Canada is the only country of the western hemisphere to have undertaken
obligations to reduce CO2 emissions under the Kyoto Protocol to the UN
Convention on Climate Change. The only other fully industrialized
the western hemisphere - the United States - has refused to do so.
destined to become the link in the effort to bridge between the United
the rest of the world. Canada has thus volunteered to host in November
in Motreal, the meetings of COP 11 of the UNFCCC. Prime Minister Paul
Martin, together with Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK, are
expected to be
active in 2005 on Sustainable Development and Climate Change.
The Canadian Environment Minister and the Prime Minister tried their best, but the Montreal meeting did not turn out the expected sucess.
From now on Canadian Provinces will go their own way in various links to States to their South, parts of the US. This may be an outcome
favored by the US.
In 2010 Canada and South Korea seem to work with the US in order to involve the so-called G20 as a parallel platform to the UNFCCC in finding new ways to deal with climate change problems.
10th – 11th August 2017: North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management, Montreal, Canada
Climate change is known to impact coastal areas in a variety of ways. According to the 5th Assessment Report produced by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), coastal zones are highly vulnerable to climate change and climate-driven impacts may be further exacerbated by other human-induced pressures.
In North America, multiple pressures – including urbanization and coastal development, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks and natural hazards- affect the coastal ecosystems, hence exacerbating the impacts of climate change in coastal zones. In particular, sea level rise changes the shape of coastlines, contributes to coastal erosion and leads to flooding and salt-water intrusion in aquifers.
Climate change is also associated with other negative impacts to the natural environment and biodiversity, which include damages to important wetlands, and to the habitats that safeguard the overall ecological balance, and consequently the provision of ecosystem services and goods on which the livelihoods of millions of people depend. These impacts are particularly acute in North America, which endeavors to become more resilient to damages caused by hurricanes, floods and other extreme events.
The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change affects coastal areas and communities in North America, and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help the communities in coastal zones to adapt and become more resilient. There is also a perceived need to showcase successful examples of how to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by climate change in coastal regions in North America.
It is against this background that the North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management is being organized by the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) and the Université du Québec à Montréal. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities in North America.
The North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management will focus on “ensuring the resilience of coastal zones” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation in coastal zones and communities, which may be useful or implemented elsewhere.
Fareed’s Take: He tackled the 54 billions Trump wants to spend on additional Military. He quoted General Petraeus who told him a few years ago that during the Gulf war he wished he had more Foreign Office people to advise him.
Why? Soldiers do not understand the problems of the Middle East, the difference between the Shiites and Sunis, the history, the culture, and a brave officer who knows how to fight is not enough to win a war.
The Military budget of the US is already huge. It is 9 times the size of the Russian Military budget and 3 times them size of China’s,
Then he interviewed two National Security Advisors. Tom Donillon who was under President Obama and denied the allegation of wiretapping. He also said that Trump has no idea how the system works. The President cannot order wiretapping without a court order. Presidents cannot just order wiretapping..As for Jeff Sessions he was right to recuse himself and should not resign. We have to wait for his new explanation which will come this week.
Stephen Hadley who was National Security Advisor under George W. Bush agreed with Donillon on the wiretapping..Presidents cannot just do it.. If the Obama Administration was really worried about ties to Russia they may have had a reason to do it, but until now there is no proof that it happened. He also said what the panel today said that Trump likes to distract. Whenever something does not go his way and he gets criticized, he tweets something outrageous and diverts from the issue. This now seems to be a general idea floating around.
As for Sessions – he did the right thing and should not resign until he clarifies his position in the coming days. Then we’ll see.
They both agree that: North Korea is the biggest crisis Trump will face now. President Clinton faced the Oklahoma bombing, President Bush 9/11, President Obama the financial crisis and Trump will face North Korea. However if he does not appear to be reliable and trustworthy there will be trouble.
On the idea that Trump’s immigration policy will be good for the economy, Fareed disputes it vehemently. The costs of more agents, building that wall and not having immigrants for menial work will cost more than it will save.
Then he talked about Canada which has now surpassed the USA and a Land of opportunities. In every poll Canada ranks before the US in welfare, economy, freedom, healthcare.
Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2017 – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run
The 4th Humanitarian Congress – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run – takes place on
3 March 2017 in the ceremonial halls of the University of Vienna.
Please note that registration is open until 28 February 2017.
The Humanitarian Congress gives you the chance to benefit from the unique insights of the experts as for example Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR or Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations discussing the following themes:
(Failed) Policy making with Global Consequences
Why are People Forced to Flee?
Refugee Health – Time for Change
The Erosion of International Law – Who Cares?
Civil Society and Refugees: Lessons Learned
Leaving No One Behind – A Mission Impossible?
For more information please visit www.humanitariancongress.at and the attached Newsletter.
We look forward to welcoming you on 3 March 2017.
With kind regards,
Mag.a Annelies Vilim
GLOBALE VERANTWORTUNG –
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklung und Humanitäre Hilfe
North American Energy Infrastructure: An Opportunity
From the CENTER FOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS, the NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL of PROFESSIONAL STUDIES:
Co-sponsored by the Consulates-General of Canada and of Mexico in New York City
Monday, February 13, 6.30 – 7.45 pm
How to create a more economically vibrant and connected North America and support energy production? The answer may be infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure developed during the twentieth century is in need of renewal and is not adequate to support the energy revolution and transformation that has taken place across the continent over the last decade. The extraordinary increase in energy production demands a new vision for North American energy infrastructure.
U.S. President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, and Mexican President Pena Nieto have all committed to significant infrastructure spending. Will these plans lead to greater cooperation, interconnection, and integration of the American, Canadian, and Mexican economies? This panel will examine the opportunities and challenges facing the continent, including the role of governments and the private sector to develop and promote greater infrastructural development through pipelines, energy grids, and transmission lines.
Graham Campbell, President, Energy Council of Canada
Pedro Haas, Director of Advisory Services, Hartree Partners LLC
Rachel Ziemba, Managing Director of Research, 4CAST-RGE
Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada.
Canada will impose a carbon price on provinces that do not adequately regulate emissions by themselves, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said on Sunday without giving details on how the Liberal government will do so.
Speaking on the CTV broadcaster’s “Question Period,” a national politics talk show, McKenna said the new emissions regime will be in place sometime in October, before a federal-provincial meeting on the matter.
She only said the government will have a “backstop” for provinces that do not comply, but did not address questions on penalties for defiance.
Canada’s 10 provinces, which enjoy significant jurisdiction over the environment, have been wary of Ottawa’s intentions and have said they should be allowed to cut carbon emissions their own way.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau persuaded the provinces in March to accept a compromise deal that acknowledged the concept of putting a price on carbon emissions, but agreed the specific details, which would take into account provinces’ individual circumstances, could be worked out later.
Canada’s four largest provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, currently have either a tax on carbon or a cap-and-trade emissions-limiting system.
But Brad Wall, the right-leaning premier of the western energy-producing province of Saskatchewan, has long been resistant to federal emissions-limiting plans.
McKenna said provinces such as Saskatchewan can design a system in which emissions revenues go back to companies through tax cuts, which would dampen the impact of the extra cost brought by the carbon price.
McKenna added the government requires some uniformity in emissions reductions, but provinces can have different regulation methods.
When contacted, McKenna’s ministry, Environment and Climate Change Canada, repeated the “backstop” that she mentioned, but did not provide more details.
On Sunday’s program, McKenna did not address questions on whether the government will update its emission targets, which were set by the former Conservative government
The previous government had pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, a target that official figures show is out of reach in the absence of radical measures.
McKenna had called the prices “a floor, not a ceiling,” but said on Sunday only that the government will meet the previous targets “at least.”
A ministry spokeswoman said that as far back as the last summer, the Liberal platform stated the party would move away from the setting of the arbitrary emissions targets she says has been done in the past.
We post above with recalcitrant US State Governments in mind. Can the Obama Administration’s EPA think of something similar?
Iceland has achieved the use of renewable energy for 100% in its electricity generation – this from geothermal and hydropower. Its needs for heating energy are answered from geothermal sources. So, it needs older fashion energy – diesel and gasoline mainly for transport and emergency generators.
Its main use of electricity is in the Reykjavik urban area in the south-east area and in the west – at the ALCOA aluminum smelters.
We heard clearly that energy should not be viewed as a goal for itself but only in context of energy use because we are indeed interested in the services made possible with energy. But then there is no way not to think of the Arctic as potential new supplier of oil and gas to the world and that was the gist of this pre-Arctic Circle Assembly meeting at the Reykjavik University.
The excellent range of speakers included Charlie Ebinger of Brookings on technology and geopolitics evaluation, William Moomaw of Tufts on the reality of Environment costs, and Christine Russell from Harvard on the impact media has on what these other speakers dealt with. This besides the Icelanders own contributions on the topic of electricity.
It was indeed all fine except that I missed the basic introduction that ought to have been that the main security comes from what I like to state – the NEGA-WATT or the energy that was saved – the energy efficiency that should be the first letter in energy studies rather then starting with the cost of energy and the impact of this cost on energy use. If you start with efficiency and try then to fill the remaining needs from renewable sources – then we have the chance to get energy security.
In our opinion it is this that can distance us from the perceived need to take actions driven by issues we call energy security.
In this respect it was enlightening how Ms. Russell said PERCEPTION IS REALITY and she remarked as well that we do not talk of energy security but stress in reality ENERGY INSECURITY… The way the media presents these topics leads then to very slanted actions and that is our real difficulty with the energy base that may lead to environmental disasters like the wastelands left behind in what used to be the Canadian tar sands industry.
Let us see how the subject of Energy Security will fare out in the main Arctic Circle Assembly meetings this week.
