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

NEWS
EU Official: Hungarian PM’s Crusade Against George Soros Is Anti-Semitic

May 5, 2017 By JTA

(JTA) — A leading official in the European Commission — one of the European Union’s governing bodies — implied that efforts by Hungary’s prime minister to shut down a university founded by George Soros are anti-Semitic.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long harbored animosity toward Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish financier who has donated millions of dollars to liberal causes. Orban is now defending controversial legislation that many see as an attempt to shut down Central European University, a highly respected university Soros founded in 1991.

Orban told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Soros is an “American financial speculator attacking Hungary” who has “destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans.”

The following day, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmerman, a center-left Dutch politician, agreed when asked if he thought Orban’s comments sounded anti-Semitic.

“I understood that exactly the same way and was appalled,” Timmerman said, according to Euractiv.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called on Timmerman to resign for his assertion.

Hundreds of academics around the world have protested Orban’s legislation, which are amendments to the Hungarian National Higher Education Act. The fight is seen as a battle between Orban’s nationalist priorities and Soros’ “open society” outlook.

Read more: forward.com/fast-forward/371121/e…

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Former Anti-Semitism Envoys Urge Trump To Fill Position

May 5, 2017 By JTA

wikipedia

(JTA) — Four previous U.S. envoys to fight anti-Semitism and promote religious freedom called on President Donald Trump to fill the two positions, which are currently empty.

The letter, sent by the Lantos Foundation, noted “spreading anti-Semitism both at home and abroad” and persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and Asia.

The signatories include two former envoys for international religious freedom, Robert Seiple and Rabbi David Saperstein, the former director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center; the two previous envoys for combating anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman; and the president of the Lantos Foundation and former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos Swett.

“The perilous state of religious freedom around the globe confirms the wisdom of America’s leaders in creating a legal framework for addressing these abuses and ensuring that our foreign policy remains focused on protecting and advancing these fundamental rights,” read the letter sent Tuesday by the human rights-focused nonprofit.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Trump will fill the anti-Semitism envoy position, but in April, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement to JTA that the Trump administration would appoint someone to serve in the role.

Read more: forward.com/fast-forward/371119/f…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Thousands to march in defFence of science

By ALEKSANDRA ERIKSSON, THE EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, April 21, 2017

Thousands of people in hundreds of places worldwide will take to the streets in support for science on Earth Day, taking place this year on Saturday (22 April), in an event underlining the difficult relationship between science and politics.

The idea of a global March of Science developed shortly after the inauguration of US president Donald Trump in January, amid fears that his term would be marked by disregard for facts and research.

.
Some 517 rallies have been registered so far, with the main one taking place in Washington.

But Calum MacKichan, a Scotsman who organises the march in Brussels, said the goal was much broader than just an anti-Trump protest.

“We want to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives, protect facts and promote dialogue between the scientific community and the public,” MacKichan said at a press event on Thursday (20 April).

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Belgian professor who is the former vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP for the Green group, were also present at the gathering.

They said there was need for scientists to play a wider role in public life, also on this side of the Atlantic.


Van Ypersele welcomed that Earth Day’s theme this year is climate literacy, and said scientists should be in broader dialogue with both the public and politicians.


Eickhout, who trained as a chemist and worked as a climate change researcher at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said he entered politics “out of frustration that politicians made so little with science”.


“We are pointing fingers at Trump, but we should also point them at ourselves,” he added.


Politicians are dependent on research if they are to make good decisions, but many scientists are afraid of actively providing information to politicians, Eickhout said.

“They fear it makes them into lobbyists. But I don’t think it’s lobbying what you are doing, it’s about informing decision-makers throughout the legislative process,” he said.

This would help to strengthen EU policies, he said.

The European Commission, since 2001, has been conducting impact assessments for all major legislative proposals, covering the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of each proposed policy.

But Eickhout said the assessments were not as objective as one would think. Rather, impact assessments usually portray the commission’s preferred scenario as the best option.

“If I was the commission, I would do the same, so I don’t blame them for this. But I blame them for claiming that the assessments are neutral, when they in fact are designed to fit the political interests of those that commanded them,” Eickhout said.


Trump’s actions could seem like a golden opportunity for green parties, but Eickhout wasn’t so sure.

“If you really want to get policies off the ground you need a broader political basis. I fear that in Europe, climate sceptics, who had a sleeping existence, are now waking up again. They see Trump’s election as an opportunity,” the Dutch MEP said.

The new US president has said the concept of global warming was made by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing less competitive.

Van Ypersele said, however, that Trump has also shown signs he believed in climate change.

In 2009, Trump had signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for “meaningful and effective measures to combat climate change”, just before president Barack Obama departed for the climate summit in Copenhagen.

His organisation has also used the term “global warming and its effects” when applying for a permit to build protection against coastal erosion for his golf course in Ireland.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On May 3, 2016 we received the following announcement:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has started the process of consultation with the Conference of Parties through its Bureau, and has informed of his intention to appoint Patricia Espinosa Cantellano of Mexico as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms. Espinosa Cantellano has more than 30 years of experience at highest levels in international relations, specializing in climate change, global governance, sustainable development and protection of human rights.

Since 2012, she has been serving as Ambassador of Mexico to Germany, a position she also held from 2001 to 2002. She previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico from 2006 to 2012.

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

NOW

UNFCCC Media alert: Developments in the United States,
From UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa

March 31, 2017

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES.

to uninfogroup, climatecom
Developments in the United States

By UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa

Bonn, 31 March 2017

The new US administration announced this week that it will be reviewing America’s Clean Power Plan, domestic legislation brought in by the previous administration in 2015 aimed at reducing US power sector emissions and increasing renewable energy production.

The review comes shortly after the new US administration also submitted its first budget to Congress covering a wide range of areas from defense to education and including changes in funding for the US Environmental Protection Agency.


These two announcements form part of well publicized election pledges made by the new President during last year’s campaign.

As Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC I, like many people and organizations around the globe, are watching these developments with interest.

Budget proposals in the United States often involve long and complex negotiations before they are finally approved in part or in full by Congress.

The review of the Clean Power Plan may also take some time before an outcome emerges. I have made it clear from the outset, following the change in the US administration, that the secretariat works with all Parties to advance climate action and take forward the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Meanwhile many of the budgetary and legislative measures that have been proposed by the US administration relate to domestic policies rather than international obligations.

The new US administration is and remains a Party to the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement and we look forward to welcoming and working with its delegations to the sessions planned for 2017.

It is important to note that it is not for the secretariat to comment on the domestic policies of a Party or member state to the United Nations.

It is also important to note that the precise impact on the secretariat and on global climate action linked with these various announcements also remains unclear at this juncture and perhaps will only become clear over time.


The Paris Agreement remains a remarkable achievement, universally supported by all countries when it was adopted and, as of today, ratified by 141 out of 197 Parties to the Agreement—with more coming forward weekly and monthly.

Daily, the UNFCCC Newsroom and our social media channels are spotlighting new policies, initiatives and actions by governments—over the past few weeks for example India has announced bans on highly polluting vehicles and new research showed that solar power capacity globally grew 50 per cent in 2016 led by the United States and China.

At our next May sessions, I also look forward to launching new findings from research groups including the London School of Economics highlighting how, since 2015, climate related laws have significantly increased—again underlining the world-wide momentum post-Paris.

This governmental momentum continues to be underpinned by companies, investors, cities, regions and territories including now many oil majors whose CEOs have in recent weeks publicly spoken out in support of the Paris Agreement and the need to act at various conferences I have attended.

The UNFCCC will continue to move forward to support Parties to implement and achieve their aims and ambitions under the Paris Agreement—this is our honour and our responsibility and will require all our creativity and commitment now and for decades to come.

I would ask staff to focus on this opportunity as we continue to raise our game in support of the transformation of the global economy; in line with the best available science; backed by nations in every corner of the globe and the hopes of billions of people.

Note to media: The text above is a reflection by Patricia Espinosa for staff working at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). See: newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsro…


About the UNFCCC

With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

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See also: unfccc.int

Follow UNFCCC on Twitter: @UNFCCC | español: @CMNUCC | francais: @CCNUCC
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa on Twitter: @PEspinosaC
UNFCCC on Facebook: facebook.com
UNFCCC on LinkedIn: UNFCCC
UNFCCC on Instagram: @UNFCCC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

‹Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe›
Europa, USA: Was ändert sich mit Trump? What Changes With A Trump US Presidency?

