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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Asia & Pacific
Trump agrees to honor one-China policy in call to Xi Jinping

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Jim Lo Scalzo/Filip Singer/European Pressphoto Agency)

By Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker – The Wahington Post – February 10, 2017

BEIJING — President Trump held a lengthy, “extremely cordial” telephone conversation with China’s President Xi Jinping late on Thursday evening in Washington, and — in a move set to ease tensions between the two nations — agreed to honor the one-China policy, the White House said in a statement.

The one-China policy forms the bedrock of U.S.-China diplomatic ties, established by President Richard Nixon and China’s leader Mao Zedong. It rules out independence and diplomatic recognition for the island of Taiwan.

But Trump has publicly called U.S. adherence to this policy into question, suggesting he would only commit to it once he evaluates China’s progress in addressing trade and currency concerns.

In response, China insisted the policy was highly sensitive and “nonnegotiable.”

The United States maintains a military relationship with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province, but closed its embassy there in 1979.

What is the One China policy, and why is Beijing so infuriated with Trump? Play Video3:03
China has expressed “serious concern” after President-elect Donald Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the One China policy unless it could “make a deal,” potentially on U.S.-China trade. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy,” the White House statement said.

Representatives from both countries will engage in “discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.

“The phone call between President Trump and President Xi was extremely cordial, and both leaders extended best wishes to the people of each other’s countries,” it added.

“They also extended invitations to meet in their respective countries. President Trump and President Xi look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes.”

The phone call came on the eve of a formal summit between Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set to take place in Washington on Friday.

Japan is a historic enemy of China and a key modern-day strategic rival.

In December, following his election and before his transition, Trump made waves with a protocol-breaking telephone call with Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen.

It was the first communication between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979 and the product of months of preparation by Trump’s advisers, who advocated for a new strategy of engagement with Taiwan to rattle China.


As expected, China reacted sternly, but Trump publicly questioned whether the one- China policy was in America’s best interests.


He fired off provocative tweets about the Chinese — on currency manipulation, imports from the United States and its military buildup in the South China Sea.


Trump told the Wall Street Journal in a January interview, shortly before his inauguration, that he was open to shifting U.S. policy on China and Taiwan.

“Everything is under negotiation, including ‘One China,’?” Trump told the newspaper.

The phone call to Xi came a day after Trump sent a letter wishing China a “prosperous Year of the Rooster” — which was sent 11 days after China celebrated its Lunar New Year festival.

The White House issued a statement saying Trump had “provided a letter” to Xi on Wednesday, thanking the Chinese leader for a congratulatory note he had sent on the U.S. president’s inauguration.

Trump wished the Chinese people a “happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster” and said “he looks forward to working with President Xi to develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China,” according to the statement.

China celebrated its Lunar New Year on Jan. 28, and the lack of a customary new year’s greeting from the U.S. president at that time was noticed here. The Lantern Festival will be celebrated on Saturday.

Rucker reported from Washington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE, January 5, 2017, The New York Times

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.

The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.

The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much. For years, its oil and coal industries prospered under powerful political patrons and the growth-above-anything mantra of the ruling Communist Party.

The result was choking pollution and the growing recognition that China, many of whose biggest cities are on the coast, will be threatened by rising sea levels.

But even disregarding the threat of climate change, China’s announcement was a bold claim on leadership in the renewable energy industry, where Chinese companies, buoyed by a huge domestic market, are already among the world’s dominant players. Thanks in part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Sam Geall, executive editor of Chinadialogue, an English- and Chinese-language website that focuses on the environment, said that the United States, by moving away from a focus on reducing carbon emissions, risked losing out to China in the race to lead the industry.

Mr. Trump has in the past called the theory of human-cased global warming a hoax and picked a fierce opponent of President Obama’s rules to reduce carbon emissions, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The investment commitment made by the Chinese, combined with Mr. Trump’s moves, means jobs that would have been created in the United States may instead go to Chinese workers.

Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.

China may meet its 2020 goals for solar installation by 2018, said Lauri Myllyvirta, a research analyst at Greenpeace, who is based in Beijing.

But despite these impressive numbers, China’s push to clean its air and reduce its greenhouse gasses faces political pressure from the politically powerful coal industry.

Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta both said that Thursday’s announcement was missing any language on curtailment, or the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar that never finds its way to the country’s power grid. In China, wind power curtailment was 19 percent in the first nine months 2016, Mr. Myllyvirta said, many times higher than in the United States, where curtailment levels are often negligible.

The main reason for curtailment, he said, is that China is plagued by overcapacity in electricity generation and operators of China’s grid often favor electricity generated from coal.

In recent years the country has also been building coal-fired power plants at a furious pace, although that has recently slowed along with China’s economy. Another omission from Thursday’s announcements, Mr. Myllyvirta said, was the absence of any specific target to reduce coal consumption.

But both Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta said Thursday’s announcement set the stage for still more power generation from renewable energy and a gradual shift away from coal.

“My experience with China is when a numeric target gets written down, it gets implemented,” Mr. Myllyvirta said. “It doesn’t always get implemented in the way you like, but it does get implemented.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump TWEET
China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!
12:47 AM – 3 Jan 2017

THE ANSWER from China did not fail to come:
China tells Donald Trump to lay off Twitter

By Katie Hunt, CNN
Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT) January 5, 2017

(CNN) China has slammed US President-elect Donald Trump over his use of Twitter to conduct international diplomacy in a commentary published by the country’s official news agency Xinhua.

Trump has earned a reputation for making unpredictable statements on Twitter that often depart from long-standing US policies and he’s made several controversial comments about China.
“The obsession with ‘Twitter diplomacy’ is undesirable,” said the bylined commentary, which only appeared on the agency’s Chinese website. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential of China’s state-run media.
“It is a commonly accepted that diplomacy is not a child’s game — and even less is it business dealing.

As former United States Secretary of State [Madeleine] Albright said, Twitter should not be a tool for foreign policy,” the commentary, which was published this week, said.
Albright served under former President Bill Clinton and was a vocal supporter of Trump’s democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

In a Tweet late Monday, Trump suggested that China wasn’t doing enough to rein in its nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea.

Trump also used Twitter to accuse China of keeping its currency artificially low, of military posturing in the South China Sea and to announce that he’d spoken directly with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen — upending a long-standing US policy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

What to Expect in China Policy During the First 100 Days of Donald Trump’s Presidency
Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations of the New York City based Asia Society, present Daniel Rosen and Orville Schell.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Asia Society
725 Park Ave., New York, NY, 10021

With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States fast approaching, nominations for most of the highest cabinet appointments and many senior staff positions announced, and months of frenetic media coverage of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team behind us, it is worth assessing how Trump’s world view and that of his advisors is likely to shape American policy toward China.

By establishing contact with the Taiwanese leader and openly questioning the “One China” policy, Trump has already signaled that he is willing to turn the U.S.-China relationship as we know it on its head. Daniel Rosen, co-founder of the Rhodium Group, and Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell will discuss what it all means for the future of U.S.-China relations.

SPEAKERS:

Daniel H. Rosen is a co-founding Partner of the Rhodium Group (RHG), and leads the firm’s work on China and the world economy. His is currently focused on China’s reform challenges, patterns in Chinese direct investment, and the impact of nationalistic technology policies on Chinese welfare. Mr. Rosen has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University since 2001, and he is affiliated with a number of preeminent American think tanks. Since 1992, he has authored more than a dozen books and reports on aspects of China’s economic and commercial development. He served on the White House National Economic and Security Councils in 2000-01.

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of numerous books on China, most recently Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century. Schell was born in New York City, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in Far Eastern History, was an exchange student at National Taiwan University in the 1960s, and earned a Ph.D. (Abd) at the University of California, Berkeley in Chinese History.


LIVE WEBCAST:
Can’t make it to this program? Tune in Wednesday, January 18, at 6:30p.m. New York time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to  moderator at asiasociety.org or via Twitter by using the hashtag #AsiaSocietyLIVE.
 AsiaSociety.org
/Live

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Co-organized by Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a unique forum where the governments of 34 democracies with market economies work with each other, as well as with more than 70 non-member economies to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development.

Today, OECD member countries account for 63 percent of world GDP, three-quarters of world trade, 95 percent of world official development assistance, over half of the world’s energy consumption, and 18 percent of the world’s population. Together with its sister agencies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the OECD helps countries – both members and non-members – reap the benefits and confront the challenges of a global economy by promoting sound energy policies that further: economic growth; energy security; free markets; the increasingly safe, clean, and efficient use of resources to reduce environmental impacts and preserve our climate; and science and technology innovation.

The US Mission to the OECD writes: “The Organization provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies.

For more than 50 years, the OECD has been a valuable source of policy analysis and internationally comparable statistical, economic and social data.

Over the past decade, the OECD has further deepened its engagement with business, trade unions and other representatives of civil society. The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) represents the views of America’s private sector through its participation in the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC). The U.S. trade union interests are represented on the OECD’s Trade Union Advisory Committee by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) (USA).”

How does accession to the OECD work?

In 2007 the OECD Council at Ministerial level opened membership discussions with five candidate countries, as a result of which Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia became members in 2010, while discussions with the Russian Federation are currently postponed. In May 2013, the Council decided to launch a new wave of accession discussions with Colombia and Latvia; in April 2015, it invited Costa Rica and Lithuania to open formal OECD accession talks. Latvia became an OECD Member on 1 July 2016

As a first step, interested countries typically present a request to become OECD members. Once the OECD Council invites the Secretary-General to open discussions for accession with one or several countries, an “Accession Roadmap” is developed to detail the terms, conditions and process of each accession discussion. This roadmap lists the reviews to be undertaken by Committees in various policy areas in order to assess the country’s position with respect to the relevant OECD instruments and to evaluate its policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices in the relevant area. Each country follows its own process and is assessed independently.

Browse the roadmaps for the accession of the Russian Federation, Colombia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Costa Rica

At the end of the technical review, each Committee provides a “formal opinion” to the OECD Council. The timeline for the accession process depends on the pace at which the candidate country provides information to Committees and responds to recommendations for changes to its legislation, policy and practice.

On the basis of the formal opinions and other relevant information, the Council takes a final decision on the basis of unanimity. An Accession Agreement is then signed and the candidate country takes the necessary domestic steps and deposits an instrument of accession to the OECD Convention with the depositary, e.g. the French government. On the date of deposit, the country formally becomes a Member of the OECD.

