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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From a [UNFCCC medialist - UNFCCC global list for media mailouts] PRESS RELEASE

UNFCCC Establishes Regional Collaboration Centre for Asia-Pacific Region in
Partnership with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) to
Help Speed up Spread of Clean Technologies.

(Bonn, 27 August 2015) – Clean technology in developing countries has
received a further boost with the establishment of a centre to promote the
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Welcoming the establishment of the centre in Bangkok, Thailand, just months
before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Christiana Figueres,
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) said: “A CDM hub in Asia-Pacific comes as nations are set
to ink a new universal climate agreement in Paris in December. The
agreement needs to trigger an ever deeper transition to a low carbon
economy and by the second half of the century a climate neutral
world—scaled up finance, innovative technologies and creative market
mechanisms that benefit people and the planet will be central to these
aims.”

The Centre will be operated in partnership with the Institute for Global
Environmental Strategies (IGES) and will support all countries in the
region in identifying and designing CDM projects and offering opportunities
to reduce transaction costs. It will work in collaboration with the other
Regional Collaboration Centres (RCCs) in Africa, Latin America and the
Caribbean.

Professor Hironori Hamanaka, Chair of the Board of Directors of IGES,
praised the inter-agency cooperation as an important step towards attaining
the goals set by the international community to combat climate change. He
said: “We are honored to work in partnership with the UNFCCC in Asia and
the Pacific, and this Regional Collaboration Centre in Bangkok will further
tap the potential for CDM projects in the region.”

The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn
certified emission reductions (CERs), each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.
CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a
part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

This is the fifth CDM RCC established by the UNFCCC in partnership with a
regional organization. The first centre was established in January 2013 in
Lomé, Togo to increase participation in CDM projects in West and
Francophone Africa. A second centre was established in Kampala, Uganda to
serve the rest of Africa. A third was established in Saint George’s,
Grenada to assist in the development of CDM projects in the Caribbean, and
a fourth was set up in Bogotá, Colombia to support underrepresented
countries in Latin America.

The Asia-Pacific RCC will be hosted in the IGES offices in Bangkok and will
become operational on 1 September 2015.

—————————————————————————

For further information please contact:
David Abbass, Public Information Officer, UNFCCC at:
 CDM-Press at unfccc.int, +49 (0) 228-815-1511

Augustine Kwan, Programme Manager, IGES at:
 iges_pr at iges.or.jp, +66-2-651-8797

About the CDM
The clean development mechanism (CDM) allows emission reduction projects in
developing countries to earn certified emission reductions (CERs), each
equivalent to one tonne of CO2. CERs can be traded and sold, and used by
industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets
under the Kyoto Protocol. With more than 7.600 registered projects in more
than 100 countries, the CDM has proven to be a powerful mechanism to
deliver finance for emission-reduction projects and contribute to
sustainable development.

About the UNFCCC
With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997
Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC
Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States,
consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the
process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission
limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both
treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at
a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
system.

About IGES
IGES is a non-profit, research institute headquartered in Hayama, Japan
with offices in Kansai, Kitakyushu and Tokyo, as well as in Bangkok,
Thailand and Beijing, China. Information on IGES research, networks and
events are available on the IGES website: www.iges.or.jp/en/

See also:
Twitter: @UNFCCC | Español: @CMNUCC| Français: @CCNUCC
@UN_CarbonMechs
Facebook: facebook.com facebook.com UNcarbonmechs
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Laura Musikanski: The Happiness Alliance – Home of the Happiness Initiative and the GNH (Gross National Happiness) Index

Hi Friend of the Happiness Alliance,

Happiness is important to a new economic paradigm, the sustainability of our future and your happiness.

You are one of 61K people who took the Gross National Happiness Index and, in doing so, are the happiness movement. And the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agrees – happiness, wellbeing & sustainability are important.

Who is the OECD? Here is a little history lesson. The OECD is the international organization that first started collecting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers and comparing them for all countries. As such, they became a major force pushing GDP to the forefront for policy makers and our society. The backstory is that the superpowers got together after WWII and decided the best way to end future world wars was to bind their economies together (anybody remember Bretton Woods in history class?). The measure they decided to use for economic success was GDP. The term “globalization” had not been coined yet, and the full effects of exponential growth of production, pollution and GDP were still to come. About ten years ago the OECD, and many others, started seeing that wider measures of well-being were needed.

So what? October 13-15 in Guadalajara, Mexico is the OECD’s Fifth World Forum on statistics, knowledge and policy “transforming policy, changing lives.” We will be there (chat with us at our booth), as will be nef, Richard Layard, Jeffrey Stiglitz, Gus O’Donnell and so can you.

There is no fee to participate, but you must apply as a participant by August 31. Send an email to  wellbeing at oecd.org to apply as a participant.

There is more news from our project:

Our latest tool, Happiness for the Depressed, takes a real look at how to address depression. It is quickly becoming one of our more popular tools in part because it does not to give a bandaid to real problems.

And for the data and policy geeks, our second of a four essays that will constitute a white paper on the happiness movement has finally been published. The peer review process is no joke – but we are grateful to the Journal for Social Change for the input and editing. The essay is Measuring Happiness to Guide Public Policy Making. The end includes a grid of the areas included by different measures.

Community activists – check out the wonderful work Laura Hannant had been leading in the Creston, British Columbia region. Elected and appointed officials from the city, region and community boards came together with volunteers to measure and now manage the happiness and wellbeing of the community as part of a three year long project.

Academics and Researchers – check out the article covering the research Professor David Pendery did with four different universities in Taiwan. He is particularly concerned with the happiness and wellbeing of Chinese youth.

Laura Hannant and David Pendery both plan to be at the OECD fifth world forum and share a booth with the Happiness Alliance.

Last, please keep using the Gross National Happiness Index for your life and for your group. If you have not tried the new platform, check it out! You can create a group with one click. If you have, please let us know what you think and of any problems ( info at happycounts.org)

Thank you!
Laura Musikanski, other volunteers & the board of the Happiness Alliance.

P.S. We need donations to help us cover costs for posters, handouts and a banner for the OECD forum. If you can help, please donate here!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Alaska Dispatch News
Published on Alaska Dispatch News  www.adn.com)

August 24, 2015

The White House on Sunday revealed some details of President Barack Obama’s upcoming three-day trip to Alaska [1].

The president will travel to “the Seward area, where he will have the opportunity to view the effects of climate change firsthand,” on Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to White House spokesperson Hallie Ruvin.

On the following day, the president will visit Dillingham and Kotzebue, “where he will engage directly with Alaskans on issues important to their communities and to the local economy,” Ruvin said.

Obama will leave the state on Sept. 2, Ruvin said, adding that additional details will be available later this week.

Speculation over Obama’s plans has grown as the date draws near. The president will touch down in Anchorage on Aug. 31 and deliver a speech at a State Department-sponsored Arctic conference that will draw nearly a dozen foreign ministers and hundreds of attendees.

Obama has said he plans to address climate change during his visit. But details are sparse — and rumors rampant — about whether he will address other issues, if security concerns will enable a visit to some of the most rural parts of Alaska, and just what kind of impacts the unusual visit will have on downtown Anchorage.

Source URL: www.adn.com/article/20150824/whit…

Links:
[1] www.adn.com/list-article/20150820…

————————————————–

The three member Alaska Congressional delegation – two Senators and one Member of the House of Representatives – complained that they were not consulted by the White House. We assume that the President had good reasons for making his own decisions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


To celebrate 100 days to COP21, we would like to share with you the latest infographic from Climate Action that explores the role of cities in accelerating sustainable growth- including actions from utilising renewable energy to driving urban mobility to embedding efficiency measures.

As countries continue to submit INDCs ahead of COP21, the growing role of cities in driving post-2020 climate action cannot be ignored. Increasingly city leaders are engaging in positive actions around climate finance, renewable energy, mobility and efficiency, with C40 cities recording the conception of over 8000 measures, policies, and programmes since they started monitoring.

