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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Pence met with open skepticism in Brussels

By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

February 20, 2017

Mike Pence made a joint statement with European Council head Donald Tusk on Monday 2/20/17.

Story highlights

Tusk: “Too much has happened … to pretend everything is as it used to be”

Pence: US will “search in new ways for new common ground with Russia”

Brussels (CNN)Even as he worked to assure European leaders that the Trump administration isn’t looking to scrap longstanding transatlantic ties, Vice President Mike Pence was met with outward skepticism from the bloc’s top leaders on Monday.

Speaking after talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, Pence offered a conciliatory tone, insisting that bonds between the United States and Europe would endure.

Pence: US will hold Russia accountable

But Tusk himself was more blunt. Even while expressing an optimistic outlook, he acknowledged the bilateral ties had entered new, uncertain territory.

“Thank you for this meeting. We all truly needed it,” Tusk said after he walked on stage with Pence. “Too much has happened over the past months in your country, and in the EU; too many new and sometimes surprising opinions have been voiced over this time about our relations — and our common security — for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be.”

It was a pointed display of honesty for a formal joint statement in front of reporters. Tusk said he’d secured commitments from Pence on key areas — international order, security, and the US stance toward the EU — but was cautious in declaring the relationship on firm ground.
“In reply to these three matters, I heard today from Vice President Pence three times ‘yes,'” Tusk said. “After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach.”


Pence was more guarded in his remarks, repeating his commitment to NATO and vowing to counter Russian aggression. But, as he did earlier this week, Pence advised that Trump was looking for ways to refresh ties to Moscow.

“While the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, at President Trump’s direction we will also search in new ways for new common ground with Russia, which President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said.

Pence is aiming to reassure European leaders of continued US commitment to the continent after Trump disparaged longstanding aspects of transatlantic ties during the presidential campaign.

He told Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative, that he was eager to identify areas for greater cooperation.

“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to visit with you and explore ways that we can deepen our relationship with the European Union,” he said over breakfast at the residence of the US Ambassador to the EU, a post that’s currently unfilled.
Pence reassures NATO allies in Munich speech

Trump’s rumored choice for the job, Ted Malloch, has caused unease among the diplomatic classes in Brussels for his vocal support of Britain’s exit from the EU and his overall dismissal of the bloc. Malloch told the BBC recently he would work to rein in the EU if he was named to the ambassador post.

“I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming,” he said.

It’s sentiments like that which have worried Europeans, who regard Trump as an advocate for Brexit-like splits within their union. Trump, at one point during his run for president, termed himself “Mr. Brexit” — referencing both his support for the referendum and his conviction that polls showing him losing to Hillary Clinton would be proven wrong.

Vice President Pence visits former Nazi concentration camp

Pence, during closely watched remarks in Germany on Saturday, didn’t mention the EU at all, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the collection of national security professionals, foreign leaders, and diplomats who were attending the Munich Security Conference.
Instead, Pence chose during his remarks to project robust US support for NATO, despite Trump’s claims that the defense alliance is “obsolete.”

Pence was insistent that support for the alliance was a bedrock of US policy. But he demanded that other member nations scale up their defense spending to meet NATO’s requirements, a longstanding request of US presidents that Trump has amplified.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


RED HOUSE? Yes. It was the intelligence Putin served Trump – directly and indirectly – that was in big part responsible for his defeating Hillary Clinton. And yes, it was FBI’s help that eventually built that wall. Michael T. Flynn should never have been inside that wall except we really do not know what messages he passed from the Trump campaign as promises to Putin via his Ambassador in Washington. How will the Trump=Putin link impact on Europe? On European States – Trump relations? On the future of Ukraine? On the price of Oil? On the Midle East?
On the Planetary Globe? On Outer Space? On the Future of God? ?????


THE NEWS: Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.


On Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.


To us at SustainabiliTank this is just the tip of the iceberg – we already wrote that Trump himself is susceptible to Russian blackmail as by hacking into US cyberspace they did not have just the pittance of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta info, but the much juicier Trump business and taxation info. Those are real bombs in hiding! Blackmail in the making!


“I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way,” Mr. Flynn wrote.

The White House said in the statement that it was replacing Mr. Flynn with retired Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. of the Army, a Vietnam War veteran, as acting national security adviser.

Mr. Flynn was an early and ardent supporter of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, and in his resignation he sought to praise the president. “In just three weeks,” Mr. Flynn said, the new president “has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world.”

But in doing so, he inadvertently illustrated the brevity of his tumultuous run at the National Security Council, and the chaos that has gripped the White House in the first weeks of the Trump administration — and created a sense of uncertainty around the world.

DOCUMENT
Michael Flynn’s Resignation Letter
Michael T. Flynn, under scrutiny for his communication with Russia, resigned as President Trump’s national security adviser late Monday.

OPEN DOCUMENT
Earlier Monday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that “the president is evaluating the situation” about Mr. Flynn’s future. By Monday evening, Mr. Flynn’s fortunes were rapidly shifting — his resignation came roughly seven hours after Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, said on MSNBC that Mr. Trump had “full confidence” in the retired general.

And when he did step down, it happened so quickly that his resignation does not appear to have been communicated to National Security Council staff members, two of whom said they learned about it from news reports.

Officials said Mr. Pence had told others in the White House that he believed Mr. Flynn lied to him by saying he had not discussed the topic of sanctions on a call with the Russian ambassador in late December. Even the mere discussion of policy — and the apparent attempt to assuage the concerns of an American adversary before Mr. Trump took office — represented a remarkable breach of protocol.

The F.B.I. had been examining Mr. Flynn’s phone calls as he came under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council. The blackmail risk envisioned by the Justice Department would have stemmed directly from Mr. Flynn’s attempt to cover his tracks with his bosses. The Russians knew what had been said on the call; thus, if they wanted Mr. Flynn to do something, they could have threatened to expose the lie if he refused.

The Justice Department’s warning to the White House was first reported on Monday night by The Washington Post.

In addition, the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015, according to two defense officials. Such a payment might violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without consent from Congress. The defense officials said there was no record that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, filed the required paperwork for the trip.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement late Monday that Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not close the question of his contact with Russian officials.

“General Flynn’s decision to step down as national security adviser was all but ordained the day he misled the country about his secret talks with the Russian ambassador,” said Mr. Schiff, noting that the matter is still under investigation by the House committee.

Two other Democratic lawmakers — Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland — called for an immediate briefing by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the “alarming new disclosures” that Mr. Flynn was a blackmail risk. “We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security,” they said in a statement.

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House intelligence committee, was supportive of Mr. Flynn until the end. “Washington, D.C., can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn — who has always been a soldier, not a politician — deserves America’s gratitude and respect,” Mr. Nunes said in a statement.


The White House had examined a transcript of a wiretapped conversation that Mr. Flynn had with Mr. Kislyak in December, according to administration officials. Mr. Flynn originally told Mr. Pence and others that the call was limited to small talk and holiday pleasantries.

But who was Flynn to talk to the Russian Ambassador? What role did have within the Trump machine? Did Pence send him there or was it his own eagerness to please the incoming Administration before it actually became an Administration? Was he an old time Russian contact? What we used to call a double spy? This clearly can not be washed down by eager-to-please Republicans.

But the conversation, according to officials who saw the transcript of the wiretap, also included a discussion about sanctions imposed on Russia after intelligence agencies determined that President Vladimir V. Putin’s government tried to interfere with the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Still, current and former administration officials familiar with the call said the transcript was ambiguous enough that Mr. Trump could have justified either firing or retaining Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Trump, however, had become increasingly concerned about the continued fallout over Mr. Flynn’s behavior, according to people familiar with his thinking, and told aides that the media storm around Mr. Flynn would damage the president’s image on national security issues.

Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation — a move that he has been pushing for since Friday, when it became clear that the national security adviser had misled Mr. Pence.

Around 8:20 p.m. Monday, a sullen Mr. Flynn was seen in the Oval Office, just as preparations were being made for the swearing-in of newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. Soon after, Mr. Flynn’s resignation letter started making the rounds.

Administration officials said it was unlikely that Mr. Kellogg would be asked to stay on as Mr. Flynn’s permanent replacement. Mr. Flynn brought Mr. Kellogg into the Trump campaign, according to a former campaign adviser, and the two have remained close. K. T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser who also was brought on by Mr. Flynn, is expected to leave that role, a senior official said.

One person close to the administration, who was not authorized to discuss the personnel moves and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that retired Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward is the leading candidate to replace Mr. Flynn, although Mr. Kellogg and David H. Petraeus are being discussed. It was not clear whether Mr. Petraeus is still expected to appear at the White House this week, as initially discussed by advisers to the president.

Mr. Flynn’s concealment of the call’s content, combined with questions about his management of his agency and reports of a demoralized staff, put him in a precarious position less than a month into Mr. Trump’s presidency.


We at SustainabiliTank believe that under the circumstances – the choice of General Petraeus would be an excellent idea in the manner of Trump – this because it would take away the media attention from Trump and transfer it to Petraeus’ own problems with that woman. Flynn will then be forgotten and left to his past-driven future behaviour.

Vice President Pence can continue his clean right wing persona to allow him a smooth take-over when the Trump balloon eventually implodes.

Few members of Mr. Trump’s team were more skeptical of Mr. Flynn than the vice president, numerous administration officials said. Mr. Pence, who used the false information provided by Mr. Flynn to defend him in a series of television appearances, was incensed at Mr. Flynn’s lack of contrition for repeatedly embarrassing him by withholding the information, according to three administration officials familiar with the situation.

Mr. Flynn and Mr. Pence spoke twice in the past few days about the matter, but administration officials said that rather than fully apologize and accept responsibility, the national security adviser blamed his faulty memory — which irked the typically slow-to-anger Mr. Pence.

The slight was compounded by an episode late last year when Mr. Pence went on television to deny that Mr. Flynn’s son, who had posted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton on social media, had been given a security clearance by the transition team. The younger Mr. Flynn had, indeed, been given such a clearance, even though his father had told Mr. Pence’s team that he had not.

Officials said classified information did not appear to have been discussed during the conversation between Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, which would have been a crime. The call was captured on a routine wiretap of diplomats’ calls, the officials said.

