATION AT The first InterAmerican Conference on Renewable Sources of Energy, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 25-29, 1979 that I had the honor to organize for the Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education BUT WAS TURNED DOWN BY THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE THAT WAS NOT READY TO ALLOW VISAS FOR THE CUBAN SCIENTISTS. I made sure nevertheless that the conference knows that when you have no trees to cut down you can make paper from sugarcane bagasse.

Louisiana, Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education
The Conference, 1980 – Science – 302 pages

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

With the World attention on the self-appointed Islamic cleric of Sydney, Australia, we thought to bring to our readers’ attention
a blog that keeps sending us news about the advance of Jihadism within Western Societies - www.islamist-watch.org
 www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2014/…

“Islamist Campaign Donors Overwhelmingly Back Democrats.” PJ Media October 31, 2014

“Ben Affleck: Portrait of Islam’s Clueless Apologetics.” PJ Media October 6, 2014

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For the link to the BBC reporting from Lima – including all the added material – please see – “Deal reached at UN climate talks.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-enviro…

Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who chaired the summit, told reporters: “As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties.”

Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said the EU had wanted a more ambitious outcome but he still believed that “we are on track to agree a global deal” at a summit in Paris, France, next year.

“We’ve got what we wanted,” Indian environment minister Prakash Javedekar told reporters, saying the document preserved the notion that richer nations had to lead the way in making cuts in emissions.

It also restored a promise to poorer countries that a “loss and damage” scheme would be established to help them cope with the financial implications of rising temperatures.

However, it weakened language on national pledges, saying countries “may” instead of “shall” include quantifiable information showing how they intend to meet their emissions targets.

The agreed document calls for:

– An “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that reflects “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation

– Developed countries to provide financial support to “vulnerable” developing nations

– National pledges to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those states “ready to do so”

– Countries to set targets that go beyond their “current undertaking”

– The UN climate change body to report back on the national pledges in November 2015

None of the 194 countries attending the talks walked away with everything they wanted, but everybody got something.

As well as pledges and finance, the agreement points towards a new classification of nations. Rather than just being divided into rich and poor, the text attempts to reflects the more complex world of today, where the bulk of emissions originate in developing countries.

While progress in Lima was limited, and many decisions were simply postponed, the fact that 194 nations assented to this document means there is still momentum for a deal in Paris.

And yes – we at SustainabiliTank add – not being an agreed treaty it does not require ratification – and so it is not exposed to a recalcitrant US Senate that would have blocked anything that comes its way. That was the Obama genius and Al Gore failure.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the U.S. Section of The New York Times:

Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England – we add to this – just think of their opposition to ocean-located wind-power. Oh well – it is easy to blame others!

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE – Weekend December 13, 2014

Starts with Photo of Patricia Richardson, 78, a retiree in Salem, N.H., who has taken energy-saving measures and said she could not understand why her bills had still increased. Credit Charlie Mahoney for The New York Times.

Then reporting from SALEM, N.H. — John York, who owns a small printing business here, nearly fell out of his chair the other day when he opened his electric bill.

For October, he had paid $376. For November, with virtually no change in his volume of work and without having turned up the thermostat in his two-room shop, his bill came to $788, a staggering increase of 110 percent. “This is insane,” he said, shaking his head. “We can’t go on like this.”

For months, utility companies across New England have been warning customers to expect sharp price increases, for which the companies blame the continuing shortage of pipeline capacity to bring natural gas to the region.

Now that the higher bills are starting to arrive, many stunned customers are finding the sticker shock much worse than they imagined. Mr. York said he would have to reduce his hours, avoid hiring any new employees, cut other expenses and ultimately pass the cost on to his customers.

Like turning back the clocks and putting on snow tires, bracing for high energy bills has become an annual rite of the season in New England. Because the region’s six states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont — have an integrated electrical grid, they all share the misery.

These latest increases are salt in the wound. New England already pays the highest electricity rates of any region in the 48 contiguous states because it has no fossil fuels of its own and has to import all of its oil, gas and coal. In September, residential customers in New England paid an average retail price of 17.67 cents per kilowatt-hour; the national average was 12.94 cents.

Beyond that, the increases confound common sense, given that global oil prices have dropped to their lowest levels in years, and natural gas is cheap and plentiful from the vast underground shale reserves in nearby Pennsylvania.

But the benefits are not being felt here. Connecticut’s rate of 19.74 cents per kilowatt-hour for September was the highest in the continental United States and twice that of energy-rich states like West Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest rate, 8.95 cents, was in Washington State, where the Columbia River is the nation’s largest producer of hydropower.