This in particular that pleas will be heard from he organizers of Paris2015 – Ms. Figueres and President Hollande.
By Eric Bradner, Dan Merica and Brianna Keilar, CNN
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
(CNN) Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she opposes the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, taking sides with progressives who are fighting the 1,179-mile project over environmental concerns.
The announcement, which comes after months of Clinton remaining mum over the hot-button 2016 issue, immediately drew praise from liberals and environmental groups but was criticized by Republican presidential candidates.
“I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change,” Clinton told a community forum in Des Moines, Iowa.
“And unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward with all the other issues,” she said. “Therefore I oppose it.”
The Democratic 2016 front-runner announced her opposition to the project — which is still the subject of a years-long State Department review — as Pope Francis landed in the United States, dominating national media attention.
Clinton had not previously disclosed her position on the campaign trail despite consistent questions about her position on the project, which is widely favored by conservatives but opposed by liberals who believe it will contribute to climate change. In explaining her answer Tuesday, Clinton said she didn’t want to interfere with a review process that started under her watch.
“I was in a unique position as secretary of state at the start of this process, and not wanting to interfere with ongoing decision-making that the President and Secretary (of State John) Kerry have to do in order to make whatever final decisions they need,” Clinton said. “So I thought this would be decided by now, and therefore I could tell you whether I agree or disagree, but it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and voters who ask me about this.”
Speaking to the Des Moines Register’s editorial board after the event, Clinton said she had “no idea” she would be asked about the pipeline Tuesday.
But, she said, “I think I owed it to people to say where I stood,” adding, “clearly, the time had come for me to answer the question.”
Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director, said in a statement to CNN that Clinton’s role as a former secretary of state put her “in a different situation than other candidates.”
“Having the experience of being a former secretary of state distinguishes her and her candidacy, but it comes with responsibilities that at times can limit her,” Palmieri said. “But we know that the experience is well worth whatever price she may pay politically.”
A Clinton campaign aide told CNN that the former secretary of state couldn’t wait any longer to explain her position.
“She’s been taking on water for (not taking a position) … She didn’t want to jam Secretary Kerry or jam the President but it was just time. It’s September,” the aide said.
The aide said as pressure had mounted for Clinton to take a position, she wanted to give the administration space but doing so became untenable. The aide noted Clinton’s meeting with the Des Moines Register, and the campaign was expecting the question to come up. She wanted to be able to answer, the aide said.
The White House was briefed on Clinton’s position prior to her comments Tuesday, another Clinton aide said.
“Also, in the course of discussing her plans for increasing investment in energy infrastructure with labor officials in recent weeks, she privately made her opposition to the pipeline known to them as well,” the aide added.
Clio Cullison, a student at Drake University who came to the event after a friend of hers at 350.org, an active climate change advocacy group that has regularly followed Clinton on the campaign trail, asked her to attend and ask Clinton about the pipeline.
“I was really nervous to ask,” Cullison told CNN. “I haven’t asked any political candidates a question ever, so that was really exciting.”
The student added that she “was afraid of her answer, to be honest. I didn’t know where she was going to stand. I didn’t know if she was going to answer at all. I am really glad she did answer, one, and two, did oppose the Keystone pipeline.”
Clinton has repeatedly been asked about Keystone on the campaign trail but has never answered directly.
“I am not going to second guess (President Barack Obama) because I was in a position to set this in motion,” Clinton said at a July event in New Hampshire. “I want to wait and see what he and Secretary Kerry decide.”
At the same event, she later added, “If it is undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”
And throughout much of 2013 and 2014, Clinton criss-crossed the country on the paid speaking circuit and later on her book tour. She was asked about Keystone a number of times, particularly in Canada, where the pipeline would originate. At no point did she take a position, however.
Clinton’s announcement on Tuesday was met with praise from environmental groups.
Jane Kleeb, director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, said the decision “was a long time coming,” and demonstrates that Democratic candidates need to pay closer attention to the progressive base.
“Political insiders continue to not give credit to the climate movement and not give credit to farmers and ranchers who are opposed to these risky fossil fuel projects,” Kleeb told CNN. “This is a big part of her progressive base — people who are not just against Keystone but want to see action on climate change.”
And Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, said Clinton has slowly been moving in this direction since 2010, when she said she was “inclined” to approve the project. “It’s been a good evolution, always in the right direction,” he said.
“Over time, she has come to understand that a defining issue of the next election is climate change and there’s no way to address it seriously without this being answered,” McKibben said, calling it a “boondoggle” that he expects Obama to reject as well.
Clinton’s Democratic presidential opponents have opposed the deal. On Tuesday, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, lambasted her for the delay in taking a position.
“On issue after issue — marriage equality, drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, children fleeing violence in Central America, the Syrian refugee crisis, and now the Keystone Pipeline, Secretary Clinton has followed — not forged — public opinion,” O’Malley said in a statement.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was “glad” Clinton came out against the pipeline.
“As a senator who has vigorously opposed the Keystone pipeline from the beginning, I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline,” Sanders said. “Clearly it would be absurd to encourage the extraction and transportation of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet.”
But Republican presidential hopefuls quickly bashed Clinton over the announcement. Jeb Bush slammed Clinton for favoring “environmental extremists” in making her decision.
“.@HillaryClinton finally says what we already knew. She favors environmental extremists over U.S. jobs. #KeystoneXL,” he tweeted.
Bobby Jindal noted that Clinton’s announcement came at the same time Pope Francis arrived in the U.S.
“Hoping that Americans would be distracted by the Pope’s visit, Hillary finally admitted she opposes #KeystoneXL,” Jindal tweeted, linking to a petition on his campaign website to urge construction of the pipeline.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham fired off a series of tweets, saying the pipeline would help the economy and boost national security by reducing dependence on foreign oli.
“In opposing Keystone pipeline, Hillary Clinton once again shows that she intends to continue the failed polices of the Obama Administration,” he said.
CNN’s Dan Berman and Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.
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 !!!
Phasing out fossil fuel would show true EU leadership
Front page photo – “Coal plant: Countries like Poland fear additional regulations.”
By Charlotte Flechet
Quebec, 1 August 10, 2015
For about 20 years, the EU has been a constructive leader in climate negotiations: benefitting from a growing economy, and support from public opinion. However, in the last few years, the EU’s leadership has been declining due to a series of internal and external factors.
On the one hand, the Union’s eastern enlargement has increased internal divisions among member states. Countries like Poland, which heavily rely on coal for their energy supply, fear additional regulations, and traditional leaders, such as Germany, are taking a step back in the context of an ongoing economic crisis.
On the other hand, China and the US have become more proactive in negotiations and are also in the lead for wind energy production and investments in renewable energy.
The EU has largely lost its ability to lead by example. The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies agreed last October, was criticised by NGOs for its lack of ambition.
Although the 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 was generally welcomed, the non-binding targets for energy efficiency and the shy 7 percent increase in share of renewables over 10 years was considered too weak.
Simultaneously, concerns about the influence of fossil fuel and other industrial lobbies on EU decision-making processes raise questions about the EU’s willingness to lead.
Among the latest victims are the Fuel Quality Directive whose ambitions were reduced in the context of the ‘CETA/TTIP’ negotiations with North American countries, and the 2030 European renewable energy targets that were weakened following intensive lobbying by oil and gas giant, Shell.
Calendar records show that some European Commissioners have dedicated a considerable amount of their time to business lobbyists.
Around 83 percent of the meetings of climate commissioner Miguel Canete, and 70 Canete of Maros Sefcovic’s, commission vice-president for the Energy Union, were with businesses, mostly representing heavy industry and fossil fuels.
Knowing that, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, the EU is collectively allowing $330 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels annually, one could question the EU’s ability to lead a climate transition.
If it wants to come out of the climate crisis with a prosperous, socially, and ecologically sound society, the EU must speed up the pace of its transition and review its priorities.
Defending fossil fuels is immoral and goes against the human rights so dear to Europeans’ hearts. The EU cannot be a genuine leader in climate negotiations while at the same time supporting destructive practices that will affect billions of lives.
This is why the EU needs a new climate narrative.
Europe could win big by reinvesting in its ability to lead by example. Given the austere economic context, it is unlikely that it will be able to lead by using carrots and sticks as it used to do in the past.
Instead, a less costly option would be to reaffirm its role as a normative power. Endorsing fossil fuel divestment and taking measures in that direction could help it achieve this objective.
The demands of the fossil fuel divestment movement are rooted in scientific evidence.
A recent article published in Nature, claims that 80 percent of coal, 50 percent of gas and one third of all oil reserves must remain in the ground if we are to stay within the 2°C maximum temperature rise.
Given the current rate of emissions, this “carbon budget” will be exhausted within 25 years.
Phasing out of fossil fuels is a necessity. By publicly endorsing fossil fuel divestment and reorienting its incentives and subsidies the EU could gain the trust of other nations, particularly the most vulnerable ones. This could ultimately contribute to the enhancement of the Union’s bargaining power in climate negotiations.
This is not just idealism.
In 2013, Connie Hedegaard, then EU climate commissioner, pleaded for the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to lead the way in eliminating public finance support for fossil fuels.
Numerous world leaders and organisations including the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, and French president Francois Hollande have publicly supported divestment.
There is also a strong economic rationale for this.
Fossil fuel companies are currently overrated as their value on financial markets does not appropriately account for the risks of their assets being stranded.
Future climate regulations are likely to impact on the financial value of these companies, which will in turn affect all those who have invested money in them.
A study by the European Green Party found that European pension funds, insurance companies and banks have invested more than €1 trillion in fossil fuels.