But current Trump administration officials and former Obama administration officials said that Mr. Flynn did appear to be reassuring the ambassador that Mr. Trump would adopt a more accommodating tone on Russia once in office.

Former and current administration officials said that Mr. Flynn urged Russia not to retaliate against any sanctions because an overreaction would make any future cooperation more complicated. He never explicitly promised sanctions relief, one former official said, but he appeared to leave the impression that it would be possible.

During his 2015 trip to Moscow, Mr. Flynn was paid to attend the anniversary celebration of Russia Today, a television network controlled by the Kremlin. At the banquet, he sat next to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Flynn had notified the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he once led, that he was taking the trip. He received a security briefing from agency officials before he left, which is customary for former top agency officials when they travel overseas.

Still, some senior agency officials were surprised when footage of the banquet appeared on RT, and believed that Mr. Flynn should have been more forthcoming with the agency about the nature of his trip to Russia.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


PM Netanyahu Instructs the Foreign Ministry to Reprimand the Belgian Ambassador to Israel

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser – February 8, 2017)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 8 February 2017), instructed the Foreign Ministry to reprimand Belgian Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle.

Israel views with utmost gravity Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s meeting today with the leaders of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, during his visit to Israel. Initiatives are underway by the Belgian state prosecutor to try senior Israelis including Tzipi Livni and IDF officers.

The Belgian government needs to decide whether it wants to change direction or continue with an anti-Israel line.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has directed that legislation be advanced to prevent financing by foreign governments for NGOs that harm IDF soldiers.

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And from Ted Belman’s blog that is a US Republican plant in Jerusalem – to our big surprise a criticism of the heralded Trump – right out of the pages of HAARETZ:

Republicans Won’t Defy Trump on His Holocaust Statement – and Israel Should Pay Attention

T. Belman. The harshness with which the Trump administration reject criticism is unfathomable. Why is Trump doing this? Friends don’t do this to friends.

The way a resolution to restate Jewish focus of Holocaust was shot down sends unmistakable signal when it comes to new rules of power in D.C, Jewish community and, by extension, Israel.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer, HAARETZ

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and then the Netanyahu dream:

The Ultimate Alternate Israel-Palestine Solution

With a new U.S. president, new ideas are emerging on how to resolve the Israel-Palestine debacle. One of the most promising comes from the Jordanian Opposition Council who favor a new Palestinian state — in Jordan.

By Ted Belman

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find above at:  www.israpundit.org/archives/63621…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


May defeats plan to give MPs Brexit veto.

 euobserver.com/uk-referendum/136…

By BEN FOX, EUObserver

LONDON, February 8, 2017

UK MPs will get a “take it or leave it vote” at the end of Article 50 talks with the EU, but Theresa May’s government defeated an attempt by opposition MPs to ensure that parliament gets an effective veto over Brexit.
Under the deal offered by the May government on Tuesday (7 February), MPs will get a vote on any deal struck with EU negotiators during the Article 50 process, to take place before any Brexit agreement was voted on by the European Parliament.

This initially seemed like a significant concession when it was announced by Brexit minister David Jones at the start of four hours of the second day of debate on the Article 50 bill, but it isn’t.
If parliament rejects the deal, the UK will leave the EU anyway and would fall back to trading with the bloc on the basis of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

“This will be a meaningful vote,” Jones told MPs, adding that it would “be the choice of leaving the EU with a negotiated deal or not”.

“The vote they’re offering – which will give MPs a choice between an extreme Brexit and falling off a cliff edge into WTO trade rules – isn’t a concession, it’s an ultimatum,” said Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party.

“MPs must not be duped by the government’s attempt to quell unrest on their back-benches.”

Out voted
MPs also voted by a majority of 33 against an amendment proposed by Labour MP Chris Leslie that would have stopped ministers striking a Brexit agreement until it had been passed by MPs and peers.

Seven Conservative MPs voted with Labour. The amendment was seen as a means of keeping alive the slim prospect of the UK remaining in the EU.

A Labour proposal which would have forced the government to publish impact assessments of the different potential trading models with the EU, indicating the likely economic effects of leaving the single market or customs union, was also defeated.

The government faces a potentially close vote on an amendment calling for the rights of EU nationals living in the UK to be guaranteed, but it is highly probable that the bill will be passed without any of the 287 amendments to it being adopted when MPs take a final vote on Wednesday (8 February).

As it stands, the only risk – albeit slim – to May’s plans would be a delay in the House of Lords, where the Conservatives number only 253 out of 805 peers.

The Lords is not elected and it is extremely unlikely that peers will risk a constitutional crisis by opposing the Brexit bill.

In the more likely event that the Lords proposes amendments, these would then, in turn, be subject to the approval of MPs.

The bill is timetabled to be signed into law on 13 March, giving May time to keep to her self-imposed deadline of formally triggering Article 50 before the end of March.

Separately, the Scottish parliament backed a symbolic motion rejecting the decision to trigger Article 50 on Tuesday with the support of the Scottish National Party, Greens, Liberal Democrats and most Labour MSPs.

The devolved assemblies have no power to prevent or delay the Brexit process, although Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the UK exiting the EU, despite a large majority for “Remain” in Scotland, could lead to her government demanding a second referendum on independence from the UK.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

HOW ABOUT DISALLOWING INVESTMENTS BY ANYONE, OR ANY ENTITY, CONNECTED DIRECTLY TO ANY MEMBER OF THE PRESENT US ADMINISTRATION? CONSIDERING THE WHITE HOUSE BEHAVIOR, PEOPLE OF THE US ADMINISTRATION HAVE MORE AND MORE BECOME A DANGER TO THE WORLD ORDER AND TO PEACE – UNDERMINING IN EFFECT WHAT USED TO BE FRIENDLY GOVERNMENTS. Mr. BONDEVIK COULD LEAD THE WAY.

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CNN – International Edition+

Former Norwegian PM held at immigration over Iranian visa
By Kara Fox and Mohammed Al-Saiegh, CNN

February 7, 2017
Former Norwegian PM detained at US airport

(CNN) If you’re the former leader of a European nation, the president of a major human rights organization and the owner of a diplomatic passport, you’re not likely to encounter a long wait at airport immigration.

But on January 31, Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former Prime Minister of Norway, encountered more than just a lengthy queue.
Bondevik told CNN’s “Connect the World” he was interrogated by officials at Washington’s Dulles International Airport because he had an Iranian visa in his diplomatic passport.
“When they found the Iranian visa, where I was in December 2014, they said that there was a … regulation that with such a visa I had to be flagged up,” Bondevik said.

After the former European leader detailed his travel history — he was in Tehran speaking at an anti-extremism conference — Bondevik said he “assumed and presumed that they would let me go immediately.” But instead, Bondevik said he was questioned for over an hour.

“Did they really believe that I presented a problem or threat to the US? I expected they would show more flexibility and wisdom,” he said.

Bondevik said he was held along with migrants from the Middle East and Africa who were also facing additional screening. Although Bondevik was eventually released, he said the atmosphere surrounding President Donald Trump’s travel ban had shaken his core values.
Bondevik told CNN’s Becky Anderson he disagrees with the ban entirely, calling it “a contradiction” to his “view on human dignity.”
“I really dislike that he is treating people from some Muslim countries as a group and not individuals,” he said.

Bondevik, who heads the human rights organization Oslo Center, said the incident speaks to a wider issue of concern brought on by the President’s first actions in office.
It’s not just the ban that’s worrying Bondevik.

“I also must say that I dislike very much his approach to other international leaders — the Prime Minister of Australia, the President of Mexico … and how he is acting in the international community.”

He said many others, including Norway were concerned.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order that banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from traveling to America. The ban also suspended the refugee program for four months, and stopped the admission of all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
These are the faces of Trump’s ban

On Friday, the executive order was temporarily halted after a federal judge suspended key parts of the order nationwide. As of Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied the US government’s emergency request to resume the ban and had ordered both sides to submit their arguments for or against it before a final ruling.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2017 – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run


The 4th Humanitarian Congress – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run – takes place on
3 March 2017 in the ceremonial halls of the University of Vienna.
Please note that registration is open until 28 February 2017.

The Humanitarian Congress gives you the chance to benefit from the unique insights of the experts as for example Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR or Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations discussing the following themes:


(Failed) Policy making with Global Consequences

Why are People Forced to Flee?

Refugee Health – Time for Change

The Erosion of International Law – Who Cares?

Civil Society and Refugees: Lessons Learned

Leaving No One Behind – A Mission Impossible?

For more information please visit www.humanitariancongress.at and the attached Newsletter.
We look forward to welcoming you on 3 March 2017.

With kind regards,

Mag.a Annelies Vilim

GLOBALE VERANTWORTUNG –

Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklung und Humanitäre Hilfe

Apollogasse 4/9, 1070 Wien

Tel.: (+43 1) 522 44 22

 office at globaleverantwortung.at

www.globaleverantwortung.at

www.humanitaerer-kongress.at /  info at humanitaerer-kongress.at

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Oil production releases more methane than previously thought.

Emissions of methane and ethane from oil production have been substantially higher than previously estimated, particularly before 2005.

Laxenburg, Austria, 1 February 2017: Global methane and ethane emissions from oil production from 1980 to 2012 were far higher than previous estimates show, according to a new study which for the first time takes into account different production management systems and geological conditions around the world.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which scientists rank as the second-most important contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Yet while methane concentrations in the atmosphere can be easily measured, it is difficult to determine the contribution of different sources, whether human or natural. This is necessary information for reducing emissions.

“In an oil reservoir, there is a layer of gas above the oil which has a methane content of 50 to 85 percent. When you pump the oil to the surface this associated gas will also escape,” explains IIASA researcher Lena Höglund-Isaksson, who led the study. In oil production facilities in North America, almost all of this gas is recovered and what is not recovered will for the most part be flared to prevent leakage (and potential explosions), while a very small fraction is simply vented. In other parts of the world, where recovery rates are lower, much larger quantities of this gas are released into the atmosphere.

“Existing global bottom-up emission inventories of methane used rather simplistic approaches for estimating methane from oil production, merely taking the few direct measurements that exist from North American oil fields and scaling them with oil production worldwide,” says Höglund-Isaksson. This approach left a large room for error, so Höglund Isaksson decided to develop a new method that could better account for the many variations in oil production around the world.

