Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
We note the complete daily “DER STANDARD” of Vienna and several serious articles in The Sunday New York Times.
“The negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level.” AND WE SAY – THIS IS JUST FINE – this is the result of completely unrealizable goals the UN-speak fed us for all those years since 1992 Rio Conference on Sustainable Development.
Recommendation from scientists, made several years ago, talked of setting a cap on total greenhouse gases as a way to achieve the goal of limiting Climate Change to what they said was possibly an acceptable level, and then figure out how to allocate the emissions fairly. This simply was impossible as it required in UN fashion work by consensus – and your luck does not hold out an agreement of all UN membership to anything.
Now we have a situation of voluntary pledges that countries are making that in most nations came up as a compromise between the desire to be ambitious and the perceived cost and political difficulty of emissions cutbacks. AND THAT IS THE BEST WE CAN GET – SO THIS IS TREMENDOUS PROGRESS THAT BEATS NOTHING.
In 1992, more than 150 nations agreed at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro to take steps to stabilize greenhouse gases at a level that would “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” — United Nations-speak for global warming.
Innumerable follow-up meetings have been held since, with some 30,000 pe0ple spinning around the globe, with little to show for themselves. Emissions of greenhouse gases have steadily risen, as have atmospheric temperatures, while the consequences of unchecked warming — persistent droughts, melting glaciers and ice caps, dying corals, a slow but inexorable sea level rise — have become ever more pronounced.
On Monday, in Paris, the signatories to the Rio treaty (now 196), will try once again to fashion an international climate change agreement that might actually slow, then reduce, emissions and prevent the world from tipping over into full-scale catastrophe late in this century. As with other climate meetings, notably Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009, Paris is being advertised as a watershed event — “our last hope,” in the words of Fatih Birol, the new director of the International Energy Agency. As President François Hollande of France put it recently, “We are duty-bound to succeed.”
Paris will almost certainly not produce an ironclad, planet-saving agreement. But it could succeed in an important way that earlier meetings have not — by fostering collective responsibility, a strong sense among countries large and small, rich and poor, that all must play a part in finding a global solution to a global problem.
Kyoto failed because it imposed emissions reduction targets only on developed countries, giving developing nations like China, India and Brazil a free pass. Kyoto was actually a fraud imposed on us by Al Gore who got the Nobel prize for his showings. As a former member of the Senate – knew it was doomed in the United States Senate. Copenhagen attracted wider participation, but it broke up in disarray, in part because of continuing frictions with the developing countries.
The organizers of the Paris conference have learned a lot from past mistakes. Instead of pursuing a top-down agreement with mandated targets, they have asked every country to submit a national voluntary plan that lays out how and by how much they plan to reduce emissions in the years ahead. So far, more than 170 countries, accounting for over 90 percent of global greenhouse emissions, have submitted pledges, and more may emerge in Paris.
But UN-speak that confounds wishful thinking with reality – as we observed this last Monday at a debate following the showing of a documentary “Ice & Sky” that was provided by the French Mission to the UN in Vienna – had even an Austrian delegate to the Paris 2015 Conference talk about the upcoming “Paris Agreement.” And when I objected saying that we must learn to accept the fact that there will be no agreed outcome – but rather a collection of country declarations – I felt once more like an intruder to this pie-in-the-sky refusal to project honest thinking by those accustomed to spin the globe on clouds.
The true realists are Bill McKibben and his 350.org folks who, like Patrick Sciarratta’s Civil Society that with some help from UN Member States – show us that what works is the impact of ordinary people on their governments – be this in the US or China – and then those governments are moved to make pledges. It would have been the impact of a demonstration in Paris like the 400.000 people that showed up in New York September 22, 2014, that could have moved some heads of State. This was reduced to the much smaller last minute events held today in many cities of the world. That large event in Paris was cancelled because of the act of terrorism pf Friday the 13th. But let me in this respect throw in here one last remark that surely will get some to say that I am nuts. So what – UN folks are saying this about me for lesser reasons. I want to mention that the bands presenting themselves as Islamic State were in effect funded by Saudi oil money, like the Taliban and the Al Qaeda before them. Why not believe that it was not Satanism that propelled them (Friday the 13th) but rather an effort to help their bosses in Riyadh. After all – Climate Change came about because of excessive use of cheap oil – and oil sellers do not want to lose their market.
Also, today I sat for three hours at a meeting at the Economy University of Vienna with Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz of New York.
He just released two books: “The Great Divide” and “Re-Writing The Rules of the American Economy.” These ought to be assigned reading for anyone assuming he is part of a Think Tank.
The New York Times editorial concludes with “The test of success for this much-anticipated summit meeting is whether it produces not only stronger commitments but also a shared sense of urgency at all levels to meet them.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
The night of November 27, 2015 at the venerable Wiener Koncerthaus – the Mecca for Music of the Austrian Empire.
I got home after mid-night from this great celebration of life in Paris – the city that lives best at night.
Valerie Sajdik was born in Vienna April 2, 1978 to the family of a great Austrian diplomat. Her birth was not an April joke but she started her early education in Moscow in the Soviet days – then Ambassadorships to China, Mongolia, North Korea, Paris, and New York – and the education created a multi lingual – multi cultural – young woman who eventually fell for Paris.
In 2008 young Valerie opened her Valerie’s Salon at the Fledermaus Cabaret in Vienna. In November 2013 she produces “Les Nuits Blanche” about her memories of Russia and since she resides in Paris. She takes her large world by storm.
Ambassador Martin Sajdik since beginning of 2012 becomes Austria’s Representative to the UN – a job he held till June 2015, and upon retirement does not choose to stay in New York in some position UN related. He prefers to return to Vienna and becomes the OSZE Special Representative for the Ukraine. I remember him since I met him when he just arrived to New York. He seemed not to have illusions about his new post.
Ambassador Sajdik just missed Austria’s membership of the UN Security Council 2009-2010, but was there at the time of the preparation of the SDGs and the UN material for Paris2015 and COP 21 of the UNFCCC, though he will not be next week at the actual deliberations in Paris. The family is thus very aware of the process, and Valerie was now thrown into the hopper of consequences.
Her celebration of Paris was prepared well in advance – but reality picked up on her and last night measured up with this reality very well. Without changing a thing in the long prepared program, she harvested a few more French artists that became available because of the events – without their names appearing in the originally printed program – she just wove them into that program – be this a Jaques Brel kind of singer or a tap dancing lady that is also a great hand clapper – them and their pianist. They did fit magically in with her two accompanying ladies, the lady accordionist and the lady violinist, who together with her band are now her music group. It all sounded like a bunch of Parisian friends celebrating life – in that city that never sleeps.
So why did those acts of terror happen in Paris that prepared itself for the great event that was billed as the last chance to save the future of the Planet? Yes – we have opinions on that – but here is not the place to put them before you. Tonight is the time just to celebrate the city that will not be put down. Vive Paris – Vive la Liberte and to hell with those that tried to harm this city in order to get to those that try to save the planet.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
November 28, 2015
The Reign of Absurdiocy
There is no such thing as “international terrorism”.
To declare war on “international terrorism” is nonsense.
Politicians who do so are either fools or cynics, and
Terrorism is a weapon. Like cannon. We would laugh at
somebody who declares war on “international artillery”. A
cannon belongs to an army, and serves the aims of that
army. The cannon of one side fire against the cannon of the
Terrorism is a method of operation. It is often used by
oppressed peoples, including the French Resistance to the
Nazis in WW II. We would laugh at anyone who declared war
on “international resistance”.
Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military thinker,
famously said that “war is the continuation of politics by
other means”. If he had lived with us today, he might have
said: “Terrorism is a continuation of policy by other
Terrorism means, literally, to frighten the victims into
surrendering to the will of the terrorist.
Terrorism is a weapon. Generally it is the weapon of the
weak. Of those who have no atom bombs, like the ones which
were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which terrorized
the Japanese into surrender. Or the aircraft which
destroyed Dresden in the (vain) attempt to frighten the
Germans into giving up.