In a low carbon breakthrough scenario, these institutions are likely to lose between €350 billion and €400 billion.
A much higher figure is expected if action is further delayed. In June, Shell’s former chairman said that moving money away from fossil fuel companies is a rational response to slow progress on climate change.
Besides, low-carbon energy products are amongst the most dynamic growth sectors. Reorienting subsidies to support transition towards low carbon technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy is a reasonable option.
Leading by example has worked in the past.
ETS – Emissions Trading System:
The 2005 Emissions Trading System is probably one of the best examples of successful spill over. It has also been argued that the EU’s leading role in climate action was crucial in creating momentum for other countries to act elsewhere.
In the current context of austerity, with an almost unconditional focus on growth and competitiveness, the EU is missing a major opportunity.
The EU should phase out fossil energy. It is of course only part of a solution that requires much broader changes.
This might sound too idealistic, but aren’t youngsters allowed to dream?
Charlotte Flechet is an environment policies worker and an activist for the Global Call for Climate Action campaign
Outcomes of the Climate Summit of the Americas 2015
By Melissa Harris and Philip Gass of the IISD
From July 7th to 9th, the Government of Ontario, Canada, convened more than 300 leaders from government, businesses and civil society at the Climate Summit of the Americas. The idea for the event was borne out of a discussion at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York last September, among the leaders of Ontario, Quebec and California. They recognized the crucial role that subnational, or ‘infranational’ jurisdictions play in responding to climate change. The summit set out to foster and strengthen partnerships among jurisdictions for global climate action and build motivation and support for carbon pricing. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard delivered opening remarks, emphasizing that the solutions to climate change are already known, what is needed is the mobilization, motivation and political will to implement them. This message was echoed throughout the summit.
Carbon pricing is a must
The summit saw widespread support for the necessity of putting a price on carbon, and served as an opportunity to share lessons on the wide variety of approaches being undertaken at sub-national levels.
A morning session on July 7th chaired by the International Emissions Trading Association included speakers from TD Bank Group, ArcTern ventures, the law firm Latham & Watkins and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. With a general consensus that carbon pricing must be at the heart of a response to climate change, panelists discussed investment models, financing tools and ways in which funds raised by carbon pricing can further reinforce the transition to green economies. Reinvesting the funds raised by pricing back in transition to low-carbon economies was the preferred approach of the panelists, noting that this new revenue stream presents the greatest potential for investment in this area. An additional area of convergence was also the potential role of Green Bonds as a way to develop capital that can then leverage private financing for low-carbon development.
On an intergovernmental panel hosted by Bill Ritter, former Colorado Governor, Ministers from Ontario, BC, Quebec, Mexico and government officials from California and Brazil shared best practices and lessons learned from their climate policies. Panelists discussed coal phase-out, carbon tax, cap and trade, REDD+ and reducing short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). While each region has taken a different approach to policies and pricing, panelists expressed an interest in working together.
At a morning panel the second day on successful carbon pricing models, participants addressed the questions of why and how pricing has worked in their jurisdictions, and how they have faced challenges to ensure a lasting impact. Speakers from Vermont, Duke University, Great Plains Institute discussed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), allowances, carbon taxes, the experience of the Midwest Governors Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA) and the importance of decoupling economic growth from emissions. While they noted that the failure to pass national legislation in the U.S. in 2010 was a setback, the groundwork laid during that period in many states and regions has prepared those jurisdictions to better respond to new climate change approaches emerging from the EPA.
The cost of inaction
There was a reoccurring message from both government and businesses that action on climate change makes economic sense.
During a lunch keynote address, California Governor Jerry Brown explained how action on climate change is cheaper than inaction. He noted that we already have the tools, the question is whether or not we have the political motivation. A call to action for all levels of government, Governor Brown spoke to the need for federal support while recognizing that the most significant source of climate action will come from provinces and states.
On a similar note, Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and former President of Mexico discussed the false dilemma between economic growth and environmental improvement on day two of the summit. He provided an overview of the Commission’s new report which shows it is possible to have economic growth and a better climate at the same time. In 2014 for the first time in 40 years GDP grew by 3% while emissions did not increase. He outlined a number of actions in the areas of cities, land use, clean energy, energy efficiency, carbon pricing, efficiency, innovation, business, shipping and aviation, and HFCs with the potential to help ensure global emissions do not exceed 2C.
The issue of climate change policies and productivity was the topic of a green economy focused session with representatives from General Motors, Uniliver, the Cement Association of Canada and the Ecofiscal Commission. The importance of policy alignment and certainty was emphasized by all parties, as well the need for international perspective on how local policies effect international competitiveness for the private sector. The Cement Association use the example of cheaper imported cement taking the place in Canadian markets of domestically produced, carbon-priced product as an example of the concern of carbon leakage. As in other sessions, speakers noted that many private sector companies are increasingly seeing the inevitability of carbon pricing and called on governments to act coherently with long-term vision.
Role of forests and land stewardship
A panel on land-use and sustainable development was moderated by IISD President Scott Vaughan. Speakers from CIGI, Environmental Defense Fund, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and Organization of American States discussed the critical role of land stewardship, forestry management and protection based on partnerships with indigenous peoples that protect human rights. Ontario was invited to join the IUCN Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares by 2020. Examples of innovative finance to reflect the values of forests, including their role in carbon sinks, were explored, as was the critical importance of advancing integrated policies to support sustainability.
A mood of optimism
The second day of the summit got off on the right foot with an opening address by Former US Vice President and Chair of The Climate Reality Project, Al Gore. He posed 3 questions to frame the climate issue: must we change, can we change and will we change? The answer to all was unequivocally yes. He explained that the science is clear and the stakes are high so the status quo must change, and it is our duty as experts to build broader public support. In response to the second question, Gore noted that industry, engineers and other experts are working together to provide renewable energy solutions to enable the shift to decarbonized energy systems. Finally, in response to the question of will, Gore took an optimistic tone stating that although challenges remain, through collaboration and innovation, he believes that we will change to address climate change, the issue is whether or not the willingness to change will come quick enough. Quoting Wallace Stevens, and drawing upon the example of the civil rights movement, Gore stated “after the last no comes the yes, and on that yes, the future rests.”
The afternoon featured a number of additional speakers representing diverse backgrounds and viewpoints on climate change, but all with the same ‘call to action’ theme expressed by Gore, Brown, Calderón and Wynne.
Bianca Jagger discussed the importance of infranationals pushing the United Nations process forward, and linking human rights challenges to climate change. Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell highlighted that enlightened leadership on climate issues has and will continue to emerge, but that practical groundwork on implementation must quickly follow. A panel discussion on planning led by WWF President David Miller highlighted the critical role of government support for innovation and research on climate solutions.
IKEA Canada President Stefan Sjöstrand noted his company’s commitment of US$1billion in funding for climate solutions internationally, as well as committing to install electric vehicle charging stations at all IKEA stores in Canada this summer. President of International Council for Science Gordon McBean, representing the scientific community, shared a statement on behalf of Pan-American climate experts noting what has to be done, and that they are ready and willing to assist policymakers and others in developing and implementing solutions. Many others also committed to lend their support in various ways through the two-day event.
The climax of the summit was when Ontario and more than 20 other states, cities and regions signed the first-ever Pan-American action statement on climate change. The statement indicates that limiting global warming to 2C requires all levels of government to take action and outlines commitment options related to carbon pricing, emission reduction reporting, ambitious targets and action in key sectors. The statement builds on other initiatives such as the Under 2 MOU, the Compact of States and Regions and Compact of Mayors. It is hoped that other jurisdictions will sign on to the action statement in the lead-up to COP-21.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier provided a sobering closing plenary address on the consequences of inaction, drawing from her prior experiences, including her book Right to be Cold about the challenges Inuit have faced to their way of life as the climate warms. Climate change is a challenge for families, communities, wildlife, and the environment, and she noted that there is no price that can be put on the cost of the loss of arctic ice and the well-being it supports in the north.
In the final closing remarks the Ambassador from France Nicholas Chapuis remarked that he is buoyed by the motivation for action and the commitments that countries are making to the UN process. While these commitments not enough to maintain the two degree threshold, they are moving in the right direction. He noted this unique circumstance stating “not since 1992 have we had such hope of a universal agreement.… Paris is not the end, it is the beginning.”
The recurring message of almost all speakers was about motivation and political will. The solutions for climate change discussed at the summit were not necessarily new: carbon pricing, green procurement and transportation, urban planning, and other topics have all been discussed by environmental groups for years. What was new and readily apparent at the Climate Summit of the Americas was the overwhelming call to action from elected officials at the infranational level and their pledge to push their national counterparts to deliver at COP-21, while taking concrete steps to implement solutions themselves. Ten years ago it was scientists and environmental groups making the statements that Governors, Mayors and Premiers are saying now. Instead of just identifying solutions they are implementing them as well.
The theme of collaboration and collective solutions was also prevalent. Premier Wynne remarked that “Canada was founded on the idea that we have more to gain by working together than we can accomplish apart, it is in that spirit that we convene today”. This is highlighted in the broad range of signatories to the action statement, not just geographically, but in various levels of government. Minister Murray also noted that not only were governing parties present, but also members of opposition parties, in an effort to continue to drive climate change as a post-partisan issue.
The work of these jurisdiction is certainly not complete, and the press to drive agreement at COP-21 and beyond will be difficult, but as Gore noted, after the last no there is a yes, and the parties assembled at the summit all expressed their collective motivation to reach that yes in greater and stronger numbers than ever before.
With western Europe sweltering in a record-breaking heat wave, climate scientists are meeting in Paris this week for what is regarded as the last major climate science conference before the key COP 21 in Paris at the end of this year.