Der neue US-Präsident Donald Trump wird eine andere Außenpolitik vertreten als Barack Obama. Es ist zu erwarten, dass die USA ihre bisherige Rolle als „Weltpolizei“ nicht mehr in dem Maße wie bisher ausüben wollen. Das hat Auswirkungen auf die Bündnispartner, nicht nur in der Nato. Was haben die Europäer von Trump zu erwarten?

 www.burgtheater.at/Content.Node2/…

THAT WAS THE GIVEN – THE US WILL STOP BEING LESS THE WORLD COP AS IT WAS BEFIRE TRUMP.

That was the Monthly Meeting at the Venerable Vienna Burgtheater for the Month of March 2017 (March 5th).

It will have a sequel on April 2nd, 2017 WHEN POPULISM IN GENERAL WILL BE DISCUSSED..

IRITH JAWETZ REPORTS FROM VIENNA.

It was interesting, although no major surprises. They all agreed that Trump will represent a different foreign policy that Barack Obama or any US President who preceded him. Is it to be expected that the US will no longer want to exercise their role as world police to the extent they have done in the past? This has an impact on the alliance partners, not only in NATO. Trump’s turn to Russia presents the EU with challenges to which they must respond.

Under the leadership and Moderation of Alexandra Foederl-Schmid, the Speakers were:

Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe; Alison Smale, head of the Berlin New York Times office; Robert Dornhelm, Film Director and Movie Script-Writer; Former US Republican Congressman; and Ivan Krastev, Political Science Professor, Bulgaria and Permanent Fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences (Instituts fuer Wissenschaften vom Menschen – IWM) Vienna.

THAT WAS THE BURGTHEATER PROGRAM FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 2017. EUROPE BEING DISCUSSED (Europa Im Diskurs) -EUROPE-USA: WHAT WILL CHANGE UNDER TRUMP?

ON SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2017 11:00, there will be a sequel –

Burgtheater | Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe
Leben wir im Zeitalter des Populismus?

“DO WE LIVE IN A TIME OF POPULISM?” – this is like seeing if what happened in te USA will
happen in Europe as well.

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On March 5, 2017 – Most speakers were not Trump supporters (except Irish lady Dempsey who did not really support him but said one must give him a chance). Nevertheless – all of them view him with caution, to say the least.

The two surprising participants for me were Jim Kolbe, Former Republican Congressman from Arizona (1985 till 2007) who is now Board member of IRI (International Republican Institute).

He started by stating that he will definitely not get a phone call from the Trump Administration to join their cabinet. He did not support Trump from the start, and still does not support him. In his closing remarks, Congressman Kolb said that some Republicans are starting to doubt Trump’s ability to be President. He mentioned his fellow Arizonian John McCain and Lindsey Graham in particular. He criticized Trump’s Administration by saying that very often he says one thing and his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense say something different – and who is to believe? Is Steve Bannon running the show?

As for Trump’s relationship with Russia, Europe should worry – said Congressman Kolb.

The second surprise was Robert Dornheim, a Film Director and Screenwriter, who was born in Romania but has dual citizenship Austrian and US and lives now mainly in Los Angeles.

As a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter he is is completely against Trump. Dornheim was also angry at the media, that fell for Trump’s ability at showmanship during the whole campaign and gave him about 10 hours of coverage to 10 minutes of coverage to Sanders. As a result many Sanders supporters voted for Trump and he personally has lost many friends that way. He urged Jim Kolbe to use his influence on his fellow Republicans to do something! He even went as far as to suggest that all debates about a Trump Presidency should not be taken so seriously – since he is not worth it. One should not even discuss him. This brought a mixed reaction from the panel and audience and was not taken too seriously.

The other panel members were Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Foundation, an Irish journalist, who was the most lenient towards Trump and said, among other things that we cannot forget that he was elected with the support of millions of people, and he is now the President and must be given a chance.

Ivan Krastev, Political Scientist analyzed Trump at length, mentioned his obsession with Radical Islam which dates back to many years before, obsessed with the Trade deficit and the idea that deficit is always bad (although it has existed in the US for many years already), and his idea of “Make American great again” is his main goal.
As for Russia, none of the people around Trump are specialists on Russia, and Trump is somewhat obsessed with Putin. Both Trump and Putin have something in common as both dislike the state of the world right now. FYI for you, nobody mentioned Yalta or Malta and the dividing of Europe.Maybe they do not believe it will go that far.

As for Trump’s latest accusation of President Obama wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower, all agreed that this is absurd, there is no evidence to it. Jim Kolbe explained that in the US you need a court order to do that, and it was definitely not asked for or given to President Obama.

Ivan Krastev said that this is Trump’s tactic. He rules by distraction. When an important issues come up (right now Sessions reclusing himself from the Russia investigation) Trump comes up with some sensational Tweet to distract. This is his governing tactics.

All panel members agreed that Europe has to stay united and become stronger together.
Europe cannot rely on the US anymore and must become a powerful counterpart.


They did not touch on the Immigration issue or Climate Change.

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

THE APRIL 2017 EVENT:

Burgtheater | April 2, 2017 – 11.00 o’clock |
Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe
Leben wir im Zeitalter des Populismus?

DO WE LIVE IN TIMES OF POPULISM?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Having reported on the situation in the USA, and not seeing there hope before the more solid Republicans start impeachment procedures on the base of Trump’s instability, we see no reason
to spend more attention on a temporarily lost land.

Our attention will now switch to resiliency in Europe – much of what we neglected so far.
As we are based in Austria – much of our attention will thus go to Austria which is simmering full with positive thinking.

First let us congratulate Austria for the recent election of an excellent Presidential choice.
The background of those elections was very similar in the two countries.

In both countries historically there was a two party system – two parties that nourished from the same establishment – and in both countries people had enough of the frozen establishment
and clamored for change.

We know the US had a frozen Democratic Party that its leadership did not realize that times were changing. The Republicans were more fortunate in the sense that the Conservative Action wing established by President Reagan and nourished by Patrick Buchanan, then reinvigorated
by Sarah Palin, did in effect take over the party from the inside. Their establishment thought they will master Trump and happily followed him to victory. The Democrats on the other hand
did not accept the Bernie Sanders challenge – so the only force declaring he was for change –
was Trump and the voters in their naivete responded with – he was the only game in town.

In Austria it was just as clear, but there was a different result. Simply, perhaps it is true,
the Austrian farmers are wiser then the American goons, and the Austrian establishment was not afraid in recognizing the need to correct course.

So, what happened there? “The Reds” or the Austrian Socialist Party, and “The Blacks” or
the Austrian Peoples Party, in a perpetual coalition, though afraid from the growing “Blue”
Party” or the Austrian Right Populist Party, just did not recognize that people were fed up
with corruption tales involving the two ruling parties and wanted change. The two separate candidates of these ruling parties were no promise for change, and in the first round lost to the Blue candidate and “the Green” candidate – the candidate of the environmentalists who left the Green Party he once led, and ran as an independent. So- the run-off was between Blue and Green. And here comes the clever move on part of nearly all Red voters, and a substantial part of the Black voters – they voted Green in order to keep the Blue out of the Presidential
building.

This needs further explanation. The Austrian President is elected in direct elections but has really no powers except on one topic – and on this later. The full powers to run the State
is in the hands of the Chancellor – like in Germany – and he/she are elected by the Parliament in direct party-lines count of the representatives of the public vote. The only power held by the President is to supervise the function of the government, and if he finds it not functioning to his satisfaction he can dissolve the Parliament and force new elections.
That is exactly what the Reds and Blacks feared. A Blue President dissolving the Parliament and leading to the possibility of a Blue Chancellor. So, a nice Independent Green was by far
better then a Trumpist Blue. To nail this down further – let us just note that Blue candidate Norbert Hofer and Blue Party chair Heinz Christian Strache, both, though uninvited, decided to travel to Washington for the inauguration of President Trump. Hofer is the Second Deputy Chair of the Austrian Parliament and Strache just a Party Chair – both no official representatives of the Austrian Government – so there really was no need to invite them officially. Their standing clearly no better then that of British Nigel Farrage.

The Editor of the “Wiener Zeitung”, Reinhard Goewell pointed out February 2nd, 2017, that in totality, the EU of 28 has an economy much better and more robust then commonly accepted – this because figures are per member state; he points out the count of Olympic medals. If aded up – tey are the winners by far. He also said that Europe’s citizens are not presented these total numbers and just do not realize their united strength. If President Trump directed by his chief ideologue Steven Bannon want to distance themselves from the 1776 formulation of a global world of Human Rights based on Life, Freedom, and striving for happiness, Europe must take over the leadership. This must be a united Europe. Thinking of the Islamic Berbers and the Ottomans – their relations to Spain and the Balkan, Europe must find its own way as the Trump/Bannon team is strange to Europe despite the present problems with Islamists.