Since most of the groups and countries using terrorism have
different aims, often contradicting each other, there is
nothing “international” about it. Each terrorist campaign
has a character of its own. Not to mention the fact that
nobody considers himself (or herself) a terrorist, but
rather a fighter for God, Freedom or Whatever.
(I cannot restrain myself from boasting that long ago I
invented the formula: “One man’s terrorist is the other
man’s freedom fighter”.)
MANY ORDINARY Israelis felt deep satisfaction after the
Paris events. “Now those bloody Europeans feel for once
what we feel all the time!”
Binyamin Netanyahu, a diminutive thinker but a brilliant
salesman, has hit on the idea of inventing a direct link
between jihadist terrorism in Europe and Palestinian
terrorism in Israel and the occupied territories.
It is a stroke of genius: if they are one and the same,
knife-wielding Palestinian teenagers and Belgian devotees
of ISIS, then there is no Israeli-Palestinian problem, no
occupation, no settlements. Just Muslim fanaticism.
(Ignoring, by the way, the many Christian Arabs in the
secular Palestinian “terrorist” organizations.)
This has nothing to do with reality.
Palestinians who want to fight and die for Allah go to Syria. Palestinians – both
religious and secular – who shoot, knife or run over Israeli soldiers and civilians
these days want freedom from the occupation and a state of their own.
This is such an obvious fact that even a person with the
limited IQ of our present cabinet ministers could grasp it.
But if they did, they would have to face very unpleasant
choices concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
So let’s stick to the comfortable conclusion: they kill us
because they are born terrorists, because they want to meet
the promised 72 virgins in paradise, because they are
anti-Semites. So, as Netanyahu happily forecasts, we shall
“live forever by our sword”.
TRAGIC AS the results of each terrorist event may be, there
is something absurd about the European reaction to recent events.
The height of absurdiocy was reached in Brussels, when a
lone terrorist on the run paralyzed an entire capital city
for days without a single shot being fired. It was the
ultimate success of terrorism in the most literal sense:
using fear as a weapon.
But the reaction in Paris was not much better. The number
of victims of the atrocity was large, but similar to the
number killed on the roads in France every couple of weeks.
It was certainly far smaller than the number of victims of
one hour of World War II. But rational thought does not
count. Terrorism works on the perception of the victims.
It seems incredible that ten mediocre individuals, with a
few primitive weapons, could cause world-wide panic. But it
is a fact. Bolstered by the mass media, which thrive on
such events, local terrorist acts turn themselves nowadays
into world-wide threats. The modern media, by their very
nature, are the terrorist’s best friend. Terror could not
flourish without them.
The next best friend of the terrorist is the politician. It
is almost impossible for a politician to resist the temptation
to ride on the wave of panic. Panic creates “national unity”,
the dream of every ruler. Panic creates the longing for a
“strong leader”. This is a basic human instinct.
Francois Hollande is a typical example. A mediocre yet
shrewd politician, he seized the opportunity to pose as a
leader. “C’est la guerre!” he declared, and whipped up a
national frenzy. Of course this is no “guerre”. Not World
War III. Just a terrorist attack by a hidden enemy.
Indeed, one of the facts disclosed by these events is the
incredible foolishness of the political leaders all around.
They do not understand the challenge. They react to
imagined threats and ignore the real ones. They do not know
what to do. So they do what comes naturally: make speeches,
convene meetings and bomb somebody (no matter who and what
Not understanding the malady, their remedy is worse than
the disease itself. Bombing causes destruction, destruction
creates new enemies who thirst for revenge. It is a direct
collaboration with the terrorists.
It was a sad spectacle to see all these world leaders, the
commanders of powerful nations, running around like mice in
a maze, meeting, speechifying, uttering nonsensical
statements, totally unable to deal with the crisis.
THE PROBLEM is indeed far more complicated than simple
minds would believe, because of an unusual fact: the enemy
this time is not a nation, not a state, not even a real
territory, but an undefined entity: an idea, a state of
mind, a movement that does have a territorial base of sorts
but is not a real state.
This is not a completely unprecedented phenomenon: more
than a hundred years ago, the anarchist movement committed
terrorist acts all over the place without having a
territorial base at all. And 900 years ago a religious sect
without a country, the Assassins (a corruption of the
Arabic word for “hashish users”), terrorized the Muslim
I don’t know how to fight the Islamic State (or rather
Non-State) effectively. I strongly believe that nobody
knows. Certainly not the nincompoops who man (and woman)
the various governments.
I am not sure that even a territorial invasion would
destroy this phenomenon. But even such an invasion seems
unlikely. The Coalition of the Unwilling put together by
the US seems disinclined to put “boots on the ground”. The
only forces who could try – the Iranians and the Syrian
government army – are hated by the US and its local allies.
Indeed, if one is looking for an example of total
disorientation, bordering on lunacy, it is the inability of
the US and the European powers to choose between the
Assad-Iran-Russia axis and the IS-Saudi-Sunni camp. Add the
Turkish-Kurdish problem, the Russian-Turkish animosity and
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the picture is still
far from complete.
(For history-lovers, there is something fascinating about
the reemergence of the centuries-old struggle between
Russia and Turkey in this new setting. Geography trumps
everything else, after all.)
It has been said that war is far too important to leave to
the generals. The present situation is far too complicated
to leave to the politicians. But who else is there?
ISRAELIS BELIEVE (as usual) that we can teach the world. We
know terrorism. We know what to do.
But do we?
For weeks now, Israelis have lived in a panic. For lack of
a better name, it is called “the wave of terror”. Every day
now, two, three, four youngsters, including 13-year old
children, attack Israelis with knives or run them over with
cars, and are generally shot dead on the spot. Our renowned
army tries everything, including draconian reprisals
against the families and collective punishment of villages,
These are individual acts, often quite spontaneous, and
therefore it is well-nigh impossible to prevent them. It is
not a military problem. The problem is political,
Netanyahu tries to ride this wave like Hollande and
company. He cites the Holocaust (likening a 16-year old boy
from Hebron to a hardened SS officer at Auschwitz) and
talks endlessly about anti-Semitism.
All in order to obliterate one glaring fact: the occupation
with its daily, indeed hourly and minutely, chicanery of
the Palestinian population. Some government ministers don’t
even hide anymore that the aim is to annex the West Bank
and eventually drive out the Palestinian people from their
There is no direct connection between IS terrorism around
the world and the Palestinian national struggle for
statehood. But if they are not solved, in the end the
problems will merge – and a far more powerful IS will unite
the Muslim world, as Saladin once did, to confront us, the
If I were a believer, I would whisper: God forbid.
N.B.: My articles can be read
The current article will be available within hours of this email being sent out.
Also my books are now online uriavnery.com/en/
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
The French have extended the State of Emergency till Monday November 30 – the day the Climate Conference COP 21 is opening, but
an added statement has been issued on the official French Presidency’s COP 21 website – that says:
The COP21 conference should enable a global mobilization for climate and civil society is expected to play its full role.
Civil Society will therefore be present on-site at the venue Le Bourget, where the “Espaces Générations Climat” will host, for the whole duration of the Conference, from November 30 to December 12, more than 300 events, debates and conferences. A major mobilization, with many events, is planned throughout France. All these events will continue, except for school trips to the venue in Le Bourget.
However, the situation created by the heinous attacks on 13 November and the investigations carried out since then require that security measures be improved. In this context, all events taking place in closed spaces that can easily be made secure will be maintained. On the other hand, in order to avoid any additional risk, the Government has decided to not allow the climate marches planned in the streets of Paris and other cities throughout France on 29 November and 12 December.
The Statement continues with – “This is a difficult decision to make that will probably disappoint some of those who had planned to take part, but in the current context, safety requirements prevail.”
The leadership of the UNFCCC has seized on this to warn those it does not like – activists and media not sanctioned by them – to stay away. They also continue to argue that the Conference will conclude with a global agreement – something that is factually not in the cards.