“Our Common Future under Climate Change” wants to be “solutions-focused,” but starts off with a resumé of the state of science as a basis.
Permafrost ‘carbon bomb’ unlikely, but worries over northern thaw persist
Outlook for September Arctic sea ice tilts toward small reduction from last year
One of the topics on the wide agenda is, of course, the cryosphere, with scientists reporting on rapid changes in the Arctic ice and permafrost, and worrying developments in the Antarctic.
As conference after conference works to prepare a new World Climate Agreement, to take effect in 2020, the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) is concerned that the INDCSs, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, i.e. the climate action countries propose to take are not in line with keeping global warming to the internationally set target of a maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists tell us this itself would already have major impacts on the world’s ice and snow.
Climate pledges way too low
Pam Pearson, the founder and director of ICCI, told journalists during a recent visit to Bonn her indication of INDCS so far was that they are ”somewhere between 3.8 and 4.2 degrees” Celsius.
Pearson and her colleagues are working hard to make the scientific evidence on climate changes in our ice and snow regions accessible and “must-reads” for the politicians and others who are preparing to negotiate the new agreement at the Paris talks at the end of the year, to replace the Kyoto protocol. She was here in Bonn at the last round of UN preparatory climate talks last month, holding a side event and briefing media and negotiators.
Pearson was part of the original Kyoto Protocol negotiating team. She is a former U.S. diplomat with 20 years’ experience of working on global issues, including climate change. She says she resigned in 2006 in protest over changes to U.S. development policies, especially related to environmental and global issues programs. From 2007 to2009, she worked from Sweden with a variety of organizations and Arctic governments to bring attention to the potential benefit of reductions in short-lived climate forcers to the Arctic climate, culminating in Arctic Council ministerial-level action in the Tromsø Declaration of 2009.
Pearson founded ICCI immediately after COP 15 to bring greater attention and policy focus to the “rapid and markedly similar changes occurring to cryosphere regions throughout the globe” and their importance for the global climate system.
IPCC reports already out of date! At the briefing in Bonn a couple of weeks ago, she said:
“Certainly through AR5, (the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC) the science is available to feed into the negotiations. But I think what we see as a cryosphere organization, participating as civil society in the negotiations – and I think also, very importantly, what the IPCC scientists see — is a lack of understanding of the urgency of slowing down these processes and the fact that they are irreversible. This is not like air or water pollution, where if you clean it up it will go back to the way it was before. It cannot go back to the way it was before and I think that is the most important aspect that still has not made its way into the negotiations”.
Scientists taking part in the event organized by the ICCI in Bonn stressed that a lot of major developments relating especially to Antarctica and to permafrost in the northern hemisphere was not available in time for that IPCC report. This means the scientific basis of AR5 is already way out of date, and that it does not include very recent important occurrences.
Sea ice in decline
Dirk Notz from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg heads a research group focusing on sea ice and rapid changes in the Arctic and Antarctic.
He told journalists in Bonn: “Over the last 10 years or so we’ve roughly seen a fifty percent loss of Arctic sea ice area, so this ice is currently retreating very, very rapidly. In the Antarctic, some people are talking about the increase of sea ice. Just to put things into perspective: there is a slight increase, but it’s nothing compared to the very rapid loss that we’ve seen in the Arctic.“
The slight increase in sea ice in the Antarctic is certainly not an indicator that could disprove climate warming, as some of a skeptical persuasion would like to have us believe.
“In the Antarctic, the changes in sea ice are locally very different. We have an increase in some areas and a decrease in other areas. This increase in one area of the southern ocean is largely driven by changes in the surface pressure field. So the winds are blowing stronger off shore in the Antarctic, pushing the ice out onto the ocean, and this is why we have more sea ice now than we used to have in the past. Our understanding currently says that these changes in the wind field are currently driven by anthropogenic changes of the climate system,“ said Notz.
He stresses that as far as the Arctic is concerned, the loss of sea ice is very clearly linked to the increase in CO2. The more CO2 we have in the atmosphere, the less sea ice we have in the Arctic.
Changing the face of the planet
Notz stresses the speed with which humankind is currently changing the face of the earth:
“Currently in the Arctic, a complete landscape is disappearing. It’s a landscape that has been around for thousands of years, and it’s a landscape our generation is currently removing from the planet, possibly for a very long time. I think culturally, that’s a very big change we are seeing.”
At the same time, he says the decline in the Arctic sea ice could be seen as a very clear warning sign:
“Temperature evolution of the planet for the past 50 thousand years or so shows that for the past 10 thousand years or so, climate on the planet has been extremely stable. And the loss of sea ice in the Arctic might be an indication that we are ending this period of a very stable climate in the Arctic just now. This might be the very first, very clear sign of a very clear change in the climatic conditions, like nothing we’ve seen in the past 10,000 years since we’ve had our cultures as humans.”
Simulations indicate that Arctic summer sea ice might be gone by the middle of this century. But Notz stresses that we can still influence this:
“The future sea ice loss both in the Arctic and the Antarctic depends on future CO2 emissions. A rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice in this decade is possible but unlikely. Only a very rapid reduction of CO2 might allow for the survival of Arctic summer sea ice beyond this century.”
Antarctic ice not eternal
Whereas until very recently the Antarctic ice was regarded as safe from climate warming, research in the last few years has indicated that even in that area, some possibly irreversible processes are underway. This relates to land ice rather than sea ice.
Ricarda Winckelmann is a scientist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research (PIK). She told journalists and climate negotiators at the Bonn talks that Antarctica could be regarded as the “sea level giant.. The global sea level would rise by 5 meters (16.4 feet) if West Antarctica’s ice sheet melted completely, 50 meters (164 feet) for the East Antarctic ice sheet.
“Over the past years, a couple of regions in Antarctica have really caught our attention. There are four hotspots. They have all changed rapidly. There have been a number of dynamic changes in these regions, but they all have something in common, and that is that they bear the possibility of a dynamic instability. Some of them have actually crossed that threshold, some of them might cross it in the near future. But they all underlie the same mechanism. That is called the marine ice sheet instability. It’s based on the fact that the bottom topography has a certain shape, and it’s a purely mechanical, self-enforcing mechanism. So it’s sort of driving itself. If you have a retreat of a certain region that undergoes this mechanism, it means you cannot stop it. “
The hotspots she refers to are the Amundsen Basin in West Antarctica, comprising the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, which are the fastest glaciers in Antarctica:
“It has been shown in a number of studies last year that it actually has tipped. Meaning it has crossed that threshold, and is now undergoing irreversible change. So all of these glaciers will drain into the ocean and we will lose a volume that is equivalent to about a meter (3.3 feet) of global sea level. The question is how fast this is going to happen.”
Next comes the Antarctic peninsula, where very recent research has indicated that warm water is reaching the ice shelves, leading to melting and dynamic thinning.
Even in East Antarctica, which was long considered virtually immune to climate change, Winckelmann and her colleagues have found signs that this same mechanism might be at work, for instance with Totten Glacier:
“There is a very recent publication from this year, showing that (…) this could possibly undergo the same instability mechanism. Totten Glacier currently has the largest thinning rate in East Antarctica. And it contains as much volume as the entire West Antarctic ice sheet put together. So it’s 3.5 meters’ (11.5 feet) worth of global sea level rise, if this region tips,” says the Potsdam expert.
Pulling the plug?
The other problematic area is the Wilkes Basin.
“We found that there is something called an ice plug, and if you pull it, you trigger this instability mechanism, and lose the entire drainage basin. What’s really striking is that this ice plug is comparably small, with a sea-level equivalent of less than 80 millimeters (3.15 inches). But if you lose that ice plug, you will get self-sustained sea level rise over a long period of time, of three to four meters,” or 9.8 feet to 13 feet.
This research is all so new that it was not included in the last IPCC assessment:
“We’ve known that this dynamic mechanism exists for a long time, it was first proposed in the 1970s. But the observation that something like this is actually happening right now is new,” Winckelmann stresses.
Clearly, this is key information when it comes to bringing home the urgent need for rapid climate action.
Pam Pearson stresses that these changes in themselves have a feedback effect, and have an impact on the climate:
“The cryosphere is changing a lot more quickly than other parts of the world. The main focus for Paris is that these regions are moving from showing climate change, being indicators of climate change, to beginning to drive climate change, and the risks of those dynamics beginning to overwhelm anthropogenic impacts on these particular areas is growing as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up, as the temperature rises.”
Climate factor: permafrost
This applies in particular to the effect of thawing permafrost. Susan Natali from the Woods Hole Research Center is co-author of a landmark study published in Nature in April. She also joined the ICCI event in Bonn:
“Carbon has been accumulating in permafrost for tens of thousands of years. The amount of carbon currently stored in permafrost is about twice as much as in the atmosphere. So our current estimate is 1,500 billion tons of carbon permanently frozen and locked away in permafrost. So you can imagine, as that permafrost thaws and even a portion of that gets released into the atmosphere, that this may lead to a significant increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The study was conducted by an international permafrost network. “The goal is to put our current understanding of the processes in permafrost regions into global climate models. The current IPCC reports don’t include greenhouse gas emissions as a result of permafrost thaw,” says Natali.
Permafrost regions make up some 25 percent of the northern hemisphere land area. The scientists say between 30 percent and 70 percent of it could be lost by 2100, depending on the amount of temperature rise. There is still a lot of uncertainty over how much carbon could be released, but Winckelmann and her colleagues think thawing permafrost could release as much carbon into the atmosphere by 2100 as the US, the world’s second biggest emitter, is currently emitting.