In the new paper, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Höglund-Isaksson estimated global methane emissions from oil and gas systems in over 100 countries over a 32-year period, using a variety of country-specific data ranging from reported volumes of associated gas to satellite imagery that can show flaring, as well as atmospheric measurements of ethane, a gas which is released along with methane and easier to link more directly to oil and gas activities.

She found that in particular in the 1980s, global methane emissions were as much as double previous estimates. The study also found that the Russian oil industry contributes a large amount to global methane emissions. A decline in the Russian oil industry in the 1990s contributed to a global decline in methane emissions which continued until the early 2000’s. At the same time, Höglund-Isaksson found, methane recovery systems were becoming more common and helping to reduce emissions. Yet since 2005, emissions from oil and gas systems have remained fairly constant, which Höglund-Isaksson says is likely linked to increasing shale gas production which largely offsets emission reductions from increased gas recovery.

Höglund-Isaksson points out that her estimates are only as good as the data allow and that there is still uncertainty in the numbers. She says, “To improve the data, a close collaboration between the scientific measurement community and the oil and gas industry would be needed to make more direct measurements available from different parts of the world.”

Reference
Höglund-Isaksson L, (2017). Bottom-up simulations of methane and ethane emissions from global oil and gas systems 1980 to 2012. Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa583e.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

MIDDLE EAST

Bill to Legalize West Bank Settlements Advances in Israel

By ISABEL KERSHNER NOVember 13, 2016 revived January 30, 2017

JERUSALEM — An Israeli ministerial committee on Sunday approved a contentious bill that would allow for the retroactive legalization of Jewish settlement outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. The measure breaks a longstanding taboo, and in the view of many experts, it defies international law.

The bill requires approval by Parliament before becoming law. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed its advancement now, presumably to avoid international censure. The attorney general has cautioned that he will be hard pressed to defend the legislation in Israel’s Supreme Court.

Israel’s pro-settlement camp has promoted the legislation, known as the Regulation Law, with increasing urgency as a Dec. 25 deadline approaches for the court-ordered destruction of Amona, an illegal outpost of 40 families on a West Bank hilltop claimed by dozens of Palestinian landowners and their heirs.

Treading a fine line between world opinion, his conservative Likud Party and his governing coalition, Mr. Netanyahu tried to delay the vote. He said it would harm the chances of a government request pending before the Supreme Court to postpone the demolition of Amona by half a year.

“There is no one who is more concerned about settlement than us,” Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday, in a nod to his pro-settlement constituency. But, he added, “sagacity and responsibility” are needed for the benefit of the settlement project as a whole.

Husam Zomlot, an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said that while all settlement was illegal, Sunday’s decision served to “reaffirm the Israeli government insistence on burying the prospects for peace.”

Israel’s expansion of settlements has outraged Palestinians and been a source of acute tension with the Obama administration, which views all settlement activity as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. Most of the world considers the settlements in territory that Israel conquered from Jordan in the 1967 war to be a violation of international law.

President Obama is considering whether to publicly lay out his own parameters for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before he leaves office, in a speech or in a resolution before the United Nations Security Council, a prospect Mr. Netanyahu has strongly opposed.

Instead of evicting the settlers, the Regulation Law would transfer the rights for the use of private land into Israeli hands and force the Palestinian landowners to accept compensation. While Israel’s highest legal authorities allow settlements in areas declared public land, private property rights have technically been preserved.

Naftali Bennett, a minister whose Jewish Home party promoted the bill, said Sunday’s action signified that Israel had embarked on “a historic process of normalizing the settlements in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.

Critics said it represented a creeping annexation of the West Bank, with Parliament potentially imposing Israeli law in an area that the military authorities have overseen for nearly 50 years.

Tamar Zandberg, a legislator from the left-wing Meretz party, said the proposed law “says you are allowed to steal.”

Although the crisis over Amona preceded the American presidential election, Israel’s right wing has been emboldened by the victory of Donald J. Trump, with the settlements’ supporters believing that his administration will give them a freer hand.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trump team asked which EU state is next to exit

By NIKOLAJ NIELSEN

EUOBSERVER, BRUSSELS, 13. JAN, 17:40

Donald Trump’s transitional team phoned officials at the EU institutions asking which member state will follow the UK in leaving the EU.
“There was one question that was asked, basically, what is the next country to leave, which kind of suggests that the place is about to fall apart,” Anthony L. Gardner, the outgoing US ambassador to the EU, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (13 January).

In a candid last farewell interview with reporters ahead of his departure on 20 January, the diplomat described the Trump call as a “misperception” of the Union’s future, disseminated by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Farage, a British MEP who has long campaigned for the demise of the European Union, has had privileged access to the US president-elect.

He now wants to meet with Gardner but the outgoing ambassador, a self-described defender of the EU, remains ambivalent.

“I got a letter from Nigel Farage, which is rather interesting. He knows I’m leaving and he knows my views are the absolute polar opposite of everything he has said.”

Gardner said Farage had referred to him in the letter as “your excellency” a half dozen times.

“I take huge exceptions to some things he’s done and I will tell him,” said Gardner.

The American ambassador said he would soon be “unshackled” from the “bureaucratic restrictions of the job” and aims to speak out in defence of the US and EU relations.

The two men have never met.

But the mood at the US embassy appears wary ahead of Gardner’s future replacement. Speculation is rife on who will take on the job.

Staff working at the mission, non-career diplomats, have all been unceremoniously told to vacate the premises by 20 January.

Gardner described the Trump demand as a “breach of precedent” because missions are usually allowed to take weeks or even months to clear out. He was given notice on 23 December.

Some have struggled to find new housing after receiving notice of their imminent departure via a telegram.

“I didn’t particularly want to stay any more than necessary because my views are not the views of those coming in. But for some, it has had a real human impact,” he said.

He also warned against his future replacement of becoming the “cheerleader” for Brexit and noted that access to Europe’s single market was strategically vital to both US and EU business interests.

He said any move by Trump or his team to support the break up of the Union would be “shear folly”.

“It’s lunacy and I would think it would be a widely shared view.”

He also advised Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel to warn the incoming US embassy replacement team in Brussels against “splitting the EU, one member state to another.”

He said Germany, along with the EU institutions, are now shouldering the “weight of history” to defend democracy, human rights, and “values that guided a transatlantic partnership for decades.”

In terms of policy work, Gardner said his biggest regret was not being able to finalise the TTIP, the US and EU free trade agreement.

But he noted significant improvements have been made on policies dealing with data and that trust, broadly lost following the US snooping revelations of Europeans, has improved between the two sides.

“It’s been great, it’s been great. Best job,” he said.

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The Austrian DIE PRESSE reports today from a speech by Chancellor Merkel where she called for a closer Defense and Security cooperation between the EU States. This because the transatlantic alliance has NO “ETERNITY-WARRANTY” (“keine Ewigkeitsgarantie”).

Mrs. Merkel called also on the EU States to take on more “international responsibility”
which we interpret as a flat statement that the US leadership can not be taken for granted
under a Trump presidency. This is something that seems crystal clear when listening to the incoming president and that unprofessional entourage he has.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IIASA Policy Brief #15 – January 2017

Resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy.

 www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/resource…

EU bioenergy demand is set to rise sharply. We examine the impacts on land use,
greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity, both inside and outside the region.

Summary
? Increasing demand for bioenergy in the EU means that there is a pressing need to
understand the impacts this might have on land use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,
and biodiversity, both regionally and globally.
? In this brief we examine the results of modeled policy scenarios to explore how
these factors are affected.
? All other factors being equal, a scenario where the EU target of an 80% reduction
in GHG emissions by 2050 is met leads to a rise in: wood pellet imports, the amount
of wood harvested from EU forests, and in the area of land used for short rotation
coppicing (fast-growing tree plantations).
? There are clear synergies between conserving biodiversity; protecting unused forests
and avoiding the conversion of natural land; and reducing global GHG emissions from
the land-use sector.
? Restricting the use of land that has high biodiversity value, or high carbon stocks,
means global emissions savings from the land-use sector.
? The results also highlight the importance of examining the global implications of
EU policy. When biodiversity and carbon storage are protected, for instance, EU
land-use emissions increase, although they fall on a global scale. As well as rising
EU emissions, more EU-grown wood that is of sufficient quality to use for other
wooden products is used directly for bioenergy.
? Capping the amount of high-quality wood that can be used directly for bioenergy,
in addition to biodiversity or carbon storage protection, results in even greater
global emissions savings.

Introduction
In the EU, the use of bioenergy (see box: What is bioenergy?) is on
the rise. This is due to an increased focus on renewable energy,
intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase
energy security. However, the impact of increased bioenergy
use on land use, GHG emissions, and biodiversity is not fully
understood. Nor do we know how a surge in demand for bioenergy
might impact related industries using the same feedstock such as
wood pulp producers, sawmills, or particle board producers. The
aim of the Resource efficiency impacts of future EU bioenergy
demand report, and its follow-up report, is therefore to examine
the consequences of pursuing different bioenergy policy pathways
from 2010-2050 by building a series of possible future scenarios,
using the IIASA Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM)
and Global Forest Model (G4M). © tchara | stock.adobe.com

The differences in GHG emissions between the basic emissions reduction scenario and the
LAND scenario (which restricts use of areas with high biodiversity and carbon storage)
and the CAP scenario (which also includes restrictions on use of high-quality roundwood).
What is bioenergy?

Although there are various types, in this brief we focus on
bioenergy generated by burning biomass, in this case, plant
matter. Many different types of woody biomass can be used
for bioenergy. Firewood is widely used for domestic heating,
for instance. Larger-scale bioenergy production might use
wood pellets, which are dense, compressed pellets. In the
EU these are mostly made from industrial by-products such as
wood chips, sawdust, or shavings. In this brief we also discuss
the likely increasing use of roundwood, defined here as logs
that are of sufficient quality to be used for wooden products
such as plywood or planks, but are used for energy production
instead. Another source of fuel for bioenergy that may become
increasingly important is short rotation coppices—intensively
harvested, fast-growing tree plantations grown on agricultural
land. Increasing demand for these feedstocks can have
important impacts on land use, GHG emissions, and biodiversity.
Furthermore, globalized trade means that demand in the EU can
affect the rest of the world and vice versa, as has already been
seen, for example, with increased EU imports of wood pellets
from the USA.