Recent examples of positive action include Adelaide, Australia, announcing the aim to become the world’s first carbon neutral city, and Oberlin, Ohio, moving towards a 89% renewable energy supply.

The Sustainable Cities for Climate Action infographic explores many similar examples of forward thinking solutions, gathering facts from across the globe to showcase the most promising opportunities for sustainable urban growth.

A sneak peek at the facts…

London plans to install 6,000 charging points and 3,000 battery-powered cars by 2018
Gothenburg and Johannesburg have issued $489 million worth of green bonds
Shanghai plans to invest $16.3 billion over the next 3 years on 220 anti-pollution projects

This infographic is brought to you by Climate Action and UNEP, hosts of the 6th annual Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF15), which will be held alongside UNFCCC COP21 in Paris.

You can download the infographic for free here

————————————————————

What is an INDC? | World Resources Institute
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Posted in Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Future Events, Paris, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Report: Retired Saudi General Makes it His ‘Personal’ Goal to Achieve Saudi-Israeli Peace.

From the Algemeiner and WSJ – August 23, 2015

Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has made it his personal goal to strike peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

A former top adviser to the Saudi government, Eshki raised eyebrows in June when he appeared alongside Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General and longtime confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Dore Gold at a conference held by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC, espousing desires to build a Saudi-Israel peace, especially to counter the regionally destabilizing expansion of Iran.


“The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel,” said Eshki.

The former general noted that while the initiative is “personal,” Riyadh “knows about the project” and “isn’t against it, because we need peace.”

Eshki said Israeli and Saudi plans for their shared principal enemy Iran do not completely align, especially regarding an Israeli strike against Iran. He added, however, that Israel would be interested in dealing first with the threat posed by Iran’s proxy in Lebanon and Syria, Hezbollah, before committing its military to countering the much larger and imposing threat of Iran.

Saudi Arabia is also fighting an Iranian-backed group in Yemen, the Houthi rebels, who have taken over the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, and Eshki said it was the common threat of Iranian attempts to destabilize the region and “revive the Persian Empire” that has brought him and Gold together.

Israeli and Saudi officials have reportedly held several meetings in light of the P5+1 arrangement with Iran to peel back international sanctions in exchange for some restrictions on and monitoring of its nuclear program, which Jerusalem and Riyadh view as a boon to Iranian efforts to spread its influence in the Middle East.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A Department of Management Engineering at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark is a UNEP Collaborating Centre Advisory on Energy, Climate, and Sustainable Development. They work with SE4All, WRI, and ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability – as a global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. They will conduct a webinar September 1, 2015.

An announcement:

Please join us on September 1 as the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator platform hosts a webinar on the opportunities to use building efficiency and district energy in combination to create more sustainable cities.

This webinar of the SE4ALL Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator partnership is jointly hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Additional information on the webinar is included below and in the attached document.

Please feel free to share information about this webinar with your colleagues and partners. The primary audience for the webinar is local governments, but it is open to a general audience.

Combining Building Efficiency and District Energy for More Sustainable Cities: A Sustainable Energy for All webinar

Date: Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Times: 10:00-11:30 CEST

Location: Video conference/webinar

Language: English
Registration: attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3055…

———————————————————————–

UN City
Marmorvej 51, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

DTU – Dept. of Management Engineering

Xiao Wang is DTU Coordinator for
Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform

Email:  xwang at dtu.dk
Direct: +45 4533 5314

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Posted in Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Future Events, Futurism, Green is Possible, Nairobi, Obama Styling, Paris, Real World's News, Scandinavia, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/columni…


The UN at 70

Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015

NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.


This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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How to Select the Next UN Secretary-General.

By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University

Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.

Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.

The tools to improve the process are available, and the time is right to ensure their adoption by the UN and other international organizations. A new report by the World Economic Forum and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government lays out a series of best practices – each one of which has already been implemented by at least one international agency – that can guarantee that leaders are drawn from the most qualified candidates, and that the organizations for which they work are vested with the best possible management practices.

For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.

Once a candidate has been chosen, it is important to set clear performance expectations that can be evaluated annually. Groups like the World Health Organization – which came under fierce criticism during the Ebola crisis – can learn from the 80% of American non-profit boards that have a formal process in place for a yearly evaluation of their CEO.

Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.

Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.

A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).

Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.

It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.

Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.

Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.

Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.

One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.

The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.

MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
Valuing the United Nations.

MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.

What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.

No organization in the world embodies as many dreams, yet provides so many frustrations, as the United Nations. For most of its history, the Security Council has been the prisoner of great-power maneuvering; the General Assembly a theater of empty rhetoric; the Economic and Social Council a largely dysfunctional irrelevance; and the Secretariat, for all the dedication and brilliance of a host of individuals, alarmingly inefficient.

My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.

But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.

Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.

What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.

The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.

Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.


The whole family of the UN Secretariat and related entities, together with current peacekeepers, adds up to around 215,000 people worldwide – not a small number, but less than one-eighth of the roughly 1.8 million staff employed by McDonald’s and its franchisees worldwide!

The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Sudhir Chella Rajan, Madras, India, August 21, 2015


Chasing Sustainability: A proposal for Paris

Adaptation is about transforming or changing systems and institutions to live in a warmer world. The article advocates that for the poorer countries this makes more sense then develop alternative technologies more appropriate for more developed countries. This also decreases the promise of INDC and then we ask- What are we left with on this path to Paris2015??

by Sujatha Byravan and Sudhir Chella Rajan

In the lead up to the Paris climate conference, an important buzzword in international climate circles is INDCs, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that each country needs to commit itself towards as its climate policy. Much of this is tacitly expected to mean a reduction of greenhouse (GHG) gases, or mitigation, rather than adaptation, which is about transforming or changing systems and institutions to live in a warmer world. While we eventually have to reduce emissions to zero in order not to completely destroy the earth’s ecosystems, we also need to learn how to live on a planet that is on average at least about 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times.

Countries in the tropics are expected to experience some of the most harmful effects of climate change with sea level rise, more intense storms, variable precipitation, droughts, and floods. Developing countries, especially those with sizable populations, like India, Indonesia Brazil and Nigeria, have the dual challenge of providing energy services and raising living standards for the poor, while adapting to global warming. Given their large citizenry living in poverty, they also have more people vulnerable to these effects. Adapting to climate change will mean that policy makers use sensible approaches to protecting land, soil, freshwater systems, coastal regions, and livelihoods.

We suggest that all developing countries (what the international community terms ‘non-Annex-1’) should concentrate on sustainable development targets, rather than on mitigating INDCs. This means that they would, for example, focus on reducing air pollution, promote cleaner cooking fuels, plan cities to be more inclusive and require space for non-motorized transportation, and modify agriculture, so that overall productivity, biodiversity, crop yields, health of farm workers and water use are balanced.

Consequences for Rich and Poor

We argue that such a choice by poor countries that lets them tunnel through a pathway from their current growth-focused trajectories to a sustainable development course would by itself reduce greenhouse gases. More importantly, it would also improve the quality of life of millions who may be left behind if governments only applied policies to lower emissions. The Center for Study of Science Technology and Policy (CSTEP) has found this to be true in the case of India in a study expected to be released by the end of the month.

We further believe that if poor countries were forced to accept legally binding commitments to reduce their emissions, they and the rest of us may be led dangerously close to irreversible and abrupt changes involving atmospheric aerosols, land systems, fresh water use, or biogeochemical flows. Johan Rockström and his colleagues have described nine such planetary boundaries as being vital to human life and the biosphere. We are fearful that focusing narrowly through a carbon lens for the entire international community will lock poor countries into unsustainable paths, causing serious breaches to at least some planetary limits while also bypassing the needs of the poor.