Even though population-wise, the pert of the “old continent” is sinking, remembering it still is the strongest economic power has to light its way.

At this month’s summit EU meeting in Valetta, the present EU leadership by tiny Malta, has started a process to reform the EU Charter with further ideas to be presented by Mr. Donald Tusk of Poland, the EU Council Chair. A more powerful central leadership is being called for,
though clearly not a full Federal Government. The right way is not a European melting pot – but the Patrick Moynihan idea of a stew that respects its various separate ingredients.
That seems now imperative in a Trump/Bannon world that might again try to split the European States for the benefit of the USA and Russia.

EU Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg sees the need to divide the EU
post-Brexit membership into into more capable and less capable States for sake of dividing te responsibilities as per capacity of fulfilling them. This would create a two-level Union.

The European Central Bank (ECB) governing council member for Austria, the honorable Ewald Nowotny, said already November 9th 2016 that Donald Trump’s shock election win in the United States “is not a good day for the world economy” and “Close observation is certainly necessary right now.” Nowotny, is on the ECB’s governing council that makes monetary policy decisions as he is head of Austria’s Central Bank the National Bank of Austria. Today, despite the seemingly positive moves of economy and banking globally – Nowotny is not impressed and advocates the European decoupling from the American financial system – as inevitable downs are bound to come. So, a Europe United but moving at different speeds – internally and externally is in the making.

Above leads us to efforts, by young and old, to help insulate the European Union from the vagaries of a changing America. Also, seeing no future in American leadership, the EU, fending for itself will also continue to pursue global goals as formulated under the accepted US leadership of President Obama days. From our point of view the themes of the Global environment and the halting of Climate change to an acceptable minimum will now be pursued by the Europeans as if the US were no partners or residents of this planet. As long as Trump still resides at the White House – it will be impossible to hold him responsible for these prior agreements. As above, our main reporting will deal with Vienna – as in Austria and as at the UN Vienna Center.

As part of this series of reports we look at IAAI and ACUNS meetings in Vienna – The “International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges” and the “Academic Council on the United Nations System,”

IAAI is an Austrian NGO run out of Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austria and Ljublijana, Slovenia.
January 16, 2017 it held a Workshop: “Youth, Agenda2030, Social Entrepreneurship & Digital Social Currencies.” The Workshop was held at the Vienna UN Center and had also te Sponsorship of UNIDO and UN-Habitat and of RAUN (the Regional Academy on United Nations) as well.
The keynote speaker was former Austrian Chancellor – Werner Faymann.

RAUN – created with the help of Sweden’s Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary General, as an Austrian organization belongs to the larger ACUNS and the IAAI Workshop was in conjunction to the bi-yearly meeting of ACUNS. That followed then January 17 – 20, 2017.

At this year’s meetings, RAUN was represented by Lisa Mokra and IAAI by its head – Miroslav Polzer and ACUNS by Alistair Edgar, the head of te organization who is from Waterloo, Canada.

The gist of above meetings was to continue, Austria based the work of UN New York.

At the Vienna Business University (“Wirtschaftsuniversitaet”) February 9-11, 2017 there was a conference titled “The 2nd Congress for a GOOD LIFE FOR ALL.” A good life is not consumerism!
We must learn to give up some things to attain good life, but we want Human Rights and an ecological background.

In his Keynote speech, Prof. Andreas Novy said “Change comes in Chaos.” He defined the GOOD LIFE as the life of those that do not live on account of others. This is a direct continuation of the French Revolution and the Austrian Revolution of 1918 that led to the First Austrian Republic. He sounded like Senator Bernie Sanders of the US.

Freedom for all needs borders that are set democratically – sustainability is a basis to this.
The Red Vienna was terminated by the establishing of Nazism. Now we strive to a concrete Utopia of Civilization.

On the second day there was a guest from Ecuador – an embattled State that saw some of its worst allowing oil and mining companies rip up the land and make its inhabitants destitute.
Yvonne Yanez is from Accion Ecologica of Ecuador that for 20 years fights for Ecuador and Cuba. She reminded the audience that Austria is part of the Europe that uses more land overseas then in its own country – to be exact 65% of the land use is outside the country.
So, really what is true Good Life? The question is – How do we degrade the planet less
so we do not flood the Danube?

Further on – February 15-17, 2017 the large Conference at the Technical University of Vienna – “Climate Goals for 2050 – Chance for a Paradigm Change?”
The book of abstracts weighs 1.4 kg. The areas covered technology-wise are very large.
Much goes to electricity production and use. Austria has already 10,000 electric cars and
plans with 16,000 more. At Linz Austria is developing Hydrogen Technology and plans with
a decentralized Hydrogen based system. Much more on this in future postings.

Then, not to forget a truly High-Tech event February 14-15, 2017 at the Austrian Presidential Hofburg. Title: “Global Summit on Blockchain Technology in the Energy Sector.”
Presenters and in audience people from all over the World. Much talk of Cybertechnology.
Vienna does not wait anymore for Washington to show te way – actually – how can one defend himself of Washington intrusion seems to be the order of the day.
Is it true that Germany is now surveying American encrypted messages?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This is the first posting on SustainabiliTank that will be followed by another posting based on an event at the CLUB OF LOGICAL THINKERS, Vienna – February 8, 2017.


‘Sobering’ poll finds European support for Trump’s Muslim ban.
Curbing migration enjoys support in most countries at the centre of the refugee crisis.

By ESZTER ZALAN, February 9, 2017, The EUObserver from Brussels.

The majority of Europeans, according to a poll of more than 10,000 people in 10 EU countries, would support a Trump-style ban on migration from mainly Muslim countries.
The London-based think tank, Chatham House, conducted the poll before US president Donald Trump’s executive order was announced and asked if immigration from Muslim-majority countries should be stopped.

An average of 55 percent of those surveyed agreed, 25 percent neither agreed nor disagreed and 20 percent disagreed, the poll, published on Tuesday, (7 February) said.

According to the survey, 71 percent of people in Poland, 65 percent Austria, 64 percent in Hungary and Belgium, and 61 percent in France agreed.

Support was also high in Greece (58%), Germany (53%), Italy (51%), the UK (47%) and Spain (41%).

Chatham House called the findings “striking and sobering”.

^^

“They [the results] suggest that public opposition to any further migration from predominantly Muslim states is by no means confined to Trump’s electorate in the US but is fairly widespread,” it said in a statement.

^^

Most of these countries have been central in the migration crisis, or have seen terrorist attacks over the last years, and the radical right is part of their political scene, Chatham Hose pointed out.

Support for the ban was stronger among older populations, with only 44 percent of people aged 18-29 being in favour, while 63 percent of those older than 60 said they agreed with a ban.

The notion of a ban was more popular with men and those living in rural areas. Urban dwellers and female respondents were less likely to support the move.

Education was also a dividing factor: of those with secondary level qualifications 59 percent opposed further Muslim immigration, while less than half of all degree holders supported further migration curbs.

^^

European leaders have slammed Trump’s immigration ban from seven mainly Muslim countries, while leaders of Europe’s populist right-wing parties have praised the move.

Lack of faith
Another recent survey also showed that 80 percent of respondents have lost confidence in political parties, and the media, and are looking for strong leaders who break rules.

The worldwide survey conducted online by Ipsos targeted adults under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

The results, published in late January, showed that people say they were more likely to support a party or political leader who promised radical change.

^^

European respondents participating in the survey generally lacked trust in international institutions.

After the eurozone turmoil and bank bailouts, people also lacked faith in banks, with Spain and Italy leading the way, on 92 and 80 percent, respectively, followed by Germany on 75 percent.

People tended to distrust the justice system as well, although to a lesser degree, with Spain, Hungary, Italy, and Poland being the most sceptical among the surveyed European nations.

Lack of confidence in the media was also well above 50 percent in the European countries participating in the poll.

In Hungary, where prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz has dominated the media landscape, respondents distrusted the media the most, with 87 percent saying they lack confidence.

Seventy five percent of British respondents also said they do not trust their media.

Most respondents had no confidence in their government either, with Spain distrusting their political leadership with 89 percent. Polish and Hungarian respondents also said ( 82 percent) that they do not trust their governments.

In all European countries participating in the survey, over 70 percent of the respondents said they did not trust political parties.

Outspoken leaders
No surprise then that a high proportion of people was more likely to vote for a political party or leader that stood up for common people against the elite, and that around half were attracted to political parties and leaders promising to upset the status quo. The same group would support a leader who offends others, but speaks his/her mind.