The time for action is now
“The thing to keep in mind is that the action we take now in terms of our fossil fuel emissions is going to have a significant impact on how much permafrost is lost and in turn how much carbon is released from permafrost. There is some uncertainty, but we know permafrost carbon losses will be substantial, they will be irreversible on a human-relevant time frame, and these emissions of GHGs from permafrost need to be accounted for if we want to meet our global emissions targets,” says Winckelmann.
The challenge is to convince politicians today to act now, in the interests of the future. Pearson and her colleagues are working to have a synthesis of what scientists have found to date accessible to and understandable for the negotiators who will be at COP21 in Paris in December.
In terms of an outcome, she says first of all we need higher ambition now, in the pledges being made by different countries. The lower the temperature rise, the less the risk of further dynamic change processes being set off in the cryosphere. The other key factor is to make sure there is flexibility to up the targets on a regular basis, without being tied to a long negotiating process. The current agreement draft envisages five year reviews.
“There are a number of cryosphere scientists who actually expect these kinds of signals from cryosphere to multiply, and that there may be some dramatic developments just over the next three to five years, that may finally spur some action,” Pearson says.
Here’s hoping the UN negotiators will not wait for further catastrophic evidence before committing to an effective new climate treaty at the end of this year.
——————– This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.
The Opinion Pages | Editorial
Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy in the Arctic.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 27, 2015
Photo -The Yamal Liquified Natural Gas project, a Russian-French-Chinese joint venture, in the Arctic Circle. Credit Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
So long as the Arctic was mostly frozen solid, the biennial meetings of the eight-nation Arctic Council attracted relatively little attention with their discussions on ways to cooperate on environmental protection, search-and-rescue operations and the like.
But with melting ice opening up northern shipping lanes and access to vast troves of oil, gas and minerals — and with Russia increasingly alienated from the other members on the council and assertive in its claims to the far north — the past weekend’s council meeting in the far-northern Canadian city of Iqaluit sometimes seemed as frigid as the outside air.
At the meeting, the United States assumed the rotating two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, whose other members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden as well as six indigenous groups of the far north. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that protecting the delicate Arctic environment from the consequences of climate change will be a top American priority over the next two years. As important a task will be to prevent the clash with Russia over Ukraine from undermining the cooperation on which the council has operated for the past 20 years.
Russia has steadily increased its military presence in the far north. On the eve of the meeting, a hard-line Russian deputy prime minister, Dmitri Rogozin, traveled to the North Pole to open a scientific research station — and to make clear that Russia intended to protect its claims to the Arctic region, which he proclaimed “a Russian Mecca” on Twitter. In an added provocation, Mr. Rogozin traveled through Norwegian territory on his way, though he is among the Russian officials blacklisted from traveling to much of Europe.
The Obama administration has declared that tensions with Russia will not change its focus on ocean safety, economic development and climate change.
The danger of the Arctic’s falling prey to East-West hostility was sufficiently clear to prompt a group of 45 international experts, government officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations to meet in Washington in February and issue a unanimous report urging that the region remain outside geopolitical confrontations.
The Arctic Council, never intended to debate military matters, must remain a forum for finding ways to sort out competing claims peacefully.
At the peak of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to ban military activity on the other end of the Earth, in Antarctica. And today, despite all the hostility over Ukraine, the United States and Russia have continued to work together in outer space, showing that cooperation is possible. In the Arctic, it’s essential.
A version of this editorial appears in print on April 28, 2015, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy.
International Advocacy in the Digital Age
CPD Forum on Public Diplomacy
This panel brings together representatives from the foreign ministries of Canada, Israel, Mexico and the U.S. Department of State to share insights from the recent advocacy efforts they have led. Particular focus will be placed on the exploration of how best to merge traditional and digital campaigns and how we determine success through the use of metrics.
Panel discussion from 6:30pm-8:00pm; reception immediately following.
Registration required. Photo ID required for entry and no parking will be available on-site.
The program is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,Trade and Development Canada, and the Foreign Policy Group.
Monday, April 20, 2015 – 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Canadian Embassy, 501 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC
As received from Lady Rabbi Judith Hauptman of the Ohel Ayalah community on New York City.
subject: Purim of levity or gravity?
Dear Ohel Ayalah community,
P U R I M P A R T Y for 20s/30s
Join us on Tues Mar 3, the night before Purim, at P E O P L E Lounge, 163 Allen St., 6:30 to 8:30 pm. First drink FREE for filling out a one-page survey. Special guest: Sarah Rosen, author of Kosher Porn, will sign and sell copies of her hilarious new “graphic” book. Want to know what kosher porn is? Show up and find out. The book costs $14, cash or check only. Directions: Take the F train to Second Ave, get out at the front of the train, and walk south on Allen St. for 2 mins.
P U R I M, in a serious vein: The Scroll of Esther (the Megillah) will be read in synagogues on Wed night, March 4. One suggested (fun) venue is: JTS, 3080 Broadway, at 122 St. Time: 7 pm.
Purim is the one Jewish holiday of pure levity. The message of the Megillah, however, is both light-hearted and serious. In today’s world, we are still dealing with some who would like Jews to disappear. To keep you looking at the bright side of Purim, seeing the Megillah partly as a domestic farce, I am copying below comments by Adele Berlin, the highly regarded Bible scholar (also a friend of mine!), author of the JPS commentary on the Scroll of Esther.
After Vashti refuses to show her beauty to the visiting dignitaries, the courtiers say to the king, “For the queen’s behavior will make all wives scorn their husbands, as they reflect that King Ahasuerus himself ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come (Esther 1:17, JPS translation [slightly emended]).”
Berlin writes: The advisors are not worried that Vashti’s examples will provoke other Persian subjects to disobey the king; they are afraid that all the Persian women will scorn their husbands. . . . The advisors are trying to ward off a sexual strike by Persian women (a theme found in Greek literature of the Persian period, in Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata). They are as concerned about themselves as they are about the king (p13).
The danger that Memucan (one of the advisors) sees in Vashti’s refusal is preposterous. How will it provoke a rebellion by all the wives in the empire against their husbands? The burlesque of the great Persian empire, drowning in luxury, wine, courtiers, and incompetent management, reaches one of its high points here, with a touch of male sexual anxiety added for good measure (p17).
So read the rest of the Megillah in a communal setting on Wed night, Mar 4, or by yourself. Laugh but also cry. Here is a link to an online version of Megillat Esther: www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3301….. You will need to click to get from one chapter to the next.
Please note: Passover is around the corner. Will be sending more information in a few weeks. Seder reservations open on Sunday, March 15. First night seder for all Ages, Fri April 3; Second night seder for 20s/30s, Saturday night, April 4.
Passover is about the Jews leaving Egypt – in the direction of the desert – in order to reach the Promised Land – the Land of Israel. Topics that were also breached to France and Denmark by Mr. Netanyahu in his present speaking campaign.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS DISGUSTING – BUT WE RE-POST IT BECAUSE WE WANT OUR READERS TO HAVE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW US OIL INTERESTS MANAGE TO BRING RIGHT AND LEFT TO SERVE THEIR PURPOSE IN-TANDEM. TO THEM THE JEWS ARE ENEMIES OF A SMOOTH RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SAUDI OIL BARREL BARONS – AND THAT IS IT – NOTHING MORE TO SAY.
The United States’ Hidden Hand in the Creation of Israel
Saturday, 31 January 2015 11:35
By L. Michael Hager, Truthout | Book Review / News Analysis
Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the US was used to create Israel, CreateSpace Publishing
If you want to know what the media doesn’t tell us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, check out the informative website of Alison Weir, an investigative journalist who created the nonprofit organization, “If Americans Knew” and her website of the same name. If you want to know how America was bamboozled into enabling the new state of Israel in 1948, read “Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the US was used to create Israel,” Weir’s insightful new book.
US taxpayers fund military assistance to Israel at a level of more than $3.1billion a year, which enables the Israeli Defense Force to oppress Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Indeed, the Gaza wars of 2008-09 and 2014, which together took the lives of more than 3,500 Palestinians (mostly civilians), over 800 of whom were children, could not have been waged without American arms.
So it behooves Americans to understand the history of their government’s unconditional support of Israel. Ms. Weir’s volume, together with Rashid Khalidi’s “Brokers of Deceit,” shines a spotlight on the US role in creating and maintaining the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
How did the United States become a vigorous enabler of Israel when experts from the State Department, CIA and military all opposed the Zionist mission to create a Jewish state in Palestinian land? Ms. Weir tells that story clearly, backing up her facts with 108 pages of “endnotes” (more pages than the main text).
Even those who are well read on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship have much to learn from this slender volume. Among the hidden facts unearthed by Weir:
• US Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter were covert supporters of political Zionism in its determination to occupy the land of Palestine, a part of the Ottoman Empire that was later mandated to Britain.
• Zionists pushed for the United States to enter the First World War on Britain’s side “as part of a deal to gain British support for their colonization of Palestine.” In 1917, the Balfour Declaration, promised that Britain would “view with favor the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people,” a key document in the creation of Israel.
• As part of a State Department delegation to obtain a separate peace with the Ottoman Empire, which “would have prevented Britain from acquiring Palestine and enabling a Jewish state,” Felix Frankfurter persuaded the delegation to abandon its effort.
• At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Brandeis and Frankfurter lobbied for a Jewish home in Palestine, despite strong warnings that unlimited immigration of Jews would violate the Wilsonian principle of self-determination.
• During Hitler’s rise in Germany, Zionists “sabotaged efforts to find safe havens for Jewish refugees to convince the world that Jews could only be safe in a Jewish state.” According to an Israeli source, “the Nazis wanted the Jews out of Germany; the Zionists wanted them to come to Palestine.”