Possible futures

The Baseline Scenario depicts the target of a 20% reduction of
emissions in the EU28 by 2020, and runs to 2050, providing a point
of comparison for other policy directions.
In this scenario, increased demand for bioenergy will lead to a
considerable increase in EU production of woody biomass by 2030
(as much as 10% more than in 2010). Industrial by-products, such as
sawdust and wood chips, will become increasingly in demand, and
more land will be used for short rotation coppices (see box: What
is bioenergy?). In addition, harvesting in EU forests intensifies, and
roundwood imports increase. From 2030 to 2050, the EU domestic
production of biomass stabilizes.
EU reliance on imported biomass also increases—in particular wood
pellet imports will rise by 90% by 2030 compared to 2010. Since
estimates suggest that outside the EU a large share of wood pellets
are made from roundwood—and therefore require direct forest
harvesting—these imports may have important consequences for
biodiversity loss and land use change outside the EU.
The EU Emission Reduction Scenario (now updated in the
report: Follow-up study on impacts on resource efficiency of future
EU demand for bioenergy) examines the additional policy target
of decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 in the EU.
As the demand for bioenergy in this scenario rises sharply to meet
GHG emissions reduction targets, there is an increasing need for
all forms of feedstock. The reliance on imported pellets increases
seven-fold from 10 million cubic meters in 2010 to 70 million in
2050, with possibly serious implications for global biodiversity
loss. Short rotation coppices are also expanded to cope with the
stark rise in demand. Large quantities of EU-grown roundwood,
which could otherwise have been used to produce wooden goods,
are also burnt for energy.
These demands also affect land use in the EU, and along with
the increase in coppice plantations there is a rise in forest area
of almost 14 million hectares by 2050 compared to 2010. The
land converted to forest and coppice plantations is generally
natural land, such as abandoned cropland or unused grassland.

As demand for wood as a material and a source of energy grows,
forests become more intensively harvested in the EU, with the
amount of wood harvested reaching a level 12% higher in 2050 than
in 2010. Such intense use of forests is likely to have serious impacts
on European wildlife, hastening biodiversity decline in the region.

Importing wood, exporting pressure

The reliance on imports in the emissions reduction scenario raises
the difficult question of whether the EU will simply export the
problems of land use and biodiversity decline elsewhere. The
Increased EU Biomass Import Scenario investigates what would
happen if this was taken to the extreme, by decreasing the trade
costs in the model. As expected, EU imports of roundwood and
wood pellets are significantly higher than in both the baseline and
the emissions reductions scenarios. While this takes the pressure
off EU forests, as harvests do not increase as fast as they otherwise
would, it exports biodiversity and land-use issues to the rest of the
world. GHG emissions from the land-use sector in the EU fall, but
global land-use emissions are similar to the baseline scenario.
However, it is likely that other countries will also see an increase
for bioenergy demand as they attempt to switch away from fossil
fuels. In a world where countries outside the EU are using their
own biomass resources, rather than exporting them, net EU
imports of wood pellets are 25% lower than without this effect.
In addition, EU roundwood imports decrease by more than 20% in
2050. This requires the EU to substantially increase the amount of
biomass it produces through domestic short rotation coppicing.

Sustainability for the future

One of the major concerns over bioenergy is the amount of land
needed to provide the fuel, and whether this will encroach onto
natural land that is important for biodiversity or carbon storage.
To investigate this issue, researchers used the LAND Scenario,
which restricts biomass harvests in areas with high biodiversity
value, high carbon stocks, or both (HBVCS areas). Under this
restriction, collection of biomass from HBVCS areas in the EU
was limited and the conversion of HBVCS areas was forbidden
all around the world. Because these restrictions were applied
regardless of whether the use of resources was for bioenergy or
not, they had far-reaching effects beyond bioenergy policy.
The restrictions lead to a global reduction in the availability of wood.
EU pellet imports fall, and the use of domestic biomass resources
rises; the amount of EU roundwood combusted directly for bioenergy
is 23% higher in 2050 than in the emissions reduction scenario. This
scenario leads to a net global emissions saving in the land-use sector
of 10 megatonnes of CO2 (Mt CO2) in 2050, compared to the emissions
reductions scenario.

It is important to bear in mind that the goal of climate mitigation is to
reduce emissions worldwide, not just from the EU. This is highlighted
by this scenario, which shows that while global emissions fall,
emissions from the land-use sector in the EU increase compared to the
emissions reduction scenario (about 4 Mt CO2 higher in 2050). This is
because without protections for biodiversity and carbon storage, the
EU imports large quantities of wood for bioenergy, simply transferring
emissions to other regions.

Another major concern over bioenergy relates to the efficient use
of biomass; burning roundwood that is of high enough quality to
be used for wooden products is a wasted opportunity. After all, if
a tree is used to make a table, at the end of its useful life the table
itself can be burnt and used to produce energy, increasing resource
efficiency. To examine what would happen if a cap was placed on
the amount of roundwood that could be used directly and indirectly
for energy after 2020, a CAP scenario was built.
As a result of the cap, the amount of wood pellets imported into
the EU falls, since a large share of pellets from outside the EU are
made from high-quality roundwood. The resulting gap in fuel for
bioenergy in the EU is filled through use of industrial by-products,
such as sawdust or shavings. The demand for these by-products
increases their market value, meaning that sawmills become more
profitable and their numbers rise. There is also an effect on the
pulp and board industries, which shift towards use of roundwood
as the price of by-products rises.

This roundwood CAP scenario is more effective for climate mitigation
than the LAND Scenario, leading to net global emissions saving
in the land-use sector of around 15 Mt CO2 in 2050 compared
to the emissions reduction scenario; this is, however, more than
compensated by decreased emissions in the rest of the world.

IIASA Policy Briefs present the latest research for policymakers from
IIASA—an international, interdisciplinary research institute with
National Member Organizations (NMOs) in 24 countries in Africa, the
Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The views expressed herein are
those of the researchers and not necessarily those of IIASA or its NMOs.
This brief is based on the work by forest scientists, economists, and
policy analysts at IIASA, Öko-Institut e.V., Institute for European
Environmental Policy, European Forest Institute, and Indufor Oy. The
consortium was led by Nicklas Forsell, research scholar at the IIASA
Ecosystems Services and Management Program. The research received
funding from the European Commission within the contract ENV.F.1/
ETU/2013/0033 and ENV.F.1./ETU/2015/Ares(2015)5117224.
More IIASA publications are available at www.iiasa.ac.at/Publications


Further information

This modeling work stemmed from the EU Reference Scenario
2013, which details the EU energy, transport and GHG emissions
trends to 2050. The assumptions for energy demand for the
Reference Scenario 2013 are estimated using the PRIMES EU-wide
Energy Model. The work described in this policy brief was published
in two waves, the first was published in the Study on impacts on
resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy (ReceBio)
[pure.iiasa.ac.at/14006], and the second in the Follow-up study on
impacts on resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy
(ReceBio follow-up) [pure.iiasa.ac.at/14180].

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

Foreign Policy EDITORS’ PICKS – Sponsored Daily by The German Embassy in Washington.

Friday, January 6

Welcome to Editors’ Picks, FP’s round-up of the day’s best articles.
Today, we look at Japan’s free trade efforts, Namibia’s lawsuit against Germany’s colonial legacy, and Ghana’s smooth election.

1. KEYS TO THE CASTLE: Donald Trump has access to the most invasive surveillance state in history. Will he use it to impose absolute power? James Bamford writes … Read more by going to foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/06/don…

Similarly you can find the links to the other items as well.

2. SPY WARS: Donald Trump still refuses to believe Moscow tipped the scales, despite growing evidence of a multi-faceted campaign, FP’s Elias Groll reports … Read more

3. FREE TRADE SAMURAI: Tokyo is ready to pick up the banner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership abandoned by Donald Trump – if China lets it, William Sposato writes … Read more

4. GERMANY’S AFRICAN SHAME: A new lawsuit brings Germany’s forgotten genocide in Namibia back into the spotlight, FP’s Robbie Gramer writes … Read more

5. SMOOTH MOVES: Ghana silenced the haters and losers by holding free, fair elections and transitioning power peacefully, FP’s Emily Tamkin writes … Read more

——————————————
Sponsored Content – “SHAPING AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017. The stability of the global economy will be a top issue. The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg.
Will the US have a Secretary of State to participate in the run up to the German G20?

Foreign Policy Magazine
 editorspicks at foreignpolicy.com

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


Foreign Policy Editors’ Picks, presented by the Embassy of Germany in Washington, D.C.
: Cambodia wants China as its neighborhood bully; and a U.S. intel chief fires back at Trump in feud over Russian election meddling.

AMAZING! FOREIGN POLICY – foreignpolicy.com – is a Magazine of global politics, economics and ideas. Published bimonthly in print and daily online by the Slate Group, a division of the Washington Post Company. (See also an attachement at the end of this posting.)

Starting January 2017 we started receiving the daily FP e-mail saying it was sponsored by Germany — Sponsored Content — “SHAPING AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017. The stability of the global economy will be a top issue. The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg. Learn more. (This from the Wednesday, January 4th mailing)


It seems to us, that in view of the expressed lack of interest in an “interconnected world”
on the part of the incoming Trump Administration, this while Germany as incoming leader of the G20 has the opposite opinion, it is logical for German Policy to lend its shoulder to the Foreign Policy Magazine and sponsor the continuation of its very important task.


Now – to the information we found in today’s incoming mail – January 6, 2017:


“Shaping an interconnected world”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency from December 1, 2016, to November 30, 2017.

The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8, 2017, in Hamburg.


Making globalization benefit everybody:

Germany would like to use its G20 Presidency to intensify international cooperation. It is the G20’s job to ensure that globalisation benefits everyone. The aim is to strengthen the benefits of globalisation and worldwide interconnectedness, and to ensure that more people reap benefits. The German government is thus setting a course diametrically opposed to isolationism and any return to nationalism.