With regard to rich countries, however, we propose that the world insists that their contributions be far more ambitious and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 over 2010 levels. Most ethical frameworks that have developed ideas around fair ways of allocating greenhouse gas reduction burdens among countries converge around similar targets for the US and Europe. This is also not far from the projections of the European Council for the EU, but well beyond the US intention of 26-28% reductions below 2005 levels by 2025.

In contrast, Ethiopia, where the World Bank estimates that three-quarters of its people have no electricity connections, has promised in its INDC to reduce its greenhouse gases to a few percent points below its 2010 levels by 2030. Most of its promised efforts are to plant more forests and have better soil management practices. While some of these changes will no doubt be good for its farmers, forest dwellers, land and soil, one must consider that some of the most cost-effective approaches to reduce greenhouse emissions could be harmful to water, soil, land and livelihoods. The question then becomes whether the implementation of a legally binding greenhouse gas target is the best way for Ethiopia to meet its enormous challenges related to energy access, poverty and sustainability.

Finally, with regard to the level of ambition of these arrangements, our preliminary estimates suggest that the strategy we describe could be consistent with a global carbon budget that is adequate for limiting temperature rise to within safe limits. Beyond 2030, once rich countries have developed the technologies and institutions to reduce their own emissions sharply and developing nations have met sustainable development goals, the entire international community could concentrate more fully on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Op-Ed Contributors: Sujatha Byravan is Principal Research Scientist in the Center for Study of Science Technology and Policy and Sudhir Chella Rajan is Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

A version of this appeared in The Hindu - www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/pl…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Climate – from The Center of American Progress – ClimateProgress

7 Big Oil Companies Submit Climate Commitments To The U.N.

by Natasha Geiling Aug 21, 2015 2:16pm


Earlier this week, seven oil and gas companies proposed methane emissions cuts as part of their contribution to a global climate deal ahead of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris later this year.


The companies — including the United States’ Southwestern Energy and Norway’s Statoil — have committed to cutting methane in oil production “by systematically surveying for nine key emission sources” and then reporting those findings to the public, the United Nations’ Climate Action website said. Specific reduction numbers were not listed in the database, though concrete reduction targets could be released at a later date.

Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Oil and gas production produces methane either via leaking infrastructure, or through a process known as flaring, where excess methane is intentionally released and then burned. Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production could go a long way to helping the globe stay under a 2°C warming scenario — the International Energy Agency has estimated that curbing methane from upstream oil and gas production could account for 15 percent of the global emissions reductions needed to stay under 2°C.

“It’s heartening to see these companies understand the climate situation and understand the contribution that methane makes,” Han Chen, international climate advocate with the {industry-closely related – our comment} Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told ThinkProgress. “I think that a lot of these corporations are facing inquiries from investors, looking at the divestment campaign, and seeing that they are going to have to eventually change their strategy.”

But when a company’s entire business is the extraction of fossil fuels for profit, their climate commitments need to be looked at critically, Greenpeace’s Travis Nichols told ThinkProgress.

“In general, it’s really good to consider the source of these things. You think, ‘Okay, this is an oil company, its entire M.O. is to extract fossil fuel,’” Nichols said. “If they’re making certain kinds of pledges, then we probably need to push them harder.”

In early June, six oil companies wrote a letter to the UN’s climate chief, pledging their support for international climate commitments and emphasizing their willingness to work with international bodies to place a price on carbon.

That’s a good start, Chen said, but environmentalists still want to see oil and gas companies go further. Recent scientific analysis suggests that to keep global temperatures under 2°C, 49 percent of the world’s remaining natural gas reserves and 33 percent of its remaining oil can’t be burned as fuel, meaning that oil and gas companies will need to look beyond their current infrastructure if they want to help prevent dangerous levels of climate change.

“We’re pretty happy that these corporations are even acknowledging that this is a serious problem that we’re facing, but what we need them to commit to over the long term needs to be significantly more than this,” Chen said. “We don’t think that thinking about a carbon price and just reducing methane leakage is going to be enough. In the long term, we’re talking about moving toward low carbon solutions.”

The commitments to methane reductions come just days after the Obama administration proposed methane regulations for new and modified oil and gas wells across the country. In January, the administration announced a goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector between 40 and 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels.

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 thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/08…

Climate

The Dry Weather That’s Hitting The Tar Sands Industry Is ‘A Preview Of The Future,’ Scientist Says.

by Samantha Page Aug 21, 2015 1:57pm

Dozens of tar sands developers in Alberta’s tar sands have been suspended from taking water — needed for their operations — out of local rivers, after a low flow advisory was issued.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) suspended 73 licenses to temporarily divert water (TDLs) from the Athabasca, Peace, and Wabasca rivers on July 24, after unusually dry weather caused water to fall to at or below healthy maintenance levels. Now, scientists are saying this could become a regular issue for Alberta’s tar sands industry.

Tar sands mining is a type of surface mining in which the top layer of organic matter — trees and plants — is scrapped off, and heavy crude oil is filtered from the sand and clay below. Three barrels of water are needed for every barrel of oil extracted from the tar sands, according to Friends of the Earth.

“More than 90 percent of this water, 400 million gallons per day, ends up as toxic waste dumped in massive pools that contain carcinogenic substances like cyanide,” the group says. Processing the oil from tar sands is incredibly carbon-intensive, and because of tar sands, the energy sector has become Canada’s biggest source of greenhouse gases.

As global warming worsens, some regions, including Alberta, can expect more and more dry summers, scientists say.

“This is absolutely a preview of the future,” Simon Dowell, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia, told ThinkProgress.
This is a reminder that even the fossil fuel industry has to be worried about the impacts of climate change

Earlier snow melt and drier conditions due to climate change are “exactly what all the models predict,” he said. In fact, the AER suspensions came the same week a paper Dowell co-authored was accepted for publication. In the paper, Dowell and lead author Doris Leong found that, by mid-century, there could be two-month interruptions in tar sands development due to lack of water.

Four counties in Alberta have declared a state of “agricultural disaster” due to drought this summer, the CBC reports. And with the record-breaking El Niño event, it’s expected that western Canada will continue its dry spell at least through this winter, Dowell said.

Some studies have predicted that climate change could increase the likelihood of severe El Niños, a phenomenon that, like climate change, can exacerbate extreme weather events in some parts of the world.

This spring, a group of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian scientists banded together against the continued development of the Alberta tar sands, saying it is “incompatible” with limiting climate change.

“It is somewhat ironic,” Dowell said. “This is a reminder that even the fossil fuel industry has to be worried about the impacts of climate change.”

For now, the water use restrictions will not end operations for all the affected companies, as many have stored water or alternative sources.

“The AER encourages industry to develop their own contingency plans to minimize the impacts that low-flow has on their energy operations. For example, operators may have previously stored water from the source to a reservoir on their site, and when water restrictions are in place, they can divert water from a reservoir,” Jordan Fitzgerald, an AER spokesman, told ThinkProgress by email.

The current restrictions are in effect only in the Upper Athabasca Basin, in northern Alberta, but operators elsewhere in the province are also being urged to conserve.

“The AER is also encouraging oil and gas operators to voluntarily reduce their water consumption in areas with no mandatory restrictions but with streamflows lower than normal,” Fitzgerald said.

Unfortunately for the tar sands industry, low flows might actually be the new normal.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

US Proposals to Cut Methane and Other Pollutants.

As an extension of his Climate Action Plan President Obama through the EPA has announced a series of proposals that will reduce methane and other harmful emissions. While there are there are already some voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions, the EPA has proposed new regulations that will significantly reduce methane in the oil and gas sector as well as in landfills.