For the coming winter, National Grid, the largest utility in Massachusetts, expects prices to rise to 24.24 cents, a record high. The average customer will pay $121.20 a month, a 37 percent increase from $88.25 last winter.
Photo
John York, a small-business owner in Salem, paid 110 percent more for electricity in November than he had in October. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

The utilities argue that they are hamstrung unless they can increase the pipeline capacity for natural gas, which powers more than half of New England. That would not only lower costs for consumers, they say, but also create thousands of construction jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The region has five pipeline systems now. Seven new projects have been proposed. But several of them — including a major gas pipeline through western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and a transmission line in New Hampshire carrying hydropower from Quebec — have stalled because of ferocious opposition.

The concerns go beyond fears about blighting the countryside and losing property to eminent domain. Environmentalists say it makes no sense to perpetuate the region’s dependence on fossil fuels while it is trying to mitigate the effects of climate change, and many do not want to support the gas-extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has made the cheap gas from Pennsylvania available.

Consumers have been left in the middle, as baffled as they are angry. Utilities across the region are holding workshops and town meetings to try to address their concerns and offer tips on energy conservation. About 100 people showed up this month for a meeting at Salem High School here that included a presentation by Liberty Utilities, the largest natural gas distributor in New Hampshire.

John Shore, a company spokesman, told the audience that in times of peak demand, the available natural gas went first to residential and business customers. Some power plants that normally rely on gas then turn to more expensive fuels like oil, although not all plants have the ability to switch fuels. In some cases, electric generating plants go offline, and more expensive generators are used to make up the capacity.

Prices are also up this winter because they are based in part on last winter’s high prices. Arctic blasts from the polar vortex drove up the cost of wholesale power in New England to $5.05 billion for the three months from December 2013 through February 2014 alone — almost the same as the cost for the entire year of 2012.

Patricia Richardson, 78, a Salem retiree in the audience, said she had already had an energy audit on her 100-year-old house, installed triple-pane thermal windows, bought a new boiler, had insulation blown in and put weather stripping around leaks. She could not understand why her bill had still increased, even after pressing Mr. Shore.

Ms. Richardson said after the meeting that his explanation had been confusing. “I wanted to know in my heart that he was giving it to me square,” she said. “But I didn’t get that feeling.”
Photo
Marie Morris at a meeting at Salem High School held by Liberty Utilities, the largest natural gas distributor in New Hampshire. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

Many utilities provide rebates when customers buy high-efficiency appliances, and offer free energy audits, savings plans and guidance on limiting energy use. Government programs and nonprofit organizations are stretching to help those who cannot pay the utility bills necessary to make it through this cold, dark season.

But even if these stopgap measures help some households in the short term, the outlook for the long term appears gloomy.

A year ago, the governors of the six New England states agreed to pursue a coordinated regional strategy, including more pipelines and at least one major transmission line for hydropower. The plan called for electricity customers in all six states to subsidize the projects, on the theory that they would make up that money in lower utility bills.

But in August, the Massachusetts Legislature rejected the plan, saying in part that cheap energy would flood the market and thwart attempts to advance wind and solar projects. That halted the whole effort.

“The impasse just kicks the can down the road, and I see no reason why this dynamic isn’t going to be repeated during the heating season for years to come,” said John Howat, a senior policy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center, a Boston-based nonprofit advocacy group for low-income residents.

“I think we need to be more aggressive in pursuing renewables and energy efficiency,” Mr. Howat said. “But I doubt we can implement those solutions quickly enough and at a sufficient scale to relieve the economic burden in the short term on those 30 percent of households that don’t have sufficient income to pay these bills.”

The problem may be getting worse, not only because of pipeline constraints but because old coal and oil power plants are being retired. The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which supplies nearly one-third of Vermont’s electricity, is also scheduled to go offline this month.

ISO New England, the independent system operator that oversees the region’s energy market, said it expected there to be “sufficient resources” this winter to meet demand. But in a November assessment, it called the pipeline constraints severe and said the reliability of the system would “continue to be threatened” until the region expanded its pipeline capacity or invested in other energy sources.

Figuring out how much new pipeline might be enough is not an easy calculation. Massachusetts, for one, is analyzing its needs now for a report due at the end of the month. It is a complex process, said Mark Sylvia, the state’s undersecretary for energy, because it must take into account the state’s desires to avoid dependence on one type of fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure reliability “so the lights stay on.”

———————
A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2014, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


With Compromises, a Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight.

By CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times World, December 9, 2014

LIMA, Peru — Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions — but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming.

The draft, now circulating among negotiators at a global climate summit meeting here, represents a fundamental breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations for two decades as it has tried to forge a new treaty to counter global warming.