Reviewing the above and reading the pronouncements of President-elect Trump of the USA –
it seems to us that the proper way for a reaction from the OECD is to start a process to negate USA membership for failing minimal rules of a democracy. It is clear that 3 million Americans were denied the value of their votes and Mr. Trump does not seem to accept the meaning of democracy. His economy projections promote the oligarchy that surrounds him and
it becomes obvious that he will lead the USA in the direction of Putin’s Russia which was declared not up to OCED requirements. Jn effect we find that China projects a better understanding of OECD requirements then a Trumpist America.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 4th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Analyst: Israel Must Take Advantage of Chance to Become Key Stop on New International Chinese Trade Route

The Algemeiner, SEPTEMBER 4, 2016

Author: BARNEY BREEN-PORTNOY

He is Washington, D.C.-based senior correspondent for The Algemeiner. He previously worked in Tel Aviv, Israel as a journalist and served in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. Barney holds a BA degree in Government and History from the University of Virginia. He can be reached at  bbreenportnoy at algemeiner.com.


Israel has a chance to become an important stop on a new international trade route being established by China, according to an analysis published by a global news magazine on Thursday.

The article coincides with the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China

“Israel has become a strategic focal point for China, and if it fails to leverage this, it will miss a unique opportunity to not only upgrade and diversify its economy, but to position itself as a critical outpost on China’s New Silk Road,” Roi Feder wrote in the Diplomatic Courier. “If Israel seizes the current window of opportunity, while being sensitive to America’s regional interests, it may become a critical trading route between East and West.”

The “New Silk Road” Feder referred to is the goal of China’s “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative. As it seeks to expand its economic reach throughout Asia and Europe, China is set to invest in infrastructure projects in dozens of countries.

According to Feder, the OBOR is part of Chinese President’s Xi Jinping’s “doctrine to reinstate China’s 7th Century golden age, when the Silk Road was a critical international commercial route.”

To realize this vision, China is strengthening its relations with Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.

“The growth in collaboration between China and Israel over the past few years is predominately due to Israel’s status as a Start-Up Nation which can supply China’s technological needs and help it to upgrade many of its industries,” Feder wrote. “Israel is a center of excellence in managing terror threats, an issue that Beijing decision-makers view with concern as they try to mitigate the rise of Islamist groups in China’s Western provinces.”

However, for China, Feder wrote, Israel’s true “potential lies in becoming an overland bridge connecting China’s trade routes from the Far East through Africa up to the Middle East and on to Europe. Even if it does not proclaim it publicly, China sees Israel as a strategic outpost in its regional interests; a small dot on the map, but one which is vital for ensuring an alternative for the trade and energy routes of the world’s second largest superpower.”

China has already been involved in a number of infrastructure projects in Israel in recent years — including the Carmel Tunnels and two private port projects in Ashdod and Haifa — but, Feder wrote, the “jewel in the crown” for the Chinese would be a “land bridge — a connection [between] the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea via rail which would provide a safe alternative route to the Suez Canal, and a dependable commercial center for China’s trading needs. Such a development will turn Israel into an essential part of the global trading ecosystem while boosting its economy.”

Feder concluded, “Israel must recognize the significance of OBOR and the enormous economic and diplomatic opportunities. If leveraged cautiously and with full consideration of America’s interests in the region, Israel…could become a small yet strategically critical outpost on China’s New Silk Road.”

As reported by The Algemeiner, Israel and China announced in May they would open talks on a bilateral free trade agreement.

In 2012, Israel and China signed an agreement to build a rail line that will link Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa with its Red Sea port in Eilat.

Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang Province on China’s southeastern coast. As the Province’s economic, cultural, technological and educational center, the city also plays a central role in the Yangtze River Delta. With a permanent population of 8.9 million as of the end of 2014, the Municipality is spread over an area of 16,596 square kilometers with the city proper accounting for 4,876 square kilometers.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 4th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The New York Times Top News September 24, 2016

Highway 80, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., in June. High tides are forcing the road to close several times a year.
Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline are no longer theoretical.

President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China formally committed to the Paris climate agreement on Saturday.
Rare Harmony as China and U.S. Commit to Climate Deal
By MARK LANDLER and JANE PERLEZ
President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China formally committed to the Paris climate agreement at a time of increasingly discordant relations between their nations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Carbon dioxide is invisible and odorless. Dawn Stover wonders: What if we could see carbon pollution in the air and water?

Seeing (pollution) is believing: ow.ly/YHEtd

Janice Sinclaire
Communications Director

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
U.S.A.
T. 773.382.8061
C. 707.481.9372
F. 773.980.6932E.
 jsinclaire at thebulletin.org

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23 February 2016,

SEEING (POLLUTION) IS BELIEVING.

by Dawn Stover — stover.jpeg

of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. IT IS THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT!
Stover is a science writer based in the Pacific Northwest and is a contributing editor at the Bulletin.

The snow has melted along the roads in my rural community, revealing a surprising number of beer cans, plastic bottles, and other trash in the roadside ditches. This is a sparsely populated area, yet I drive past mile after mile of terrestrial flotsam and jetsam. Most of it, I suspect, is jetsam—the stuff that is deliberately thrown overboard.

It probably won’t be long before some disgusted (or enterprising) neighbors start tackling this mess. Most of the cans and bottles can be redeemed for a five-cent deposit or put into bags for free curbside recycling. The worst thing about this roadside pollution is also the best thing about it: We can see it. That makes it easy to clean up.

Imagine if carbon pollution was as recognizable as a Bud Light can. What if, every time you started up your car or boarded an airplane or sliced into a Porterhouse steak, a sour-smelling beer can was ejected from your vehicle or pocket? Pretty soon there would be cans lining every highway and tarmac, and coal-fired power plants would literally be buried under them. But even this foul onslaught of aluminum might be less damaging than the 40 billion metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (plus other greenhouse gases) that humans are dumping into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans every year, raising the temperature of our planet. Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is invisible and odorless, which makes it easier to ignore. If we were dumping 40 billion metric tons of aluminum into the air and sea annually—the equivalent of 2,800 trillion beverage cans—surely we would do something about that.

Air quality alert. One of the reasons China is getting serious about clean energy is that the air pollution in Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities has become intolerable at times. The visibility gets so poor that flights are sometimes canceled because of smog, and residents are frequently forced to don masks when venturing outdoors—where the air quality can be worse than an airport smoking lounge. The pollution sometimes reaches all the way to California.

“The air in Los Angeles used to be like Beijing,” a California-based colleague recently reminded me. Los Angeles still has some of the most contaminated air in the United States, but the situation has improved significantly since 1970—when President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Congress passed the first of several major amendments to the Clean Air Act, empowering the federal government to regulate air pollutants.

The EPA’s new Clean Power Plan—announced in 2015 but challenged in court by 27 states and currently on hold pending a judicial review—would do for carbon pollution what the Clean Air Act did for smog in an earlier era. This time around, though, many elected officials can’t see what the problem is. Literally.

Making the invisible visible. Instead of implementing a carbon tax or federal limits on power-plant emissions, maybe we just need to add a smelly dye to all fossil fuels—something like the red colorant that is added to fire retardants so that pilots can see where they have sprayed, or the rotten-egg-like chemical that is injected into natural gas so that homeowners can detect gas leaks before they become life-threatening. Instead of subjecting airlines to proposed new emissions limits, we’d simply see a hideous red contrail every time an airplane flew overhead. Standing on the beach, we’d see a red tide—the carbon dioxide absorbed by the North Atlantic alone has doubled in the past decade. And the smell of the recent enormous methane leak from a ruptured pipeline in southern California would pale in comparison to the collective stench emitted by fracking operations and thousands of fossil-fuel-burning power plants. On the plus side, we’d be able to see trees and other plants sucking up carbon, which might make us think twice about turning forests into pallets.

This is only a thought experiment, of course. We shouldn’t have to go to these lengths to realize that the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion are bad for our health. Most of us know better than to breathe from our car’s tailpipe or leave the garage door shut with the engine running. That’s how you kill yourself, after all. And yet we think nothing of dumping copious amounts of exhaust into the air that everyone breathes. It’s out of sight and out of mind.

Turning a blind eye. Although greenhouse gas emissions aren’t visible, their climate impacts are. It’s not hard to see melting glaciers, wilted crops, and storm surges—or to find photographs, charts, and other images showing how quickly our planet is changing. And yet, as President Barack Obama remarked during a press conference on February 16, “There’s not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change, that thinks it’s serious.” That’s a problem, said Obama, because other countries “count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense.”

How can Marco Rubio not see the impacts of rising sea level in Florida? How did Donald Trump miss the meaning of Hurricane Sandy, a bellwether for the type of extreme events that scientists say will become more common and more severe as global warming continues? Where was Ted Cruz when Texas was enduring devastating heat, drought, and wildfires—or the deadly floods that followed? All of the GOP candidates, including self-professed climate change “believer” John Kasich, are turning a blind eye to the decades of scientific research that place the blame squarely on human activities, and it’s possible that even a putrid red haze would not move them.

There will always be some people who are willfully ignorant and inconsiderate and lazy, who toss their trash out the window and leave it for others to pick up. The rest of us can stand around shaking our heads, or we can pull on our gloves and do something about this dreadful mess. Unfortunately, the past two centuries’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions is like a heap of discarded cans and bottles that are already hopelessly bent, broken, and ground into the mud. This carbon buildup will have consequences for Earth’s climate and sea level for tens of thousands of years to come.

That’s no excuse to put off spring cleaning, though. Climate change is largely irreversible on human time scales, but rapid and aggressive action would keep the worst impacts of global warming to a minimum. It’s more important than ever to make drastic reductions in carbon dumping, and get serious about reforestation and other cleanup measures. These are the Bud Light cans we can still get our hands on.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Let us be honest – we never expected that elusive magic the UN was chasing for 20 years – a meaningful – fit for all – agreement for action backed by consensus of 195 members of UNFCCC. Now we expect it even less because the world is changed by much since the signing of the UN Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Back then the UN was divided into Developed or industrialized countries and those starting their development only and at their head China. Now many of those Developing Countries are among the richest countries in the world but still think that the divisions of 1992 ought to continue like the UN fiction of regions that still looks at eastern Europe as a unified block of Soviet led Nations.

How can you accept as a unit the new “Like Minded Group” that is led by China, India, and Saudi Arabia talking for a passe Developing block? China is in effect a most advanced country trying now to replace the coal-based energy system that it not only into a largely industrialized country with a respectable middle-class that demands it reduce pollution, an India that is slowly moving ahead to pass China and insists on his right to pollute in order to get there. and the Saudis and other Gulf States that still think that the right to sell oil is god-given. Then you have the Island States that look into the abyss and know all these others would just sacrifice them then change.