The French decision does not, in any way, put into question the need for COP21 to widely welcome civil society and its organizations, who will play a major role at the conference.
The Conference will conclude with individual countries voluntary commitments – by now over 150 such Statements – and it is the role of Civil Society alone – to catalyze the governments forthcoming with substantial commitments. The UNFCCC – working by UN rules of consensus – hardly has a part in this. A decrease in the size of country delegations or in the number of UN officials will not harm the outcome, and Civil Society hopefully will realize the importance of orderly meetings.
jan at sailtransportnetwork.org
Submitted on 2015/11/25 at 8:03 am
Hi Pincas, thank you for that clear rundown on what’s up.
See you in Paris, old Kyoto roomie?
We have a flyer and a poster for promoting sail power as legitimate renewable energy, for which poor countries can gain aid from the UN and the EU. And we have an alternative, more flexible, more carbon-reducing wording for the shipping emissions Option in the Draft Agreement.
Please contact me through www.sailtransportnetwork.org or via email.
Thanks, and be well,
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Convening from 19-23 October 2015, the Bonn Climate Change Conference was the last in a series of meetings under the UNFCCC in preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), scheduled to take place in November-December 2015, in Paris, France.
In their scenario note ADP.2015.7.InformalNote), ADP Co-Chairs Ahmed Djoghlaf (Algeria) and Daniel Reifsnyder (US) identified the objective of the session as intensifying the pace of text-based negotiations among Parties, with a view to preparing the draft Paris climate package for presentation at the opening of COP 21.
At the end of the week-long meeting, Parties issued two non-papers, one containing draft agreement text and draft decision text related to the agreement (workstream 1 of ADP’s mandate) and the other containing draft decision text related to pre-2020 ambition (workstream 2).
The full and best reporting of what went on in Bonn can be found at: mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#search…
Summary of the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 19-23 October 2015, Bonn, Germany.
Going over the Summary it becomes clear – if it was not before – that there will be no UN document ready for the Paris meeting and that UN bickering will continue – be assured that some Arab State will find space to bash Israel. All what the UN can do is to bring the problem to the public’s attention, and it is left to the public to push their governments to make a commitment, that is in those countries where a public opinion counts.
Paris COP 21 of the UNFCCC will not be a wash. This thanks to the fact that over 150 countries have already presented their commitments to act on Climate Change. Take for instance the US where by now commitments from companies that are joining the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, bringing the total number of US companies that have signed onto the pledge to 81. Together, these companies have operations in all 50 US states, employ over nine million people, represent more than US$3 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over US$5 trillion.
And yes, in the EU, Japan, Brazil there are similarly industry commitments – pushed by the public. In China and India as well, the public pushes for government action on pollution of any kind and this includes a better understanding of Climate Change disasters.
In a more general way see the The International Energy Agency’s evaluation of the situation:
The IEA’s “Energy and Climate Change: World Energy Outlook” tells us that full implementation of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by mid-October would decouple power sector emissions from electricity demand but would still lead to an average global temperature increase of around 2.7°C, which falls short of the declared “major course correction necessary” to stay below an average global temperature rise of 2°C.
The Outlook Special Briefing for COP21′ analyzes INDCs submitted by more than 150 countries, accounting for close to 90% of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and assesses in particular their energy sector-related impacts.
According to the briefing, given that energy production and use account for two-thirds of global GHG emissions, “actions in the energy sector can make or break efforts to achieve the world’s agreed climate goal” of staying below a 2°C temperature rise.
The briefing examines what the energy sector will look like globally in 2030 if all INDCs are fully implemented, and whether this will place the energy sector on a path consistent with the 2°C goal.
If implemented, the INDCs will lead to an improvement of global energy intensity at a rate almost three times faster than the rate since 2000. Emissions will either plateau or decline by 2030 in countries accounting for more than half of global economic activity at present. Of new electricity generation through 2030, 70% will be low-carbon.
The IEA estimates that the full implementation of the INDCs will require US$13.5 trillion in investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies through 2030.
And excerpted from a bright blogger for Huffington Post (UK):
Over the past three decades annual climate talks under the United Nations banner have become part of the Zeitgeist of a large movement. They draw government officials, think tanks, civil society, journalists and the occasional hipsters into negotiations over which ride trillions of dollars and our future well-being on Earth.
Expect a lot of drama at the next instalment, taking place in Paris in late November – early December.
Heads of state will make grandiose pronouncements.
Negotiators from 190 countries will huddle, whisper, argue over words for days and bargain in stuffy rooms in a style that would make bazaar traders proud.
Civil society will push for strong outcomes, prod for more climate finance, demonstrate occasionally (a welcome activity in Paris), express anger followed by frustration before going home let down again.
The press and the public will turn an inattentive, occasional eye to the 45,000 people gathered in Paris, then turn their attention away.
The private sector, two-thirds of global GDP and employment, will be largely absent (it is not formally represented in the negotiations) and mostly ignore the whole thing.
At the end, governments will cobble together a weak agreement to set emission reduction targets. Some will declare a major win, others will accurately note that we need to do much, much more. Then everyone will go home in time for the Christmas holidays and most of COP21, as the Paris UN gathering is known, will be forgotten.
Deeply buried in this cacophony are two emerging themes with the potential to significantly impact the private sector.
National Low Carbon Business Plans
A Paris climate agreement, no matter how wobbly, will involve more than 150 countries publishing mini business plans for their economy describing what each will do to help limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. In typical UN jargon, these low-carbon business plans are known as INDCs, short for “intended nationally determined contribution.”
The INDCs are the driving force of COP21 and will become the development pathway for all countries. Weak and general at first, they will become stronger and more detailed over time.
Two major consequences will follow.
First, multi-trillion dollar investment opportunities for the private sector will be clearly delineated, while others, far from where the country is heading, should be avoided.
For example, India’s business plan shows it wants to increase its clean energy generation capacity from 36 GW today to a whopping 320 GW by 2030. Similarly, China wants an extra 775 GW of renewables by 2030, on top of its existing 425 GW, the US wants to add an extra 179 GW and the EU another 380 GW.
Taken together, that’s double the world’s current renewable energy installed capacity (excluding hydropower) in investment potential, all of which comes with strong institutional support now that it is anchored in an INDC.
Second, the breadth of these INDCs means that within a few years, all finance will be climate finance; and all bonds will be green bonds.
We already know the commitments in Paris are nowhere near enough: The US, Europe, and China alone use up the world’s entire carbon budget by 2030. Therefore it’s reasonable to expect that they will get tougher, tighter and more precise with time because countries will be under increasing pressure to deliver, as climate change hits all of us harder and harder.
Post-2020 (the INDCs will most probably be reviewed in five year cycles), there is therefore likely to be a “wall of shame” hitting anyone who invests in non-INDC compatible, non-climate friendly technologies. In fact perhaps we will see “black bonds” emerge, highlighting investments that are increasingly unacceptable and at risk of being stranded because of their high emissions.
INDCs will make green investments even more mainstream than they are today and ensure that dirty investments are avoided on a long-term scale.
Loss and Damage
“Loss and damage,” another major theme in Paris, could have enormous financial consequences.
“Loss and damage” refers to the need to account for the impact of climate change, for example on a small island nation losing territory because of sea level rise. An element of climate negotiations for several years, its significance could be enormous for insurance companies, reinsurers, financial analysts and the markets.
Governments will continue to argue whether loss and damage is a euphemism for liability and compensation. Richer nations will end up ensuring that the answer is vague, and that therefore they can’t be held liable and won’t have to pay compensation.
However, the door is likely to be kept open for clever lawyers to use the “loss and damage” aspects of a climate change agreement to launch claims against companies: Victims of climate change will aggressively try to go after corporate polluters for compensation, particularly the likes of Exxon, Shell and BP who have known about climate change for decades but either buried the evidence or ignored it to accumulate profits at the expense of our collective health and well-being.
The results of these claims could be shocking for many. The Dutch proved earlier this year that climate liability lawsuits can stand up in courts.