With the presidential election campaign heating up in France, where far-right leader Marine Le Pen is a front-runner, 80 percent of French respondents said they want a “strong leader who breaks the rules”.

In some European countries, which have been victims of terrorist attacks, like Belgium and France, people favour “stopping terrorism over protecting civil rights”. In Germany, only 40 percent supported that notion.

Around half of the people in Hungary, Belgium, and Italy thought that their country would be stronger if immigration was stopped, a curious result in Hungary where there is virtually no immigration, as last year it granted asylum protection to just 432 people, according to official figures.

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In order not to create the wrong impression with the Israeli Government that above represents a change regarding the opposition to land-snatch in the West Bank, we are obligated to post s well another article of the EUobserver of today:


Germany leads EU rebuke on Israeli land snatch.

By ANDREW RETTMAN

BRUSSELS, February 9, 2017

Germany and France have spoken out in strident terms against Israel’s plan to confiscate privately-owned Palestinian land by legalising settler outposts.
“The confidence we had in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been profoundly shaken,” the German foreign ministry said on Wednesday (8 February).

Jewish settlers create illegal outposts under the protection of Israeli soldiers (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

It said that those people in Germany who felt friendly toward Israel had been “disappointed” and urged it to restore its “credibility” by restating its promise to establish a future Palestinian state alongside Israel and to “underpin this with practical steps”.

It added that such a promise was also needed because members of the right-wing Israeli coalition had “openly called for the annexation of parts of the West Bank and are preparing bills to this end.”

^^

The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and its ambassador to Israel, Helene Le Gal, also spoke out.

“I call on Israel to respect its international obligations and rescind the [settler outpost] law,” Ayrault said, adding that it “could exacerbate tensions in the region.”

Le Gal said: “The international community is wondering if they should trust Israel when Israel is saying that [it] is ready for discussion with … the Palestinians, and to reach an agreement on the two-state solution.”

She said the fact that Israel planned to financially compensate the Palestinian landowners did not make it any better.

^^

“If there is an agreement, of course, that these settlement blocs are within Israel, then of course there is no problem. But there is no discussion. It’s only Israel who decides,” she said.

^^


Israel on Tuesday passed a law to retroactively legalise 3,900 outposts.

Outposts, unlike settlements, are private initiatives by Jewish settler groups who pitch camp on Palestinian land protected by Israeli soldiers and claim it for their own on Biblical grounds.

In January, Israel also announced plans to build 6,000 new official settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in a decision that also flouted international law and drew foreign rebukes.

A European diplomatic source told EUobserver that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, a pro-Israeli hawk, in the US and that he was also using the settlement controversy to distract media attention from a corruption affair that could see him lose power.


The US has stayed silent on his actions.

^^
New German attitude:

France is an outspoken critic of Israel and has even warned that it would unilaterally recognise Palestine if it lost faith in the peace process.

^^

The strong statement by Germany, which has in the past shied away from criticising Israel due to Germany’s Holocaust-era crimes, was a new development, however.

The UK, which has been trying to curry favour with the Trump, and the Czech Republic, formerly a staunch Israeli ally, also attacked the outpost law.

^^

The legalisation “damages Israel’s standing with its international partners”, Tobias Ellwood, British minister for the Middle East said.

The EU foreign service was the first to react, already on Tuesday, saying that the outpost law “entrenched … a one-state reality”.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini had planned to hold a summit with Netanyahu on 28 February, but EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday quietly decided to postpone the initiative due to the earlier announcement on the 6,000 settler homes.

^^

Speaking to EUobserver in an interview over the weekend, Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, said the EU’s verbal rebukes had little meaning unless they were backed up by sanctions, such as banning exports of settler products.

“Lack of accountability, impunity, is what provides the Israeli government with enough confidence to move ahead with its plan to bury the prospects of the two-state solution,” he said. “The Netanyahu administration knows that no action will be taken,” he said.

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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.

###

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

DIA-CORE project has the pleasure to announce the DIA-CORE Regional Workshop“Best Practice Policies To Finance Renewable Energy”, to be implemented on the 29th of January 2016, in Vilnius, Lithuania, hosted by Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI).

Main aim of the DIA-CORE Regional Workshop is to present and analyze the current policy performance and financial conditions for RES investments, as well as renewable energy support schemes in the region.

To download Workshop’s Agenda and info:  diacore.eu/news-events/events/ite…

For more information about the workshop stay tuned at the event’s webpage!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 28th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

AG Globale Verantwortung, Dreikönigsaktion, IUFE, KOO, Paulo Freire Zentrum.

Die Transformation unserer Welt? Die Umsetzung der UN-Ziele für Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Österreich und Europa

29.10.2015, 19 Uhr, VHS Urania, Dachgeschoß, Uraniastraße 1, 1010 Wien

Anmeldung unter: www.pfz.at/article1780.htm

Details  www.globaleverantwortung.at/start…)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

THE UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 5, 2015


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

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

————————————————————–

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

By EUOBSERVER
4. Sep, 13:47

 euobserver.com/tickers/130117

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Saturday Aug. 1’st 2015

EUOBSERVER Analysis

Google has own idea of what ‘right to be forgotten’ means

By Peter Teffer The EUObserver, Brussels.

Since a landmark ruling on the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google has received requests to remove over a million website links from its search results in Europe.

Of those 1,057,561 uniform resource locators (URLs), it deleted 370,112, or 41.3 percent, Google says.

The court had ruled in May 2014 that if an internet search into an EU citizen’s name yielded results which were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, that citizen may request the search engine to have those removed from the list of results.

For example, Google complied with a request from a Belgian whose conviction of a crime was quashed on appeal to remove an article about them. It also removed an article about a rape victim in Germany.

However, it did so only for the European versions of its search engine. That means the articles can still be found by those using google.com. This has come to the attention of the French data protection authority.

It sent Google a formal notice in June, saying “delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine”.

On Thursday, the US company asked the French data watchdog to withdraw the notice. It interprets the court ruling as obliging Google only to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ on its European versions of Google Search.

“While the ‘right to be forgotten’ may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally”, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post.

However, in its ruling the EU court did not differentiate between the worldwide and national versions of the search engine.

Google, in its blogpost, also noted that the French order “is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google”.

But this statement is misleading at best. Many people don’t use a national variant of Google instead of the global one, but in addition to it.

Google.fr is indeed the most visited web domain in France, according to internet traffic pollster Alexa. But Google.com is ranked third, between Facebook.com and Youtube.com.

According estimates, Facebook has about 26 million users, and Youtube around 22 million, in France.

While calculation methods may vary, this means that Google.com is used by, roughly, between 22 and 26 million French internet users – or along the lines of between 40 and 47 percent.

The picture is similar all over Europe, where the national version of Google is the most popular website, and the international version ranks as high as number two in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, number three in Poland.

Google did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Free speech

Fleischer also argued that if the French data protection authority CNIL had its way, this would affect internet users in the rest of the world.

“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” he wrote.

Google warned of a risk of “serious chilling effects on the web”, noting examples of content that is illegal in one country but which is legal in others.

“Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalises some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda.””, he wrote.

But Fleischer is overstating the effect a national – or in the EU case regional – court order has on the wider development of the Internet.

In 2002, there were similar fears after a ruling in an Australian libel case against American company Dow Jones over the publication of an online article from its business magazine Barron’s. The highest Australian court decided that because the article was available in Australia, the subject could sue for defamation there.

Following the decision, the New York Times wrote in an editorial the case “could strike a devastating blow to free speech online”.

But the conclusion of authors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu in their 2006 book “Who controls the Internet?, Illusions of a Borderless World”, that the predicted devastation has been held off, is still valid today.

Moreover, they criticised the US-centrism that is present among Internet freedom activists as much as in the rhetoric of American companies like Google.

Goldsmith and Wu wrote that “the First Amendment does not reflect universal values … and they are certainly not written into the Internet’s architecture”.

However, some of the most used websites worldwide are American, and they inherently carry some of those American values, which slightly differ from European values, where privacy is generally regarded as much more important.

Google said it disagreed with the French data protection authority “as a matter of principle”.
Principle or also profit?

But it could well be that part of the company’s motivation comes from the costs that would be involved with extending the right to be forgotten to its other domain names.

Technically, it is not impossible for Google to do it. But it may reduce the public company’s profit margin.

As Goldberg and Wu noted, “national Internet laws are no more burdensome than the scores of conflicting national laws that multinational firms typically face”. In return, companies gain access to an enormous market.

Having to adhere to different laws when providing services around the world, is part of the deal for running a global company. Even online.

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

Subject: The Greek Bailout

THANKS CLAUDIA FOR FORWARDING THIS TO IRITH – NOW EVERYBODY CAN HAVE AN EXAMPLE HOW THIS BAILOUT DOES MIRACLES.