In June of this year the EPA announced that it was preparing plans to limit methane. On August 18, 2015, the EPA publishes more details of the new rules. The standards are intended for the oil and gas sector. They are designed to reduce methane, VOCs and other toxic air pollutants. Under the proposed regulations the oil and gas industry would have to cut methane emission by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

The new standards would reduce methane emissions by between 340,000 and 400,000 short tons. This is equivalent to reducing 7.7 to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. According to EPA estimates the net climate benefits will be worth between $120 and $150 million. In addition to methane the new rule will eliminate as much as 180,000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

To achieve these goals the new EPA rules require the oil and gas industry to find and repair leaks, capture gas leaking from fracking wells, as well as limit emissions from pumps and other equipment. Several studies have shown that due to leakages, natural gas has a higher emissions profile than coal.

The new standards also address airborne toxins, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Under the plan as much as 2,500 tons of these toxic emissions will be eliminated.

On August 14, 2015 the EPA issued two other proposals that are intended to reduce methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills which are the third largest source of anthropogenic methane. As part of the proposals landfills would have to reduce methane emissions by almost one third.

Landfills generate around 18 percent of methane emissions which is the equivalent to 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

The proposed rules are expected to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year which is equivalent to reducing 12.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The EPA estimates the climate benefits of the combined proposals at nearly $750 million in 2025 or nearly $14 for every dollar spent to comply. Combined costs of the proposed rules are estimated at $55 million in 2025.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

13 May 2015
Iceland: reducing the world’s carbon footprint

Iceland is a global leader in clean energy generation, carbon reduction and green business and Climate Action spoke to Thordur H. Hilmarsson, Director of Foreign Direct Investment at Promote Iceland, to find out how investors and businesses are benefiting and what the country is doing to enable such growth.

Can you tell us a bit about Invest in Iceland?

The central location of Iceland between North America and Europe, the availability of secure and renewable electricity in addition to many other factors such as a pro-business environment and availability of land make Iceland an attractive location for many types of industries. Invest in Iceland is the information and services centre for foreign investors and businesses interested in exploring how this value proposition can be of value to their business.

Can you expand on the data centre opportunities in Iceland and how is this offering cost savings and renewable energy solutions for international companies?

Minimising the carbon footprint of data while reducing cost is a challenge that Nordic Iceland rises to and companies such as BMW are already leveraging on this opportunity. 100 per cent of the electricity on the Icelandic transmission and distribution grid is green, produced harnessing of geothermal resources or the power of Iceland‘s glacial rivers. The electricity is not only renewable but also highly cost competitive and available via long term contracts that ensure predictability in the operations. Because of the cool oceanic climate of Iceland data centers can use ambient cooling year round. Cooling is the largest non-value adding factor in the power consumption so this is important.

Iceland is connected to both North America and Europe with high bandwidth and relatively low latency submarine fiber cables. Both the overseas connection and the backhaul is redundant.

Can you tell us a bit about how Iceland is reducing its GHG emissions and decreases its CO2 exposure?

With 85 per cent of the country‘s primary energy needs met by renewable hydro and geothermal resources, Iceland is a world leader in renewable energy. Iceland‘s energy use per capita is also among the highest in the world as over 80 per cent of all electricity generated is sold to energy intensive industries. Today Iceland has hydroelectric power stations with a total installed capacity of nearly 1986 MW and geothermal power stations with a total installed capacity of 665 MW.

Today almost 90 per cent of Iceland‘s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water

Utilisation of geothermal resources for space heating started for real in the 1930s but the effort was greatly accelerated by the global oil crisis of the early 1970s. Today almost 90 per cent of Iceland‘s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water and the geothermal water is also used for melting snow, outdoor swimming pools, greenhouses and fish farming to give some examples.

Renewables for heating in Iceland is already saving 7 per cent of GDP or equivalent 3000 US $ per capita every year this is stated in the latest newsletter published by Geothermal ERA-NET.

The energy situation in Iceland is unique because all electricity is produced using renewable resources and around 90 per cent of space heating in the country is also powered by renewable sources. Opportunities for reducing GHG emissions lie therefore primarily in the transport sector. There are many initiatives ongoing in this sector in Iceland, both when it comes to transport on land and on sea, and the government of Iceland is committed to utilising the opportunity inherent in our energy situation for even further reducing emissions.

In July 2014 Iceland and China entered into a free trade agreement. How will this help boost climate action projects?

This extensive FTA, effective as of July 2014, offers unprecedented opportunities for North American and European companies to gain a foothold in one of the largest markets in the world. This includes material such as polysilicon, produced from silica or quartz powered by Iceland’s renewable energy resources, and used to produce further renewable energy as solar panels. Carbon fibers, used to reduce consumption of fossil fuel by reducing the weight of vehicles or for windmill generating green power, do also fall under the FTA.

Under the terms of the new FTA, there are zero tariffs on the vast majority of products both exported from, and imported to, China. This includes all industrial products exported from China to Iceland—or 99 per cent of the current export market—as well as any Icelandic products under the 7,830 tariff lines, which currently accounts for 82 per cent of the country’s exports to China.

Even a quick glance at EU/US customs duties on products exported to China reveals the immediate benefits enjoyed by companies based in Iceland

Even a quick glance at EU/US customs duties on products exported to China reveals the immediate benefits enjoyed by companies based in Iceland: Carbon fibres and any fabric from these fibres incur 17.5 per cent customs from EU/US exporters, fresh and/or cool fish incurs 10-12 per cent customs, and poultry 20 per cent customs. None of these products would face any tariffs if exported from Iceland.

Iceland has topped the Global Peace Index for the last two consecutive years. How has this helped to boost clean energy investment in the country?

Safety and stability are important factors when investors choose where to locate new facilities. This is especially important for sensitive operations such as data centers and industries that are sensitive for disruption such as energy intensive industries.

At COP21 in Paris this year, governments are due to agree a landmark new global and binding climate deal. What opportunities could this present to Invest in Iceland?

The climate change presents no opportunities as such but increased international awareness of the problem and the importance of active measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases does. Both companies and consumers are increasingly aware of the origin of the energy needed to provide the required goods and services. Iceland enjoys the unique situation that all the electricity produced and fed onto the national transmission grid is from renewable resources, hydro, geothermal and wind. This means that regardless of where in Iceland new companies decide to locate, they can only buy renewable energy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Celebrating International Youth Day at UN Headquarters – something that has become a yearly UN Headquarters event that is very different from the stiff and soul-less gatherings of the diplomats.

Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event was organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic.

It was intended to bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement – in particular looking at new and emerging issues – and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world. OH YES _ THIS IS THE NORMAL JARGON SPEECH OF THE UN _ BUT THIS TIME SOME OF THE ORGANIZERS SHOWED A LOT OF COURAGE AND TOOK UPON THEMSELVES UNHEARD FREEDOMS.

Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event called for highlight of both – traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement – in the form of panel discussions. The first panel was about bringing new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and a second panel to discuss the power of youth as global citizens.

The UN wanted the event also to highlight the upcoming 2015 World Youth Report, which will be focusing on the issue of economic, political and social participation of youth, responding to the increased concern and policy focus placed on the issue in recent years. In providing such an analysis, a strong link to youth engagement in the shaping and future implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) at both the national and global levels will be highlighted.

Knowing that the people concerned will have no access to the UN, the announcement also included: “If you do not hold a UN grounds pass and wish to join the event, please RSVP to UN DESA.”

Call for worldwide commemoration:
Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign was still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.

- See more at: www.sustainabilitank.info/2015/08…

Also, and in our opinion the truly main event of the August 12th day at the UN, was the afternoon session: An intercultural and interfaith dialogue event in celebration of International Youth Day 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

The theme of the event was “The Power of Youth to Build Peace Through Intercultural Dialogue.”

The event was organized by Dr. Salwa (Sally) Kader the head of USFMEP (The US Federation for Middle East Peace) – “United Federation for Peace and Development.” And for this event she brought in as main speaker Imam Qazi Qayyoom who is originally from Bangladesh but is Imam of a mosque in Lebanon. He is a Moderate-Liberal Sunni Sufi and is ready to speak out against terrorism – that is any form of Islamic terrorism. This is an unheard position at the UN.