The first week in Paris was taken by the 150 Heads of State that came to make their Statements in two parallel plenaries and had their entourage look at the documents put before them – the 50 page draft hammered out in New York and Bonn – reduced it by some 20 pages and added 17 new pages. A French Presidency decision had them terminate the peruse of the document by Saturday night. The resulted 48 page text was deemed by the media as a victory – an agreed text. But what agreement? It has 900 square brackets marking disagreements on everything that matters. Civil Society was practically eliminated at Paris. At first by the strictness of the Le Bourget airport site and then reinforced by the oil money funded act of terror against modern life that also put at a stand-still the NGOs that had intended to come to Paris to demonstrate their push for the clear need to stop field fossil carbon in the atmosphere – the reason for the Global Warming/Climate Change series of events that can ultimately make the planet inhospitable to life the way we got used to. Yes – we say this all the time – it is oil money from oil interests that is the root cause to our problems – it is this perception that the economy must be based on fossil carbon and the blindness to the truth that reliance on current solar energy can replace this self imposed reliance on banked solar energy.

So, now starts the second week with a slew of new people at Le Bourget. The ministers/politicians come to work on that draft that was left over from last week. Can there be an agreement among them? Can they paper over their differences by coming up with a meaningless consensus paper? To make things worse, it seems that most countries sent over now their ministers of the environment to accompany Foreign Service diplomats. But for truth sake – we had already all needed evidence from the scientists that the danger to the environment was made clear – but in these 20 years we learned as well that the handicaps stem from economic and social conditions – these other two components of the Sustainable Development tripod designed in Rio in 1992 and left on the sidelines while the oil folks were attacking the scientific evidence in an effort to undermine the true scientists evidence with the help of paid-for pseudo-scientists belonging to sects like the US Republicans and the oil-led Chambers of Commerce everywhere. We say – add to this the sponsored insurgency that is timed to take our mind away of the global disaster that starts from the melting of the ice at poles and mountain tops.

Are we pessimistic? Not at all! The diplomats and politicians will come up with some cover document to wrap the real achievement of the Paris2015 COP21. That is the collection of single country commitments that have already been deposited with the Conference French Presidency last week. We have no final number for the States that presented these commitments but we know this was not universal – neither was it transparent. Some may yet be moved to add to the pile further papers. Eventually the UNFCCC secrecy on this will be lifted. It is possible that this week there will be made an effort to decide upon the verification of progress towards these commitments. But don’t hold your breath. If the commitments are not universal – it is possible those that mean indeed to live up to their commitments will later suggest an organization and methods for measuring results. No hurry on this. Politics might be in the way – but nevertheless – this is a great achievement of this year’s conference and the parallel SDGs the true catalyst to action.

We hope to start positive reporting after this week is over. We are aware as well that Climate Change will take a back seat to the “Fight-Terrorism” aspect of what we consider to be joint topics by nature of how they were funded.

###

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

From: Seth M. Siegel <seth@sethmsiegel.com>
Sent: Thu, Sep 17, 2015 3:30 pm
Subject: A Milestone in My Life

Earlier this week, my book Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World was released. Thanks to significant pre-sales and a smart sales executive at my publisher, Barnes & Noble agreed to put the book on the New Non-Fiction table found at the entrance to all of the bookseller’s stores. Walking in and seeing the stack of books was a remarkable experience, a milestone. (See photo.)
Let There Be Water is, I believe, an inspiring book, and I hope many more readers find their way to it. Not only does every concerned citizen need to learn about the coming water crisis. As Israel has shown, we also need to know that concerted action can lead to great outcomes. It is what binds society together. At a time of cynicism and distrust of government, the renewal of our water systems can be a vehicle for renewing trust and faith in our institutional ability to take on a major task and get something important done.
Aside from the already great joy this project has brought me, if Let There Be Water plays some role in getting people to think about water policy and, from that, changes in how we manage our water occurs, I could have no greater reward for my efforts.
Seth M. Siegel

PRAISE FOR LET THERE BE WATER: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Prime Minister of Uganda Ruhakana Rugunda, Edito-in-Chieg Arianna Huffington, co-author of Start-UP Nation Dan Senior and former US Diplomat.

THE SEPTEMBER 9th POSTING:


From Africa to China, How Israel Helps Quench the Developing World’s Thirst: The untold story of Israeli hydrodiplomacy, from the 1950s until now.

by: Seth M. Siegel, Sept. 9 2015

Seth M. Siegel is an entrepreneur, writer, and lawyer in New York.


In November 1898, Theodor Herzl arranged a meeting with the German emperor, Wilhelm II, to obtain help in creating a Jewish state in the land of Israel. In their conversation, the Kaiser praised the work of the Zionist pioneers, telling Herzl that, above all else, “water and shade trees” would restore the land to its ancient glory. Four years later, Herzl had a lead character in his political tract-cum-novel Altneuland (“Old-New Land”) say of Jewish settlement in Palestine: “This country needs nothing but water and shade to have a great future.” Another character predicts that the water engineers of the Jewish homeland will be its heroes.

Utopian novels set the bar high, and Altneuland is nothing if not a utopian novel. Yet even before statehood, Zionists made remarkable strides in putting the land’s limited water resources to good use. They drained swamps, drilled wells, and developed irrigation systems. By the 1960s, Israel had developed a nationwide system of underground pipes to transport water from the relatively water-rich north to the Negev desert in the south. Israeli engineers also developed the system known as drip irrigation, which simultaneously conserves water and increases crop yields. Later, Israel would pioneer desalination technology. Combining scientific advances with efficient management, the Jewish state is now in no danger of running out of water. In fact, it provides large amounts from its own supplies to the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, while each year exporting billions of dollars’ worth of peppers, tomatoes, melons, and other water-intensive produce.

Herzl imagined something else, too, in Altneuland. Following the establishment of a Jewish national home, his protagonist announces, Jews will need to come to the aid of the suffering people of Africa, whose “problem, in all its horror, . . . only a Jew can fathom.” Israel’s founding generation took this admonition to heart. In 1958, Golda Meir, then Israel’s foreign minister, created a department whose mission was to help developing countries—particularly in Africa—overcome problems of water, irrigation, agriculture, education, and women’s status. The department, whose name translates loosely as loosely Center for International Cooperation, was known by the Hebrew acronym Mashav.

In its early years, the Mashav initiative was warmly embraced by African states as well as countries in Asia and South America. When she became Israel’s prime minister in 1969, Meir saw to it that the African program continued to get the support it needed. But then came the 1973 Yom Kippur war, in the aftermath of which, at the urging of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, every sub-Saharan nation broke diplomatic relations with Israel and expelled the Mashav specialists. Traumatic as it was for Meir—she “had been messianic about her African program,” writes Yehuda Avner in The Prime Ministers—it was a much greater misfortune for the many Africans who had benefited from the now abruptly terminated programs.

In the 1980s, some African countries expressed interest in renewing ties. Ethiopia restored relations in 1989, and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa followed suit in 1993 with the signing of the first Oslo agreement. Today, Israel provides training in water management, irrigation, and other areas for specialists from more than 100 countries, 29 of them in Africa.


Moreover, Israeli water innovation for the developing world is no longer only the province of government.
Consider, for example, Sivan Yaari: a diminutive thirty-something whose NGO utilizes solar power and Israeli technology to help bring clean water and electric power to people living in small and often remote African villages. Born in Israel, raised in France, and educated in the U.S., Yaari spent a summer working for the UN in isolated parts of Senegal, where water pumps were either broken or in disuse because villagers had no money for the fuel needed to run them. “They ended up digging bore holes a few kilometers away,” Yaari says, “to get filthy water they had to carry back to their villages.”

Her answer was Innovation: Africa (in shorthand, i:A), an organization that installs not only water pumps but similarly solar-powered electricity for light bulbs and vaccine refrigerators in medical clinics. It now runs water projects in seven African countries, and Yaari has plans for expansion. “It turns out,” she explains, that

there is a lot of underground water in Africa. You just have to know where to look for it. The bigger problem facing African water-assistance programs is that as soon as the aid professionals leave the villages, the systems begin to break down and the people are no better off than before.

To overcome this, Innovation: Africa has created a system that seems impervious to breakdown, vandalism, or theft—and that can be run remotely from Israel. The concept is deceptively simple. Once a source of potable underground water is located, a rented diesel-powered drill is brought in to reach it, a water pump is inserted into the shaft, properly sized solar panels are installed and connected, and water is drawn out and deposited into an adjacent water tower, from where gravity propels it to destinations all around the village. In addition, the waterlines are connected to a drip-irrigation system installed alongside the solar panels, enabling the villagers to plant seeds and harvest the produce.

Thousands of miles away, in Tel Aviv, i:A’s technology chief Meir Yaacoby has created a device to monitor and manage each African water system from the office. By means of whatever wireless service is available locally (Yaari: “They may not have shoes, but the adults have cell phones”), frequent messages keep Yaacoby updated with key information on, among other things, the quantity of water in the tower and any problems with the equipment. He also receives a constant Internet feed on local weather conditions. If it the outlook is for hotter weather than usual, or if a cloudy spell threatens to block solar rays, he can pump more water into the tower as a precaution; if rain is in the offing, he can stop and restart drip irrigation as needed by a particular crop at any given stage in its growing cycle. If the system itself develops a mechanical problem, he is apprised within minutes and can send detailed information for repairing it to a local engineer. Every part of the system can also be automated, making it infinitely scalable.

These drip-irrigation systems are having another, unexpected effect. Yaari cites a village in Uganda as a representative case study. Beyond providing more food for the village and relief from hunger, the system has enabled the villagers to sell their surplus at the market. “With the extra money, they’ve bought chickens and developed a poultry farm,” she reports. In addition, “Once you begin providing water, the children aren’t filling jerry cans with muddy water and they can wash. They also stay healthy; a large number of the children had been getting sick from drinking unclean water.” And there are still other benefits: “The children, especially the girls, had been walking two to three hours a day fetching water,” she says. “They would come back exhausted and filthy. Now, with water being pumped, they can go to school.”


If the animating humanitarian spirit of Mashav is alive and flourishing in 2015, bringing sustenance to destitute and water-deprived people around the world, Israel has also used its water knowhow to improve its commercial prospects and ameliorate its diplomatic isolation. To date, more than 150 countries have welcomed Israeli assistance or technology in addressing their water problems. One notable one is China.

Despite the country’s enormous natural resources, the PRC has long been plagued with water problems. Many farming regions are inefficient and wasteful when it comes to water usage; infrastructure is overburdened and superannuated, losing enormous amounts in leaks; sewage treatment is often inadequate; and lax enforcement of environmental laws has led to the severe deterioration of many sources of freshwater.