It is a slow day in a little Greek Village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted.

Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a EU100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.
The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the EU100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the EU100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt
to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the EU100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.
The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the EU100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna.

The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit.

Economics 101 . . .
It was Greek to me but
NOW I understand.

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel
owner with the EU100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the EU100 note back on the counter so the
rich traveller will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the EU100
note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money,
and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything.
However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future
with a lot more optimism.

And that is how the bailout package works!


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

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

After a marathon European summit, Greece and its creditors have reached an agreement that should allow them to negotiate a new bailout for the troubled country.

The Greek government agreed to enact deep economic reforms under close supervision by its creditors in return for up to 86 billion euros ($96 billion).
Here is the full text of the agreement, obtained by CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne:

Euro Summit Statement

Brussels, 12 July 2015

The Euro Summit stresses the crucial need to rebuild trust with the Greek authorities as a prerequisite for a possible future agreement on a new ESM programme. In this context, the ownership by the Greek authorities is key, and successful implementation should follow policy commitments.

A euro area Member State requesting financial assistance from the ESM is expected to address, wherever possible, a similar request to the IMF1.

This is a precondition for the Eurogroup to agree on a new ESM programme. Therefore Greece will request continued IMF support (monitoring and financing) from March 2016.

Given the need to rebuild trust with Greece, the Euro Summit welcomes the commitments of the Greek authorities to legislate without delay a first set of measures. These measures, taken in full prior agreement with the Institutions, will include:

by 15 July

• the streamlining of the VAT system and the broadening of the tax base to increase revenue;

• upfront measures to improve long-term sustainability of the pension system as part of a comprehensive pension reform programme;

• the safeguarding of the full legal independence of ELSTAT;

• full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, in particular by making the Fiscal Council operational before finalizing the MoU and introducing quasi-automatic spending cuts in case of deviations from ambitious primary surplus targets after seeking advice from the Fiscal Council and subject to prior approval of the Institutions;

by 22 July

• the adoption of the Code of Civil Procedure, which is a major overhaul of procedures and arrangements for the civil justice system and can significantly accelerate the judicial process and reduce costs;

• the transposition of the BRRD with support from the European Commission.

Immediately, and only subsequent to legal implementation of the first four above-mentioned measures as well as endorsement of all the commitments included in this document by the Greek Parliament, verified by the Institutions and the Eurogroup, may a decision to mandate the Institutions to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) be taken. This decision would be taken subject to national procedures having been completed and if the preconditions of Article 13 of the ESM Treaty are met on the basis of the assessment referred to in Article 13.1.

In order to form the basis for a successful conclusion of the MoU, the Greek offer of reform measures needs to be seriously strengthened to take into account the strongly deteriorated economic and fiscal position of the country during the last year. The Greek government needs to formally commit to strengthening their proposals in a number of areas identified by the Institutions, with a satisfactory clear timetable for legislation and implementation, including structural benchmarks, milestones and quantitative benchmarks, to have clarity on the direction of policies over the medium-run.

They notably need, in agreement with the Institutions, to:

• carry out ambitious pension reforms and specify policies to fully compensate for the fiscal impact of the Constitutional Court ruling on the 2012 pension reform and to implement the zero deficit clause or mutually agreeable alternative measures by October 2015;

• adopt more ambitious product market reforms with a clear timetable for implementation of all OECD toolkit I recommendations, including Sunday trade, sales periods, pharmacy ownership, milk and bakeries, except over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, which will be implemented in a next step, as well as for the opening of macro-critical closed professions (e.g. ferry transportation). On the follow-up of the OECD toolkit-II, manufacturing needs to be included in the prior action;

• on energy markets, proceed with the privatisation of the electricity transmission network operator (ADMIE), unless replacement measures can be found that have equivalent effect on competition, as agreed by the Institutions;

• on labour markets, undertake rigorous reviews and modernisation of collective bargaining, industrial action and, in line with the relevant EU directive and best practice, collective dismissals, along the timetable and the approach agreed with the Institutions. On the basis of these reviews, labour market policies should be aligned with international and European best practices, and should not involve a return to past policy settings which are not compatible with the goals of promoting sustainable and inclusive growth;

• adopt the necessary steps to strengthen the financial sector, including decisive action on non-performing loans and measures to strengthen governance of the HFSF and the banks, in particular by eliminating any possibility for political interference especially in appointment processes.

On top of that, the Greek authorities shall take the following actions:

• to develop a significantly scaled up privatisation programme with improved governance; valuable Greek assets will be transferred to an independent fund that will monetize the assets through privatisations and other means. The monetization of the assets will be one source to make the scheduled repayment of the new loan of ESM and generate over the life of the new loan a targeted total of EUR 50bn of which EUR 25bn will be used for the repayment of recapitalization of banks and other assets and 50 % of every remaining euro (i.e. 50% of EUR 25bn) will be used for decreasing the debt to GDP ratio and the remaining 50 % will be used for investments.

This fund would be established in Greece and be managed by the Greek authorities under the supervision of the relevant European Institutions. In agreement with Institutions and building on best international practices, a legislative framework should be adopted to ensure transparent procedures and adequate asset sale pricing, according to OECD principles and standards on the management of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs);

• in line with the Greek government ambitions, to modernise and significantly strengthen the Greek administration, and to put in place a programme, under the auspices of the European Commission, for capacity-building and de-politicizing the Greek administration. A first proposal should be provided by 20 July after discussions with the Institutions. The Greek government commits to reduce further the costs of the Greek administration, in line with a schedule agreed with the Institutions;

• to fully normalize working methods with the Institutions, including the necessary work on the ground in Athens, to improve programme implementation and monitoring. The government needs to consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament. The Euro Summit stresses again that implementation is key, and in that context welcomes the intention of the Greek authorities to request by 20 July support from the Institutions and Member States for technical assistance, and asks the European Commission to coordinate this support from Europe;

• With the exception of the humanitarian crisis bill, the Greek government will reexamine with a view to amending legislations that were introduced counter to the February 20 agreement by backtracking on previous programme commitments or identify clear compensatory equivalents for the vested rights that were subsequently created.

The above-listed commitments are minimum requirements to start the negotiations with the Greek authorities. However, the Euro Summit made it clear that the start of negotiations does not preclude any final possible agreement on a new ESM programme, which will have to be based on a decision on the whole package (including financing needs, debt sustainability and possible bridge financing).

The Euro Summit takes note of the possible programme financing needs of between EUR 82 and 86bn, as assessed by the Institutions. It invites the Institutions to explore possibilities to reduce the financing envelope, through an alternative fiscal path or higher privatisation proceeds. Restoring market access, which is an objective of any financial assistance programme, lowers the need to draw on the total financing envelope. The Euro Summit takes note of the urgent financing needs of Greece which underline the need for very swift progress in reaching a decision on a new MoU: these are estimated to amount to EUR 7bn by 20 July and an additional EUR 5bn by mid August.

The Euro Summit acknowledges the importance of ensuring that the Greek sovereign can clear its arrears to the IMF and to the Bank of Greece and honour its debt obligations in the coming weeks to create conditions which allow for an orderly conclusion of the negotiations. The risks of not concluding swiftly the negotiations remain fully with Greece. The Euro Summit invites the Eurogroup to discuss these issues as a matter of urgency.

Given the acute challenges of the Greek financial sector, the total envelope of a possible new ESM programme would have to include the establishment of a buffer of EUR 10 to 25bn for the banking sector in order to address potential bank recapitalisation needs and resolution costs, of which EUR 10bn would be made available immediately in a segregated account at the ESM.

The Euro Summit is aware that a rapid decision on a new programme is a condition to allow banks to reopen, thus avoiding an increase in the total financing envelope. The ECB/SSM will conduct a comprehensive assessment after the summer. The overall buffer will cater for possible capital shortfalls following the comprehensive assessment after the legal framework is applied.

There are serious concerns regarding the sustainability of Greek debt. This is due to the easing of policies during the last twelve months, which resulted in the recent deterioration in the domestic macroeconomic and financial environment. The Euro Summit recalls that the euro area Member States have, throughout the last few years, adopted a remarkable set of measures supporting Greece’s debt sustainability, which have smoothed Greece’s debt servicing path and reduced costs significantly.

Against this background, in the context of a possible future ESM programme, and in line with the spirit of the Eurogroup statement of November 2012, the Eurogroup stands ready to consider, if necessary, possible additional measures (possible longer grace and payment periods) aiming at ensuring that gross financing needs remain at a sustainable level. These measures will be conditional upon full implementation of the measures to be agreed in a possible new programme and will be considered after the first positive completion of a review.