The business and the financial world will be markedly absent from Paris, but should closely monitor the evolution of INDCs and of “loss and damage” in Paris. These could upend how they currently do business.
From the above, we conclude that COP 21 of the UNFCCC in Paris will have picked up from where COP 15 of Copenhagen left the Climate Change issue. Copenhagen was where the Kyoto stillborn Protocol was buried by Obama bringing for the first time the Chinese on board, now it will be the Obama-Xi alliance that will bring most true Nations on board. And let us not forget Pope Francis and the ethics of “we are the creation’s wardens.” This resonates very well with much of the public and helps the businesses that will move green.
We will not go to the opening of the Paris meeting, but will be there for the end – this so me can evaluate the outcome which promises to have practical value.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
An Economist Explains How Money Has Caused the Climate Crisis
The economy is undergoing a structural crisis for two reasons: greenhouse gas emissions and the income gap.
By Liz Pleasant / YES! Magazine
October 26, 2015
In this video, Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, explains what she sees as a “structural crisis” within the United States.
Our economy, says Schor, is failing for two reasons. First, our current economic system generates dangerous levels of greenhouse gases. Second, the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans continues to rise, forcing more and more families into poverty.
“The reason I say it’s a systemic crisis or a structural crisis is that typically, the solution to that economic problem is to expand the economy,” Schor says. “But that makes the climate problem much worse because emissions move pretty closely with economic activity.”
Her solution? Find ways to change our economic system to be more financial and environmentally sustainable.
RELATED: The Economic Cost of Climate Change Has Been Recalculated — and the New Figure Is Staggering.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
The movie starts in 1956 – in those past World War II days – in the 1950s and 1960s when technology advances that occurred during the war years were turned to other uses and peace was predicted as coming with a United Nations Organization.
The hero of the movie turned to exploration of the Antarctica. The poles were rather unknown areas and maping out the Antarctic continent was a clear target – so was starting scientific work at the poles using vehicles and ships derived from the war effort and a newly freed sense of adventurism. The movie does not try to depict history – it rather goes the route of explaining the drive to understand our planet by going to areas unknown.
At the Arctic Circle Assembly we keep being told that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic – thus by understanding processes of the Arctic and of the Antarctica, does help us understand what happens in our own parts of the world and this year it is President Hollande who undertook to help us manage our own world by hosting the PARIS2015 Conference whose symbol is in the shape of a falling drop of water of green and yellow sun color with the ubiquitous Eiffel tower in the center.
Luc Jacquet the originator of the movie, at hand for the showing, as part of the French delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly, did stress that it is only 60 years since we turned from exploration to the clear need of management of the poles.
President Hollande said that thinking that the disappearance of Arctic ice makes it easier to reach out for the minerals, oil and gas, that are now under the ice cover, is a benefit to us is something positive is untrue – this because economics cannot be based on environmental disasters.
THe run-up to the Paris2015 meeting has already produced over 150 single country commitments for action – this is 150 out of the 193 member states of the UN, but as we know this covers already 85% of the fossil carbon emissions. Hollande did not call for a 100% coverage but seems to be content to go ahead and work with the committed and get them to improve their commitments so we can reach the goal of a global warming that is not higher then 2 degrees Celsius – a goal we are still from ith the present commitments. Ms. Christiana Figueres t, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hat was supposed to be in Reykjavik as well, did not come. We would have liked to hear from her further details about the 150 plus that did make those commitments so far – and what is even more interesting – who are those 40 members of the UN that made no commitments yet. Are they indeed part of our planet?
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
There are two ways of thinking about the effects of human behavior on the environment – one that looks at the end results and points at the need to decrease these effects – this way of thinking leads to us dealing with the symptoms of the desease we created. If we can afford the time we ought to take instead a deeper look at the problem and enter a new path for the economy – one that allows for change – a new true Culture Change – that avoids the polluting industry – the air-polluting self imposed dependence on fossil fuels. We can then build a new economy based on using the free energy supplied to us amply by the sun – this after we did our best first – to decrease the use of energy in all our activities.
The first line of reacting to the problem is represented by those trying to benefit from the commerce in carbon credits. The second line of thinking has brought about Jonathan Rosenthal’s New Economy Coalition that brings together all those that can show that by creating higher energy use efficiency and then supplying the remaining needs from renewable energy sources, the whole economy at large, and their own companies in particular, are clear winners.
From a think tank point of view, two particular geographical areas and the particular groups of Nations in those areas, present special possibilities for study.
One such area are the countries of the Arctic Circle Assembly that meet this week in Reykjavik, Iceland d. The second group of nations are the Small Island entities. what these two groups have in common are new reserves of oil that one ought to work hard to keep from developing them. The difference between the two groups of Nations is in the difference in size and their economies.
Global warming has brought about the melting of ice at the two poles and this “uncovering” of the mineral resources at the Arctic region makes it easier to get to these resources – the question opens thus – would these countries be better off leaving these resources untouched as a reserve for future generations?
SIDS nations are small in land but large in sea territory where reserves of oil and gas have been found. These nations live mainly from tourism and the slightest oil spill presents a non-reversible harm to their white sand beaches. The dilemma they have is in a nut-shell the question about the potential temporary help to their development in the immediate term versus their potential loss of a future. How can one figure policies that help the SIDS decide to leave most of these oil reserves underground?
Tomorrow,Thursday October 15, 2015, in Reykjavik, there will be a chance to hear what the organizers of the Paris2015 Global Conference have in mind. Under the guidance of Iceland’s President H.E. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and with H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco at his side, he will have the convener of COP21 of UNFCCC and the Paris2015 event – Ms. Christiana Figueres, and the host of Paris 2015 – H.E. Francois Hollande, President of France, tell the Arctic Circle Assembly audience, and the whole world, the seriousness of the situation that they are tasked to find a solution for. Later in the program the SIDS will have their chance as well. By going to these two special groupings of Nations, the organizers of Paris 2015 have thus a chance to get a hearing at fora that take the subject out of the mostly unreceptive environment of the UN.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
From the NYC UN Hqtrs. Complex – an event open to non-UN Pass Holders:
“We cordially invite you to attend the UN Summit side event “Enabling and tracking business contribution to the SDGs”, hosted by the French Government and GRI.”
Enabling and tracking business contribution to the SDGs
September 25 |13:15-14:30 | Conference Room 7, UNHQ
How to inspire and monitor private sector contributions to the SDGs?
What are governments doing to encourage responsible business conduct?
This event will bring together representatives from the UN, national governments, the business community and civil society, to discuss initiatives that promote responsible business conduct and have the potential to contribute to sustainable development. The talks will also explore new tools to measure private sector contributions to the SDGs, and how to use business data in the follow-up and review process.
H.E. Mr. Manuel Sager, State Secretary and Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland
Ms. Jacqueline McGlade, UNEP Chief Scientist
Mr. Michael Meehan, Chief Executive, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
Ambassador Ms. Lisa Kubiske, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Finance & Development
Mr. François Gave, Head of Development and Sustainable Development Department, French Mission to the United Nations
Mr. Ivo Havinga, Assistant Director, United Nations Statistics Division
Mr. Balaji Ganapathy, Head of Workforce Effectiveness/ Corporate Social Responsibility, TATA Consultancy Services
Time and location
September 25, 2015 | 13:15–14:30 | Conference Room 7 (CR7) | UN Headquarters
13:15 | welcome & keynote
13:30 | short interventions
13:50 | Panel discussion
14:15 | Audience Q&A
14:25 | Closing remarks
Contact person during the Summit:
Anne Kullman | Advisor, Business Engagement on the SDGs, GRI | kullman at globalreporting.org | m: + 46 (70) 642 90 36
Should you need more information prior to this event, please contact: Justine Swordy | swordy at globalreporting.org
This is an open side event, which means that all those who have access to the UN Summit, or a valid UN Grounds pass will be allowed access to attend. There is no need to pre-register.