In the early 1980s, having previously rebuffed decades of diplomatic overtures from Israel, the PRC permitted teams of Israeli water engineers to come—secretly—to survey collective farms in the southern province of Guangxi. The engineers recommended the use of drip irrigation, as well as Israeli seeds that would be better suited to the soil and climate. The Chinese agreed, but demanded that any markings suggestive of Israeli origin be removed from the equipment and seed packaging. Three years later, again in secret, a team of Israeli hydrologists and geologists was invited to help develop an irrigation plan for the semiarid Wuwei district south of the Gobi desert. In time, creeping closer to recognition, the Chinese proposed that Israel send an irrigation and water-utilization expert to Beijing and in return they would send a tourism specialist to Israel.


From these highly guarded beginnings, formal diplomatic ties were finally established in 1992. When, twenty years later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Beijing to meet with his counterpart Li Keqiang, water management was still high on the Chinese agenda, but now openly so. To Netanyahu’s proposal that, as a pilot project, an Israeli consortium be engaged to redo the entire water infrastructure of a small Chinese city, Li replied by designating one of his ministers to assist in picking the city. A little over a year later, a joint Israeli-Chinese committee announced the selection of Shouguang, a city of slightly more than one million people—small, by Chinese standards—as the test site.

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” said one senior Israeli official, “but if we perform well here, we will have the opportunity to help rebuild the water systems of cities all over China.” Whatever one’s view of Communist China’s domestic behavior or global ambitions, the potential economic benefits to Israel of such an enterprise are undeniable—to say nothing of the independent moral value of significantly improving the living conditions of millions of ordinary Chinese citizens.

This essay is adapted from Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth M. Siegel, to be published next week by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. Copyright © 2015 by the author.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

China-US / Politics, September 5-6, 2015
ON THE ROAD TO PARIS 2015.
Updated: 2015-09-05 02:54
By Amy He(China Daily USA)
Contact the writer at  amyhe at chinadailyusa.com

 usa.chinadaily.com.cn/us/2015-09/…

People attended the UN Climate Change COP20 in Lima in December 2014.
France will host this year’s conference, COP 21, also known as “Paris 2015”, from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

COP21 will seek to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°Celsius.


Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States this month is expected to include further talks with US President Barack Obama on climate change as the world’s two biggest polluting countries prepare for a UN-led conference in Paris in December to reach a global climate agreement, AMY HE reports from New York.


Supporters of the deal called it a “game-changer”, “this century’s most significant agreement”.
The news headlines called it “historic” and “ambitious”.

And the opposition, mainly Republicans in the US Congress, labeled it “terrible”, said it “changes nothing” and was a “waste of time.”

But everyone was in agreement on one word: “unexpected”. The agreement announced on Nov 11, 2014, in Beijing by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to cut greenhouse emissions surprised the world.

Worked out after months of quiet negotiations and a letter from Obama to Xi proposing a joint approach, the agreement called for the United States to cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent before 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030, and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

The agreement amounted to an announcement to the world and to the nearly 200 other countries that will meet in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December: The world’s two biggest polluters were committed to climate change.

All countries attending the talks are to present to the UN their own plans for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. The goal is to put the world on track to cap global average temperatures at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Though congressional approval is not needed for the Obama-Xi agreement, when it was announced, congressional Republicans criticized the deal and Democrats praised it.

Republican Senator James M. Inhofe, a leading global warming skeptic, called the pledges by Obama and Xi “hollow and not believable”.

Governor Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat, took aim at critics of efforts to reach climate-change agreements, saying at a climate summit in Toronto in July: “There are a lot of people out there who don’t get it. They’re asleep. They’re on the Titanic, and they’re drinking champagne, and they’re about to crash.”

THE US PLAN:

At the end of March, the US submitted its plan to the United Nations to combat climate change. The US repeated its goal to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, making best efforts to achieve 28 percent cuts by 2025.

It committed the country to doubling the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent a year on average between 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent between 2020 and 2025.

“This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the pathway to achieve deep economy-wide reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050,” it said in a release about the plan.

The World Resources Institute praised the US plan, saying that it shows that the country is ready to lead on the climate and through its proposed steps will be able to save money and grow its economy.

“This is a serious and achievable commitment. WRI research finds that under its existing federal authority, the United States can reach its proposed target to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at WRI.


THE CHINA PLAN:

On June 30, China submitted its climate change goals to the UN, setting a new, loftier goal for energy efficiency.

The plan said that by 2030, the carbon intensity of China’s economy would fall by 60 to 65 percent compared with 2005. It previously had said 40 to 45 percent by 2020. And it said it would increase its share of non-fossil fuel in energy consumption to about 20 percent, and increase forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005 levels. “A one-thousand-mile journey starts from the first step,” China said in its INDC (intended nationally determined contributions).

Environmental advocates welcomed the development as the latest sign of China’s determination to clean up its energy sector, backing away from coal and favoring wind and solar power.

“China is largely motivated by its strong national interests to tackle persistent air pollution problems, limit climate impacts and expand its renewable energy job force,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute.

The Obama administration praised China’s plan, saying it “helps to provide continued momentum” toward reaching a climate agreement in December.

And on Aug 28, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded China’s efforts to address climate problems.

“China has already taken a hugely important global championing leadership,” he said. “Together with the United States last year, it has [made] a historic, huge impact-giving statement,” he said in a meeting with Chinese media representatives at UN headquarters.

Climate change experts interviewed by China Daily said that China’s climate goals are realistic and achievable, and said its plan was a significant step for the country and for the Paris climate negotiations.

Solidifying their goal to peak emissions is an “extremely constructive step,” said Joanna Lewis, associate professor of science and technology at Georgetown University. “I think the pledges they reported are all aggressive and will be challenging to meet each in their own way.”

Shuiyan Tang, professor of public administration at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, said, “In a way, you might say that China has a stronger national consensus about environmental protection — and even carbon emission — than in the US.

“In the US, there are a lot of conservative Republicans who almost wouldn’t even want to admit climate change,” Tang said. “So in this sense, China is stronger in terms of coming to a national consensus.”

The Paris discussions will be particularly important because it will be the first time in 20 years that all the nations in the world will strive to reach a universal agreement on post-2020 climate action.

Leading up to the Paris talks are many other meetings that will include discussions between heads of state and finance ministers. The most prominent one will be this month when heads of state attend the UN’s General Assembly meeting where climate change will be on the agenda. Xi will be attending that meeting as part of his official state visit to the US.

POLITICAL CONSENSUS:

“I think the aim of the New York summit is not to get detailed actions from each country, but more to just secure a strong political consensus (from them),” said Haibing Ma, China program manager at the Worldwatch Institute.

“It’s to further build up the momentum to the Paris agreement at the end of the year — it’s not to negotiate. They come here as a symbol and show the world they have this strong commitment and strong willingness to limit carbon emissions in the future. I think it’s more like a universal political gesture than a detailed action plan,” he said.

“Any conversations which can take place in advance of the actual talks is extremely constructive, so that we can avoid any misunderstandings along the lines of what we may have experienced in Copenhagen,” she said. Lewis is referring to the climate talks in 2005 in the European city that failed to yield more than two pages of the Copenhagen Accord, where nations agreed to discuss climate again in the future and to reach a decision then.

“My understanding is President François Hollande and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be holding a lunch or dinner with some of the leaders to talk about climate, but I don’t think anyone expects breakthroughs in New York in September on these issues,” Meyer said.

“But because you have so many of these leaders in one place at one time, there’s an opportunity for a lot of bilateral conversations between leaders that can help increase understanding. You’re more likely to get signals coming out of the finance ministers in October or the G20 meeting in November, or some of the gatherings after New York, than you are at the General Assembly,” he added.


INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION:


During the Paris talks, the experts expect that each country will lay out a detailed climate plan and an estimation of collective global efforts. Worldwatch Institute’s Ma said that more information is expected on the measurement, reporting and verification systems, which are systems that countries have in place to monitor and collect data on carbon emissions.

In addition, further talks are expected on the Green Climate Fund (GFC), a fund within the UNFCCC that collects and distributes money from developed economies to aid in climate efforts of developing economies.

“Among the climate community here, we’re expecting strong progress on the finance side. We expect the Green Climate Fund to be fully operational with a large chunk of money that will be ready to be directed to countries that most need it. We expect to see a clearer text within the agreement on how the developing countries should be supported from the international community,” Ma said.

The Green Climate Fund, which has headquarters in Incheon, South Korea, was established in 2010, with developed countries pledging to raise $100 billion every year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change problems.

Some developing economies, like India, have said that they do not believe the current amounts being generated for the fund are enough to fight climate change.

The US has pledged it will contribute $3 billion to the fund, and 10 other countries have pledged $3 billion toward the fund as well. The fund is expected to be up and running before the Paris talks, according to Ban.

“I think it’s too early to say for sure what will be achieved in Paris, but now that most of the major economies have either already put forth their INDCs or signaled that they’re on the way, that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Georgetown’s Lewis.

Though China’s INDC proposal has been well-received, experts agree that there are challenges ahead.

China said it would peak emissions but did not provide an absolute cap, and instead said it will aim to reduce carbon emission per unit of GDP, meaning that the amount of emissions will fluctuate depending on the economy’s growth.

“From a global carbon budget perspective, it’s hard to know how to score China’s commitment on that front, because you don’t know how the economy is going to perform over the next 15 years. You can make assumptions based on current projected growth rates, but of course there’s no guarantee that those won’t be higher or lower,” Meyer said.

Price’s Tang said that it “makes sense” for a country of China’s size to not focus on absolute total reduction. “You don’t want to impose an absolute amount of reduction — that is not viable, because China simply cannot do that,” he said.

The country said in its INDC that by 2014, carbon emissions per unit of GDP have already been lowered by 33.8 percent compared to 2005 levels.


US STANDARD:


The US, on the other hand, has proposed absolute reduction in its INDC by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“This is easier for the US to do, because it’s expecting maybe 2 or 3 percent GDP growth for whatever foreseeable future. For them, you’re not talking about a big increase in the total economy, year after year, so it’s easier for them to pledge to achieve total reduction. As long as you increase efficiency for each GDP output unit, you can easily achieve absolute reduction,” Tang said.

Another obstacle that the Chinese government may face is in the enforcement of climate change-related regulation, which is currently set out by the central government but is enforced at the provincial and city levels. Officials who often have to hit economic growth targets as well as environmental ones sometimes prioritize over climate-related ones.

“The most difficult types of regulatory enforcement are really those that are really local in nature. So one example is water pollution. That’s very difficult for the national government to deal with because a lot of it is really local. If you have one really bad factory in the local river system that is polluting everything, then it’s very difficult for Beijing to do anything.