Chancellor: Stability of global economy is a “top issue:”

Germany is happy to assume the G20 Presidency as of December 1, 2016, and to host the G20 summit July 7-8, 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a video podcast on the German G20 Presidency. She cited the stability of the global economy as the “top issue.” The G20 finance ministers will be focusing on achieving progress on the stricter regulation of financial markets, especially in the field of shadow banking.

Germany attaches a great deal of importance to continuing with the major issues of its G7 Presidency, Angela Merkel continued. And a number of issues “related to development” will be given a very high profile, in particular fighting pandemics.


Agenda of Germany’s G20 Presidency with three main focuses

The German G20 agenda rests on three main pillars:

Ensuring stability
Improving viability for the future
Accepting responsibility

The G20 is the main forum for international cooperation among the 20 leading industrialized nations and emerging economies in the fields of finance and economics. The G20 nations are together home to almost two thirds of the world’s population, as well as generating more than four fifths of global GDP, and accounting for three quarters of global trade.
Ensuring stable and resilient national economies

The first pillar involves strengthening stable environments for the global economy and the financial system, but also promoting dynamic economic growth. Structural reforms are the lynchpin here.

Over and above this, Germany’s G20 Presidency will continue cooperation on international financial and fiscal issues, employment, and trade and investment. The aim is to strengthen free and fair trade around the globe. The German government will also be working for sustainable global supply chains.


Fit for the future:


During its G20 Presidency, Germany not only aims to ensure the stability of the global economy, but also, and this is the second pillar, to make it more fit for the future. One main concern is to make progress on realising the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.


It is every bit as important to discuss viable energy and climate strategies for the future. And the growing importance of digitalisation for the global economy will play a prominent part in the discussions of the G20. To be fit for the future will also mean improving health care. The worldwide fight against antimicrobial resistance is part of this, as are efforts to put in place the mechanisms to prevent the outbreak of pandemics.

And last but not least, empowering women in the economy, in particular improving the quality of women’s jobs, is on the agenda. Chancellor Merkel will be working to give women in developing countries easier access to information and communication technologies.


Accepting responsibility – especially for Africa:


Germany also intends to strengthen the G20 as a community of responsibility – and that is the third pillar. A priority concern is to achieve sustainable economic progress in Africa.

The German G20 Presidency aims to take concrete steps to improve people’s living conditions in the long term and to put in place a stable environment for investment. And it aims to promote infrastructure development on the African continent. In June a separate conference, entitled “Partnership with Africa,” will be held in Berlin.

But the G20 also aims to accept responsibility in other fields. Migration and refugee movements, the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption will also be addressed during Germany’s G20 Presidency.

Meetings of G20 ministers and dialogue with civil society

In the run up to the G20 summit, numerous line minister meetings will be held, in order to explore individual G20 issues in greater depth. Between January and May 2017, ministers responsible for finance, foreign affairs, labour affairs, health, agriculture and digital policy will be meeting.

As was the case during the G7 Presidency, Chancellor Merkel will again be meeting with representatives of civil society. Between March and June 2017, several dialogues are to take place, including events for the business community (Business20), non-governmental organizations (Civil20), trade unions (Labour20), the science and research community (Science20), think tanks (Think20), women (Women20) and youth (Youth20).

The civil society organizations themselves are responsible for these meetings, which will pick up on relevant G20 issues. With international partners they will be producing recommendations for the German G20 Presidency.

© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government

——————————————————-
Germany will be holding the presidency of the G20 in 2017. The summit of the heads of state and government and representatives of international organisations will be held in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017. A number of G20 ministers’ conferences are scheduled to take place prior to this. The G20 Foreign Ministers will meet in Bonn on 16 and 17 February 2017. The summit and ministers’ meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss current international challenges and to raise awareness of new issues in international affairs.

Further information is available on the following webpages:

Information on this topic provided by the Federal Foreign Office
Official German G20 presidency website

———————————————————-

Foreign Policy was founded in the winter of 1970-71 by Samuel P. Huntington, professor of Harvard University, and his friend Warren Demian Manshel to give a voice to alternative views about American foreign policy at the time of the Vietnam War. Huntington hoped it would be “serious but not scholarly, lively but not glib.” In the Spring of 1978, after six years of close partnership, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace acquired full ownership of Foreign Policy. In 2000, a format change was implemented from a slim quarterly academic journal to a bi-monthly magazine. Also, it launched international editions in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

In September 2008, Foreign Policy was bought by The Washington Post Company (now Graham Holdings Company). In 2012, Foreign Policy grew to become the FP Group – an expansion of Foreign Policy magazine to include ForeignPolicy.com and FP Events.

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

Will António Guterres be the UN’s best ever secretary general? Asks the Guardian.

Cultured and consensual, the Portuguese politician has had the perfect preparation for the United Nations’ top job says the Guardian.

Sunday 1 January 2017 07.00 GMT Last modified on Sunday 1 January 2017 22.00 GMT

When António Guterres resigned halfway through his second term as Portuguese prime minister in 2002 because his minority government was floundering, he did something unusual for a man who had seen the highest reaches of power.

Several times a week, he went to slum neighborhoods on the edge of Lisbon to give free maths tuition to children.

“He never allowed a journalist to go with him or let himself be filmed or photographed, and he never let journalists talk to any of his students,” said Ricardo Costa, editor-in-chief of the Portuguese SIC News, who covered Guterres’s political career. The former prime minister told his surprised students that what he was doing was personal and not for show.

The Portuguese socialist, who becomes the next UN secretary general on Sunday, is an intellectual who grew up under Portugal’s dictatorship and came of age with the 1974 revolution that ended 48 years of authoritarian rule.

Crucial to understanding Guterres, 67, is his Christian faith: his progressive Catholicism always informed his brand of social democratic politics.

In the heady days of Portugal’s revolution, it was rare to be a practising Catholic in a new Socialist party where many members had Marxist backgrounds. But Guterres, a star engineering student who grew a moustache in honour of the Chilean left’s Salvador Allende, would eventually become a modernising leader, arguing that his mission was social justice and equality.

On the Portuguese left, faith was a delicate issue that required discretion. Under Guterres, the country held a referendum in 1998 on a proposal to liberalise the strict abortion laws. Socialist MPs had a free vote and, as prime minister, Guterres chose not to officially campaign. But it was publicly known that he opposed changing the law, which irked many in his party. The no vote against liberalising the abortion law narrowly won, but turnout was so low that the result was not binding. Abortion laws were finally relaxed in 2007 after a second referendum.

Born in Lisbon, Guterres spent stretches of his childhood with relatives in the countryside, where he saw the poverty of rural life under the dictatorship, and later volunteered with Catholic student groups on social projects in the capital.

In 1976, the young engineering lecturer was elected a Socialist MP in Portugal’s first democratic vote since the revolution. In parliament, he was a fearsome orator. Such was his talent for verbally destroying political opponents, he became known as “the talking pickaxe”.

Guterres became prime minister in 1995. His campaign slogan was “heart and reason”, a cry for more humanism and social politics. Three years earlier he had taken over the Socialist party and modernised it, although he remained to the left of contemporaries such as Tony Blair. For years he led the Socialist International international grouping of leftwing parties.

With Portugal’s rapid economic growth and nearly full employment, Guterres was able to set up a guaranteed minimum income and nursery schooling for all. But he had failed to win an absolute majority and was condemned to preside over a tricky minority government. He had to rely on his skill for consensus, always having to negotiate with the opposition parties if he wanted to get anything passed – something he later argued was perfect training for running the UN.

“He was a skillful person – very smart, very quick to understand the other point of view and very focused on having solutions – that’s why it worked,” said António Vitorino, Guterres’s deputy prime minister and defence minister.

Guterres was furiously hardworking. But behind this was a backdrop of family tragedy. His wife, Luísa Guimarães e Melo, a psychiatrist with whom he had two children, had been critically ill for most of his time in government and was undergoing treatment at a London hospital.

“It was one of the hardest moments of his political life,” Vitorino said. “Every Friday morning, he took a plane to London, spent the weekend there in a very desperate situation and then on Monday morning he was back at work. I was his deputy prime minister, I was amazed. I could never have done what he was doing.”

In 1998, Guterres’s wife died. The following year, he threw himself into the general elections. He had hoped to win an outright majority but the Socialists ended up one MP short and began a second minority government. This time, a slowdown in the economy made things harder.

Guterres, privately growing disillusioned with internal party politics, turned increasingly to his interest in international diplomacy. He had already won praise for his role in resolving the crisis in Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony, which had erupted into violence in 1999 after a referendum vote in favour of independence from Indonesia. Guterres led diplomatic efforts to convince the UN to intervene to restore peace.

In 2000, when Portugal took the rotating presidency of the European Union, its success was attributed to Guterres’s ability to get big leaders to agree and smaller leaders to be heard.

António Guterres accepts roses from a supporter in Lisbon
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António Guterres is cheered after his party won Portugal’s general elections in October 1999. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP
“He did something very original: he looked at what every country wanted and set up an agenda that could be interesting for everyone,” said Francisco Seixas da Costa, a Portuguese diplomat who served as Guterres’s European affairs secretary. “Small countries disappear in the decision-making process so we tried to listen to their interests.”

Guterres managed to talk down powerful leaders at loggerheads. “At the European council, I remember a conflict between Jacques Chirac and Helmut Kohl over one issue,” Seixas da Costa said. “Guterres asked for the floor. I was sitting next to him, I was afraid it might be naive. But he took the floor and made a proposal that covered both their interests, and it was a success. It worked. He had a fantastic capacity to moderate and create links and bridges.”

In 2002, halfway through his second term as prime minister, Guterres abruptly resigned after the Socialists suffered a drubbing in local elections. He famously said he wanted to avoid the country falling into a “political swamp” and that he had discovered “politics has its limits”.

At the time he was unpopular, criticised for too much compromise and too much dialogue. But over the years since his departure, polls showed he was increasingly liked and seen as fair, serious and honest – a possible contender for Portuguese president, although he never wanted to return to national politics, preferring, he said, to make a difference on the world stage.

His decade serving as UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) from 2005 to 2015 was seen in Portugal as an obvious fit for his personality: socially engaged but seeking common ground.