The Euro Summit stresses that nominal haircuts on the debt cannot be undertaken.

The Greek authorities reiterate their unequivocal commitment to honour their financial obligations to all their creditors fully and in a timely manner.

Provided that all the necessary conditions contained in this document are fulfilled, the Eurogroup and ESM Board of Governors may, in accordance with Article 13.2 of the ESM Treaty, mandate the Institutions to negotiate a new ESM programme, if the preconditions of Article 13 of the ESM Treaty are met on the basis of the assessment referred to in Article 13.1.

To help support growth and job creation in Greece (in the next 3-5 years) the Commission will work closely with the Greek authorities to mobilise up to EUR 35bn (under various EU programmes) to fund investment and economic activity, including in SMEs. As an exceptional measure and given the unique situation of Greece the Commission will propose to increase the level of pre-financing by EUR 1bn to give an immediate boost to investment to be dealt with by the EU co-legislators. The Investment Plan for Europe will also provide funding opportunities for Greece.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Uri Avnery

July 11, 2015

To be Greek

EVERYBODY HAS already voiced his (or her) opinion on the Greek crisis, whether he (or she) has an opinion or not. So I feel obliged to do the same.

The crisis is immensely complicated. However, it looks to me quite simple.

The Greeks spent more than they earned. The creditors, in their incredible impertinence, want their money back. The Greeks have no money, and anyhow, their pride does not allow them to pay.

So what to do? Every commentator, from Nobel prize-winning economists to my taxi driver in Tel Aviv, has a solution. Unfortunately, no one listens to them.

Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras go on fighting World War II. But the relations between the two nations played a role in my family long before that.

AS A boy, my father was a pupil in a German “humanist” high school. In these schools, pupils learned Latin and ancient Greek instead of English and French. So I heard Latin and Greek sayings before I went to school and learned Latin myself – for half a year before we fortunately left Germany for Palestine in 1933.

Educated Germans admired the Romans. The Romans were straight-minded people who made laws and obeyed them, almost like the Germans themselves.

Germans loved the ancient Greeks and despised them. As their most important poet, Wolfgang von Goethe, said: “Das Griechenvolk, es taugte nie recht viel” – the Greek people never amounted to very much.

The Greeks invented freedom, something the ancient Hebrews did not even dream of. The Greeks invented democracy. In Athens, everybody (except slaves, women, barbarians and other inferior folk) took part in public discussions and decision-making. This did not leave them much time to work.

That was the way my father looked at them, and this is the way decent Germans look at them now. Nice people to have around on vacation, but not serious people to do business with. Too lazy. Too life-loving.

I suspect that these ingrained attitudes influence the opinions of German leaders and voters now. They certainly influence the attitudes of Greek leaders and voters towards Germany. To hell with them and their obsession with law and order.

I HAVE stayed several times in Greece, and always liked the people.

My wife, Rachel, loved the island of Hydra and took me there. To find a ship to go there from Piraeus was quite an ordeal. That was of course before the internet. Every shipping agency had a timetable for its boats, but there did not exist a general timetable. That would have been too orderly, too German. (If Piraeus had been Haifa, there would have been an all-inclusive timetable in every shop window.)

I was invited to several international conferences in Athens. One was presided over by the wonderful Melina Mercouri, so intelligent and so beautiful, who served at the time as a cabinet minister. It concerned Mediterranean culture, and was mixed with a lot of good food and folk dances. I once helped to host Mikis Theodorakis in Tel Aviv.

So I have no prejudices against the Greeks. On the contrary. Before the last Greek elections I received an e-mail message from a person I did not know, asking me to sign an international statement of support for the Syriza party. After reading the material, I did. I sympathize with their heroic fight now.

I am reminded of the “Sailors’ Revolt” in Israel in the early 1950s. It was an uprising against the governing bureaucracy. I supported it with all my heart and was even arrested for a few hours. When it all ended in a glorious defeat, I met a famous leftist general and expected to be lauded. He said: “Only fools start a struggle they cannot win!”

It boils down to this: the Greeks owe a lot of money. A huge lot of money. It is now immaterial how this huge debt came about, and who is to blame. Europe (the very name is Greek) has no chance of getting the billions back. But they’ll be damned if they will pour more money into this bottomless pit. How can Greece survive without more money?

I don’t know. I strongly suspect that no one else does, either. Including the Nobel Prize laureates.

FOR ME, the most important aspect of the disaster is the future of the two great experiments: the European Union and the Euro currency.

When the European idea gained ground on the continent after the fratricidal World War II, there was a great debate about its future contours. Some proposed something like the United States of Europe, a federal union on the lines of the USA. Charles de Gaulle, a very influential voice at the time, objected strenuously and proposed l’Europe des Nations, a much more loose confederation.

Much the same debate took place in America before the final decision to create the United States, and again at the time of the civil war. In the end, the federalists won, and the confederate flags are being burned even now.

In Europe, de Gaulle’s idea won. There was no strong will to create a united European state. National governments were ready, after some years, to create a union of independent states, which grudgingly transferred some sovereign powers to the super-government in Brussels.

(Why Brussels? Because Belgium is a small country. Neither Germany nor France was ready to allow the union’s capital to be located in either of them. It reminds one of the Biblical King David, who moved his capital to Jerusalem, which belonged to no tribe, so as to avoid the jealousy between the powerful tribes of Judah and Ephraim.)

The Brussels bureaucracy seems to be heartily hated by all, but its power is inexorably growing. Modern reality favors larger and larger units. No future for small states.

This brings us to the Euro. The European idea led to the formation of a huge bloc, in which a common currency could flow freely. To a layman like me, it seemed like a wonderful idea. I don’t remember a single prominent economist warning against it.

Today it is easy to say that the Euro bloc was flawed from the beginning. Even I understand that you cannot have a single currency when each member state shapes its national budget according to its own whims and political interests.

That is the fundamental difference between a federation and a confederation. How would the USA operate if each of its 50 member states ran its own economy independently of the other 49?

As the economists teach us now, something like the Euro crisis cannot happen in the US. If the state of Alabama is in bad financial shape, all the other states step in automatically. The central bank (or Federal Reserve) simply shuffles money around. No problem.

The Greek crisis arises from the fact that the Euro is not based on such a federation. The Greek economic breakdown would have been stopped by the European central bank long before it had reached the present point. Money would have flowed from Brussels to Athens without anybody even noticing. Tsipras could have embraced Merkel in her chancellery and happily announced “Ich bin ein Berliner!” (I can’t really imagine Merkel going to Athens and proclaiming “Ich bin eine Griechin!”)

The first lesson of the crisis is that the creation of a currency union presupposes a readiness of all member states to give up their economic independence. A country that is not prepared to do so cannot join such a union. Each country can keep its precious football team, and even its sacred flag, but its national budget must be subject to the joint economic super-government.

Today that is quite clear. Unfortunately, it was not clear to the founders of the Euro bloc.

In this respect, a giant nation like China has a huge advantage. It is not even a federation, but in practice a unitary state, with a unitary currency.

Small states, like Israel, lack the economic security of belonging to a large union, but enjoy the advantage of being able to maneuver freely, and to fix our currency, the Shekel, according to our interests. If export prices are too high, you just devalue. As long as your credit rating is high enough, you can do what you want.

Fortunately, nobody invited us to join the Euro bloc. The temptation would have been too strong.

THIS BEING so, we can follow the Greek crisis with some equanimity.

But for those of us who believe that after achieving peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab world, Israel must become a part of some kind of a regional confederation, this is an instructive lesson.

I wrote about this even before the State of Israel was born, calling for a “Semitic Union”. It probably won’t happen while I am still around, but I am fairly sure that it will come about before the end of this century.

It cannot happen while the economic gap between Israel and the Arab countries is as immense as it is now – with per capita income 25 times higher in Israel than in Palestine and many Arab countries. But once the Arab world overcomes its present turmoil, they can hope for rapid progress, as is happening in Turkey and Muslim countries in East Asia.

Sometime in the not too remote future, in historical terms, the world will consist of large economic units striving to create a working economic world order, with a joint currency.

It may seem silly to think about this in the present situation. But it’s never too early to think.

Always remembering what Socrates said: “The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.”

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

Environment
EU Dropped Pesticide Laws Due to U.S. Pressure over TTIP, Documents Reveal.

U.S. trade officials pushed EU to shelve action on endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility to facilitate TTIP free trade deal.

By Arthur Neslen / The Guardian
May 25, 2015

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from U.S. trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive U.S. lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On the morning of July 2, 2013, a high-level delegation from the U.S. Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a new impact study. By the end of the day, the EU had done so.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and U.S. to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show.