In China, whatever agreements the national government has, at the end of the day, implementation is going to be at the provincial, county, city level,” said Tang, who studies Chinese governance.


Clayton Munnings, research associate at Resources for the Future, said that China’s challenge lies not necessarily in creating policies that will help it peak emissions, but ensuring effective implementation and coordination of policies already in place.

“Seven regions in China now operate cap and trade pilots with the intention of informing the design of a national cap and trade program, slated to launch in 2016,” he told China Daily.

“While local policymakers have done an impressive job in designing and implementing these regional cap and trade markets in a remarkably short amount of time, the pilots risk overallocation of allowances, suffer from low liquidity and have faced difficulties in ensuring compliance.”

A national cap and trade program — a market-based approach used to give economic incentives to those who achieve pollutant reductions — is needed at the national level, Munnings said. Price’s Tang agreed that many of China’s climate policies need to be enforced at the national level, but the nature of the governing system makes that difficult.

“It’s part of the Chinese governance system. China’s system works where one level pushes another level — ultimately it’s not just environmental protection, it’s almost any policy area, it’s the nature of the system where the central government makes policy, sets up targets, and relies on provincial, city and county township governments to do the job,” he said.

Climate experts said that Xi’s state visit to the US will signal US and China’s further bilateral cooperation. It will be another chance for the two presidents to touch base heading into Paris and talk about how the two largest economies and two largest emitters can continue to play a leadership role “as two of the most pivotal countries” making sure that the Paris talks reach a constructive outcome, Georgetown’s Lewis said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


In the run-up to Paris2015 Kevin Rudd of the New York based Asia Society argues that “U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris,” Lord Nicholas Stern said that there will be a complete change in what the planet will look like in 100 years from now, and Christiana Figueres said that what countries have prepared for Paris is insufficient, but she hopes that in those 100 coming years they will be more forthcoming.

On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Noting that projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions would cause average temperatures to rise by three-and-a-half to four degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, Lord Stern said “that is very dangerous territory” that the planet hasn’t seen “for around three million years,” since the end of the last Ice Age.

“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.

The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”


Figueres said that countries’ national climate change plans, which governments have been announcing ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this December, will fall short of “where we should be, according to science, to be on the two degree [temperature increase] pathway.”

The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”

She noted that the Paris climate agreement “is being constructed, actually, as a progressive effort over a certain period of timeframes, during which countries need, and will be able to, because of increased technology and further capital flows … increase their contribution to the solution.”

Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.

Related Links
Kevin Rudd on CNBC: Don’t Confuse the Chinese Stock Market with Overall Economy
Kevin Rudd in the New York Times: U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris

———–================================================================———–

THE UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 5, 2015


Ms. Christiana Figueres – the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC will end her contract at the end of this year after the conclusion of the Paris 2015 meeting – having guided the organization through all this preparatory years. It is being suggested that her candidacy be submitted for the 2016 selection process for next UN Secretary-General position. She would be the best informed person to lead the UN in the crucial 2017-2026 period when Climate Change and Sustainability become main UN topics under the incoming title from Paris – “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.

————————————————————–

UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks

By EUOBSERVER
4. Sep, 13:47

 euobserver.com/tickers/130117

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.

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


How China Can Help Lead a Global Transition to Clean Energy

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank focused on international governance. CIGI’s research programs focus on: global economy, global security & politics and international law. Founded in 2001, CIGI collaborates with several research affiliates and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of funding partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

CIGI IS BASED AT — 67 Erb Street West, Waterloo, ON Canada N2L 6C2
TEL: 1.519.885.2444 | FAX: 1.519.885.5450

The following ideas are from their release in:
Fixing Climate Governance Policy Brief No. 6
Series: Fixing Climate Governance Series
by: Alvin Lin, Luan Dong, and Yang Fuqiang
Published: July 22, 2015

China’s coal consumption fell marginally in 2014, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry. China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can then peak its CO2 emissions by 2025. It can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy such as wind and solar power, where it leads the world in manufacturing and installation, and focusing on improving integration of renewable energy and scaling technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids. China should also prioritize renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion in order to avoid making large investments in stranded assets, and should price carbon high enough to direct investment toward clean energy. By doing so, China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.

Building upon domestic actions, China should work with other key players, including the Group of Twenty (G20), to advance the international climate agenda. China should also ensure that the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) prioritizes clean energy development for developing countries and does not fund coal mining or coal power projects, so that other countries can leapfrog the environmental pollution that China is now seeking to remedy.

This timely new Policy Brief, titled How China Can Help Lead a Global Transition to Clean Energy by Alvin Lin, Luan Dong and Yang Fuqiang has been published by the project Fixing Climate Governance, based at the CIGI.

China’s coal consumption in 2014 fell by 2.9 percent, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry.

The key points of this new report are:

· China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can then peak its CO2 emissions by 2025.

· The country can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy, such as wind and solar power, and focusing on improving integration of renewable energy and scaling technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids.

· It should also prioritize renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion in order to avoid making large investments in stranded assets, and should price carbon high enough to direct investment toward clean energy. By doing so, China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.

· China should work with other key players, including the G20, to advance the international climate agenda. It should push for agreements to phase down fossil fuel subsidies and consumption of super-greenhouse gas (GHG) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigeration, air conditioning and industry.

· It should phase down its own fossil fuel subsidies, including by increasing the pricing of coal to reflect its true environmental costs, and support a phasedown of HFCs domestically, in conjunction with the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.

· The country should also ensure that the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) prioritizes clean energy development for developing countries and does not fund coal mining or coal power projects, so that other countries can leapfrog the environmental pollution that China is now seeking to remedy.

For the Brief click at –  www.cigionline.org/publications/…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna
July 12. 2015

On Friday, July 10, 2015 – a very timely – at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.
Since the Iran talks are being held in Vienna, the panel discussion was very appropriate and although many people have left the City for the Summer, or at least for the weekend, this round table – and the room were full.
I will try to give a somewhat concise reporting of that event.

The event was called: Iran und der Westen nach den Verhandlungen (Iran and the West after the talks).

The participants were:

Dr. Christian Prosl, Austrian Ambassador to Washingtion 2009-2011

Dr. Walter Posch, Institut für Friedenssicherung und Konfliktforschung an der Landesverteidigungsakademie Wien
( Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Vienna).

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist, APA (the Austrian Press Agency) and Wiener Zeitung

The excellent moderator was Dr. Werner Fasslabend, President of the Politische Akademie und des AIES, former Austrian Minister for Defense.

—————————–

Dr. Fasselabend opened the discussion stating that only 99.9% of the talks are completed.

He continued by by displaying historic and current maps of the Region, giving us a broad historic overview of Iran and its influence on the region. He stressed that because of Iran’s geographical location it was and still is a very large regional power and stability in the Middle East without Iran’s cooperation is impossible.

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist for APA (Austrian Press Agentur) and Wiener Zeitung gave us an inside look from the perspective of the journalists covering the talks.

He recalled that after 17 days, 12-16 hours of work, 600 journalists and at a cost of about $1 million for the stay in Vienna by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his delegation at the famous Imperial Hotel, there is still no deal. There have been many improvements since the beginning of the talks, but still no deal. Mr. Kerry has prolonged his stay yet again and said a deadline will not be a factor as long as an agreement can be achieved. The new deadline to be breached is Monday July 13th.

The three major problems that stand in the way of an agreement are:

1) The sanctions on Iran – the Iranian delegation insists those have to be lifted right away;

2) The UN Arms Embargo that includes conventional weapons;

3) Political readiness by President Obama and Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. Both have to agree to a deal which will be accepted at home.

Dr. Faal said he is an optimist by nature and is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached.

Ambassador Dr. Christian Prosl addressed the matter from the US point of view. He said that for the US the stability of the region and the security of the State of Israel are the main factors and the two problems which the US faces are with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries, though for different reasons, are against any deal with Iran since they do not trust the Iranian regime.

As for the supply of oil, this is not anymore a factor for the US because of the fracking industry. However, the strained relationship between President Obama and the Republican party may be a factor. The Republicans have tried for a long time now to see that President Obama fails, and they may try to fail him also in this endeavor. Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in Congress against the Iran deal, which was prompted by the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boemer, did not help. However Ambassador Prosl said that he cannot imagine that the Republicans will fail the agreement if it is iron clad and the treaty will be safe for the US.

Dr. Posch addressed the matter from the Iranian point of view and concluded that although the problems are being viewed from different perspective, i.e. US, the EU and Iran, the will is there. Regional security, oil supply and human rights in Iran all play a part in the talks. He also was hopeful that a deal will be signed

At the end of the panel presentations, Dr. Fasselabend invited to the podium Dr. Massud Mossaheb, General Secretary of the Austro-Iranian Society in Vienna.

Mr. Mossaheb said that there is mutual mistrust between the West and the Iranian Government.

In spite of the fact that the Iranian nuclear position has not changed in the last 40 years, there is still mistrust. The people of Iran hope for the lifting of the sanctions so they can have a better quality of life. They suffer from high inflation and lack of supplies, especially in medications. Dr. Mossaheb also hopes for a deal to be reached.

As the end, the consensus was that the talks will go on, of course not for ever, but without the threat of an immediate deadline, and an agreement, which will be safe and beneficial for all participants will be reached.

——————–

From the US MEDIA – I will add to the above
that the personal insistence of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, the opinion is that the White House investment in these talks is so high that a failure to obtain an agreement is unthinkable.

The fact that the Iranians see this deep involvement of the Americans has in itself weakened the position of the United States in these negotiations. But then, the Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei – whose position is still strong as he is still blindly followed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who are in charge of the Nuclear Program – may be using tough talk now just to make sure that his agreeing to an agreement is not viewed as weakness. The Iranian people want an end to the sanctions provided it is not seen as a cave in (the CNN/GPS program of Fareed Zakaria).

The current round, now in its 16-th day, was supposed to conclude on June 30, but was extended until July 7, then July 10 and now July 13. The sides had hoped to seal a deal before the end of Thursday in Washington to avoid delays in implementing their promises.

By missing that target, the U.S. and Iran now have to wait for a 60-day congressional review period during which President Barack Obama can’t waive sanctions on Iran. Had they reached a deal by Thursday, the review would have been only 30 days.

En route to Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday.

Kerry noted that “a few tough things” remain in the way of agreement but added: “We’re getting to some real decisions.”

A senior State Department official also said Sunday that the department will not speculate about the timing of anything during the talks and that key issues remain unresolved.

Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It reported that Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”

His comments suggest Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist whether a deal gets done or not. Khamenei’s comments also have appeared thus to be a blow to U.S. hopes than agreement will lead to improved relations with the country and possible cooperation against Islamic rebels.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, like Kerry, indicated talks could go either way. “We behaved so skillfully that if talks won’t succeed, the world would accept that Iran is for logic and dialogue and never left the negotiating table … and if we succeed by the grace of God, the world will know that the Iranian nation can resolve its problems through logic,” his website quoted him as saying.

The supreme leader’s comments also come after it was learned Saturday that the Islamic Republic’s spies have been seeking atomic and missile technology in neighboring Germany as recently as last month.

Iran’s illegal activities have continued since talks between Iran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as rotating member Germany – began with a Joint Plan of Action in 2013, according to German intelligence sources. The JPOA was intended to stop Iran’s work on a nuclear weapon until a comprehensive agreement is reached.

“You would think that with the negotiations, [Iranian] activities would drop,” a German intelligence source said. “Despite the talks to end Iran’s program, Iran did not make an about-turn.”

With a final agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program set for Monday, the intelligence data from Germany raises disturbing questions about the success of the deal.

Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program over the last two years, according to German intelligence sources. Germany is required to report Iran’s illegal procurement activities to the UN.

Iran is unlikely to begin a substantial rollback of its nuclear program until it gets sanctions relief in return.

But then the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers said they will come to Vienna for the signing of the agreement – and the news are that Mr. Sergei Lavrov has said he will be there on Monday.

An Iranian diplomat said that they have a 100 pages document to study and that logistically it cannot be done by Sunday night with parallel meetings going on.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


What is the economic potential of the manufacture of transport fuels from CO2?

from: Dimitriou, Ioanna –  dimitri1 at aston.ac.uk

July 12, 2015

to Energy

Dear all,

Our study, entitled “Carbon dioxide utilisation for production of transport fuels: process and economic analysis” has been recently published by the prestigious Energy and Environmental Science journal. The study aims to support policy makers and businesses in their decision-making by establishing whether the production of liquid transport fuels from CO2 using current technology is economically feasible and identifying the modifications required to improve the economic competitiveness of Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU).

The article is open-access and available through the following link: pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlela…

Abstract:

Utilising CO2 as a feedstock for chemicals and fuels could help mitigate climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. For this reason, there is an increasing world-wide interest in carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). As part of a broader project to identify key technical advances required for sustainable CCU, this work considers different process designs, each at a high level of technology readiness and suitable for large-scale conversion of CO2 into liquid hydrocarbon fuels, using biogas from sewage sludge as a source of CO2. The main objective of the paper is to estimate fuel production yields and costs of different CCU process configurations in order to establish whether the production of hydrocarbon fuels from commercially proven technologies is economically viable. Four process concepts are examined, developed and modelled using the process simulation software Aspen Plus? to determine raw materials, energy and utility requirements. Three design cases are based on typical biogas applications: (1) biogas upgrading using a monoethanolamine (MEA) unit to remove CO2, (2) combustion of raw biogas in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant and (3) combustion of upgraded biogas in a CHP plant which represents a combination of the first two options. The fourth case examines a post-combustion CO2 capture and utilisation system where the CO2 removal unit is placed right after the CHP plant to remove the excess air with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of the plant. All four concepts include conversion of CO2 to CO via a reverse water-gas-shift reaction process and subsequent conversion to diesel and gasoline via Fischer–Tropsch synthesis. The studied CCU options are compared in terms of liquid fuel yields, energy requirements, energy efficiencies, capital investment and production costs. The overall plant energy efficiency and production costs range from 12–17% and £15.8–29.6 per litre of liquid fuels, respectively. A sensitivity analysis is also carried out to examine the effect of different economic and technical parameters on the production costs of liquid fuels. The results indicate that the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels using the existing CCU technology is not economically feasible mainly because of the low CO2 separation and conversion efficiencies as well as the high energy requirements. Therefore, future research in this area should aim at developing novel CCU technologies which should primarily focus on optimising the CO2 conversion rate and minimising the energy consumption of the plant.

Kind regards,

Ioanna Dimitriou

——————————————————————————

Dr ??anna Dimitriou

Research Associate at Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering

University of Sheffield

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Room C67a, Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 7594

Email:  i.dimitriou at sheffield.ac.uk

4CU:  4cu.org.uk/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The THIRD ANNUAL ARCTIC CIRCLE ASSEMBLY
OCTOBER 16 – 18, 2015
REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE – WILL ATTEND THE ASSEMBLY and Deliver an Opening Speech linked to the Climate Negotiations at COP 21.

At a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on April 17th, the President of France, François Hollande, accepted an invitation from President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to deliver an opening speech at the October Assembly. The attendance by President Hollande is linked to the upcoming climate negotiations COP21 in Paris in December and the relevance of the Arctic to those negotiations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING – And Offered to host a special CHINA SESSION at the Assembly.

President of China XI Jinping has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson endorsed China’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly and declared his decision that China will host a special Plenary Session at the October Assembly in Reykjavík.


CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL – suggested a special plenary GERMANY and the ARCTIC SESSION at the Assembly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced her support for the Arctic Circle and its importance as a venue to present the involvement of Germany in the future of the Arctic. Consequently, the program of the October Assembly in Reykjavík will include a special Plenary Session on Germany and the Arctic.

More Assembly news in the coming weeks.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Peace and reunification in Korea: in our life time
.
Christine Ahn 6 March 2015, the 50.50 blog of UK based openDemocracy

International women peacemakers are planning a peace walk across the De-Militarized Zone to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country.

The year 2013 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. The temporary ceasefire has never been replaced with a peace treaty, and the 2 mile-wide and 155 mile-long demilitarized zone (DMZ) continues to divide the Korean peninsula with recurring tensions that serve as a sobering reminder of the possibility of renewed war.

Traversing the seemingly impermeable border, five New Zealanders crossed the DMZ in August 2013. They rode their motorbikes from Mt. Paekdu on the northern border with China all the way down the peninsula to Mt. Halla on the southernmost island of Jeju. This inspired me to begin imagining a women’s peace walk across the DMZ by international women peacemakers – many from countries that fought in the Korean War – to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country. After talking to one of the organizers of the August 2013 crossing, I decided to sequentially follow their blueprint and reached out first to the North Korean government

A year ago, I went on this peacebuilding mission to Pyongyang to discuss an international women’s peace walk across the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. To my relief, Pyongyang responded very favourably towards our proposal, but with a stern caveat: only if the conditions were favourable.

Today, despite New Year calls for engagement by both Korean leaders, tensions remain very high. And this month, the United States and South Korea are conducting a two-month long period of military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which the North Korean Rodong Sinmun believes are “aimed to occupy the DPRK through pre-emptive strikes.”

The conditions are not favourable, but we are still planning the women’s peace walk across the DMZ this May. We have formed an organization called Women De-Militarize the Zone, and thirty women from more than a dozen countries have signed dup to walk for peace and the reunification of Korea. They range from Nobel peace laureates to artists, academics, humanitarian aid workers, and faith leaders.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea by the United States and the former Soviet Union. For nearly seven decades, Koreans on both sides of the DMZ have long awaited a peace treaty to formally resolve the 1950-53 Korean War that only ended with a ceasefire agreement. Instead, 70 million Koreans across the peninsula, from the northern border of China down to the southern-most Jeju Island, have endured political repression and an endless arms race.

In 1945, after Japan’s defeat in WWII, the United States landed in Korea, which had been under brutal Japanese colonization for 35 years. Without the consent of Koreans, who were awaiting its liberation and sovereignty after an entire generation under Japanese occupation, the two Cold War powers – Washington and Moscow – divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel. It was supposed to be a temporary division, but instead the creation of two separate states precipitated the 1950-53 Korean War.

Despite the massive loss of human life and destruction, the Korean War has come to be known as the “forgotten war.” More bombs were dropped on Korea from 1950 to 1953 than on all of Asia and the Pacific islands during World War II, and President Truman came seriously close to deploying an atomic bomb. One year into the Korean War, US Major General Emmett O’Donnell Jr. testified before the Senate, “I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing standing worthy of the name . . . There [are] no more targets in Korea.” According to University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, during the Korean War, U.S. airstrikes led to the destruction of 18 of 22 major North Korean cities. Cumings cites Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray, who recalled, “I saw destruction and horrible things committed by American forces… Everything which moved in North Korea is a military target, peasants in the field often were machine gunned by pilots, who, this was my impression, amused themselves to shoot targets which moved.”

In 1953, after nearly 4 million people were killed, mostly Korean civilians, North Korea, China and the United States, representing the United Nations Command, signed the armistice agreement with a promise within three months to sign a peace treaty. Over 60 years later, we are still waiting for a peace treaty to end war.

What has ensued instead for the past six decades is an endless arms race between North and South Korea. Whether we like it or not, the fact that the Korean War ended with a temporary cease-fire rather than a permanent peace treaty gives both Korean governments justification to invest heavily in the country’s militarization. According to the Ploughshares Fund World Nuclear Stockpile Report, North Korea possesses less than 10 nuclear weapons of the 16,300 worldwide that are predominantly held by Russia and the United States. North Korea invests approximately $8.7 billion — significantly higher than the $570 million Pyongyang claims — or one-third of its GDP in the military, according to the South Korean government-run Korea Institute of Defense Analyses. In 2013, to great surprise, Pyongyang acknowledged how the un-ended war has forced it “to divert large human and material resources to bolstering up the armed forces though they should have been directed to the economic development and improvement of people’s living standards.”

But it’s not just North Korea. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2014 Yearbook, South Korea was the world’s 10th highest military spender, with its expenditures reaching $34 billion for the year. World Bank data shows that in 2012, 13.6 percent of the central government’s expenditures in South Korea went towards defence spending. According to a North Korea expert at Seoul National University, Suh Bohyuk, in 2011, South Korea became the world’s number-two weapons importer. In September 2014, South Korea spent $7 billion for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. “The reason that we are building up our military is to counter North Korea’s attacks and provocations,” said a South Korean military official. According to political science professor Yang Seung-ham of Yonsei University, “The Park administration is rapidly purchasing many advanced weaponry for military security, which does not help in easing inter-Korea tensions.” Conservative hawks in Washington are also pushing South Korea’s militarization. According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, although Washington withdrew 11 types of nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, hawks in U.S. Congress are now advocating for the return of U.S. nukes.

North Korea’s heavy military spending isn’t just to defend against South Korea, but against the world’s most powerful military in the world: the United States, which has since it landed on Korean soil in 1945 maintained thousands of soldiers and bases throughout the southern half of the peninsula. Washington regularly conducts military exercises with Seoul, simulating the invasion of North Korea. In January, in order to promote dialogue on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang offered a moratorium on nuclear testing in exchange for the United States to postpone war game exercises with South Korea. The olive branch came a day after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Years Day speech in which he offered to meet President Park if “the mood was right” and that the two Koreas should promote reconciliation on the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule. North Korea’s gesture to lessen tensions was rebuffed by Washington, which recently passed another round of sanctions against North Korea for its alleged hacking of the corporation, Sony.