However, if you require an access/special pass for this event, please fill out this form (link) by Monday, September 21st at 5pm EST. All participants requesting a UN Summit pass for this particular event will be notified of where and when to pick up their tickets. Please bring a valid ID/ passport to pick up your tickets.
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.
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
4. Sep, 13:47
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.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
UN rights official who ignored African child rape by French troops resigns; UN Watch reacts.
Published on July 22, 2015 in Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by unwatch.
Flavia_Pansieri was Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Geneva Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.
According to the UN she was not fired but resigned for Health Reasons – BUT her assistant the whistleblower was fired!
GENEVA, July 22, 2015 – The resignation of a top UN rights official who admitted she did nothing after receiving reports of child rape by French soldiers in Central African Republic — because she was “distracted” by budget cuts — underscores the dire need for greater accountability at the world body, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental Geneva watchdog agency that measures the performance of the world body by the yardstick of its own charter.
“Not only did Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri fail to act,” said Neuer, “but she was part of a coterie of top UN officials who punished the only member of her office who sounded the alarm, veteran staffer Anders Kompass, by firing him.”
“The message heard loud and clear throughout the world body was that speaking out against the banality of bureaucratic complicity with evil will kill one’s career, that it’s better to stay silent.”
“Therefore, to the extent that Ms. Pansieri is in fact resigning over her office’s shameful inaction, indifference and cover-up concerning the rape of children by peacekeepers, then today marks a small step toward greater accountability for malfeasance by UN officials.”
“In this episode, as in many others throughout the UN, minimal levels of scrutiny and acceptance of responsibility are desperately required,” added Neuer.
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!
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
International Business – The New York Times
I.M.F. Demands Greece Debt Relief as Condition for Bailout
By JACK EWING JULY 14, 2015
FRANKFURT — The International Monetary Fund threatened to withdraw support for Greece’s bailout on Tuesday unless European leaders agree to substantial debt relief, an immediate challenge to the region’s plan to rescue the country.
The aggressive stance sets up a standoff with Germany and other eurozone creditors, which have been reluctant to provide additional debt relief. The I.M.F role is considered crucial for any bailout, not only to provide funding but also to supervise Greece’s compliance with the terms.
A new rescue program for Greece “would have to meet our criteria,” a senior I.M.F. official told reporters on Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “One of those criteria is debt sustainability.”
Debt relief has been a contentious issue in the negotiations over the Greek bailout.
Athens has pushed aggressively for creditors to write down the country’s debt, which now exceeds €300 billion. Without it, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has argued the debt will remain a heavy weight on Greece’s troubled economy.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Arctic Icy hotspots in focus at climate talks?
Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle
July 8, 2015
With western Europe sweltering in a record-breaking heat wave, climate scientists are meeting in Paris this week for what is regarded as the last major climate science conference before the key COP 21 in Paris at the end of this year.
“Our Common Future under Climate Change” wants to be “solutions-focused,” but starts off with a resumé of the state of science as a basis.
Permafrost ‘carbon bomb’ unlikely, but worries over northern thaw persist
Outlook for September Arctic sea ice tilts toward small reduction from last year
One of the topics on the wide agenda is, of course, the cryosphere, with scientists reporting on rapid changes in the Arctic ice and permafrost, and worrying developments in the Antarctic.
As conference after conference works to prepare a new World Climate Agreement, to take effect in 2020, the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) is concerned that the INDCSs, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, i.e. the climate action countries propose to take are not in line with keeping global warming to the internationally set target of a maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists tell us this itself would already have major impacts on the world’s ice and snow.
Climate pledges way too low
Pam Pearson, the founder and director of ICCI, told journalists during a recent visit to Bonn her indication of INDCS so far was that they are ”somewhere between 3.8 and 4.2 degrees” Celsius.
Pearson and her colleagues are working hard to make the scientific evidence on climate changes in our ice and snow regions accessible and “must-reads” for the politicians and others who are preparing to negotiate the new agreement at the Paris talks at the end of the year, to replace the Kyoto protocol. She was here in Bonn at the last round of UN preparatory climate talks last month, holding a side event and briefing media and negotiators.
Pearson was part of the original Kyoto Protocol negotiating team. She is a former U.S. diplomat with 20 years’ experience of working on global issues, including climate change. She says she resigned in 2006 in protest over changes to U.S. development policies, especially related to environmental and global issues programs. From 2007 to2009, she worked from Sweden with a variety of organizations and Arctic governments to bring attention to the potential benefit of reductions in short-lived climate forcers to the Arctic climate, culminating in Arctic Council ministerial-level action in the Tromsø Declaration of 2009.
Pearson founded ICCI immediately after COP 15 to bring greater attention and policy focus to the “rapid and markedly similar changes occurring to cryosphere regions throughout the globe” and their importance for the global climate system.
IPCC reports already out of date! At the briefing in Bonn a couple of weeks ago, she said:
“Certainly through AR5, (the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC) the science is available to feed into the negotiations. But I think what we see as a cryosphere organization, participating as civil society in the negotiations – and I think also, very importantly, what the IPCC scientists see — is a lack of understanding of the urgency of slowing down these processes and the fact that they are irreversible. This is not like air or water pollution, where if you clean it up it will go back to the way it was before. It cannot go back to the way it was before and I think that is the most important aspect that still has not made its way into the negotiations”.
Scientists taking part in the event organized by the ICCI in Bonn stressed that a lot of major developments relating especially to Antarctica and to permafrost in the northern hemisphere was not available in time for that IPCC report. This means the scientific basis of AR5 is already way out of date, and that it does not include very recent important occurrences.
Sea ice in decline
Dirk Notz from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg heads a research group focusing on sea ice and rapid changes in the Arctic and Antarctic.
He told journalists in Bonn: “Over the last 10 years or so we’ve roughly seen a fifty percent loss of Arctic sea ice area, so this ice is currently retreating very, very rapidly. In the Antarctic, some people are talking about the increase of sea ice. Just to put things into perspective: there is a slight increase, but it’s nothing compared to the very rapid loss that we’ve seen in the Arctic.“
The slight increase in sea ice in the Antarctic is certainly not an indicator that could disprove climate warming, as some of a skeptical persuasion would like to have us believe.
“In the Antarctic, the changes in sea ice are locally very different. We have an increase in some areas and a decrease in other areas. This increase in one area of the southern ocean is largely driven by changes in the surface pressure field. So the winds are blowing stronger off shore in the Antarctic, pushing the ice out onto the ocean, and this is why we have more sea ice now than we used to have in the past. Our understanding currently says that these changes in the wind field are currently driven by anthropogenic changes of the climate system,“ said Notz.
He stresses that as far as the Arctic is concerned, the loss of sea ice is very clearly linked to the increase in CO2. The more CO2 we have in the atmosphere, the less sea ice we have in the Arctic.
Changing the face of the planet
Notz stresses the speed with which humankind is currently changing the face of the earth:
“Currently in the Arctic, a complete landscape is disappearing. It’s a landscape that has been around for thousands of years, and it’s a landscape our generation is currently removing from the planet, possibly for a very long time. I think culturally, that’s a very big change we are seeing.”
At the same time, he says the decline in the Arctic sea ice could be seen as a very clear warning sign:
“Temperature evolution of the planet for the past 50 thousand years or so shows that for the past 10 thousand years or so, climate on the planet has been extremely stable. And the loss of sea ice in the Arctic might be an indication that we are ending this period of a very stable climate in the Arctic just now. This might be the very first, very clear sign of a very clear change in the climatic conditions, like nothing we’ve seen in the past 10,000 years since we’ve had our cultures as humans.”
Simulations indicate that Arctic summer sea ice might be gone by the middle of this century. But Notz stresses that we can still influence this:
“The future sea ice loss both in the Arctic and the Antarctic depends on future CO2 emissions. A rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice in this decade is possible but unlikely. Only a very rapid reduction of CO2 might allow for the survival of Arctic summer sea ice beyond this century.”
Antarctic ice not eternal
Whereas until very recently the Antarctic ice was regarded as safe from climate warming, research in the last few years has indicated that even in that area, some possibly irreversible processes are underway. This relates to land ice rather than sea ice.