Zionist organizations established in the 1930s and ’40s lobbied President Harry Truman to recognize the state of Israel despite strong objections by Middle East experts. Loy Henderson of the State Department warned that the UN partition plan would “guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future.” Both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA echoed that view.
Ultimately, however, Truman accepted the advice of Clark Clifford, who argued that US support for partition was necessary to win Jewish votes in the upcoming presidential election. The president’s decision set a pattern for deciding US-Middle East policy issues on domestic political grounds.
American Zionists were equally successful in lobbying the UN General Assembly, when it voted on the partition plan. According the Weir, passage of the partition resolution provoked violence against local residents, the expulsion of over 400,000 Palestinians and the May 15 declaration of the new state of Israel (which the United States was the first to recognize).
The remainder of the book describes the Israeli conquest of Palestine, with its village massacres and ethnic cleansing; the proliferation of US front groups in support of Zionist militarism; Israeli efforts (largely successful) to funnel displaced people to Palestine; and growing Zionist influence in the media. The book ends with the sad story of Dorothy Thompson, a famous journalist whose career ended with her efforts to expose the plight of Palestinian refugees.
While Ms. Weir’s text is revelatory and articulate, I wish the paperback itself were more securely bound. My copy had pages that fell out after a single reread. Clearly, the book deserves both a hardbound edition and a wide audience!
L. Michael Hager is cofounder and former director-general of the International Development Law Organization, Rome.
“Israel Targets Civilians, the Casualties Speak Volumes”: International Protection Urged for Besieged Gaza
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview
Israel and Palestine Can Never Be Secure Until Both Are Secure
By Michael Nagler, Truthout | Op-Ed
Israel Facing Major Economic Consequences for 50 Day War on Gaza
By Sharmini Peries, The Real News Network | Video Interview
Maxwell • 2 hours ago
Zionism And Its Impact
By Ann M. Lesch
The Zionist movement has maintained a striking continuity in its aims and methods over the past century. From the start, the movement sought to achieve a Jewish majority in Palestine and to establish a Jewish state on as much of the LAND as possible. The methods included promoting mass Jewish immigration and acquiring tracts of land that would become the inalienable property of the Jewish people. This policy inevitably prevented the indigenous Arab residents from attaining their national goals and establishing a Palestinian state. It also necessitated displacing Palestinians from their lands and jobs when their presence conflicted with Zionist interests.
The Zionist movement—and subsequently the state of ISRAEL—failed to develop a positive approach to the Palestinian presence and aspirations. Although many Israelis recognized the moral dilemma posed by the Palestinians, the majority either tried to ignore the issue or to resolve it by “force majeure.” Thus, the Palestine problem festered and grew, instead of being resolved.
The Zionist movement arose in late nineteenth-century Europe, influenced by the nationalist ferment sweeping that continent. Zionism acquired its particular focus from the ancient Jewish longing for the return to Zion and received a strong impetus from the increasingly intolerable conditions facing the large Jewish community in tsarist Russia. The movement also developed at the time of major European territorial acquisitions in Asia and Africa and benefited from the European powers’ competition for influence in the shrinking Ottoman Empire.
One result of this involvement with European expansionism, however, was that the leaders of the nascent nationalist movements in the Middle East viewed Zionism as an adjunct of European colonialism. Moreover, Zionist assertions of the contemporary
relevance of the Jews’ historical ties to Palestine, coupled with their land purchases and immigration, alarmed the indigenous population of the Ottoman districts that Palestine comprised. The Jewish community (yishuv) rose from 6 percent of Palestine’s population in 1880 to 10 percent by 1914. Although the numbers were insignificant, the settlers were outspoken enough to arouse the opposition of Arab leaders and induce them to exert counter pressure on the Ottoman regime to prohibit Jewish immigration and land buying.
… www.palestineremembered… Conclusion – The land and people of Palestine were transformed during the thirty years of British rule. The systematic colonization undertaken by the Zionist movement enabled the Jewish community to establish separate and virtually autonomous political, economic, social, cultural, and military institutions. A state within a state was in place by the time the movement launched its drive for independence. The legal underpinnings for the autonomous Jewish community were provided by the British Mandate. The establishment of a Jewish state was first proposed by the British Royal Commission in July 1937 and then endorsed by the UNITED NATIONS in November 1947.
That drive for statehood IGNORED the presence of a Palestinian majority with its own national aspirations. The right to create a Jewish state-and the overwhelming need for such a state-were perceived as overriding Palestinian counterclaims. Few members of the yishuv supported the idea of binationalism. Rather, territorial partition was seen by most Zionist leaders as the way to gain statehood while according certain national rights to the Palestinians. …..see more ……
Dr Susan Reibel Moore, Sydney • 4 hours ago
I’m not going to read all the responses, but I like the first one that I read, which is just below this box. My quick, educated guess is that many responses will reveal colossal historical ignorance.
The article’s anti-Semitic bias is shocking. During WWII, when I was a young child growing up in NJ, all of the Jews in my extended Jewish family and community worked hard to get friends and relations out of Europe and into America. It’s well known, historically, that untold numbers of Jews did this. It happened well before 1948!!!!
How DARE this writer, and–I infer–the author of the book whose ‘main points’ are summarised, write as if ‘Zionists’ were the only Jews trying to do the right thing then and earlier to save the Biblically ‘chosen’ people??
There IS a case for Jews to be in Israel. This doesn’t mean that all or most Jews SUPPORT what the present Israeli government, and earlier Israeli military outfits, have been doing to Palestinians.
I’m a religious Catholic who attends daily Mass. Young and older Catholics are taught that the Holy Family and all of the Apostles were Jews. They were not ‘Zionists’. THAT term is more recent.
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R Daneel Olivaw • 5 hours ago
I’m glad to know the US had a hand in making Israel what it is today. It’s the only country in the Middle east that fully supports the rights of women, minorities, and the LGBT community. Unlike the Palestinians they share my liberal values.
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klauser R Daneel Olivaw • 4 hours ago
Yeah, Israel is a font of religious and racial tolerance and the property and human right of all others. You bet.
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DofG • 6 hours ago
Just as Woodrow Wilson was politically seduced to help create the third central bank of America, Harry Truman fell by the same seduction- self interest over national interest.
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Jim Hyder DofG • 5 hours ago
Sorry, Harry wanted to be elected Prez on his own and had to have the Jewish vote, and money, to win.
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DofG Jim Hyder • 2 hours ago
Unless I’m missing something, believe it, or not, your statement seems contradictory.
• Reply•Share ›
Gypsy Roberts • 6 hours ago
I have the book. Alison Weir is a truly outstanding individual, and I highly recommend both her website and book for anyone seeking the TRUTH.
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Jim Hyder Gypsy Roberts • 5 hours ago
One very informative book. And important me.
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wjohnfaust Gypsy Roberts • 6 hours ago
Yes. Do visit the website.
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wjohnfaust • 7 hours ago
Not surprising that the comments below are strongly polarized.
I suspect that both the Israeli and US democracies suffer from the same defects; they are democracies in name only. Both seem to exclude their populations from exercising any control over their international behavior. Certainly the US does. The US generates so many “terrorist insurgencies” from its feckless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. Turns out to be highly profitable.
Not surprising then that Israel continues its settlements in violation of international law. Both the US and Israel claim exceptionalism when convenient to do so. Israel will continue this behavior as long as the US mindlessly supports it.
As for the Middle East being an “insane area”. I’m sure it is. One simply needs to look at the meddling (imperial and colonial) carried out by the US and Europe over the centuries to understand why it might be insane. It has little to do with Islam.
As for Israel being the one democracy in that “insane area”, the US actually prefers avaricious dictators. They are so much easier to control. That’s why the democratically elected prime minister of Iran (Mossadegh) was overthrown by the US and UK in 1953. One of our staunchest allies is Saudi Arabia — one of the cruelest dictatorships in the world. Same goes for Latin America.
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Cloudchopper wjohnfaust • 4 hours ago
Same went for Egypt in the past.
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Gypsy Roberts wjohnfaust • 7 hours ago
That post, my friend, just….rocked.
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pvolkov • 7 hours ago
Harry Truman declared Israel a state when he was running for the Presidency after FDR’s death and was opposed strongly to Zionist efforts but was threatened with removal of money and support by strong Jewish interests which could have lost him the presidency and he was forced to give in. However, he warned strongly of possible consequences in the future which have come to pass. He accomplished this in contradiction of UN regulations regarding settlement in Palestine which was to remain open to all peoples but as soon as Israel became a nation, they forced Arab and other non Jewish landowners out of the country without compensation and took over the land for the new country.
Zionist aspirations (which did not represent all Jews) were then free to expand and bring in settlers and start an ongoing oppression of Palestinians. We saw it in the early 1960′ s when we lived there and the country was then divided about the purposes and plans for Israel which was followed by strong militarization programs aided by U.S. financial help.
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old timer • 8 hours ago
Your article dos not mention the work of Col. William Eddy USMC ret. He was number two at the OSS in WW2 under Wild Bill Donovan.. The Dulles brothers worked for him. Later, as evangelist Christians, they supported a single state for Isreal. The head of the CIA and Sec. of State reportedly believed Christ would come again if a religious Israel were accomplished.
Eddy ultimately became Minister Plenipotentiary to Saudi Arabia.and was active in near East intelligence in WW 1 and WW2…He wrote many letters to the Dulles boys saying in effect “Are you out of your minds. You say Arabs, we want your oil, but move over Israel wants your land “. Eddy repeatedly would write “Think ahead fifty years to envision the unsolvable chaos you will cause” It is now more than 60 years and Eddy has been precisely correct ..