Guterres – who speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish and is now remarried to Catarina Vaz Pinto, who works at Lisbon city hall – was known in political circles for enthusiastic, cultured conversations on everything from ancient Greece to Middle Eastern culture, opera to geography.

Whenever he had free time during visits to Washington as UNHCR chief, he would get the organisation’s regional representative, Michel Gabaudan, to take him to Politics & Prose or another of the city’s bookshops.

“He’s an avid reader of history, and his pleasure was, if we had an hour, to go to a bookshop, so we would have access to books in English that weren’t easy to get in Geneva,” said Gabaudan, now president of Refugees International. “I’m sure this immense knowledge of past and ancient history did inform his political judgment.”

Guterres also took a broad approach to the UNHCR’s responsibilities. The organisation grew dramatically under his management, and not just because the number of the world’s refugees soared in the 21st century. He broadened the categories of people the UNHCR would seek to protect, including internally displaced people and migrants forced from their homes by natural disasters and climate change. He preferred the all-encompassing phrase “people on the move”.

He managed to persuade donors to fund the expansion by retaining their confidence that the money was well spent, and to do that he cut overheads.

Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.
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Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda in June 2005. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
“Like all UN organisations, as the organisation had grown up, it had become a little bit top-heavy and one of his first actions was really to slim down headquarters fairly substantially. He sent people back to the field and he put some of the services in much cheaper places than Geneva,” Gabaudan said.

“He never thought the details of finance were just for the technicians. I saw him looking at spreadsheets faster than his financial officer, spotting the line or column where we had a problem. So he was really as much hands-on about how the organisation worked as he was the top political figure and spokesman for refugees.”

When Justin Forsyth was chief executive of Save the Children UK, he travelled with Guterres to refugee camps in Lebanon, and recalled Guterres meeting a group of children. “The thing that struck me was him cross-legged on the floor of a tent talking to children. He really listens and he asks questions and he’s very moved by what he hears. He gets his hands dirty,” said Forsyth, the new deputy executive director of Unicef, the UN children’s charity.

Guterres’s tenure as high commissioner has attracted some criticism. Some former officials said he should have spoken out more strongly in defence of refugee rights enshrined in the 1951 refugee convention. “His record is very mixed, particularly on protection. His tenure was a rough time for the protection of refugees,” a former senior UN official said. He pointed to Thailand forcibly repatriating ethnic Uighurs to China despite the risk they would face persecution.

He argued that a tripartite agreement the UNHCR made with Kenya and Somalia on the voluntary return of Somali refugees had paved the way for the reported forced repatriations now under way in Kenya aimed at emptying its biggest camp, at Dadaab.

The former official said the EU’s deal with Turkey to repatriate refugees, also widely seen as a violation of basic principles of refugee protection, was largely negotiated while Guterres was at the helm, even if it was only signed in March this year, three months after he left.

“His style is to make general statements on the issue but not to directly challenge governments on their actions,” the former official said. “It raises concerns on what he would be like as secretary general.”

Jeff Crisp, who was head of UNHCR policy development and evaluation under Guterres and is now a research associate at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, said not all the criticisms could be pointed at the secretary general designate.

He said the UNHCR did push back against infringements of refugee rights by European states and had been strongly critical of the EU-Turkey deal. And he argued the tendency to address abuses by authoritarian states by behind-the-scenes persuasion had historically been the “institutional approach” taken by the UNHCR, before and after Guterres.

“I think you have to understand that UNHCR’s public criticism of states is very carefully calibrated and in general the more liberal a state is, the more publicly the UNHCR will criticise it,” Crisp said.

Adaptable, consensual, affable, intellectual, Guterres is perhaps better qualified than any of his nine predecessors for the world’s most demanding job. But one of his deftest skills he learned not from the hurly burly of Portuguese politics, nor from the harrowing years at the UNHCR, but from his first wife.

At a Guardian event last June in which he debated with rivals for the secretary general job, he said her psychoanalytical insights were highly valuable. “She taught me something that was extremely useful for all my political activities. When two people are together, they are not two but six. What each one is, what each one thinks he or she is and what each one thinks the other is,” he said.


“And what is true for people is also true for countries and organisations. One of the roles of the secretary general when dealing with the different key actors in each scenario is to bring these six into two. That the misunderstandings disappear and the false perceptions disappear. Perceptions are essential in politics.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We just returned from a cruise of ports in the Western Mediterranean and observed that in all those countries there is no unification of Exxon (or Esso) and Mobil. We got the hinch that Mr. Tillerson wants the less interesting job of Secretary of State for good company reasons. He will be now in a position to wrestle those stubborn states that do not see good reason to allow a monopoly of the petroleum, or what he better describes as energy management.

The Climate Change and non-petroleum energy issues ExxonMobil learned to handle to its advantage from the old Mobil. We saw tat in the way Mobil Oil brought about the unneeded “Gas-to-Gas” project in New Zealand where the locals lost their chance to become independent of Petroleum and the Whangarei refinery by going for a CNG transportation system in the North Island and a methanol from Natural gas in the South Island.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has stories to tell about that company’s dealings in the USA and in the UK. Now Tillerson surely hopes to be able to manage the World at large.

UCS writes – ExxonMobil is attacking UCS because they are a real threat. They know UCS does not take government or corporate funding so they’re more independent and less susceptible to intimidation. They know wUCS is bipartisan and can mobilize people across the political spectrum. They’re hoping the prospect of an expensive legal fight will convince UCS to drop the role as a defender of science.

But we won’t stop fighting. Even with fossil fuel allies controlling Congress and the presidency next year, UCS can and will continue to work for real climate change solutions.

Take palm oil, one of the biggest agricultural commodities on the planet. Over the last 10 years, booming demand led to massive tropical deforestation—and colossal carbon emissions. So we worked with investors, targeted huge brands like General Mills and Procter & Gamble, and collaborated with other organizations—securing sustainability policy changes at 24 major global brands in just the last few years. And as of this year, most globally traded palm oil is covered by solid commitments to zero deforestation, saving millions of acres of forest and keeping tons of carbon out of the air.¹

By coincidence, today the “WIENER ZEITUNG” had a large article by Petra Tempfer based on studies at the local IIASA – a scientific think-tank – on the true economy of palm oil.

Or take our progress in the last year, even with a hostile Congress: We helped pass best-in-class clean energy laws in California, Oregon, Illinois, and Massachusetts and won strong national fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks (which will prevent 1.1 billion tons of carbon pollution).

We won these victories after years of smart campaigning—often under political climates that were discouraging.

Help UCS show opponents that they can’t bully it into silence. Make a tax-deductible donation to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

We’ve already organized thousands of scientists to pressure the incoming Trump administration—getting media attention in The Washington Post, NBC News, and The Scientist magazine—and we will continue to make our voice impossible to ignore.

We can do all this and more because of generous donors who stand up for science and the truth, and who believe that progress is possible, no matter the obstacles from fossil fuel companies and their political allies.


Under the new president and Congress, we expect more and more political and corporate attacks on science, on scientists themselves, and on safeguards for our health and the environment.


ExxonMobil has subpoenaed UCS staff’s emails and documents related to UCS’s efforts to hold the company accountable for deceiving investors and the public on climate change. This followed a similar subpoena by the Exxon-friendly chair of the House Science committee, Representative Lamar Smith.

Their strategy: tie up the people and organizations who exposed their efforts to deceive the public, cost them time and money, and scare nonprofits off from future accountability efforts.

And with Donald Trump’s nomination of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, it’s clear Exxon’s political power will be more formidable than ever.


based on a letter from Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We visited the village of MARSAXLOKK, of La Valetta, Malta, as part of a MSC Splendida cruise of the Western Mediterranean. This was on a beautiful December 21, 2016 – First Winter Day. Our guide insisted in pointing out the difference from the stormy 1998 day – when right after the fall of the Berlin Wall – this bay was host to the first post Cold War meeting between the the presidents of the USA and the Soviet Union – Messrs. Gorbachev and H. W. Bush.

I decided right there to post about that old event, that closed the era codified at Yalta by the 1945 interim settlement between Stalin and Roosevelt with only Churchill sitting in. Today we seem to enter an era that replaces the global peace that came after the cold war with a Putin-Trump concordance that has the potential to destroy everything that achieved since the 1990s.

We visited today the village of MARSAXLOKK, of La Valetta, Malta, as part of a MSC Splendida cruise of the Western Mediterranean. This was a beautiful December 21, 2016 First Winter Day, and our guide insisted in pointing out the difference from the stormy 1998 day when right after the fall of the Berlin Wall this bay was host to the first post Cold War meeting between the the presidents of the USA and the Soviet Union Messrs. Gorbachev and H. W. Bush.

I decided to post about that old event, that closed the era that was codified at Yalta by the 1945 interim settlement between Stalin and Roosevelt with only Churchill sitting in. Today we seem to enter an era that replaces the global peace that came after the cold war with a Putin-Trump concordance that has the potential to destroy everything that was achieved since the 1990s.

I thought that a new meeting at MARSAXLOKK – BETWEEN PUTIN AND TRUMP – could help both of them open eyes to where they want to lead the global community that by now got glued together in a manner that it is impossible to see any of the old super-powers not cooperating, or not making place for China and India as well, or ignoring the future rise of Africa and Brazil. Could it be that we are the first to call for such a meeting? Is it really far-fetched to attribute to the present two gladiators, that will be active on the global stage into the 2017-2020 years, a sense of the need of covering each other’s back when in the midst of the aspiring powers of China, India, other Asians, and some form of a reformulated Europe. All this while basic concepts of Democracy and Human Rights are being shelved, and replaced with power of oligarchies bent on increased personal gains that leave behind hordes of malcontents – the brew of a new undertow of Despicables a la Les Miserables?

Malta Summit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

(To be seen a Monument in Bir?ebbu?a commemorating the Malta Summit)

The Malta Summit comprised a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, took place on December 2–3, 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was actually their second meeting following a meeting that included Ronald Reagan, in New York in December 1988.

During the summit, Bush and Gorbachev would declare an end to the Cold War although whether it was truly such – is a matter of debate. News reports of the time referred to the Malta Summit as the most important since 1945, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed on a post-war plan for Europe at Yalta.