Ricarda Winckelmann is a scientist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research (PIK). She told journalists and climate negotiators at the Bonn talks that Antarctica could be regarded as the “sea level giant.. The global sea level would rise by 5 meters (16.4 feet) if West Antarctica’s ice sheet melted completely, 50 meters (164 feet) for the East Antarctic ice sheet.
“Over the past years, a couple of regions in Antarctica have really caught our attention. There are four hotspots. They have all changed rapidly. There have been a number of dynamic changes in these regions, but they all have something in common, and that is that they bear the possibility of a dynamic instability. Some of them have actually crossed that threshold, some of them might cross it in the near future. But they all underlie the same mechanism. That is called the marine ice sheet instability. It’s based on the fact that the bottom topography has a certain shape, and it’s a purely mechanical, self-enforcing mechanism. So it’s sort of driving itself. If you have a retreat of a certain region that undergoes this mechanism, it means you cannot stop it. “
The hotspots she refers to are the Amundsen Basin in West Antarctica, comprising the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, which are the fastest glaciers in Antarctica:
“It has been shown in a number of studies last year that it actually has tipped. Meaning it has crossed that threshold, and is now undergoing irreversible change. So all of these glaciers will drain into the ocean and we will lose a volume that is equivalent to about a meter (3.3 feet) of global sea level. The question is how fast this is going to happen.”
Next comes the Antarctic peninsula, where very recent research has indicated that warm water is reaching the ice shelves, leading to melting and dynamic thinning.
Even in East Antarctica, which was long considered virtually immune to climate change, Winckelmann and her colleagues have found signs that this same mechanism might be at work, for instance with Totten Glacier:
“There is a very recent publication from this year, showing that (…) this could possibly undergo the same instability mechanism. Totten Glacier currently has the largest thinning rate in East Antarctica. And it contains as much volume as the entire West Antarctic ice sheet put together. So it’s 3.5 meters’ (11.5 feet) worth of global sea level rise, if this region tips,” says the Potsdam expert.
Pulling the plug?
The other problematic area is the Wilkes Basin.
“We found that there is something called an ice plug, and if you pull it, you trigger this instability mechanism, and lose the entire drainage basin. What’s really striking is that this ice plug is comparably small, with a sea-level equivalent of less than 80 millimeters (3.15 inches). But if you lose that ice plug, you will get self-sustained sea level rise over a long period of time, of three to four meters,” or 9.8 feet to 13 feet.
This research is all so new that it was not included in the last IPCC assessment:
“We’ve known that this dynamic mechanism exists for a long time, it was first proposed in the 1970s. But the observation that something like this is actually happening right now is new,” Winckelmann stresses.
Clearly, this is key information when it comes to bringing home the urgent need for rapid climate action.
Pam Pearson stresses that these changes in themselves have a feedback effect, and have an impact on the climate:
“The cryosphere is changing a lot more quickly than other parts of the world. The main focus for Paris is that these regions are moving from showing climate change, being indicators of climate change, to beginning to drive climate change, and the risks of those dynamics beginning to overwhelm anthropogenic impacts on these particular areas is growing as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up, as the temperature rises.”
Climate factor: permafrost
This applies in particular to the effect of thawing permafrost. Susan Natali from the Woods Hole Research Center is co-author of a landmark study published in Nature in April. She also joined the ICCI event in Bonn:
“Carbon has been accumulating in permafrost for tens of thousands of years. The amount of carbon currently stored in permafrost is about twice as much as in the atmosphere. So our current estimate is 1,500 billion tons of carbon permanently frozen and locked away in permafrost. So you can imagine, as that permafrost thaws and even a portion of that gets released into the atmosphere, that this may lead to a significant increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The study was conducted by an international permafrost network. “The goal is to put our current understanding of the processes in permafrost regions into global climate models. The current IPCC reports don’t include greenhouse gas emissions as a result of permafrost thaw,” says Natali.
Permafrost regions make up some 25 percent of the northern hemisphere land area. The scientists say between 30 percent and 70 percent of it could be lost by 2100, depending on the amount of temperature rise. There is still a lot of uncertainty over how much carbon could be released, but Winckelmann and her colleagues think thawing permafrost could release as much carbon into the atmosphere by 2100 as the US, the world’s second biggest emitter, is currently emitting.
The time for action is now
“The thing to keep in mind is that the action we take now in terms of our fossil fuel emissions is going to have a significant impact on how much permafrost is lost and in turn how much carbon is released from permafrost. There is some uncertainty, but we know permafrost carbon losses will be substantial, they will be irreversible on a human-relevant time frame, and these emissions of GHGs from permafrost need to be accounted for if we want to meet our global emissions targets,” says Winckelmann.
The challenge is to convince politicians today to act now, in the interests of the future. Pearson and her colleagues are working to have a synthesis of what scientists have found to date accessible to and understandable for the negotiators who will be at COP21 in Paris in December.
In terms of an outcome, she says first of all we need higher ambition now, in the pledges being made by different countries. The lower the temperature rise, the less the risk of further dynamic change processes being set off in the cryosphere. The other key factor is to make sure there is flexibility to up the targets on a regular basis, without being tied to a long negotiating process. The current agreement draft envisages five year reviews.
“There are a number of cryosphere scientists who actually expect these kinds of signals from cryosphere to multiply, and that there may be some dramatic developments just over the next three to five years, that may finally spur some action,” Pearson says.
Here’s hoping the UN negotiators will not wait for further catastrophic evidence before committing to an effective new climate treaty at the end of this year.
This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.
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.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna
July 12. 2015
On Friday, July 10, 2015 – a very timely – at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.
Since the Iran talks are being held in Vienna, the panel discussion was very appropriate and although many people have left the City for the Summer, or at least for the weekend, this round table – and the room were full.
I will try to give a somewhat concise reporting of that event.
The event was called: Iran und der Westen nach den Verhandlungen (Iran and the West after the talks).
The participants were:
Dr. Christian Prosl, Austrian Ambassador to Washingtion 2009-2011
Dr. Walter Posch, Institut für Friedenssicherung und Konfliktforschung an der Landesverteidigungsakademie Wien
( Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Vienna).
Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist, APA (the Austrian Press Agency) and Wiener Zeitung
The excellent moderator was Dr. Werner Fasslabend, President of the Politische Akademie und des AIES, former Austrian Minister for Defense.
Dr. Fasselabend opened the discussion stating that only 99.9% of the talks are completed.
He continued by by displaying historic and current maps of the Region, giving us a broad historic overview of Iran and its influence on the region. He stressed that because of Iran’s geographical location it was and still is a very large regional power and stability in the Middle East without Iran’s cooperation is impossible.
Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist for APA (Austrian Press Agentur) and Wiener Zeitung gave us an inside look from the perspective of the journalists covering the talks.
He recalled that after 17 days, 12-16 hours of work, 600 journalists and at a cost of about $1 million for the stay in Vienna by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his delegation at the famous Imperial Hotel, there is still no deal. There have been many improvements since the beginning of the talks, but still no deal. Mr. Kerry has prolonged his stay yet again and said a deadline will not be a factor as long as an agreement can be achieved. The new deadline to be breached is Monday July 13th.
The three major problems that stand in the way of an agreement are:
1) The sanctions on Iran – the Iranian delegation insists those have to be lifted right away;
2) The UN Arms Embargo that includes conventional weapons;
3) Political readiness by President Obama and Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. Both have to agree to a deal which will be accepted at home.
Dr. Faal said he is an optimist by nature and is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached.
Ambassador Dr. Christian Prosl addressed the matter from the US point of view. He said that for the US the stability of the region and the security of the State of Israel are the main factors and the two problems which the US faces are with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Both countries, though for different reasons, are against any deal with Iran since they do not trust the Iranian regime.