The U.S. trade representatives insisted that a risk-based approach be taken to regulation, and “emphasized the need for an impact assessment” instead.

Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.


“We suggest that as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals,” Day wrote. “We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances.”

The result was that legislation planned for 2014 was kicked back until at least 2016, despite estimated health costs of €150bn ($165bn) per year in Europe from endocrine-related illnesses such as IQ loss, obesity and cryptorchidism — a condition affecting the genitals of baby boys.

A month before the meeting, AmCham had warned the EU of “wide-reaching implications” if the draft criteria were approved. The trade body wanted an EU impact study to set looser thresholds for acceptable exposure to endocrines, based on a substance’s potency.

“We are worried to see that this decision, which is the source of many scientific debates, might be taken on political grounds, without first assessing what its impacts will be on the European market,” the chair of AmCham’s environment committee wrote in a letter to the commission.

These could be “dramatic” the letter said.

In a high-level internal note sent to the health commissioner, Tonio Borg, shortly afterwards, his departmental director-general warned that the EU’s endocrines policy “will have substantial impacts for the economy, agriculture and trade”.


The heavily redacted letter, sent a week before the EU’s plans were scrapped continued: “The US, Canada, and Brazil [have] already voiced concerns on the criteria which might lead to important repercussions on trade.”


The series of events was described as “incredible” by the the Green MEP Bas Eickhout. “These documents offer convincing evidence that TTIP not only presents a danger for the future lowering of European standards, but that this is happening as we speak,”
he told the Guardian.

Earlier this year, 64 MEP’s submitted questions to the commission about the delay to EDC classifications, following revelations by the Guardian about the scale of industry lobbying in the run up to their abandonment. Sweden, the European Parliament and European Council have brought court proceedings against the commission for the legislative logjam.

Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue “could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations”.

The German chemicals giant BASF also complained that bans on pesticide substances “will restrict the free trade with agricultural products on the global level”.

Around this time, the commission’s more industry-friendly agriculture department weighed into the internal EU debate after being “informed by representatives of the US chemical industry” about it.

A common theme in the lobby missives was the need to set thresholds for safe exposure to endocrines, even though a growing body of scientific results suggests that linear threshold models – in which higher doses create greater effects – do not apply to endocrine disruptors.

“The human endocrine system is regulated by hormones and the hormone receptors are sensitive to low doses,” said Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe’s chemicals coordinator. “In animal toxicity studies, effects are seen from low doses [of endocrines] that disappear with higher ones. But in the regulatory arena, lower doses are not tested for.”

A commission spokesperson insisted that health and environmental concerns would be fully addressed, despite pressure from industry or trade groups.

“The ongoing EU impact assessment procedure is not linked in any way to the TTIP negotiations,” the official said. “The EU will proceed to the adoption of definitive criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, independently from the further course of our TTIP negotiations with the US.”

An EU-TTIP position paper on chemicals published last May, cited endocrine disruptors as as one of the “new and emerging scientific issues” which the EU and the US could consider for “enhanced regulatory cooperations” in a future TTIP deal.

“However, given the fact that a possible future TTIP Agreement will most likely not enter into force before the adoption of definitive EU criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, it is clear that the EU’s ongoing impact assessment and adoption of definitive criteria will not be dealt with in the TTIP negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

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Arthur Neslen is the Europe environment correspondent at the Guardian. He has previously worked for the BBC, the Economist, Al Jazeera, and EurActiv, where his journalism won environmental awards.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 3rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Energy union attacked for continued reliance on gas supplies.
Written by Julie Levy-Abegnoli on 2 March 2015 in News, The Parliament Magazine.

One of team Juncker’s flagship policy strategies, plans for the implementation of an energy union were finally unveiled last week. In its official communication, the commission explains, “our vision is of an energy union where member states see that they depend on each other to deliver secure energy to their citizens, based on true solidarity and trust”.

“Our vision is of an integrated continent-wide energy system where energy flows freely across borders, based on competition and the best possible use of resources, and with effective regulation of energy markets at EU level where necessary”, the document adds.

More importantly, one of the central aims of the energy union is to promote more effective EU-wide climate change policy and “secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy”. This is especially significant ahead of the UN Paris climate summit that will take place next December.

Late last year, the commission set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030, and increasing energy efficiency and renewables by at least 27 per cent.

Yet the energy efficiency target is not binding at national or EU level, and the renewables target is only binding at EU level. It is unclear how this will play into the new energy union plans, but the commission seems to have ignored any criticisms, referring to these targets in its communication as “ambitious”.

Moreover, “producing oil and gas from unconventional sources in Europe such as shale gas is an option, provided that issues of public acceptance and environmental impact are adequately addressed”.

The commission’s apparent commitment to “public acceptance” is interesting, as it was previously reported that during the course of the transatlantic trade and investment partnership negotiations, the EU planned to make provisions to import US gas and oil acquired through fracking.

“When the conditions are right, the EU will consider reframing the energy relationship with Russia”

There are also plans to “explore the full potential of liquefied natural gas, including as a back-up in crisis situations when insufficient gas is coming into Europe through the existing pipeline system”.

The commission also stresses, “to reach our goal, we have to move away from an economy driven by fossil fuels”.

Additionally, the energy union is meant to serve as a political tool, with the Brussels executive hoping to diversify its gas and energy suppliers in order to reduce Russian president Vladimir Putin’s negotiating power in times of conflict.

According to the document, “when the conditions are right, the EU will consider reframing the energy relationship with Russia”. Unfortunately, team Juncker fails to specify what the “right” conditions are, nor what “reframing” the relationship would actually consist of.

The communication warns, “to ensure the diversification in gas supplies, work on the southern gas corridor must be intensified to enable central Asian countries to export their gas to Europe. In northern Europe, the establishment of liquid gas hubs with multiple suppliers is greatly enhancing supply security. This example should be followed in central and eastern Europe, and in the Mediterranean area, where a Mediterranean gas hub is in the making”.

This may seem like an ideal solution considering the situation in Ukraine seems unlikely to reach a peaceful conclusion any time soon. But the countries the commission plans to work with are hardly dream allies.

These include Azerbaijan, which human rights watch has condemned for its “poor record on freedom of expression” and “arrests and intimidation of opposition political activists” and Turkmenistan, which the organization called “one of the world’s most repressive countries”.

Unsurprisingly, last week’s announcement was met with a lukewarm response on the part of environmental organizations, with Juncker’s team accused of contradicting itself.

Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Tara Connolly said, “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing with this plan. The commission says the EU should move away from fossil fuels but it also wants to chase after new gas supplies and doesn’t rule out coal”.

Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe added, “we keep hearing repetitions of gas, gas, gas. But at the same time Europe has promised to cut emissions by up to 95 per cent by 2050 – it is saying one thing and doing another”.

And Roland Joebstl, European environmental bureau policy officer on energy and climate change, commented, “tackling climate change and the issue of energy security means that the 2030 targets and related policies must be revised upwards instead of spending political capital on looking for more fossil fuel suppliers”.

But not everyone was as critical of the energy union proposals, with representatives from the climate action network saying, “the commission’s move today will kick off a wave of pledges from countries over the course of the year – all of which will add up to the first collective signal that the world is moving out of fossil fuels and embracing the renewable energy era”.

MEPs were equally divided over the announcements.

Brussels’ energy union strategy is due to be discussed at this week’s council meeting.

 www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/art…

About the author: Julie Levy-Abegnoli is a journalist and editorial assistant for the Parliament Magazine

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Challenges ahead for EU energy union implementation, warn MEPs
Written by Julie Levy-Abegnoli on 2 March 2015 in News. The Parliament Magazine.

The European parliament has cautiously welcomed commission vice-president Maroš Šef?ovi?’s energy union plans.

MEPs were quick to react after the commission outlined plans for an energy union last week.

Martin Schulz, president of the parliament, was broadly supportive, saying, “the energy union is needed to reinforce the EU’s stance ahead of the December Paris climate conference”, adding that “current events highlight the urgency for the EU to increase energy security”.


Jerzy Buzek, chair of parliament’s industry, research and energy committee, commented, “an internal energy market with an excellent level of interconnection and without isolated ‘energy islands’ will enable us to help each other, guaranteeing energy supply to all regions”.

The former parliament president noted that “stable, sustainable, affordable and competitive energy is a challenge which no EU member state is capable of meeting by itself”.

He also stressed that “developments in relations with Russia might have been an impulse for us to shift up a gear in our energy considerations, but altering the EU’s relations with Russia or any other party is not one of the energy union’s goals”.