I say think ahead another fifty years and try to envision a peaceful solution. How do I know this? Eddy would disclose openly a number of his letters he would enter in a diplomatic pouch for for delivery to Washington. I believe copies could be found in Eddy’s correspondence file stored with his wife’s papers.
Netanyahu knows this but doesn’t care. He appears willing to utilize radio active material obtained from the US to obliterate the entire Mid East. . Ultimate peace will not be achieved.as long as Netanyahu fails to consider the consequences..
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kaluser • 8 hours ago
Is there some hand behind Truthout that refuses to print the most important story of the day and that is the coming war with Russia and and violent, Obama-Brennan-PNAC insanity in Ukraine? This is a catastrophic event for Europe and the world that needs to be followed. Most morons know the history of the Harry Truman’s idiotic support for the European Jewish State in the Middle East.
AND SO IT GOES ON IN THE COMMENTS GIVE AND TAKE …..
BUT HERE COMES A RAY OF LIGHT !!!
CANADA GETS TOUGH ON ANTI-SEMITISM – They Vote in as LAW – THE OTTAWA PROTOCOL that perhaps for the first time in history links Antisemitism to the denial of the right Jewish people have to their ancestral homeland – the State of Israel.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird also announced that Canada is joining New Zealand, France, Poland, and 10 other Western Nations, in refusing to go this year to Durban III which is expected to be another UN sling-fest against Israel backed by repressive Arab and African regimes that blame all problems facing their own countries and the World – on Israel.
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The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
The Keystone XL Illusion
January 16, 2015
by: Joe Nocera
Joe Nocera writes: Greg Rickford, Canada’s minister of natural resources, was in the United States most of this past week, on a trip that didn’t get much attention in the media with so much bigger news swirling about. So let me fill you in.
Rickford spent the first two days of his trip in Washington, where of course debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is underway in earnest in the new Republican-led Senate. The Republican-led House, meanwhile, has already passed a bill giving the go-ahead to the pipeline, which, if it’s ever built, will transport heavy crude from the tar sands of Alberta to American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. And of course President Obama has threatened to veto any such bill, should one land on his desk.
In Washington, Rickford met with his Obama administration counterpart, Ernest Moniz, the secretary of energy. Although the Keystone pipeline was not on the agenda, the two men talked about it anyway. Rickford paid a visit to Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator from North Dakota, who strongly supports the Keystone pipeline. (In addition to the Alberta crude, the pipeline would transport shale oil from North Dakota.)
He met with State Department officials to get a Keystone update; because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border, the department has to do a review, which it has done several times, always coming down in favor of the project. In several speeches, Rickford talked up the close energy relationship between the United States and Canada, noting that Canada sends three million barrels per day to America — more than Venezuela and Saudi Arabia combined. He mentioned Canada’s new pipeline safety law. He said he thought the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, which is essentially what Canadian officials have been saying for the past six years.
Then on Wednesday, Rickford went to Texas for two days. This is the part of his trip that really caught my attention. His main focus in Texas was on two new Canadian-controlled pipelines that became operational in mid-December. One is called the Flanagan South pipeline, which cost $2.8 billion. It covers nearly 600 miles, from Pontiac, Ill., to Cushing, Okla. The other pipeline, called the Seaway Twin, runs an additional 500 miles, from Cushing to Freeport, Tex., where the refineries are. It cost $1.2 billion. Guess where some of the oil that is going to run through those pipelines is coming from? Yep — the tar sands of Alberta.
If you are wondering why the environmental community hasn’t been chaining itself to the White House fence to protest these two new pipelines, the way it has with Keystone, the answer is that neither of these pipelines crosses the Canadian border, so they don’t require the same complicated approval process that Keystone requires. (The Flanagan South line will connect with a pipeline that already crosses the border.) More to the point, perhaps, they were never the symbol that the high-profile Keystone XL became, so that even the approvals they did require never aroused the same attention from environmentalists.
Yet these new pipelines are going to be carrying some 200,000 barrels per day of the heavy crude mined from the tar sands. True, that is only a third of what the Keystone XL would be able to deliver, but it essentially helps double the amount of tar sands oil that can be exported to the United States. In addition, there will be expanded rail capacity for Alberta’s oil, which is a far more dangerous way to move it than a state-of-the-art pipeline.
The point is: With or without Keystone, Canada’s tar sands oil is coming to the United States. One of the stated reasons that environmental activists wanted to prevent Keystone from being built was that doing so would force Canada to stop mining the oil. Without Keystone, it was said, Canada would have no means to export it. But that has never been a particularly plausible argument. Even before the opening of these two new pipelines, tar sands oil was coming to the United States, primarily by rail. Indeed, the only thing that can slow it down now is the rapid drop in the price of oil, which is likely to make expensive tar sands crude unprofitable.
Even as the Keystone debate reaches its current crescendo, all that is left, really, is the symbolism. The Republican right claims that Keystone will create jobs. It won’t, not to any significant degree. The Democratic left says that the oil Keystone will bring to the Gulf is so dirty, so carbon laden, that it will wreak havoc on the climate. It won’t do that either. If the president ultimately decides not to approve Keystone, he will do so knowing full well that he has not stopped the tar sands oil in any meaningful way. To expect another outcome is, well, a pipe dream. It always was.
Why not refine the oil in Canada or a northern US state? Is building a pipeline to Texas the best option? I realize that the pipeline to…
2 hours ago
Thank you for telling the truth that I and other commenters have been saying on other articles on this subject. If this oil doesn’t come in…
2 hours ago
Do I think we need to make a concerted effort to reduce carbon pollution? Absolutely. And methane too.Do I think scuppering the XL pipeline…
OUR QUESTION IS – WHY DO THE CANADIANS NOT FOLLOW THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND BUILD THEIR PIPELINES TO THE WEST RATHER THEN TO THE SOUTH?
THE ANSWER IS VERY SIMPLE – THESE ARE NOT CANADIANS – THESE ARE THE AMERICAN OIL PEOPLE – AND FOLKS – WASHINGTON JUST CANNOT BEAT AMERICAN OIL INTERESTS!
A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 17, 2015, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: The Keystone XL Illusion.
CHASLOVTSY, Ukraine — As Ukraine tries to contain a pro-Russian insurgency convulsing its eastern region, a perhaps more significant struggle for the country hinges on what happens beneath the ground here in a placid woodland in the far west, on the border with Slovakia.
This is where about $20 billion worth of Russian natural gas flows each year through huge underground pipelines to enter Europe after a nearly 3,000-mile journey from Siberia. It is also, the pro-European government in Kiev believes, where Ukraine has a chance to finally break free from the grip of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy behemoth.
In an effort to do this, Ukraine has for more than a year been pushing hard to start so-called reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe via Slovakia to Ukraine, thus blunting repeated Russian threats to turn off the gas tap.
An agreement signed last week between Slovak and Ukrainian pipeline operators opened the way for modest reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe, where prices are much lower than those demanded by Gazprom for its direct sales to Ukraine.
But the deal, brokered by the European Union and nudged along by the White House, fell so far short of what Ukraine had been lobbying for that it left a nagging question: Why has it been so difficult to prod tiny Slovakia, a European Union member, to get a technically simple and, for Ukraine and for the credibility of the 28-nation bloc, vitally important venture off the ground?
Some cite legal and technical obstacles, others politics and fear of crossing the Kremlin, but all agree that a major obstacle has been the power and reach of Gazprom, which serves as a potent tool for advancing Russia’s economic and geopolitical interests, and is ultimately beholden to President Vladimir V. Putin.
Gazprom not only dominates the gas business across the former Soviet Union, but also enjoys considerable clout inside the European Union, which gets roughly a third of its gas imports from Russia and is itself vulnerable to Russian pressure.
All the same, a fog of mystery surrounds the reluctance of Slovakia to open up its gas transit corridor — through which Russia pumps a large portion of its gas to Europe — for large reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.
Built during the Soviet era to link Siberian gas fields with European markets, Slovak pipelines, according to Ukrainian officials and experts, could move up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Europe to Ukraine a year — more than all the gas Ukraine is expected to import from Russia this year.
Instead, the majority state-owned Slovak company that runs the system, Eustream, has offered only a small, long-disused subsidiary pipeline that still needs engineering work before it can carry gas to Ukraine. Once the work is finished in October, Eustream will provide just a tenth of the gas Ukraine has been looking for from Europe. The company says that small amount can be increased sharply later.
Here in Chaslovtsy, in southwestern Ukraine, where technicians from Ukraine’s pipeline company, Ukrtransgaz, and Gazprom monitor the flow of Russian gas into Slovakia, the Ukrainian head of the facility, Vitaly Lukita, said he wondered if gas would ever flow the other way.
“We are all ready here, but I don’t know why the Slovaks are taking so long,” Mr. Lukita said. “Everyone has been talking about this for a very long time, but nothing has happened.”
Andriy Kobolev, the board chairman of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state gas company, said he was particularly mystified by the recalcitrance of Eustream because in 2011 the company had put forward the idea of using spare capacity in its trunk pipelines for reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine.
He said the Slovaks had rejected this option in recent negotiations, citing secret contracts with Gazprom. He added that he did not know what the problem was exactly, because he had not been allowed to see the contracts.
Eustream executives declined repeated requests for interviews. Vahram Chuguryan, the company’s spokesman, declined to comment on the apparent change of heart or on whether it was related to an ownership shuffle in early 2013, when a group of wealthy Czech and Slovak businesspeople purchased a 49 percent stake in Eustream. At the time, Czech news media speculated that they were acting as a stalking horse for Gazprom.