But the key to the political success of the draft — and its main shortcoming, negotiators concede — is that it does not bind nations to a single, global benchmark for emissions reductions.

Instead, the draft puts forward lower, more achievable, policy goals. Under the terms of the draft, every country will publicly commit to enacting its own plans to reduce emissions — with governments choosing their own targets, guided by their domestic politics, rather than by the amounts that scientists say are necessary.

The idea is to reach a global deal to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year, incorporating 196 separate emissions pledges.

“It’s a breakthrough, because it gives meaning to the idea that every country will make cuts,” said Yvo de Boer, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.


“But the great hopes for the process are also gone,” he added. “Many people are resigned,” he said, to the likelihood that even a historic new deal would not reduce greenhouse gas levels enough to keep the planet’s atmospheric temperature from rising 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is the point at which, scientists say, it will become impossible to avoid the dangerous and costly early effects of climate change — such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, extreme drought, food shortages and more violent storms.

The Lima draft represents the input of all the negotiating countries, though there are still several major hurdles to work out. But even then, experts say, at best the new deal might be enough only to curb global warming by about half as much as scientists say is necessary.

Until recently, the United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, have been at the center of the impasse over a climate deal.

Until this year, the United States had never arrived at the United Nations’ annual climate negotiations with a domestic policy to cut its own carbon emissions. Instead, it merely demanded that other nations cut their use of coal and gasoline, while promising that it would do so in the future.

China, meanwhile, was the lead voice among nations demanding that developing economies should not be required to commit to any cuts.

But in November, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced plans to reduce emissions, helping inject new life into the global climate talks.

Negotiators here call the joint announcement between China and the United States the catalyst for the new draft, which, if approved at the climate summit meeting this week, would set the stage for a final deal to be signed by world leaders next year in Paris.

In the United Nations’ first effort to enact a climate change treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding language of the agreement prescribed that the world’s largest economies make ambitious, specific emissions cuts — but it exempted developing nations. The United States Senate refused to ratify the treaty, effectively leaving it a failure.

The Lima draft does not include Kyoto-style, top-down mandates that countries cut emissions by specific levels. Instead, it includes provisions requiring that all nations, rich and poor, commit to policies to mitigate their emissions. Countries that sign on to the deal will commit to announcing, by March, detailed, hard-numbers plans laying out how they will cut emissions after 2020.

The draft that emerges this week “will look like a game of Mad Libs,” said one negotiator who was not authorized to speak publicly. Over the coming months, as countries put forth their emissions reduction pledges, the details of the final deal will be filled in.

It is expected that many countries will miss that March deadline. Officials from India and other countries have said that they are unlikely to present a plan before June.

In order to ensure that all countries are included in the deal, late announcers will get a pass. The point, United Nations officials say, is to ensure that the information exists to finalize a Paris deal by December 2015.

Negotiators concede that the “each according to their abilities” approach is less than perfect — but that it represents what is achievable.

“The reality of it is that nobody was able to come up with a different way of going about it that would actually get countries to participate and be in the agreement,” said Todd D. Stern, the lead American climate change negotiator. “You could write a paper, in theory, assigning a certain amount of emissions cuts to every country. That would get the reduction you need. But you wouldn’t get an agreement. We live in the real world. It’s not going to be perfect.”

And there are still many hurdles ahead.

While many major developing economies are now expected to follow China’s lead in preparing emissions plans, some countries remain wild cards. This year, the government of Australia repealed a landmark climate change law that taxed carbon pollution. Since then, its emissions have soared.

“Australia is left without any viable policy to cut emissions,” said Senator Christine Milne, the leader of the Australian opposition Green Party. “It’s going to drag its heels.”

Money, as always, is a sticking point.

The increasing likelihood that the planet’s atmosphere will warm past the 3.6 degree threshold, with or without a deal in Paris, is driving demands by vulnerable nations — particularly island states and African countries — that the industrialized world open up its wallet to pay for the damage incurred by its fossil fuel consumption. Under the terms of a 2009 climate change accord reached in Copenhagen, rich countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to the ravages of climate change. But a report this month by the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that the cost to poor countries of adapting to climate change could rise to as high as $300 billion annually — and vulnerable countries are stepping up their demands that more money be included in any final deal. Many vulnerable and developing countries insist that each country’s national pledge include not just a plan to cut emissions, but also money for adaptation.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

“The financing question will be one of the deepest divides,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert in climate change negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

Another element to be hashed out by negotiators will be devising an international number-crunching system to monitor, verify and compare countries’ pledged emissions cuts.

China has always balked at any outside monitoring of its major economic sectors, and is pushing back on proposals for rigorous outside scrutiny.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that his country “always supports increasing transparency” but that the new reporting system should reflect “the reality that developing countries’ basic capacities in areas like national statistics and assessment are still insufficient.” He added that “developed countries should provide appropriate support to developing countries.”