No agreements were signed at the Malta Summit. Its main purpose was to provide the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, with an opportunity to discuss the rapid changes taking place in Europe with the lifting of the Iron Curtain, which had separated the Eastern Bloc from Western Europe for four decades. The summit is viewed by some observers as the official end of the Cold War. At a minimum, it marked the lessening of tensions that were the hallmark of that era and signaled a major turning point in East-West relations. During the summit, President Bush expressed his support for Gorbachev’s perestroika initiative and other reforms in the Communist bloc.

The U.S. delegation:

James Baker, U.S. Secretary of State

Robert Blackwill, then Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council

Jack F. Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union

Condoleezza Rice, then Director for Soviet and East European Affairs at the National Security Council

Brent Scowcroft, U.S. National Security Adviser

Raymond Seitz, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs

John H. Sununu, White House chief of staff

Margaret Tutwiler, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Spokeswoman of the Department

Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Robert Zoellick, Counselor of the Department of State

Venue: “From Yalta to Malta”, and back.
The meetings took place in the Mediterranean, off the island of Malta. The Soviet delegation used the missile cruiser Slava,[2][3][4] while the US delegation had their sleeping quarters aboard USS Belknap.[5][6] [7]

The ships were anchored in a roadstead off the coast of Marsaxlokk
. Stormy weather and choppy seas resulted in some meetings being cancelled or rescheduled, and gave rise to the moniker the “Seasick Summit” among international media.

In the end, the meetings took place aboard Maxsim Gorkiy, a Soviet cruise ship anchored in the harbor at Marsaxlokk.

The idea of a summit in the open sea is said to have been inspired largely by President Bush’s fascination with World War II President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s habit of meeting foreign leaders on board naval vessels.[8][9] The choice of Malta as a venue was the subject of considerable pre-summit haggling between the two superpowers. According to Condoleezza Rice:

“… it took a long time to get it arranged, finding a place, a place that would not be ceremonial,
a place where you didn’t have to do a lot of other bilaterals. And fortunately – or unfortunately – they chose Malta, which turned out to be a really horrible place to be in December.

Although the Maltese were wonderful, the weather was really bad.”[10]

The choice of venue was also highly symbolic. The Maltese Islands are strategically located at the geographic centre of the Mediterranean Sea, where east meets west and north meets south. Consequently, Malta has a long history of domination by foreign powers. It served as a British naval base during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and suffered massive destruction during World War II.

Malta declared its neutrality between the two superpowers in 1980, following the closure of British military bases and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Regional Headquarters (CINCAFMED), previously located on Malta.

Neutrality is entrenched in the Constitution of Malta, which provides as follows, at section 1(3):

“Malta is a neutral state actively pursuing peace, security and social progress among all nations by adhering to a policy of non-alignment and refusing to participate in any military alliance.”


On February 2, 1945, as the War in Europe drew to a close, Malta was the venue for the Malta Conference, an equally significant meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill prior to their Yalta meeting with Joseph Stalin. The Malta Summit of 1989 signalled a reversal of many of the decisions taken at the 1945 Yalta Conference.

See also:
Revolutions of 1989
Cold War
Cold War (1985-1991)
List of Soviet Union–United States summits
New world order (politics)
References:
Jump up^ “An Interview with Dr. Condoleezza Rice (17/12/97)”
Jump up^ www.nytimes.com/1989/12/03/world/…
Jump up^ articles.latimes.com/1989-12-02/n…
Jump up^ articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-…
Jump up^ www.nytimes.com/1989/12/03/world/…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Climate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged.

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

BBC Science & Environment
19 November 2016

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the conference that climate change was not a hoax
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.

He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.

Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.

But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.
“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.”


He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.
“We in the Pacific, in common with the whole world, look to America for the leadership and engagement and assistance on climate change just as we looked to America in the dark days of World War Two.
“I say to the American people, you came to save us then, and it is time for you to help save us now.”
After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.

This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.
CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.


UK joins the club

The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.
“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22,” said Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute.

“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline.”

US secretary of state John Kerry gave an impassioned speech in Marrakech, his last climate conference while in office

The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.

Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE NEW YORK TIMES – SCIENCE

English Village Becomes Climate Leader by Quietly Cleaning Up Its Own Patch

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERGAUG. 21, 2016

ASHTON HAYES, England — This small village of about 1,000 people looks like any other nestled in the countryside.

But Ashton Hayes is different in an important way when it comes to one of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change.

Hundreds of residents have banded together to cut greenhouse emissions — they use clotheslines instead of dryers, take fewer flights, install solar panels and glaze windows to better insulate their homes.

The effort, reaching its 10th anniversary this year, has led to a 24 percent cut in emissions, according to surveys by a professor of environmental sustainability who lives here.

But what makes Ashton Hayes unusual is its approach — the residents have done it themselves, without prodding from government. About 200 towns, cities and counties around the world — including Notteroy, Norway; Upper Saddle River, N.J.; and Changhua County, Taiwan — have reached out to learn how the villagers here did it.


As climate science has become more accepted, and the effects of a warming planet are becoming increasingly clear, Ashton Hayes is a case study for the next phase of battling climate change: getting people to change their habits.

“We just think everyone should try to clean up their patch,” said Rosemary Dossett, a resident of the village. “And rather than going out and shouting about it, we just do it.”

One of their secrets, it seems, is that the people of Ashton Hayes feel in charge, rather than following government policies. When the member of Parliament who represents the village showed up at their first public meeting in January 2006, he was told he could not make any speeches.

“We said, ‘This is not about you tonight, this is about us, and you can listen to what we’ve got to say for a change,’” said Kate Harrison, a resident and early member of the group.

No politician has been allowed to address the group since. The village has kept the effort separate from party politics, which residents thought would only divide them along ideological lines.


The project was started by Garry Charnock, a former journalist who trained as a hydrologist and has lived in the village for about 30 years. He got the idea a little more than a decade ago after attending a lecture about climate change at the Hay Festival, an annual literary gathering in Wales. He decided to try to get Ashton Hayes to become, as he put it, “Britain’s first carbon-neutral village.”


“But even if we don’t,” he recalls thinking at the time, “let’s try to have a little fun.”

Sometimes, efforts to reduce greenhouse gases involve guilt-tripping or doomsday scenarios that make people feel as if the problem is too overwhelming to tackle.

In Ashton Hayes — about 25 miles southeast of Liverpool, with a 19th-century Anglican church and a community-owned shop that doubles as a post office — the villagers have lightened the mood.

They hold public wine-and-cheese meetings in the biggest houses in town, “so everyone can have a look around,” and see how the wealthier people live, said Mr. Charnock, the executive director of RSK, an environmental consulting company. “We don’t ever finger-wag in Ashton Hayes.”

About 650 people — more than half of the village’s residents — showed up to the first meeting, Mr. Charnock said. Some in the village were less keen, but little by little, they began to participate.

Some have gone further. When they were looking to build their energy-efficient home and heard about Ashton Hayes’s carbon-neutral project, Ms. Dossett and her husband, Ian, thought it might be the perfect village for them.

They moved from nearby South Warrington and found two old farm cottages, which they converted into a two-story brick house, and installed huge triple-glazed windows, photovoltaic cells on the roof, a geothermal heat pump that heats the home and its water, and an underground cistern to hold rainwater for toilets and the garden.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to think we live in a mud hut,” Ms. Dossett said, sitting on a couch in her warm, well-lit living room.

The Dossetts also have a vegetable garden, grow grapes for wine, brew beer and keep two cows, which mow the lawn and may also eventually become food in a few years. They pay about 500 pounds (about $650) a year for electricity and heating.

The success of the carbon-neutral project seems to have inspired other community efforts in Ashton Hayes. The residents, for example, have built a new playing field with a solar-powered pavilion, which is the home of a community cafe three days a week. They have also put photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the primary school.

Other towns and cities around the world hope to copy Ashton Hayes. Their representatives have contacted the project’s leaders, asking for help in setting up similar initiatives, according to the diary the Ashton Hayes group keeps about the project, chronicling almost everything they have done over the past 10 years.


Eden Mills, a small community in Ontario, Canada, is one of them. Charles Simon traveled to Ashton Hayes in 2007 to learn how to translate their approach to his town, adopting the apolitical, voluntary, fun method.

“Some of the changes are so easy,” Mr. Simon said. “Just put on a sweater instead of turning on the heat.”


Eden Mills has cut emissions by about 14 percent, Mr. Simon said, and has plans to do more. Residents have been working with experts from the nearby University of Guelph, planting trees in the village forest to help absorb the carbon dioxide the town emits, Mr. Simon said.

Janet Gullvaag, a councilwoman in Notteroy, Norway, an island municipality of about 21,000 people, reached out to Ashton Hayes about nine years ago after her political party decided to include reducing carbon dioxide emissions in its platform.

“I think that the idea that Ashton Hayes had — to make caring for the environment fun, without pointing fingers — was quite revolutionary,” Ms. Gullvaag said.

Though her community’s approach is decidedly more political, Ms. Gullvaag said that adopting Ashton Hayes’s mantra of fun had paid dividends: She has seen changes in her community, she said, as people buy more electric cars and bicycles, and convert their home heating from oil to more environmentally friendly sources.

“Whatever you’re trying to do, if you can create enthusiasm and spread knowledge, normally, people will react in a positive way,” she added.

Though deep cuts across the globe are still required to make broader progress, actions to reduce emissions, even by small towns, are a step in the right direction, say experts who study community action on climate change.

“The community-building element of all this has been as important as the environmental impact so far,” said Sarah Darby, a researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

She added that Ashton Hayes was in a good position to take on these kinds of projects — it is a small village of well-off and well-educated people, so simply taking fewer flights each year can have a big effect.

Residents were able to cut emissions by about 20 percent in the first year alone, according to surveys used to calculate carbon footprints that were developed by Roy Alexander, a local professor, and his students.

Some have had even more significant reductions: Households that participated in surveys in both the first and 10th years shrank their energy use by about 40 percent.

Mr. Charnock said he thought the village could get the cuts in its 2006 carbon footprint to 80 percent in the next few years with the help of grant money to buy and install solar panels on the local school and other buildings.