Imam Qazi Qayyoom came to the US for the first time in 1994 and found employment in New York founding a Community in Jackson Heights. He told us that he became a victim of the 9/11 event in 2001 when his naturalization papers were lost in the office of his lawyer – at the former World Trade Center. He started to study Islamic terrorism and Jihad that year. In 2005 he decided to stand up and condemn this and created the Jackson Heights Muhammadi Center. See www.ClarionProject.org and since does not accept the Islamists misleading the faith. He would rather work with inter-faith networks. He believes in Peace as the human destiny.
This year he celebrates 10 years since the founding of his Center. He talks to young people – his hope.

He knows that on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there are old-timers that are interested in continuing the conflict – it is the same on the India-Pakistan divide. His Center has problems with his own people that have difficulty with realizing what creates conflict.

Imam Qazi Qayyoom was followed by Ambassador Garxia of El Salvador who runs the Maya Foundation in Los Angeles and looks at improving Communities’ life and Peace through Ecosystems and better agriculture for the peoples’ lives.

All humanity is one he said – and to find peace one must make first peace with himself. If you want to change the planet – the time is now – he said. 70% of the people in Africa are youth – 75% in the Least Developed countries and this is a tremendous potential that can turn into a tremendous danger if we do not act sensibly.

After the Ambassador followed young people representing various religions. For example – Aripha born in Princeton NJ – now at NYU – speaking for Hinduism; Andrew a Jew who leads some 150,000 students world-wide in a campaign to protect the environment;Juan Pacheco a Menonite from Colombia leading to constructive dialogue for peace; a Korean; a Christian Phillipino from Mindanao Province; a Greek Orthodox from Syria – and so on.

Let me repeat once more – a most unusual gathering at the UN – but what do you know – completely under reported by the UN !!!

Even our beloved IISD Reporting Sevices mentioned only what the UNSG Ban Ki-moon said that day and did not touch the real sustance that went on in the afternoon meting on youth and Peace. That is why the UN indeed painted itself in a most irrelevant corner seemingly catering only to self serving tourists that come to gatherings on which they have no handle and know that they will not produce true results.

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Also part of this International Youth Day is: GYMC15.

The Global Challenges Youth Music Contest (GYMC) is an online music video competition for young people organized by International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches (IAAI), a Civil Society Organization based in Klagenfurt/Austria in cooperation with UNESCO Management of Social Transformation (MOST) programme, UNFCCC Climate Secretariat, the WorldWeWant2015 platform and other partners.

The overall objective of the Global Challenges Youth Music Contest is to use the power of music to promote the understanding of the importance of global challenges – like e.g. climate change – for every global citizen and to engage young people in activities that contribute to global and local public good in the context of goals and programs of United Nations system.

With the 2015 edition of Global Challenges Youth Music Contest (#GYMC15) the organizers aim to:
Communicate the topics of the World Climate Conference UNFCCC COP21 which will be held in Paris in December 2015 to young people through peer communication (= “informal global citizenship education”);
Create and spread positive messages about youth led climate action;
Promote low-carbon lifestyles and ‚think global – act local‘ values and action;
Show to policymakers that young people demand strong global cooperation and bold action on climate change.

The 2015 Global Challenges Youth Music Contest consists of 2 main parts:
the online competition which will identify 3 finalists and
the GYMC climate change edutainment TV Show (which will be held during COP21 at UNESCO Headquarters and will be globally broadcasted in cooperation with strong media partners) in which the GYMC15 overall winner will be identified through live on-site and online voting.

GYMC15 has been certified by the authorities of COP21 host country France as a ‘COP21 certified project’ which is authorised to use the official COP21 logo.

GYMC15 upload phase starts on International Youth Day 2015 which has the theme “Youth Civic Engagement” – a topic that is very close to the goals of GYMC15.

“More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, including for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing. The International Youth Day 2015 campaign aims at promoting civic engagement and participation of youth in politics and public life, so that young people can be empowered and bring a full contribution to society, development and peace. You can be part of these efforts!” undesadspd.org/Youth/Internationa…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Mayors of cities like London, Vienna, Istanbul, are usually the second most important elected official in their countries. Why is this not the case with New York City? What is different here? I feel like having a proposed answer:

In New York City special interests are stronger then in above named cities. The reason for my writing this posting is my anger at what I see in New York City as an exaggerated importance allowed to the Yellow Cabs Owners’ Associations that seem to have a historical hold on the way the city develops public transportation. This is not just the problem of the present Mayor – Mr. Bill De Blasio, but we also saw this during the reign of his predecessor Mr. Michael Bloomberg – the Republican tycoon. Then we were not astonished by this fact.

But Mr. De Blasio is the Democrat elected for his presumably progressive ideas. Indeed – he runs all over the globe talking about the environment and climate change – just like Mr. Bloomberg did. He helped recently lead the world’s Mayors to the Vatican in order to line up behind Pope Francis to help save the Paris 2015 UNFCCC meeting. But what does he do here at home?

I am targeting my attention to the Public transportation in NYC – specifically the bus service of the MTA that cuts into the business of the yellow cabs – and their owners had the upper hand. So, New York City was probably the only large city in the world without a decent public link to its airports.

Mayor Bloomberg already started to undo the Manhattan Transit buses under the guise of improving it. The case in point is the line M15 and the introduction of the SELECT transportation to replace the EXPRESS bus stops. With three Select runs for each regular run, and the elimination of some connections to the crosstown lines – like at East 72nd street – the riders started switching to yellow cabs right back six-seven years ago. This was a boon to the yellow cabs that started suffering from the competition from the Green cabs that came into existence when sectors of the public were pointing fingers at the “Yellows” refusing to go to outer boroughs under the guise (clearly against the law) that it was dangerous.

Under De Blasio things got worse. So often you see buses skipping a scheduled departure and taking off instead with a “NOT IN SERVICE” sign going from end-to-end without passengers and leaving those in need of that transportation to turn to cabs.

So, this mayor increased the spewing of fumes and greenhouse gasses by having useless bus trips and unneeded single passenger cab runs – something only the cab owners could love.

I write this today after having observed at Third Avenue and East 45th Street how the M101 Express passed by without stopping and out of the two lines M102 and M103 both scheduled to stop there at 4:29 PM (? in itself questionable) only the M103 stopped, while the other bus passed empty – NOT IN SERVICE.

Further – the public likes the recent introduction of the new UBER service but the mayor entered in a fight to disallow this service. I never understood his position beyond – again – it would hurt existing yellow cab owners. Is he indeed wedded to them?

The recent pols show the Mayor may have a hard time getting reelected. We hope some truly progressive Democrat steps forward to challenge him.

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THE UPDATE of August 20, 2015 to our original article of August 8, 2015:


Mr. De Blasio seems to have found a new outlet for his energies – the nearly naked women-beggars of Times Square. But the “Job 1″ of his, according to the Wednesday August 19, 2015 editorial of amNewYork, is “MAKE THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME.” That is the subject we hammered on in our original paper as well.

Thinking of the mayhem that lies ahead of us in New York during the second half of this September month – this because New York is in effect the Capital of the World and most Heads of State will be flocking here – De Blasio simply does not feel like up to this situation. Sorry we must keep hammering on this.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night – August 18, 2015 – in New York City – we went to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center to listen to a performance of perfection – Joshua Bell playing Bach – the Chaconne dating from 1720 and the Violin concerto in E major dating to “before 1730.”

I thought this became a subject for our website because of an article by Lars Gustafsson that was part of the printed program brochure that was handed out to us. The title “THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH” – the fact that we might think that it might seem there was no great music before Bach – BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEN SOMETHING THERE BEFORE 1720.

Then I thought = wait the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines – only in 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.

So we can say that the development of the steam engine, that brought about the industrial revolution, went on in parallel with the development of music that started with Bach and if we may say continued with Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Could we say that some form of life did exist before we started to use coal en-masse and invented concepts of economic growth and development? What was the life we replaced? What was the cultural expressions we lost when accepting the progress in music?
The Gustafsson article stimulates our thoughts.