The United States has urged that a final deal not take the form of a legally binding treaty requiring Senate ratification, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol experience.

But many countries continue to press for a legally binding deal.

French officials have already given the yet-to-be-signed deal a working title: the “Paris Alliance.”

The name, they say, is meant to signify that many different economies are working together, rather than complying with a single, top-down mandate.

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Edward Wong contributed reporting from Beijing.

Related Coverage:
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Burning debris from Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines. At a United Nations summit meeting, officials from the nation, which scientists say is among the most vulnerable to climate change, are pressing every nation to reduce their use of fossil fuels.
Philippines Pushes Developing Countries to Cut Their Emissions DEC. 8, 2014
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A child walking near her home with a coal-fired power plant in the background in Beijing, China.
Optimism Faces Grave Realities at Climate TalksNOV. 30, 2014
Global Warming Concerns GrowSEPT. 22, 2014

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A version of this article appears in print on December 10, 2014, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: With Compromises, a Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The IASS Event at the Lima, Peru, COP of the UNFCCC on “Renewable Resources in an era of climate change”.

A discussion on the opportunities and challenges of renewable resources for energy and industrial purposes for climate change mitigation.

Suzana Kahn Ribeiro (Secretary of State for Climate Change Secretariat of Brazil), Amit Kumar (Director, Energy, Environment Technology Development Division, The Energy and Resources Institute), Youba Sokona (Special Advisor on Sustainable Development, The South Centre) and Lili Fuhr (Heinrich Böll Foundation) will kick off the debate.

With the participation of Valerie Kapos (Head of Programme, Climate Change & Biodiversity, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre) and Elizabeth Press (Deputy Director, Innovation and Technology Centre, International Renewable Energy Agency) who will provide further insights into the debate.

The event will take place on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 from 2 to 5:30 pm at the Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores, Av. La Paz 463, Miraflores, Lima. The programme will be followed by a reception.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Columbia University, Center for Climate Change Law
Lima Report: Thursday, December 4, 2014 & Friday, December 5, 2014

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Klein
 blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

Jennifer M. Klein, Esq., Associate Director & Fellow
Meredith Wilensky, Esq., 2013-2014 Associate Director & Fellow

During the past two days, negotiators have continued to work their way through draft text. When observing negotiations, it quickly becomes clear that the COP has its own distinct vernacular, with commonplace terms taking on new meaning. Here, we define a few of the most prevalent terms demonstrating key issues underlying the negotiations.

Adequacy – This term refers to the ability of any agreement to achieve the COP’s ultimate objective to stabilize atmospheric GHG levels so as to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Parties have repeatedly noted that for the 2015 agreement to be “adequate,” countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions must reduce GHG emissions enough to stay within the global carbon budget. Dr. Pachauri emphasized during the opening session on Monday that, according to the IPCCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, we have already used 65% of this budget.

Ambition – This term refers to the collective will of the Parties to cut global GHG emissions enough to achieve adequacy. Throughout the Lima negotiations and side events, parties have worked to raise ambition for the 2015 agreement by highlighting the need to commit to deeper emissions cuts.

Carbon Neutral
– The goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions is referred to as “carbon neutrality.” Even though the term only refers to carbon, the concept applies to all GHGs. Most people following the climate change negotiations are familiar with the concept (the phrase was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word Of The Year for 2006). However, climate neutrality has become a virtual mantra at the Lima talks following the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report’s finding that we must lower emissions to near-zero by the end of this century to have a good chance of meeting the 2°C goal.

Differentiation
– In the UNFCCC, the Parties commit to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” This equity-based principle acknowledges that countries’ responsibility to combat climate change differs both by their historical GHG contributions and by their current capacity to tackle climate change. In negotiations, a number of developing countries challenged the lack of differentiation in proposed texts, raising concerns that treating all Parties similarly would place undue burden on developing nations.

Political Parity
– The ADP draft decision includes this term in an attempt to express the need to balance mitigation and adaptation efforts. However, this term has not been used in any previous UNFCCC texts, and in the afternoon session yesterday, delegates repeatedly expressed confusion about its meaning. In short, a clear definition of this term is yet to be determined.

We find this specially interesting because we believe that in order to come up with a product that will be approved at the Paris Summit in 2015, the whole concept of a Diplomatic Agreement will eventually turn to be in effect an UMBRELLA agreement that incorporates unilateral and bi-lateral declarations of the UN Member States, rather then a Consensus Declaration that was unattainable during these wasted decades of conference hoping.
- See more at: blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

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