In 2012, Washington spent $682 billion on its military, or 39 percent of the world’s total spending. While the Pentagon uses China’s military spending, which has grown annually in the double digits, to justify Washington’s Asia-Pacific Pivot, the unresolved Korean War gives regional powers such as the United States, China, and Japan justification to further militarize, including expanding missile defence systems and building new military bases, as they continually lack funds for social welfare, such as education or childcare. Last year, at a March 25 Senate Defense Committee hearing on the 2015 budget, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), General Curtis Scaparrotti, argued that while the 28,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea were “fully resourced,” he was concerned about the readiness of “follow-on” forces needed if fighting erupted. According to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock, during heightened tensions with Pyongyang in 2013, Washington deployed a new THAAD portable defense system to Guam and that plans are underway for a massive expansion of the U.S. missile defense system in Alaska and along the west coast as a “precautionary” measure against a possible North Korean missile strike.

Since military intervention is not an option, the Obama administration has used sanctions to pressure North Korea to de-nuclearize. Instead, North Korea has since conducted three nuclear tests, calling sanctions “an act of war”. That is because sanctions have had deleterious effects on the day-to-day lives of ordinary North Korean people. “In almost any case when there are sanctions against an entire people, the people suffer the most and the leaders suffer least,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on his last visit to North Korea.

International sanctions have made it extremely difficult for North Koreans to access basic necessities, such as food, seeds, medicine and technology. Felix Abt, a Swiss entrepreneur who has conducted business in North Korea for over a decade says that it is “the most heavily sanctioned nation in the world, and no other people have had to deal with the massive quarantines that Western and Asian powers have enclosed around its economy.”

A less obvious legacy of the Korean War is how governments use the state of war to justify repression in the name of preserving national security. Whether in Pyongyang, Seoul or Washington, the threat of war or terrorism is used to justify government repression and overreach, such as warrantless surveillance, imprisonment and torture in the name of preserving national security.

While repression in North Korea is widely known, less known is how the South Korean government uses the antiquated 1948-enacted National Security Law (NSL) to prosecute political dissidents, particularly those sympathetic towards or seeking to engage North Korea. In South Korea, the Constitutional Court recently abolished the Unified Progressive Party, a liberal opposition party, on charges of being pro-North. Amnesty International says that this case “has seriously damaged the human rights improvement of South Korean society which has struggled and fought for freedom of thoughts and conscience and freedom of expression.” And in January, the South Korean government used the NSL to deport and ban for five years Shin Eun-mi, a 54-year old Korean-American housewife who had written about her travels to North Korea, including describing North Koreans as warm-hearted and urging Korean reunification.

There is wide consensus that replacing the temporary armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty would go a long way towards de-escalating tensions that have long plagued Korea and the region. In a 2011 paper, the U.S. Army War College warns that the only way to avert a catastrophic confrontation is to “reach agreement on ending the armistice from the Korean War” and “giv[e] a formal security guarantee to North Korea tied to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” U.S. Ambassadors to Korea since the 1980s have argued for engagement and a formalized peace process. James Laney, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in the Clinton administration prescribed, “to remove all unnecessary obstacles to progress, is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953. One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War…. Absent such a peace treaty, every dispute presents afresh the question of the other side’s legitimacy.”

Perhaps most tragic about Korea’s division is the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone that separates millions of Korean families. In April 2014, South Korean President Park said in her Dresden speech on Korean reunification that in 2013, “some 3,800 people who have yearned a lifetime just to be able to hold their sons’ and daughters’ hands — just to know whether they’re alive – passed away with their unfulfilled dreams.”

To end the state of war and help reunite families, international women peacemakers have come together to form Women De-Militarize the Zone, an organization dedicated to promoting the peaceful reunification of Korea through women’s leadership. From Northern Ireland to Liberia, we have seen how women’s participation in peace negotiations makes peace attainable, and that peace itself is inextricably linked with the advancement of women. We will work towards seeing the passage of a peace treaty to defuse dangerous tensions in Northeast Asia and de-militarizing our world. We must act now to give hope to Koreans that peace and reunification is tenable in their lifetimes and to the thousands of Korean elders that they will be able to embrace their loved ones across the DMZ before they pass away.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

my correspondence with Kaveh following RIO II

It came up when I googled for Ahmad Fawzi in pursuit of content for another article – and decided that this was an exchange in 2012 that has renewed value today.

Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, under the supervision of Professor Howard Zinn, with a thesis titled “State and Populism in Iran.”

Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University. Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990), University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001), Binghamton University (2001-2002) and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved in Iran as an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.

Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.

Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.

Selected works by Afrasiabi:
After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (1994)
Nir/North: A Cinematic Story about the Iran-Contra Affair (1996)
Infringements (1998)
Islam and Ecology (2003)
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction (2006)
Reading in Iran’s Foreign Policy After September 11 (2008)
Looking For Rights At Harvard (2010)
UN Management Reform (2011)
Iran Phobia and US Terror Plot: A Legal Deconstruction (2012)

A Controversy with Harvard that blew out of proportion in Boston:

Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh

From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi’s time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself.

The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh’s subordinates and a “pre-dawn” arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States, in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes, author David Mamet, linguist Noam Chomsky, and political scientist Howard Zinn, and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr. In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi. His “David and Goliath” battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated “I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter.”

June 2010 incident

On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed “racist and indecent behavior” and “treated him unprofessionally”, after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999. Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with “a racist attitude.” While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer. He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, “If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they’re racist.”

In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant.[20] The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi’s multiple visits to hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant. In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him.

References

 www.researchgate.net/publication/…

 mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/afr…

 www.bentley.edu/offices/sites/www…

 www.bentley.edu/offices/sites/ww…

Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). “Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites ‘Mind-Blowing Conspiracy'”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.

 ias44.ias.berkeley.edu/Newsletter…

 www2.binghamton.edu/fbc/archive/n…

Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). “Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists”. The New York Times.

Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). “Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations”. United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). “A letter to America”. Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

“KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.”. United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.

“Between Mike Wallace and Me”.

“The David Mamet Society”.

“Reading Kafka at Harvard”.

 www.iranian.com/main/2008/reading…

“Abused scholar: US police conspiring against me”. Press TV. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

Guha, Auditi; Jen Thomas (2010-07-08). “Iranian pundit claims ‘police brutality’ in Cambridge”. Cambridge Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

“Veteran Iranian-American Professor Talks of US Police Brutality Against Him”. Hamsayeh.Net. 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10.

 www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/new…

 www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/fea…,

 www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/new…

So, of real interest is:

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Al Jazeera America
 america.aljazeera.com
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi was an adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team from 2004 to 2006 and is a co-author of the forthcoming book “Nuclear Iran: Accord and Détente Since the Geneva Agreement of 2013.”

He also wrote:

Aljazeera : Iran uses Hamas for leverage in nuclear negotiations
by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi & Nader Entessar August 13, 2014

Clinching a final deal with Iran
by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi May 20, 2014
Attachments area
Preview YouTube video Mike Wallace Defends Dr. Kaveh Afrasiabi

Afrasiabi’s correspondence with me – his showing interest in Sustainability, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change:

On May 16, 2012 I received the following e-mail:

Hello I am working on an article for UN Chronicle on Rio and after reading your article, can you please answer the following questions:
1. In your opinion, what will be the likely achievement of Rio?
2. What are the key dividing issues between north and south countries with respect to Rio + 20?
3. Can Rio actually reach a breakthrough on the unfulfilled commitments and if so how?
4. Is Rio destined to be another huge talking shop with lengthy resolutions for UN archives?

thank you.
Kaveh Afrasiabi

Those days, as always and even today, my argument was that Iran ought to be one of the leading nations on many positive issues including on Climate Change and the development of renewable energy. I argued thsi even with the man who is now Foreign Minister and was earlier Iran’s Ambassador to the UN. I said to him at the time that Iran stands to gain much more by being a leader in renewables then in posturing on the nuclear issue. Seemingly this came to the attention of Dr. Arasiabi.

My Immediate answer of May 17, 2012 Was:

1. In your opinion, what will be the likely achievement of Rio?
2. What are the key dividing issues between north and south countries with respect to Rio + 20?
3. Can Rio actually reach a breakthrough on the unfulfilled commitments and if so how?
4. Is Rio destined to be another huge talking shop with lengthy resolutions for UN archives?

I note that you probably think that the UN wants achievements and that there is a North and a South, and in this structure the North is wrong and the South is right.

You see, I was involved in the subjects of sustainability and planet earth since before these subjects became popular – actually I was fighting at the UN – the UN – because UN people planted in the system by home interests, like Ahmad Fawzi who was then high official at UN DPI, preferred to sweep away from sight any comment brought up by curious journalists that might have had implications regarding sales of oil.

So, to the point – it is all about Energy for All but Energy, as much as possible, that does not harm the Environment. Sustainability is the word behind Sustainable Development, and Sustainability is about future generations and not about our generation.

Because of a confluence of many different unrelated political and scientific events, in 1992, at Rio, indeed there were breakthroughs and good results – there was an Agenda 21 – intended for our present century, there were three conventions, there were excellent important Principles etc. After RIO 1992 – the apex of efforts – there was only decline. There was a Commission established for Sustainable Development so built that it slowly killed the subject – to the point that what was supposed to be in 2012 – the twenty year review of that RIO meeting – is not even mentioning Agenda 21.

What started as RIO+20 is a totally different event that reinvents the wheel and will start us on another set of negotiations rather then checking out what is still missing from implementation of Agenda 21.

How did we get here and who is to blame? Everybody is to blame. The old developed countries which are now in decline – they did not make space at the table, the G77 leadership – they had no use for Sustainability or any interest in the environment now – or future generations – that is the future. For them it was DEVELOPMENT NOW and nothing else.

So, now you have the BRIC countries – China, Brazil, India, Russia – in this order – no S yet for South Africa – that are the new Money Rich countries that dominate the old industrialized countries, and you have a new list of evolving countries – Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Poland – add to this others like UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong and you get interests that are very different from those of Bangladesh, Mauritius, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Grenada, Fiji, etc. who are liberating themselves from what nominally is still the G77 – this because they feel betrayed and left to fend for themselves on the issue of climate change. Civil Society is also waking up and there are calls for bringing back the UN to “We the people” from we the despot governments.”