Daniel Castvaj, a spokesman for Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding, the company that made the purchase, denied Ukrainian assertions that Eustream has sought to limit reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine, describing these as “not only untrue but nonsensical” since the pipeline operator, which makes its money off transit fees, has a strong commercial interest in boosting flows regardless of direction.
He said he was unaware of any 2011 offer by Eustream to use the trunk transit system to deliver gas to Ukraine, but added that such an option has always been technically and legally impossible “without the consent of Gazprom,” which has not been given.
European Union officials, frustrated by months of haggling and worried about possible legal problems raised by Gazprom’s contracts with Slovakia, hailed last week’s modest deal as offering at least an end to the logjam. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, described it as a “breakthrough” but also called it a “first step,” signaling hope that Slovakia may, over time, allow more substantial reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s dependence on Gazprom to heat homes and power factories — it buys more than half its supplies from Russia — has not only left the country vulnerable to sudden price changes, which fluctuate depending on whether Moscow wants to punish or favor the authorities in Kiev, but has also helped fuel the rampant corruption that has addled successive Ukrainian governments.
When Gazprom raised the price of gas to Ukraine by 80 percent last month and threatened to cut off supplies if Kiev did not pay up, Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, blasted Moscow for “aggression against Ukraine.”
“Apart from the Russian Army and guns, they decided to use one of the most efficient tools, which are political and economic pressure,” he said.
By pushing to buy the bulk of its gas from Europe instead of from Gazprom and murky middlemen endorsed by Gazprom, Ukraine hopes to protect what it sees as a dangerously exposed flank from Russian attack.
The best-known of those middlemen, the Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash, was detained in Austria in April and has been fighting extradition to the United States.
“Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Ukrainian legislators during a visit to Kiev last month. “It would be a very different world you’d be facing today.”
Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.
Russia is currently demanding $485 per thousand cubic meters for the gas Ukraine buys directly — instead of the price of $268 it offered the Ukrainian government under President Viktor F. Yanukovych before his ouster — while “Russian” gas sold via Europe, which should be more expensive because of additional transit fees, costs at least $100 per unit less.
Russia denies using gas as a political weapon and says all Ukraine needs to do to secure a stable supply at a reasonable price is pay its bills on time and clear its debts, which Gazprom said total $3.5 billion.
Ukraine has already started taking reverse-flow deliveries from Poland and Hungary. But the quantities, around 2 billion cubic meters last year, have been too small to make much of a difference. Only Slovakia has the pipeline capacity to change the balance of forces.
“We have been struggling for a long time to convince them to find a solution,” said Mr. Kobolev, the Ukrainian gas chief. “We have now identified the problem, which was obvious from the beginning — restrictions placed by Gazprom.”
Ukraine’s energy minister, Yuri Prodan, dismissed Gazprom’s legal and technical arguments as a red herring. “I think the problem is political. We don’t see any real objective obstacles to what we have been proposing,” he said.
Opposition politicians in Slovakia, noting that 51 percent of Eustream belongs to the Slovak state, attribute the pipeline company’s stand to the country’s prime minister, Robert Fico, a center-left leader who has sometimes seemed more in sync with Moscow’s views than those of the European Union.
“Fico thinks that it is necessary to be very nice and polite to Mr. Putin,” Mikulas Dzurinda, a former prime minister of Slovakia, said in a telephone interview. “This is the heritage of old communists in a new era: The big guys are still in Moscow,” he said.
At a news conference in April, Mr. Fico insisted that Slovakia was “really ready” to help assist reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine. But he added, “We naturally protect our own interests” and will not risk punishment by Gazprom for moves that violate Slovakia’s own deals with the Russian energy giant.
Slovakia depends on Gazprom for around 60 percent of its gas supplies and worries that upsetting the Russian company would lead to higher prices for itself or even cuts in supplies.
Alexander Medvedev, the head of Gazprom’s export arm, said he had no problem in principle with reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine but said such arrangements “require the agreement of all parties involved,” including Gazprom.
“Normally, you can’t arrange a physical reverse flow without a new pipeline,” he added, indicating Gazprom’s opposition to the use of existing Slovak pipelines.
Watching over workers in Chaslovtsy as they laid new underground pipes, Ivan Shayuk, a Ukrainian engineer for Ukrtransgaz, shook his head when asked why the scheme was taking so long.
“What is the problem? The problem is simple — Putin,” he said.
Hana de Goeij contributed reporting from Prague, and Alison Smale from Berlin.
A version of this article appears in print on May 5, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.
comment from: orbit7er
Here is another piece of the farce being pushed by the plutocratic elite in denial of the realities of Peak Oil and Climate Change. To ship…
And you know – the comment is right – it is those that refuse to let Europe move away from the use of gas that keep watch the umbilical cord to Russia is not broken. This umbilical cord to an unpredictable Russia is the undoing of the EU, and EU member-States that stand up for to hang on this umbilical cord are the un-doers of Europe. Strange, as it might seem, Austria may be one of these European States that like Slovakia take real interest in conserving the is. Our eyes opened up Sunday May 2nd thanks to two articles in the Austrian news-papers:
(a) “A Pipeline that Splits Europe” by Veronika Eschbacher, in the venerable and historic Wiener Zeitung, and
(b) “How Russia wants to Renew its Might via Gas” by Guenther Strobl in the respected Business pages of Der Standard
Both articles give the facts about the Austrian National Oil Company OEMV, that is in the process of planing with the Russian Gazprom to build a new pipeline – “The Southern Stream” – that will shoot directly under the Black Sea, from Russia’s Caucasus near Socchi, to Bulgaria’s port at Varna. Then from there go directly through Serbia and Hungar to Austria – the town of Baumgarten on the border with Slovakia. The achievement here is that this line does not touvh the Ukraine, Moldova, Poland or Rumania which are inclined to be most reluctant to stay under the Russian boot.
So where in this is the Austria of the very active young Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz who is laboring at finding an amicable solution in the conflict between The Ukraine and Russia?
Will an Austrian Government that listens to its own Oil Company be so influenced by it that it works against the better interests in Europe – that try to distance themselves from too close relationship with Russia and understand that Energy Independence in Europe means independence of imports of gas – specially if this gas originates in Russia – pipeline A or Pipeline B – there is no inherent difference in this?
The media has yet to explain this, and the politicians running in Austria for the European Parliament have yet to mention it. Absolutely – not a single politician in Austria has yet had the courage to say that OEMV is not the source of Foreign policy or the guru of futurology and sustainability for Austria, the EU … for Europe.
May 5, 2014, at the Wirtschaftsmuseum (the Economy Museum) at Vogelsanggassee 36, 1050 Vienna, Austria, a panel chaired by Dr. Patrick Horvath, included the Editor of the Wiener Zeitung, Mr. Reinhard Goeweil and titled “EU-Elections 2014 – The Role of the Media” gave me the opportunity to raise the importance of the OEMV in Austrian Government policy and the fact that the media just does not point it out. Dr. Horvath, PhD in Social Studies of Communication, is Head of the Union of Scientists dealing with Economic Policy (WIWIPOL) and the panel included as well Mr. Wolfgang Greif (a last minute addition) – Head of the Europe Section at the Employees and the Employers involved in Company Boards and wrote the book on the subject fighting for the right of the Employees to get information about their Companies; Professor Fritz Hausjell of the Vienna University Faculty of Journalism; and Mr. Wolfgang Mitterlehner – Head of Communication at the Viennese Workers’ Union Central Office.
Professor Hausjell pointed out that the Wienner Zeitung is the best provider of information among the Austrian Media and this is something I argue as well, so it made it easier for me to formulate my question by starting with my own congratulation with the paper’s editor right there on the panel. In effect, founded in 1703 under the name “Vienna Diarium” the WZ is worldwide the oldest newspaper still in print(!) (it appears now 5 times a week with Friday and Sunday excluded and carries the official announcements of use in legal Austria); Mr. Goeweil is editor since 2009 and by background a writer on economics.
As excited as I was by the paper’s expose last weekend of the “Southern Stream” pipeline plans intended to keep the Russian gas flowing to Europe under conditions that exclude the Ukraine, Moldova, and Rumania, while using Russian friendly Serbia, and safeguarding the position of Slavic Slovakia – a multibillion project that might become active by 2017, but can kill all development of Renewable Energy in Europe right now, I realized that further involvement in the subject, even by a paper like WZ, will not come as long as even the good people of that paper take for granted the oil lobby arguments that there is not possible to replace the gas because there is not enough sun, wind, hydro-power etc. If nothing else, the Fossil and Nuclear lobbies have numbed the inquisitiveness of even the good media in the EU States, like they did in the US. Why not bring Jigar Shah over here and have him talk of CLIMATE WEALTH? Why are not more active businesses that stand to flourish ? Are we the only ones to still say YES WE CAN?
And Vienna is again the Center of Europe!
May 5-6, 2014 the Council of Europe is meeting in Vienna. 30 Foreign Ministers, including those of Russia and the Ukraine, are meeting here under the chairmanship of Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, the second most popular politician of Norway and a person that has held all possible political positions in Norway and many in all of Europe who is trying to manage the States of all of Europe with the help of the resourceful Austrian Sebastian Kurz.
Norway is not part of the EU and is an outside gas supplier to the EU. Interesting that Mr. Kurz started his meetings on Sunday with meeting first the current Norwegian Foreign Minister – was this a line-up on gas policy? Is that what the New York Times had in mind when publishing their article? Is it all about lining up interests with Russia and Norway so gas continues to flow in those pipelines and The Ukraine pushed aside, isolated and neutralized?
We shall see and so far as Europe is concerned, we will keep a close eye on these developments because in them we see a make or break not just for the Ukraine but even more important – for the European Energy Policy that some, like the Prime Ministers of Poland and Slovakia, think of as just a gas policy.
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