As for the supply of oil, this is not anymore a factor for the US because of the fracking industry. However, the strained relationship between President Obama and the Republican party may be a factor. The Republicans have tried for a long time now to see that President Obama fails, and they may try to fail him also in this endeavor. Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in Congress against the Iran deal, which was prompted by the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boemer, did not help. However Ambassador Prosl said that he cannot imagine that the Republicans will fail the agreement if it is iron clad and the treaty will be safe for the US.
Dr. Posch addressed the matter from the Iranian point of view and concluded that although the problems are being viewed from different perspective, i.e. US, the EU and Iran, the will is there. Regional security, oil supply and human rights in Iran all play a part in the talks. He also was hopeful that a deal will be signed
At the end of the panel presentations, Dr. Fasselabend invited to the podium Dr. Massud Mossaheb, General Secretary of the Austro-Iranian Society in Vienna.
Mr. Mossaheb said that there is mutual mistrust between the West and the Iranian Government.
In spite of the fact that the Iranian nuclear position has not changed in the last 40 years, there is still mistrust. The people of Iran hope for the lifting of the sanctions so they can have a better quality of life. They suffer from high inflation and lack of supplies, especially in medications. Dr. Mossaheb also hopes for a deal to be reached.
As the end, the consensus was that the talks will go on, of course not for ever, but without the threat of an immediate deadline, and an agreement, which will be safe and beneficial for all participants will be reached.
From the US MEDIA – I will add to the above that the personal insistence of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, the opinion is that the White House investment in these talks is so high that a failure to obtain an agreement is unthinkable.
The fact that the Iranians see this deep involvement of the Americans has in itself weakened the position of the United States in these negotiations. But then, the Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei – whose position is still strong as he is still blindly followed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who are in charge of the Nuclear Program – may be using tough talk now just to make sure that his agreeing to an agreement is not viewed as weakness. The Iranian people want an end to the sanctions provided it is not seen as a cave in (the CNN/GPS program of Fareed Zakaria).
The current round, now in its 16-th day, was supposed to conclude on June 30, but was extended until July 7, then July 10 and now July 13. The sides had hoped to seal a deal before the end of Thursday in Washington to avoid delays in implementing their promises.
By missing that target, the U.S. and Iran now have to wait for a 60-day congressional review period during which President Barack Obama can’t waive sanctions on Iran. Had they reached a deal by Thursday, the review would have been only 30 days.
En route to Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday.
Kerry noted that “a few tough things” remain in the way of agreement but added: “We’re getting to some real decisions.”
A senior State Department official also said Sunday that the department will not speculate about the timing of anything during the talks and that key issues remain unresolved.
Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It reported that Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”
His comments suggest Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist whether a deal gets done or not. Khamenei’s comments also have appeared thus to be a blow to U.S. hopes than agreement will lead to improved relations with the country and possible cooperation against Islamic rebels.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, like Kerry, indicated talks could go either way. “We behaved so skillfully that if talks won’t succeed, the world would accept that Iran is for logic and dialogue and never left the negotiating table … and if we succeed by the grace of God, the world will know that the Iranian nation can resolve its problems through logic,” his website quoted him as saying.
The supreme leader’s comments also come after it was learned Saturday that the Islamic Republic’s spies have been seeking atomic and missile technology in neighboring Germany as recently as last month.
Iran’s illegal activities have continued since talks between Iran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as rotating member Germany – began with a Joint Plan of Action in 2013, according to German intelligence sources. The JPOA was intended to stop Iran’s work on a nuclear weapon until a comprehensive agreement is reached.
“You would think that with the negotiations, [Iranian] activities would drop,” a German intelligence source said. “Despite the talks to end Iran’s program, Iran did not make an about-turn.”
With a final agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program set for Monday, the intelligence data from Germany raises disturbing questions about the success of the deal.
Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program over the last two years, according to German intelligence sources. Germany is required to report Iran’s illegal procurement activities to the UN.
Iran is unlikely to begin a substantial rollback of its nuclear program until it gets sanctions relief in return.
But then the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers said they will come to Vienna for the signing of the agreement – and the news are that Mr. Sergei Lavrov has said he will be there on Monday.
An Iranian diplomat said that they have a 100 pages document to study and that logistically it cannot be done by Sunday night with parallel meetings going on.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Kurt Bayer’s Commentary // Global Economic Policy
Blog URL: kurtbayer.wordpress.com
July 11, 2015 · —
Die Eurozone nach “Griechenland”
Die Griechenlandkrise ist eigentlich eine Eurokrise, Griechenland nur eine extreme Ausprägung der Eurokrise.
Damit will ich keinesfalls die “Mitschuld” der griechischen Regierung an der Misere leugnen, jedoch: Die vielen, letztlich oft unnützen Treffen der Eurogruppe und der Staats- und Regierungschefs waren eine massive Verschwendung von karger Zeit der Politikerinnen. Sie zeugen auch von der Hilflosigkeit der Verhandlungsführung. Mehr aber noch zeigen die letzten sechs zermürbenden Monate seit Regierungsantritt von Syriza mehr als deutlich, dass die Eurozone nicht über ausreichende Institutionen zur Führung einer Währungsunion verfügt, und dass ganz offenbar die Ausrichtung der von der Eurozone verfolgten Wirtschaftspolitik falsch ist. Woran man dies sieht? Sieben Jahre nach Ausbruch der Finanzkrise (in den USA) erreicht die Eurozone erst heuer das Wirtschaftsleistungsniveau von 2007, während das Nationalprodukt der USA um 11% über jenem von 2007D liegt. Die Arbeitslosenrate der Eurozone ist in diesem Zeitraum von 7.5% auf 11.2.% gestiegen, die katastrophalen Zahlen der Jugendarbeitslosigkeit (eine politische Zeitbombe) von mehr als 50% in vielen Ländern stellen einen nicht zu überhörenden Weckruf dar – und die Schuldenquote der Euroländer, deren Senkung das erklärte Ziel der Euro-Wirtschaftspolitik ist, ist sogar von 68% des BIP auf 91% angestiegen. Wie viel mehr traurigen Beweises des Fehlschlagens einer Wirtschaftspolitik bedarf es noch?
Zu den institutionellen Mängeln hat kürzlich der Bericht der „5 Präsidenten“ Juncker, Tusk, Dijsselbloom, Draghi, Schulz ec.europa.eu/priorities/economic-…) ausführlich Stellung genommen (siehe dazu in diesem Blog den Beitrag vom 23.6.2015) . Er soll – wenn der Fall Griechenland es zuläßt, im ECOFIN und EU-Gipfel Mitte Juli 2015 erstmals diskutiert werden. Die Präsidenten fordern, dass eine Währungsunion von Ländern mit sehr unterschiedlicher Wirtschaftskraft, innerstaatlichen Institutionen und Geschichte Institutionen benötigt, die das „Europäische“ vor die Einzelinteressen der Mitglieder stellen, um funktionieren zu können. Es braucht neben der bestehenden gemeinsamen Geldpolitik (manifestiert in der Europäischen Zentralbank) viererlei: eine Bankenunion (gemeinsame Aufsicht, gemeinsamer Rettungsfonds, gemeinsame Einlagensicherung), eine Wirtschaftsunion (zur Festlegung eines gemeinsamen Rahmens für die Wirtschaftspolitik), eine Fiskalunion (zur gemeinsam an der Eurozone orientierten Budgetpolitik, zur Verhinderung des destruktiven Steuerwettbewerbs) und, über all diesen stehend, eine Politische Union, die es ermöglicht, im Dialog zwischen europäischen Behörden (Parlament, Kommission, Rat) und nationalen Behörden (Parlamenten, Zivilgesellschaft, Regierungen) gemeinsame europäische Linien zu finden, die breitest in der Bevölkerung unterstützt werden. Nur mit breiter Unterstützung sind die getroffenen Maßnahmen zur klaglosen Funktion der Währungsunion umsetzbar und wirksam.