Gustafsson – since the late 1950s has produced poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He gained international recognition as a Swedish writer with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson’s The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.

Gustafsson said once “I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn’t in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp.”

In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament

Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor partita,
but what kind of a world?

A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-Tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.

Isolated churches
where the soprano line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s stillness before Bach.

published in New Directions Paperback NDP656, “The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems” by Lars Gustafsson.

Yes – there was a harmonious world even without the sound of Bach – that is what I took from the above poem.
Surely, I did not transform this into a feeling that this was a better world – simply I picked up that it was still a livable world that could exist with simpler pleasures.

Nevertheless we are thankful to Bach for having shown us the way to perhaps a higher level of civilized pleasures. How does this translate to the Steam-engine thought that we understand today as a step backwards – because of the dependence on fossil fuels?

But this would be a wrong conclusion – it would be more correct to see that we can get all those benefits from higher technologies like we get from Bach’s music, if we only opt to use Renewable Energy and even higher tech methods that allow us similar results without that pesky dependence on oil and coal. Gustafsson was right in in opting for the Pirates in his search for true enlightenment in a corrupt world.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following is very important information that makes for interesting days in New York the end of this September.

But let us mention here also other events in New York those days – events that will turn New York City into the impossible city.

Pope Francis will be here the same days as SE4All – September 24-28 and let us say in common language – the Pope will steal the show.

Also, that Saturday there will be a “humongous” musical festival on the Great Lawn in Central Park, and starting Monday the 28th the UN General Assembly will be opened with President Obama and most major World Leaders present. They will arrive that Weekend – so traffic jams, closed roads, and closed doors – will be everywhere. Many NGOs and Press to the UN will just not be able to get in – passes will be revoked. So, please temper expectations with above in mind – and realize that many experienced people will skip town.

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From SE4All:

The Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy has been set; now it’s time to show how to achieve it by 2030.

A series of high-level Sustainable Energy for All events around the United Nations Summit will discuss how to finance, implement and track progress on SDG7.

Leaders of governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations are invited to join the thousands of SE4All partners who are already geared up to make sure the Energy SDG succeeds in the crucial years to come.

1. Financing and Tracking Progress of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time, Venue (TBC)

2. Role of Partnerships in Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
(co-hosted by the Government of Denmark with SE4All)

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 08:00-09:30

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

3. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy by 2030: Implementation of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11.00-13.00

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

———————————————————————-

More information on these events – SEEMINGLY NIT AVAILABLE NOW – and any other engagements related to Sustainable Energy for All – will be available shortly on www.se4all.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BBC – Science & Environment

Islamic call on rich countries to end fossil fuel use.

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

But critics have argued that the Declaration is not truly representative of Islam with some of the biggest Islamic nations not taking an active part in supporting the call.

“Are all Islamic countries represented? I’d say no to that – that’s the honest answer,” said Fazlun Khalid. “There is a huge amount of lethargy – we are not set up like other churches, there is no Islamic pope!

“The Declaration is like a trigger – to say, wake up wherever you are, wake up and take care of the Earth.”

The Declaration comes in the wake of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and climate change, which was seen as a significant call for Catholics to engage on the issue of global warming.

Catholic leaders have praised the Islamic Declaration as a positive step.

“It is with great joy and in a spirit of solidarity that I express to you the promise of the Catholic Church to pray for the success of your initiative and her desire to work with you in the future to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped the Pope draft his encyclical.

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The Islamic Climate Declaration says that the world’s 1.6bn Muslims have a religious duty to fight climate change.

It urges politicians to agree a new treaty to limit global warming to 2C, “or preferably 1.5 degrees.”

The Declaration asks Muslims, in the words of the Koran, “not to strut arrogantly on the Earth”.

The Declaration is like a trigger – to say, wake up wherever you are, wake up and take care of the Earth
Fazlun Khalid, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science

Drafted at an international symposium in Istanbul, the Declaration calls for “all people, leaders and businesses …to commit to 100% renewable energy”.

It also argues for increased financial support for communities vulnerable to climate change.

The main focus though is on “well-off nations and oil-producing states,” who are urged to lead the way in phasing out greenhouse gases, no later than the middle of this century.

The Declaration calls on the rich countries, to recognise their “moral obligation to reduce consumption so that the poor may benefit from what is left of the Earth’s non-renewable resources”.

“People need to be told and politicians need to stop misleading their people, in telling them they can go on increasing their standards of living for ever and ever and ever,” Fazlun Khalid, a long time Islamic environmentalist involved in drawing up the Declaration, told BBC News.

“Someone should be articulating this because it’s an impossibility, they can’t do it – And this applies not just to Muslim countries.”

The call has been supported by religious leaders including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon, the president of Indonesia’s major body of religious scholars as well as environmental groups and government officials from Morocco and Turkey.

But critics have argued that the Declaration is not truly representative of Islam with some of the biggest Islamic nations not taking an active part in supporting the call.

“Are all Islamic countries represented? I’d say no to that – that’s the honest answer,” said Fazlun Khalid. “There is a huge amount of lethargy – we are not set up like other churches, there is no Islamic pope!

“The Declaration is like a trigger – to say, wake up wherever you are, wake up and take care of the Earth.”

The Declaration comes in the wake of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and climate change, which was seen as a significant call for Catholics to engage on the issue of global warming.

Catholic leaders have praised the Islamic Declaration as a positive step.

“It is with great joy and in a spirit of solidarity that I express to you the promise of the Catholic Church to pray for the success of your initiative and her desire to work with you in the future to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped the Pope draft his encyclical.

The authors of the Declaration say that it will be available in mosques and madrassas around the world.

They hope that it will influence political leaders in Muslim countries to become more fully involved in global attempts to deliver a new treaty on climate change, expected to be signed in Paris in December.

While around 50 countries have so far posted their plans for curbing climate change ahead of the meeting in Paris, very few Muslim countries have been among them.

I asked Fazlun Khalid if religious divisions between Muslims were a bigger issue at present than climate change.

“In spite of their differences we want Muslims to wake up and think and realise that this is a problem that affects every inch of this planet, in spite of their differences, under their feet something is happening, a deep plate shift in the Earth’s crust,” he said.

“In spite of our differences we have to take this on, as the major issue affecting the whole of the human world.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Why Republicans Vote for Bernie?
Monday, 17 August 2015 00:00 By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program
| Op-Ed

Ann Coulter knows who she wants to be the Democratic nominee for president, and who that person is, well, it may surprise you.

She wants Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, and thinks that if Bernie gets the nod, he’ll beat whoever the Republicans come up with to run against him.

You won’t hear me say this often, but Ann Coulter is right.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that’s because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

I’ve seen how Bernie does this, up close and personal.

Despite its reputation as a place filled with liberal hippies, Vermont, like most of rural northern New England, is home to a lot of conservatives.

Anyone running for statewide office there needs to win these conservatives’ votes, and Bernie is great at doing that.

Back in 2000 when Louise and I were living in Vermont, it wasn’t all that uncommon to see his signs on the same lawn as signs that said “W for President.”

Seriously, I’m not kidding.

And as NPR’s “Morning Edition” found out last year, some of Bernie’s biggest fans are in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the poorest and most conservative part of the state.

It’s people from the Northeast Kingdom who’ve overwhelmingly elected Bernie to almost 20 years in Congress and two straight terms as senator, and it’s people like them in the rest of the country who will probably send Bernie to the White House if he gets the Democratic nomination for president.

So why is that?

Why is Bernie Sanders, a socialist, so popular with people who should hate “socialism?”

The answer is pretty simple.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they’re actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, health care and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that “protects workers, the environment and jobs.”

Seventy-one percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

Seventy-one percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges, and putting people back to work.

Seventy percent support expanding Social Security.