If you read up to here you will see that your questions had a wrong base.

Now to specifics in your questions – and if you want to use this in the UN Chronicle – please use the introductory logic as well.

1. Rio will achieve a lot – it will show the governments nakedness.

2. There is no North-South divide in Rio of 2012. There is a divide between uncontrolled development and readjusted development that satisfies needs. We will see the start of moves to displace the GDP fixture from ways of measuring growth. We will hear of human needs, of continuing the MDGs with a set of SDGs. We will hear from those afflicted with climate change to have us all start on a path of culture change with an eye to Mother Earth.

3. What you call the North is financially bankrupt. Financial commitments will have to be shared and development will have to mean local development – like production of local foods and undoing some of the effects of giveaways that ruined local economies in the South – specially the previously rather successful small farms. In the North they will have to relearn manufacturing.

4. Yes, the intent was to have a talk fest – but this is being curtailed as what was a two week event in 1992 is now a three days event. The talking will have to be done ahead of those days June 20-22, 2012. If the document will not have been whittled down to a concise set of principles, the Brazilians have in reserve the June 16-19, 2012 days of the RioDialogues that will produce 30 recommendations chiseled in Civil Society negotiations. The Heads of State that will spend 2 days in Rio will have the opportunity to create new content – government based and civil society based – and give birth to a product – right there or via a future process to be started in September at the GA.

So, will there be clear decisions? Not so fast.
Will there be a modicum of success – Yes.
Will the UN stay the same – No! and that is the main achievement of this misnamed event that the UN calls Rio+20.
Will governments learn that people count? Any misbehavior has its price – even if change comes slow.

So, that is what I think.

All the best to you,
Pincas Jawetz

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

THIS LED TO A FURTHER ROUND:

 afrasiabik at yahoo.com to me May 17, 2012

Thanks so here s my real question;
What can third world leaders from iran bolivia etc do to make a real splash in rio? I would appreciate an answer. I was thinking of an ad hoc sub group making joint statement beyond the resolution etc.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

Real fast answer – as you can see from my website – I do not shy away from the two countries you mention – an ALBA button is right there in front of my website. Having made that remark – I would suggest that specifically these two countries would be best advised to keep out of the limelight.

For AlLBA – it is Ecuador with some help from Argentina and Chile – that speaks up and that is perfect.

Then, for the best of the countries in trouble spoke recently Bangladesh, Fiji, Grenada, Costa Rica, even Mexico.

Subjects like the issue of going to the International Court of Justice for transnational pollution and climate change, and the effects on the poorest countries – these are subjects that can make a splash.

Also, backing A SMALL OFFICE of a UN Commissioner for Future Generations and the need to do away with the GDP as yardstick for Growth, and some reference to Well Being and Happiness that are not based on consumption (the Bhutan concept) are good topics where your two named countries could be seconds if someone else leeds.

Bolivia has done very well in the past by pushing the Pacha Mama, but Iran has never understood that it had a great pre-Islamic past and thus failed to establish real leadership of any kind.

While Bolivia’s problem is that it pushed too hard, Iran’ problem is that it did not push at all its culture of the past and militancy is not what the UN is about. In both cases what I really talk about – is a real push of culture for the 21-st century.

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

and the third round of that day:

From Kaveh Afrasiabi to me:

How about int environmental court championed by morales?
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

I really think now that I gave you enough, and basically – all that material is indeed on my web because these are the things that made me decide to keep the site going. In my book – Copenhagen was the last place that saw progress – and that was thanks to Obama who brought in the Chinese for the first time, and they brought in the IBSA as well.

Pincas

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

followed by:

Many thanks i will quote you in my piece and send y link
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and the following day:

I have a small book on un reform it s’at un bookshop. Fyi
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Having found this by accident, I intend now to restart that contact
to find out what the gentleman is doing these days.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sustainable Energy Revolution Grows, Says Bloomberg Report

Despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold.

by ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, Wednesday, 04 February 2015.

Article reprinted by Truthout from EcoWatch of Bloomberg

The third annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook released today documents the continuing dramatic changes in how the U.S. produces, delivers and consumes energy, and makes some projections and predictions about the direction of the energy sector in the future. The report was researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by The Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

“To single out just a few tell-tale headlines from the hundreds of statistics presented in this report: over the 2007-2014 period, U.S. carbon emissions from the energy sector dropped 9 percent, U.S. natural gas production rose 25 percent and total U.S. investment in clean energy (renewables and advanced grid, storage and electrified transport technologies) totaled $386 billion,” the report said.

The report backs up what other studies have been showing—that despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold. The factbook points to four significant trends:

– the advance in infrastructure projects and technology to accommodate new forms of energy;
– more capital flowing to projects aimed at sustainable energy development with the U.S. attracting the second highest
number of dollars after China;
– companies with high energy-related costs gravitating to the U.S.; and
– government policies that favor the development of clean energy sources.


In regard to government policies, it specifically cites President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, announced in June, to retire coal-fired plants and the historic agreement struck between the U.S. and China in November in which the U.S. pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 while China would reach peak emissions by 2030.


“The 2015 Factbook clearly shows that America is on the path to a more sustainable energy sector,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Our energy productivity is rising along with economic growth, while energy-intensive industries are onshoring production to the United States to take advantage of low energy costs. All of this is happening as investment in clean energy continues to grow and as new natural gas infrastructure continues to come online. These are strong positive signs for America’s economy and environment.”

The U.S. is becoming more “energy productive” with its economic growth decoupled from the growth in demand for electricity, according to the report. “Between 1950 and 1990, electricity demand grew at an annual rate of just below 6%,” it says. “Between 1990 and 2007, it grew at an annual of 1.9%. Between 2007 and 2014, annualized electricity demand growth has been … zero.”

The trend toward decarbonization continues with renewable energy’s share of the total energy mix rising from 7 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2014. Since 2000, 93 percent of new U.S. power capacity has been natural gas, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal or other renewable projects. Investment in the clean energy sector has grown hand in hand with that, adding up to $386 billion since 2007 and increasing by 7 percent in 2014 over 2013’s level.

“Against the backdrop of a surging economy and crumbling oil prices, major trends around decarbonization and improving energy productivity continued in the United States,” said Michel Di Capua, head of Americas research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Low-carbon energy technologies stand to benefit from key policies proposed in 2014, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation for the power sector and an innovative new vision for the electricity market in New York State.”


The report finds that gasoline consumption in the transportation sector is down by 8 percent, due to a combination of factors including more energy-efficient vehicles, the public’s preference for those vehicles and a decline in driving, as well as the still small but growing adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. Yet conversely the factbook says, thanks largely to fracking, U.S. oil production has grown by 41 percent since 2007 and “has returned to levels not seen since the 1980s.”


It also points to some retrenchment in clean energy growth. In what will seem like mixed news to many renewable energy advocates, the contribution of natural gas to U.S. electricity generation has declined somewhat since 2013, and thanks to a drop in energy prices, that has allowed coal to become more competitive and regain a small piece of its market share, ticking up to 39 percent in 2013 and 2014, after dropping to 37 percent in 2012 from 49 percent in 2007. But longer-term trends, especially the closing of coal-fired power plants, will probably not sustain such growth in the future. Carbon emissions have increased as well, although that trend too is likely to reverse as coal-fired plants are shut down.

The final area of backtracking the factbook points to is the uncertainty over the very government policies the report says have fueled growth in the sustainable energy sector. Regarding President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan and the U.S.-China agreement, it says, “Neither policy will come easy. Legal challenges to the EPA’s proposal are underway, and achievement of the 2025 pledge will require new policy action.”

The enactment of policies at the state level that encouraged investment in and growth of wind and solar power has not just slowed down but shows signs of reversing. In 2014, Ohio froze its renewable energy standards, which has reduced job growth and investments in solar and wind projects, while Arizona is considering a tax on rooftop solar installations, and other states are discussing such backward moves, including the Hoosier state.


“Policy actions taken by the U.S. in 2014 have set the stage for a potentially momentous global climate summit at Paris in December 2015,” says the report. “The U.S.-China pact was the most notable achievement in the global climate negotiations process in 2014. Such public pledges from China and the U.S. (the world’s first and second biggest emitters, respectively) have the potential to challenge other nations to do more as well. The summit to be held in Paris at the end of 2015 will be the most significant multilateral climate negotiations since the discussions in Copenhagen in 2009. The growth of sustainable energy is a critical part of achieving any targets that might be struck under diplomatic deals on greenhouse gas emissions.”

—————————————

Some Comments on Truthout:

bobaka • 5 hours ago

You exclude the most important point your ideological blinders prevent you from seeing. The basic problem with power is that it is a source of private greed. All power must be a public utility and the 1% will no longer be able to bankroll their goons into office on a flood of profits–huge profits off the mass market that individual power users are forced into. Get the elitist beasts off our backs and we would all have solar.

SinglePayer2017 • 7 hours ago

Great. Next, we need a Green Economic Revolution to repair the devastation caused by the income-inequality fossil fuel economy over the last 40 years. Restorative justice requires the wealthy to voluntarily adopt a Maximum Income to repay their debts to society.
Here’s The Plan:
Maximum Income Tax + Guaranteed Income = Reparations, Economic Justice
This formula represents a Green New Deal to tackle structural income inequality. The Maximum Income is the only way to keep the rich from going crazy and jumping into the abyss…again. The Guaranteed Income is the only humane way to deal with the despair and homelessness caused by a militarized economy that values one lousy, outdated plane more than the lives of its own citizens.
Human Rights need to be integrated into the accounting equation. Next to the Stockholders’ Equity account, we need a Workers’ Equity account, so working people can enjoy the same dividends as the rich do now. The poorest should have a Guaranteed Income, so poverty will still have dignity, and the rich need to learn that all things have limits, including wealth.
Or, you can ignore this advice, and hope for a better deal from the angry mobs…I hear them talking about guillotines an awful lot these days.

###

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

from: Martin Indyk <foreign_policy@brookings.edu>
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.Brookings.edu – a Washington DC based Think Tank.

Dear Colleague,

We hope you can help spread the word about an exciting career opportunity at The Brookings Institution. We are currently searching for a new director of our Energy Security and Climate Initiative, who will also serve as a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. The candidate should have expertise in energy security, energy economics or climate policy, as well as a detailed knowledge of U.S. and international energy markets. An expertise in the geopolitics of energy, energy sustainability and/or climate change are essential, and regional expertise in Asia or the Middle East is preferred. Outstanding written and oral communication skills in English are required; fluency in relevant regional languages is desirable.

Applicants must apply online, submitting a full resume complete with a list of publications plus a description of research interests and priorities. For more information about this position, go to: www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

###