Die 5 meinen zurecht, dass es all dieser „Unionen“ gemeinsam bedarf, um die Währungsunion zum Funktionieren zu bringen. Es gilt, den Mitgliedsländern der Währungsunion ganz klar zu machen, dass sie mit ihrem Eintritt in diese besondere Art der Währungsunion (die keinen „optimalen Währungsraum“ im Sinne der Wirtschaftstheorie darstellt) eigenstaatliche Souveränität aufgegeben und an die Euro-Organe abgegeben haben. Es geht dann nicht mehr, seine je eigenen Vorstellungen von Wirtschaftspolitik durchzusetzen. Vielmehr muss eine Wirtschaftspolitik für alle Eurozonenteilnehmer, für die Eurozone als Ganzes, gefunden und umgesetzt werden.
Im Inhaltlichen jedoch bleibt der Präsidentenbericht stumm. Er meint, mit der Vervollständigung der angesprochenen „Unionen“ sein Auslangen zu finden. Er sagt nichts zur Ausrichtung der Wirtschaftspolitik. Maggie Thatcher’s TINA („there is no alternative“) gilt nicht für die Richtung der Wirtschaftspolitik, dort gibt es immer Alternativen. Sieht man, dass die bislang verfolgte Richtung versagt hat, dann dann haben verantwortungsbewusste Europapolitikerinnen die Richtung zu ändern und die Fetischisierung der Budgetkonsolidierung („Austerität“) zugunsten einer breit gefächerten Wirtschaftspolitik aufzugeben. Bekämpfung der Arbeitslosigkeit und Armut, nachhaltiges Wirtschaftswachstum, niedrige Inflation und Ausgleich von Leistungsbilanzunterschieden sind mindestens so wichtig wie ein mittelfristig ausgeglichenes Budget. Der weit überwiegende Teil der EU-Wirtschaftspolitik bezieht sich jedoch auf Durchsetzung einer Budgetkonsolidierung. Eine Euro-weite Politik für ein „gutes Leben“ gibt es jedoch nicht.
Es ist höchst an der Zeit, das generelle Versagen der Eurozone einer durchgehenden Neubewertung zu unterziehen, und sowohl die „Geburtsfehler“ als auch die einseitig auf Budgetkonsolidierung ausgerichtete Wirtschaftspolitik zu korrigieren. Die nächste Krise kommt bestimmt. Ohne institutionelle und vor allem auch inhaltliche Neuausrichtung wird die Eurozone sie nicht überstehen!
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The Blog’s topics:topics
Financial Market Regulation
Die Eurozone nach “Griechenland” July 11, 2015
Zeitenwende in der Eurozone July 6, 2015
Europa – Griechenland- Verantwortung June 30, 2015
Wiener Festwochen und mehr June 26, 2015
Institutional Set-up and Conflict Resolution for Socio-Ecological Transition June 25, 2015
Der Bericht der “5 Präsidenten” zur Vollendung der Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion June 23, 2015
Geplänkel ums britische EU-Referendum als Vorboten der Schlacht June 17, 2015
“Generalverdacht” oder Durchbruch für Steuerehrlichkeit? May 26, 2015
Wie nutzt Österreich seine Beteiligungen an internationalen Finanzinstitutionen?- Schlecht May 21, 2015
Georgia on my mind: a tourist’s impression May 21, 2015
Die “Zentralmatura”-Absurdität der österreichischen Bildungsdebatte May 7, 2015
Hypo-Heta: nächster Akt jetzt! April 29, 2015
Form Beats Substance: Media as the Dismal Estate! April 28, 2015
Neue Demokratisierungsvorschläge – das Grünbuch von #besserentscheiden April 18, 2015
Am Golde hängt doch (fast) alles…. April 16, 2015
Hypo-Heta-Deutschland April 9, 2015
Two very different murder stories April 8, 2015
Wienkultur zu Frühlingsbeginn April 3, 2015
Lektionen aus der Griechischen Tragödie March 28, 2015
Kultur am Ende des Winters 2015 March 23, 2015
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
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.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Why is it that just about only two true liberal economists – Nobel Prize Winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugmann – seem to have it right on Greece vs. the German dominance of Europe?
With so much in the media – most of it telling about the writer – not the subject – we did not find it interesting to enter the fray. Looking up the subject in the SustainabiliTank.info memory – we found only one article to-date. It is: the January 26, 2015 article: “Can Bolivia Chart a Sustainable Path Away From Capitalism? Will Greece try to come up with a Pachamama and an ALBA Charge? In this Globalized economy can a State honestly drop out and isolate itself?”
I posted some excerpts of a very interesting and long article I picked up from Truthout – this with my thinking of the latest changes in Greece and wondering if rhetoric is true change – and how can Greece fare in a capitalist world with management outside its borders, but vested interests residing also in the country itself. Will there be a Greek Pachamama in Europe’s future? Will the Tsipris Greece be the Morales of an ALBA Charge of anti-capitalist rhetoric in Europe? The article I was looking at the time did not deal with Greece but with countries in Latin America that did shake off impositions from the globalization of capitalism.
The true problem in Europe seems to be that Ms. Angela Merkel just does not have the knowledge of European history. Having grown up under the Communism of East Germany, then liberated by the reunification process, she transferred the communist zeal into a capitalist zeal that basically says – all is well if you make money of it. What she does not understand is that the First World War caused the Second World War by imposing debt on the losing side Germany, but then after the Second World War, a Democratic Administration in the US, having learned from the previous experience, made sure that the rebirth of Europe, and Germany being a main ingredient of Europe, will be made possible by avoiding the sort of debt situation that the Treaty of Versailles allowed.
Besides finally annulling the German debt from WWI eventually in 1953 the European debtors of a reborn West Germany, including Greece, decided on writing off the major part of the new debt.
Sustainability is thus based on writing off debt, rather then in puritanical insistence on repayment. This is not just a matter of an uninformed Ms. Angela Merkel, but also of a large part of US politics – the present Republican party of all its streams.
We find today that my question of January 2015 is becoming very relevant in the European negotiations of July 2015, and the two above Professors seem to have reached some very similar conclusions. It just makes better sense for Greece to bail out from a system full of directives and regain their independence by printing their own money, and running their own country by themselves – and for themselves.
The problem with all those conservative-puritanical blind a-National capitalism adherents that were trained also in blind Business Administration – they have no feelings for social issues, and the understanding that good income for the lower classes creates the customers for the goods that are produced in the country that finds employment for its citizens. Making profits overseas and not paying taxes at home – just does not lead to sustainability of a Nation.
Providing fake “bail-outs” by providing money to pay for the interest on old loans, is only an illusion of help and leads only to further decline of the debtor Nation. The Greeks were totally right in voting OXI over NAI. Now Ms. Merkel wants to charm them back into submission – but only Debt forgiveness provides a path to a solution.
In absence of such an approach, the Greeks are advised by the above two professors to leave the EURO, create a NEW DRACHMA, devalue it to the point it hurts – but it promisses a better future for their children – something that is in their hands to achieve and not decided for them from outside by a non-Union that only rules but does not tend to their social needs.
We wish the best luck to Prime Minister Tsipras. He already sacrificed his finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and brought in a milder speaking Euclid Tsakalotos, but the EU has not yet reciprocated by retiring Ms. Merkel. What Germany needs is a leader not afraid, or mentally opposed, to tackle their Bank Managers who on their own will never make the needed decisions.
Such decisions will have to be made with SUSTAINABILITY and the social needs of all 29 States of the EU with an eventual push for the creation of a true Union even if it is deemed to base it in a Federal System – something like the USE – the Unitted States of Europe. If not – the EURO has no place in their deliberations, and Tsipras might as well declare his admiration for the Bolivian Morales.
The Official debt of Greece is to:
Germany 68.2 bn EURO
France 43.8 bn
Italy 38.4 bn
Spain 25.0 bn
IMF 21.4 bn
ECB 18.1 bn
US 11.3 bn
UK 10.8 bn
Belgium 7.5 bn
Austria 5.9 bn
Finland 3.7 bn
Of these EU countries, Italy and Spain, are themselves heavily indebted and might very soon be in need of bailouts.