Fifty-nine percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

Fifty-eight percent support breaking up the big banks.

Fifty-five percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

Fifty-one percent support single payer health care, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here’s the thing – supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren’t “progressive” policies, they’re just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father’s Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

She knows that he speaks to the populist, small “d” democratic values that everyday Americans care about, regardless of their political affiliation.

That’s the really radical part of Bernie’s 2016 campaign, and what’s what maybe, just maybe, might make him the 45th President of the United States.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

>More than any other Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump has won his party’s trust on top issues and now stands as the clear leader in the race for the Republican nomination. A new CNN/ORC poll finds Trump with the support of 24% of Republican registered voters. His nearest competitor, Jeb Bush, stands 11 points behind at 13%. Just behind Bush, Ben Carson has 9%, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker 8%, Rand Paul 6%, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich all land at 5%, with Mike Huckabee rounding out the top 10 at 4%.

Trump is the biggest gainer in the poll, up 6 points since July according to the first nationwide CNN/ORC poll since the top candidates debated in Cleveland on August 6. Carson gained 5 points and Fiorina 4 points. Trump has also boosted his favorability numbers among Republicans: 58% have a favorable view of Trump now; that figure stood at 50% in the July survey.

Our evaluation of the above is as follows:

The old coalition of the Republican party includes – The anti-Castro Latins (Rubio at 8%, the anti-foreigners (Walker at 8%),
the Libertarians (Paul at 6%), the Tea-Party (Cruz at 4%), and the pro-oil and other major industrial lobbies (Bush at 13%), and your friendly conservative neighbor Huckabee at 4% – all these totaling 48%.

BUT THE NEWS ARE THAT a total of 42% are looking for a new face and show that they reject the old establishment.

The new Presidential contenders – who do not have a party base – are: Trump at 24%, Carson at 9%, Fiorina at 4% and Governor Kasich at 4%.

WILL THE OLD COALITION REESTABLISH ITSELF AND LOSE, OR WILL THE PARTY ACCEPT A NEW FACE AND GIVE IT A CHANCE TO WIN?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Year Ago – September 5, 2014 – Just before the 2014 UN General Assembly – Assaad W. Razzouk wrote in the ECOLOGIST: “We Can Win On Climate Change – But Without the UN.”

After the UNGA and immediately after COP20 of the UNFCCC – he wrote:
“The UN climate talks just failed – now for the real battle.”

Assaad W. Razzouk, 15th December 2014 – in THE ECOLOGIST “COP20 has just laid the foundations for a non-agreement in Paris in 2015, writes Assaad Razzouk – thanks to the pernicious influence of fossil fuels, poisoning debate and subverting serious climate action. Now there’s only one earthly power big enough to fight back.”

In fact, possibly worse than nothing happened. Instead of being on track to sign, in December 2015 in Paris, a binding agreement to cut harmful emissions backed by all nations, we are forcefully sliding towards an agreement for each nation to do what it wants, including nothing.

There is a new acronym at the UN jargon university for this: ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, or INDCs. It’s a code-word for everyone to do what they please, in two steps.

First, key governments worldwide will maybe (or maybe not) outline, by March 2015, what actions (i.e., INDCs) they intend to take under a global agreement.
Second, the INDCs are intended to be added up into an agreement in Paris and compared against what we need to do to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees, the accepted climate change speed limit.

But because these INDCs amount to nothing, we already know that any agreement in Paris will also amount to nothing. INDCs won’t have binding (legal) consequences, aren’t subject to review and don’t come with transparent, strong monitoring obligations.

Two consequences are clear, as they have been for some time.

First, emissions will continue to rise as the rot from a failed UN process spreads to every corner of the world.
Second, as I argued previously, instead of wasting resources on a failed UN process, we should target the 90 companies which are responsible for two-thirds of the harmful emissions generated since the industrial age began. Eighty percent of their reserves need to be locked away underground to avoid a catastrophe.

This tiny number of large companies, lobbying to prevent action on climate change, are at the heart of our current carbon-intensive model. They know that their business model is not under threat from the UN climate talks.
 www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_co…

Now we are facing the UNGA of 2015 and looking forward to COP21 in Paris and expecting the INDCs (‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’) as the outcome – and the ECOLOGIST just released another article from the Singapore based Sindicatum Company: “Why INDCs Can Be A Firm Foundation To A Climate Deal” by Gareth Brydon Phillips.
August 18, 2015.
 www.sindicatum.com/why-indcs-can-…

Is this simply because of the necessity to live with what we can get?
Obviously, we think beyond that. Our www.SustaiabiliTank.info wrote many times that it expects nothing beyond publicity from what goes on at the UN. It is not just those international oil companies Sindicatum is targeting – but also the oil exporting countries that infiltrated the UN at all levels that will do everything they can do in order to derail the oil consumers from organizing themselves as a consortium as well. The interest of the consumers started from defending themselves from the exploitation of a few royal houses gesticulating as if they had Nations behind them, and then the issues of environment and climate change came about and clearly justified our need to decrease not just the dependence on oil – but the actual use of fossil carbon fuels – this in order to decrease emissions of greenhouse gasses including CO2.

In this respect the codex of INDCs is the best one can expect from the UN, and if we do it right it can lead us to the golden land of reliance on renewable energy to replace the reliance on fossil fuels. The countries that commercialize the RE&EN (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency) technologies can rule the global economy – and – yes – DECENTRALIZATION and energy supplied locally were it is needed – can become the guideline.

We use this present posting not just as a favor to Sindicatum and the ECOLOGIST, but in effect as a start of our campaign to further the goals of Paris 2015 as we are optimists – in spite of the UN bureaucracy that was loaded by the oil counties – and oil interests – and believe the future is ours and not theirs. In this vein we also posted the call to arms of 350.org

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We proceed now to re-post the September 2014 article in the ECOLOGIST:


We can win on climate change – but without the UN

Assaad W. Razzouk, September 5, 2014 in the Ecologist:
 www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_co…

Prospects for a global climate deal under the UN are receding fast, writes Assaad Razzouk, as the Green Climate Fund is short-changed by donor nations. But there’s still plenty to hope for with a private sector that’s stepping up to the mark, and fast-growing decentralised climate action.

There is no longer any viable solution likely to emerge from the UN climate talks. But there is still much to hope for in a world of decentralised climate action.

The climate community has been in a beehive of activity all summer as government officials, corporate leaders and climate activists prepare to congregate in New York City on 23rd September for a UN ‘Climate Summit’ convened by Secretary General Ban ki-Moon.

But recent moves by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have decisively undermined the entire edifice of UN climate talks – likely for the better given the appalling track record of climate action of the UN.

Since their inception in 1980, UN climate talks have been built on the premise that the developed world, responsible for most of the pollution since industrialization, will fund a global clean-up of the planet, partly directly and partly via institutions where they control the Board, such as the World Bank Group.

After all that’s what rich developed countries, periodically feeling guilty, have promised at repeated climate talk venues.

The promised money never arrived

Over the past five years, the Green Climate Fund (or GCF) has been presented as the key vehicle via which $100 billion of funding per year will be diverted from rich to developing countries to help the latter mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change.

However, negotiations for a comprehensive climate deal have led nowhere as guilt is invariably replaced by political and financial reality, especially after the 2008 financial crisis.

For some 25 years now, dozens of poor developing countries have been sitting and waiting for the promised cash – but it hasn’t come.

In the meantime, advanced developed economies like the BRICS countries have become cash rich and grown increasingly tired of the control exercised by developed countries on almost all multi-lateral and bi-lateral financial institutions – including the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and a multitude of Western bilateral development banks.

Some, like China, have grudgingly recognized that climate action promotes prosperity and stability: In part, because of a rapidly developing popular environmental consciousness in response to abject air and water pollution and chemical contamination; and also because China feels that clean green technology is an area where it can exercise strategic leadership in Asia and beyond.