The next thing they have to do, he said, is to get the county government to be as committed to cutting emissions as Ashton Hayes is.

“There’s so much apathy,” Mr. Charnock said. “We need to squeeze that layer of apathy jelly and get it out.”

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A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: An English Village Leads a Climate Revolution.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


BDS: Squeezing Palestinians to Hurt Israel

by Asaf Romirowsky and Nicole Brackman in The Jerusalem Post
May 8, 2016, Re-posted by Middle East Forum

 www.meforum.org/6005/bds-squeezin…
Originally published under the title “BDS Equals Economic Warfare.”

The October 2015 closure of SodaStream’s factory in Mishor Adumim put 500 Palestinians out of work.
At the core of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is economic warfare meant to delegitimize and marginalize Israel. But the fatal fallacy of the movement is rooted in the fact that its proponents are hurting the very constituency they claim to represent.

Daniel Birnbaum is the CEO of SodaStream, one of Israel’s greatest commercial start-up successes. The company (made famous in a 2014 Super Bowl advertisement featuring actress Scarlett Johansson) was a pioneer in economic inclusion, establishing a factory in the West Bank and employing both Palestinian and Jewish workers (among them a high proportion of women).

Due to the ongoing violence in Syria, SodaStream also went out of its way to offer employment to Syrian refugees – one of the only Middle Eastern companies to do so. Providing an avenue to job security in skilled labor is a fundamental tenet of refugee rehabilitation policy. Israel has been at the forefront of successful refugee resettlement and absorption since the state’s inception, with the integration of close to one million Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands.

As Birnbaum underscored in a press release,

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I refuse to stand by and observe this human tragedy unfold right across the border in Syria… just as we have always done our best to help our Palestinian brothers and sisters in the West Bank, the time has come for local business and municipal leaders to address the Syrian humanitarian crisis and take the initiative to help those in need. We cannot expect our politicians to bear the entire burden of providing aid for the refugees.

But in October 2015, nearly 500 of the company’s Palestinian workers lost their jobs. The reason wasn’t because the company no longer wanted to employ them. It was due – at least in part – to the efforts of the BDS movement to mount enough international pressure to close the facility. Though the company denied it was a factor, the tactic worked; many of the workers were thrust into unemployment.

Notwithstanding that, SodaStream offered 1,000 positions to Syrian refugees at the company’s new facility in Rahat.

The BDS movement uses economic pressure to attempt to strong-arm the Israeli government into complying with its agenda. Its effects are wide-ranging, from political activism on college campuses to commercial guerrilla tactics, like covertly placing stickers on grocery products to draw attention to their Israeli origins.

Much of the time, its claims are laden with anti-Semitic overtones and rely on emotional appeal rather than hard data. Such tactics have far-reaching – and very counterproductive – consequences, for example, the unwillingness of the French directorate-general for international security of intelligence to accept technology offered by an Israeli security company that “could have helped counter-terror agents track suspects in real time,” undermining the chance to avert the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium.

The BDS movement has had little economic impact on Israel.

Despite its aspirations, in fact BDS has had little economic impact on Israel. According to Forbes, “The impact of BDS is more psychological than real so far and has had no discernible impact on Israeli trade or the broader economy… that said, the sanctions do run the risk of hurting the Palestinian economy, which is much smaller and poorer than that of Israel.”

Israel’s centrality to US regional and global policy has not gone unnoticed; US Congress sought to cement Israel’s economic and trade ties to the US with a bipartisan bill – the US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act – designed to counter the BDS movement and strengthen the two nations’ relationship. The bill “leverages ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective US trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel” and “establishes a clear US policy in opposition to state-led BDS, which is detrimental to global trade, regional peace and stability.”

The extremism that the BDS movement advocates highlights the group’s refusal to come to terms with the State of Israel and its ignorance in evaluating the landscape of greater Middle East politics.

When Syrian refugees are being offered jobs in Israel at an Israeli company it is clear how removed the BDS reality is from that of the Middle East.

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Asaf Romirowsky is the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. Nicole Brackman is a fellow at SPME.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 12th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Thursday
12th May 2016

Nord Stream 2: A killer project

NS2, which will pass through Danish waters, is to be operational by 2019

BRUSSELS, EUobserver, 11 MAY, 10:49
By PETRAS AUSTREVICIUS – a Lithuanian MEP in the liberal Alde group.

Scholars of European affairs will one day judge how well EU institutions coped with crises.
However, speaking as an MEP, I must say it is unwise for the European Commission to try to play deaf, dumb and blind to certain serious developments in the real world.

Follow the gas: Russian pipelines are instruments of political pressure.

Drawing attention to one area, it is unwise to pretend that things are normal in the EU-Russia energy business.

The fact is that Russia’s gas pipelines, the little green men that it sent to Ukraine, the money it gives to populist parties in our member states and its anti-EU propaganda are all part of the same programme. The fact is that Russia is exerting great influence to bend, or even break, EU energy law.

One project that lacks principled scrutiny by the EU’s top institutions is the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gas pipeline.

If it is built, by 2019, it would duplicate existing pipes under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and its implications would be far wider than many people think.

I would like to hear commission president Jean-Claude Juncker take a clear stand on NS2.

But I myself call it a killer project because I believe it is part of a programme to destroy European unity.

If it is built, the EU would become extremely dependent on a single gas supplier – Gazprom, an entity under the full control of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Europe already imports 39 percent of its gas from Russia. After NS2, 80 percent of Russian gas imports would be concentrated in one route. In Germany itself, the share of Russian gas would increase from 40 percent to 60 percent.

Beyond Germany, 12 EU member states depend on Russia for 75 percent or more of their gas. After NS2, the level of their dependence would also go up.

I call it a killer project because it has no commercial purpose, whatever its lobbyists say.

Independent energy experts agree that there is no market logic for investing €20 billion in new Baltic pipelines. Nord Stream I, which is already in operation, uses less than half of its capacity.

NS2 was never about the energy business, it was always energy politics.

It aims to split and destabilise the EU, to harm individual member states and to degrade Ukraine, which would be eliminated as the main Russia-EU gas transit route.

This is why Ukraine and all other central and eastern European countries are against the Russian-German project.


Cui bono?

It is obvious who would stand to gain from splitting the EU into gas partners and gas slaves – Russia. It is less obvious why Germany is getting involved.

It is also interesting what Denmark’s official position will be, knowing that NS2 will pass through Danish waters.

NS2 contradicts the European Energy Union – a policy of diversification of energy sources and suppliers.

We need the energy union to guarantee a fair gas price for all and to enable imports from the wider world, for instance via liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

Some have been built in Spain and in my home country, Lithuania. We have an LNG terminal in the port of Klaipeda and an LNG vessel named Independence. “Independence” is the key word here.

The Juncker commission made big promises on creating a free and secure energy market. It has yet to deliver.

NS2 is a killer project because it shows that Schroederism is back in Europe.

I am talking about the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder’s policy of putting Russian money first. It risks making Germany, one of the most powerful EU states, prone to Russian manipulation.

You hear Schroederism from people in chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.

You sometimes hear it from the chancellor herself. Merkel recently spoke out in defence of EU energy security, but she also defended the commercial merit of NS2.


Shell game

There is no such merit. Behind Gazprom, a giant shell firm, there is only Putinism.

There is no easy way to stop NS2. Two big states are building it and the ones who will pay the price are smaller.


Brussels is being squeezed by Moscow and Berlin.

But for all of Russia and Germany’s influence, if NS2 contradicts EU single market law – specifically, the so called third energy package – then Juncker’s commission must call a spade a spade.

Because of the sensitivity of the issue, a group of independent jurists should also provide its own legal analysis of the project. I will be demanding this as a member of the European Parliament.

When strategic decisions are being made, but political courage and EU values are lacking, the law is our last line of defence.

———————
Petras Austrevicius is a Lithuanian MEP in the liberal Alde group

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

2016 Hannover Messe: US is Partner Country
United States is Partner Country at the 2016 Hannover Messe

Chancellor Merkel to Welcome President Obama in Hannover

Chancellor Merkel and President Obama will take part in the opening event of the trade fair on Sunday, April 24. Afterwards, the Chancellor will host a dinner in honor of President Obama with business representatives from both countries.

Obama to Visit Hannover Messe Panel Discussion

With less than a month to go before the Hannover Messe, the German Embassy in cooperation with Siemens USA and The US Department of Commerce hosted an event entitled, “On the Road to Hannover Messe.”

HANNOVER MESSE – US Named Partner Country for Hannover Messe 2016

The US will be the partner country of the Hannover Messe in 2016. “Hannover Messe is of exceptional importance to the development of our transatlantic trade relations,” Ambassador Wittig said on the news.

President Obama Will Open Hannover Messe with Chancellor Merkel

US President Barack Obama announced that he will make his fifth trip to Germany in April of this year. President Obama will join Chancellor Angela Merkel in opening the annual Hannover Messe, one of the world’s largest industrial trade fairs.

Hannover Messe
Doing Business in Germany and the US
German Foreign Chamber of Commerce (c) ahk
Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT)

RGIT is the liaison office of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) in Washington. RGIT represents the interests of the German business community vis-à-vis both the U.S. administration and the international organizations based in D.C. They report regularly on economically significant developments as well as legislative activities in the U.S. and provide their partners in the United States with information on German business.

Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) – German American Chambers of Commerce

With a network of six offices and 2,500 member companies throughout the United States and Germany, the German American Chambers of Commerce offer a broad spectrum of activities and services.

AHK SelectUSA

SelectUSA, a subsidiary of the US Commerce Department, is in charge of the US presence at the 2016 Hannover Messe. Information on taking part in the trade fair and on the US businesses attending can be found on their website.

SelectUSA

German Missions
in the United States

Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT)

RGIT is the liaison office of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) in Washington. RGIT represents the interests of the German business community vis-à-vis both the U.S. administration and the international organizations based in D.C. They report regularly on economically significant developments as well as legislative activities in the U.S. and provide their partners in the United States with information on German business.

Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT)

Transatlantic Ties
Flags of the European Union and the United States -Tapping Potential with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

With TTIP, the EU and the U.S. will strive to negotiate the most comprehensive and largest bilateral trade and investment agreement ever.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

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