Representatives from the S&D group also appeared quite happy with the commission’s energy union plans. The Socialists’ spokesperson on climate and environment, Matthias Groote, said, “the paper on the energy union represents a first step towards a sustainable, decarbonised economy in Europe”.

Dan Nica, the group’s spokesperson on energy, praised them as “a good balance between the geostrategic need to reduce our energy dependency on expensive imports and the fair demand from families and industries to reduce the price of energy”.


Meanwhile, the Liberals were especially vocal on the proposal’s foreign policy aspects. ALDE group president Guy Verhofstadt highlighted that “an ambitious energy union will not only create jobs, growth and tackle climate change, it will also hit Putin where it hurts most”.

He added, “Europe can no longer afford its addiction to imported fossil fuels from Russia and the Middle East. Our dependence on external energy resources has affected our ability to conduct an independent foreign policy. It is time for a European energy union with teeth”.

And the group’s environment, public health and food safety committee coordinator Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy warned, “the true test of the energy union will be overcoming the current fragmentation of energy policy into 28 different systems and reaping the full benefits of a common European approach”.

Morgen Helveg Petersen, a vice-chair of parliament’s industry, research and energy committee, underlined that “investors will only put their money in the many projects of the energy union if the associated regulatory framework is put in place, environmental legislation is predictable and competition policy is sound. The biggest barrier is regulatory uncertainty – we need to fix that”.

Yet not everyone was impressed with the energy union plans. Marek Gróbarczyk, ECR group spokesperson on energy, called on council president Donald Tusk to “stick to the promises that he made – to build a real, coherent energy union including ‘gas solidarity’, rehabilitation of coal and substantial diversification”.

In his view, “these proposals are disappointing because I fear they offer a virtual energy union that is not adequate to meet our growing challenges”.

“If the EU wants to get serious about energy security, it should be prioritising energy efficiency as the first line of defence” – Claude Turmes

Over on the left, MEPs were equally cynical.

Greens/EFA energy spokesperson Claude Turmes criticised the commission’s proposals as “a missed opportunity for outlining a path to a real energy transition in Europe. The overarching focus is on finding new supply routes for gas and reviving nuclear power, rather than trying to wean us off our damaging dependence on unreliable energy exporters. If the EU wants to get serious about energy security, it should be prioritising energy efficiency as the first line of defence”.

Greens/EFA vice-chair Bas Eickhout pointed out that the proposed strategy “will not create the energy system we need to stop climate warming greenhouse gases and limit the increase in global temperatures to below two degrees, which is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change”.

GUE/NGL group member Josu Juaristi was also wary of the commission’s announcements, explaining that, “in some member states investment in renewables is almost disappearing. Very little account is taken of citizens or local government. What happens is that the big energy companies’ control over our citizens is strengthened.

“We need to avoid a situation where the EU just leaves its ideas for renewable energy on paper – as we see happening at the moment”, he concluded.

The energy union is due to be discussed at this week’s council summit.

 www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/art…

About the author: Julie Levy-Abegnoli is a journalist and editorial assistant for the Parliament Magazine.

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Something else relevant to this topic – SustainabiliTank.info feels important to include here – is the upcoming acquisition of a Russian energy concern – LI Energy – headed by oligarch Mikhail Fridman – of the German RWE Dea company and all its global oil and gas production assets for a neat 5 billion Euro.

The Germans seem to think it is OK but the British are of a different opinion because RWE Dea owns a large North Sea production area which in case of further sanctions against Russia because of Mr. Putin’s involvement in the Ukraine, might cause a stoppage of production from those wells and leading to loss in employment and danger to the environment. Passing the ownership of Energy assets of Europe to Russian hands in light of the EU Energy plans of decreasing dependence on the Russians – might just be the wrong signal to the seriousness of an EU Energy Policy plan in general and the position German business takes on the larger European interests.

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

A Pesticide Banned, or Not, Underscores Trans-Atlantic Trade Sensitivities
By DANNY HAKIM, The New York Times, February 24, 2015

Diverging regulatory approaches to atrazine, a herbicide made by a Swiss company but not used in Europe, shows the hurdles in trade negotiations.

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Our website is sensitive to this issue because we know what happened when a US business moved to Canada and from there under US-Canada agreements tried to force the State of California to allow Tetra-Ethyl Lead in the gasoline used in US transportation – against the law in California – and Washington did nothing in what amounted to an extortion of $450 million from the Californian treasury in order to get that menace out of their hairs.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The info in our title, as based on reporting of the NYT on line, is tempered by our info as provided by the Austrian OERF:
orf.at/stories/2250813/2250848/ that informs us that there was no general enthusiasm with this compromise agreement that called for bringing down energy savings only by 27% – as compared to 1990 – from the anticipated 30%. Those that are in the 60% range as compared to the 50% average in the emitters’ list – will be helped free from a stash of 400,000 of certificates that result from an emissions trading system. The Austrians remark that this will help Poland that might continue to pollute..

Also before the Copenhagen COP 15 the EU had prepared a program of its membership but then found out that they were not able to get an agreement of the other major emitters. Thus the renewed effort must now watch how China, the US, India, Brazil, Japan, Australia will react.

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European Leaders Agree on Targets to Fight Climate Change.

By JAMES KANTEROCT. 23, 2014

BRUSSELS — The 28 leaders of the European Union agreed early on Friday on targets for protecting the climate and generating greener power despite deep divisions among their nations over how to produce energy.

The main target that won approval was a pledge to slash emissions by at least 40 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030.

The new target “will ensure that Europe will be an important player, will be an important party, in future binding commitments of an international climate agreement,” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said at an early-morning news conference.

The accord makes the European Union the first major global emitter to put its position on the table ahead of an important United Nations climate meeting in Paris at the end of 2015.

“Deal!” Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, the body that represents European Union leaders, wrote on his Twitter account. “World’s most ambitious, cost-effective” climate policy agreed on, he wrote.

Related Coverage

For E.U. Climate Meeting, Deep Divisions and High Stakes OCT. 21, 2014
Goats grazing near wind turbines in Fantanele and Cogealac villages, Romania.
Europe, Facing Economic Pain, May Ease Climate Rules JAN. 22, 2014

Hopes are rising in Europe — as they were five years ago ahead of a failed United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen — for a global agreement next year in Paris that would oblige other parts of the world, like China and the United States, to do more to share the burden limiting the warming of the planet to under two degrees Celsius.


While most European Union states agree on lessening their energy dependence on countries outside the bloc, like Russia, cooperation is extremely hard because of sharply conflicting energy choices in Europe.

The pledge to cut emissions by 40 percent would eventually come with legally binding targets for each of the bloc’s member countries to share the burden equitably.

The bloc also agreed on a target of generating at least 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources, a goal that will be binding at the European Union level but not the national level. A separate target for improving energy efficiency by at least 27 percent was “indicative” only, meaning it would not be binding even at the bloc level. Both of those targets raised questions about their enforceability.

Curbing the emissions that contribute to a changing climate has long been a popular cause in Europe. Policy makers here frequently highlight how their industries and citizens emit lower levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide than those of the United States and other industrialized countries. But there is not the same enthusiasm in Europe to embrace the green agenda as there was five years ago, before the climate conference in Copenhagen that ended in failure.

The protracted downturn in Europe set off by the sovereign debt crisis has crimped funding for green projects. Also, the takeoff of technologies to tap cheap shale gas — despite the highly uncertain future of that industry in Europe, where the technology is unpopular — has dented prospects for some renewable alternatives. { THIS LINE IS NOT CLEAR – THE WRITER OUGHT TO KNOW THAT FOSSIL GAS AND OIL RESULTING FROM FRAKING ARE NOT RENEWABLES – THOUGH THEY ARE AN ALTERNATIVE TO IMPORTED OIL AND GAS }

Another factor adding to the complexity of developing strategies to cut emissions in Europe is the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, where an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011 led to meltdowns at a nuclear plant. Germany has since stepped up its phaseout of nuclear technology even though it emits almost zero planet-warming gases.

Also hanging over the summit meeting was the standoff between the Europeans and Russia over its annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine.

For Poland, reliance on highly polluting coal is seen as a defense against the need to switch to natural gas, a resource that the government in Moscow has already used as a political weapon by cutting supplies, and a source of employment for the mining industry. But Poland’s stance put it at odds with countries like Sweden and Germany that were seeking far-reaching targets on energy efficiency and renewable sources.

“We could have envisaged getting more, but we, in the spirit of compromise, decided to agree on a 27 percent target,” Ms. Merkel told the news conference, referring to the target for renewable sources.

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