BRICS mobilise a potential $300bn for climate action

As a result of the above factors, on 15 July, the BRICS countries launched, with an acute emphasis on sustainable development, the ‘New Development Bank’ or NDB with capital of US$100 billion.

They did not stop there and also announced the signing of a Treaty for the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of $100 billion. So that’s $200 billion committed by five countries, in part, to mobilise resources for sustainable development in emerging economies.

Furthermore, China’s diplomatic corps has been doing the rounds in Asia in July and August, successfully mobilising support for another brand new $100 billion international institution, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Together, the NDB, the CRA and the AIIB have mobilised $300 billion of cash completely outside the current UN climate construct. This substantial funding creates the potential of a new era for climate action.

Now that China and India have put their hand in their pockets to fund their own – alternative – institutions, expect lots of recriminations and blame-shifting at forthcoming UN climate talks.

But don’t expect decisive, or even constructive, outcomes: A comprehensive climate change deal is not going to happen, because the industrialised countries won’t come up with the money to fund it.


The ‘Green Climate Fund’ will never be properly capitalised

It was already clear at the UN climate talks that rich countries won’t sign up to a deal unless substantial capital – and commitments – come also from China, India, oil-rich countries and other advanced developing countries. These calculations have now been overtaken by facts on the ground.

The Green Climate Fund won’t be properly capitalised because the BRICS have now given up their attempts to take a leading role in the governance of the GCF and are writing $300 billion worth of cheques to alternative institutions.

By implication, they dismantled a key foundation of the UN climate talks. There is no way the US and the EU will write massive cheques for the GCF without some matching funding from the probable recipients of most of those funds, India and China.

Where does all this leave climate action? We must plan on the basis that UN climate talks won’t get us anywhere and that we have entered a new era of decentralised climate action.

Climate failure is built into the World Bank’s DNA

Clustered around the US and Europe, the World Bank Group, the IMF, regional multilaterals such as the Asian Development Bank and a mini-size Green Climate Fund will continue to be broadly ineffective in fighting climate change, a mission not embedded in their DNA.

For example, the World Bank still can’t get the funding of coal-fired power plants out of its system and the IMF is blithely fighting fuel subsidies by driving countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt to build more coal-fired power plants which the world’s health can’t afford.

Clustered around China, new BRICS institutions will focus on infrastructure and sustainable development with a core focus on energy (50% of infrastructure spending). Energy won’t spread to the 700 million Indians with little or no access to electricity unless it’s distributed clean energy.

A solar revolution is under way in India, China, parts of South East Asia and in Africa. Expect China-backed institutions to have no choice (in no small part because of domestic pressure from their own citizens) but to back clean energy with significant dollars.

Setting carbon prices to spur private sector action

Stuck between these two clusters is the all-important but often neglected private sector – currently responsible for 62% of climate finance flows, 70% of global GDP and 70% of employment.

Private sector action remains, by far, our best hope – but to release its potential it needs an effective carbon price to allocate scarce resources away from the fossil fuel economy, and stimulate decisive global climate action.

Companies that want to get on with the job should campaign vigorously for a carbon price, or carbon prices, to support them. But the good news is, that carbon prices are already emerging across much of the world thanks to national and regional carbon markets and carbon taxes.

Domestic carbon markets are spreading, and are likely by 2015 to cover some 4 billion people: In addition to existing markets for emissions in Europe, national and regional carbon markets are springing up in Latin America (Chile, Mexico, large economic regions in Brazil); Asia (Kazakhstan, South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand); and North America (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, California and the Northeast US).

Carbon taxes are also spreading and are in place now in Europe (Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland), Asia (India, Japan and New Zealand) and Latin America (Costa Rica and Rio de Janeiro). China will have a national carbon tax in place after 2015 as well as a carbon market from 2016.


There is hope – just not from the UN climate process

But as the European emissions trading system (EU-ETS) has spectacularly shown, a price on carbon is not always effective – and indeed can be destructive and line the pockets of polluters with billions in windfall profits, at the expense of the public.

To avoid this regulators avoid repeating the mistakes of the EU-ETS – including over-allocation of permits and large-scale ‘grandfathering’ to existing polluters – and muster the courage to swat down fossil fuel lobbies to deliver a strong and rising price on pollution.

There is no longer any viable solution likely to emerge from the UN climate talks. But there is still much to hope for in a world of decentralised climate action.

The new BRICS mechanisms will, with their $300 billion in hand, have an important role to play in stimulating and supporting moves to a renewable energy future.

But the main contribution will come from the private sector which alone can deliver the technologies, innovation and investment needed to sustain a stable, equable global climate.

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Assaad Razzouk is the CEO and co-founder of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, a world leading clean energy company based in Singapore.

He is a leading expert in global carbon markets and the policy structures that underpin them, such as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Assaad is passionate about creating an efficient framework for global sustainable investment and global multilateral approaches to mitigating the effect of climate change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over.

From: May Boeve - 350.org

Monday, August 17, 2015

Friends,

2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, and this December hundreds of world governments will meet in Paris to try to strike a global climate agreement. It will be the biggest gathering of its kind since 2009, and it’s potentially a big deal for our global movement.

In Paris our governments are supposed to agree on a shared target for climate action, based on the national plans governments have been putting together all year — but the numbers just aren’t adding up. Everything being discussed will allow too many communities that have polluted the least to be devastated by floods, rising sea levels and other disasters.


This has the makings of a global failure of ambition — at a moment when renewable energy is becoming a revolutionary economic force that could power a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Join us in telling world leaders to keep fossil fuels underground and finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Our movement has grown tremendously — and it shows every time a new leader stands up to declare we must keep fossil fuels under ground, or a university, church or pension fund divests from fossil fuels. The problem is the power of the fossil fuel industry.

The Paris negotiations could potentially send a signal that world governments are serious about keeping fossil fuels in the ground. If they fail, it will embolden the fossil fuel industry and expose more communities to toxic extraction and climate disasters.

The solutions are obvious: we need to stop digging up and burning fossil fuels, start building renewable energy everywhere we can, and make sure communities on the front lines of climate change have the resources they need to respond to the crisis.

This could be a turning point — if we push for it. Join our global call for action to world governments, telling them to commit to keeping at least 80% of fossil fuels underground, and financing a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over. No matter what happens in the negotiating halls, we must build power to hold them accountable to the principles of justice and science.

After many months of consultation with our global network, here is the plan for what I call “The Road Through Paris”: the plan to grow our movement and hold world leaders accountable to the action we need.

First, in September we will launch a global framework to grow the movement before and after the Paris talks. On September 10th, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and others will be joined by global movement leaders in New York City to lay out our vision for the road ahead. Then on September 26th communities across the globe will hold workshops to plan for the coming months of action. After that, I think we’ll see several months of escalating activity as communities drive the message home that we can’t wait for action.

The talks in Paris start on November 30th, and run for 2 weeks. But before the talks start, the world will stand together in a weekend of global action, paired with an enormous march in the streets of Paris. During the talks, 350′s team on the ground will do their best to help keep you in the loop on the most important developments. And when the talks wrap up, we’re planning a big action in Paris on December 12th to make sure the people — not the politicians — have the last word.

But most importantly, we won’t stop there. I want you to mark your calendars for the month of April in 2016. That’s when we will mobilize in a global wave of action unlike any we’ve seen before. Not one big march in one city, not a scattering of local actions — but rather a wave of historic national and continent-wide mobilizations targeting the fossil fuel projects that must be kept in the ground, and backing the energy solutions that will take their place.

In the 6 years 350.org has been around, this is the most ambitious plan we’ve ever proposed. But ambition is what is called for, along with courage, faith in each other and the readiness to respond when disaster strikes, plans change, or politicians fail to lead.

We are nearer than ever to the changes we’ve been fighting to see. I hope to stand with you in the coming months to see them through.

May Boeve
Executive Director

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