links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
France:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From TRUTHOUT:

In a recent, exclusive interview with Truthout, we asked Noam Chomsky about his take on climate change and the state of the planet. Here’s what he said:

“Every part of [the world] is trying to do something. The United States alone is trying to destroy it, and it’s not just Trump, it’s the whole Republican Party. You just can’t find words for it. And it’s not reported. It’s not discussed.”

From WASHINGTON POST:

Beyond opposing Trump, do Democrats have a message?

Perhaps Democrats thought things would be easier because of Donald Trump’s rocky start. His presidency has produced an outpouring of anger among Democrats, but will that be enough to bring about a change in the party’s fortunes? Some savvy Democratic elected officials doubt it.

By Dan Balz, June 24, 2017

Their anti-Trump fantasies are not working for them. Anger is not a plan or a policy. It only feeds those they already had and does not expand their base. If anything, it further alienates them from voters they need. This is because they not only hate Trump, they also hate those who voted for him. “I hate you because you did not vote for me” is a tough sale.

The loss in last week’s special congressional election in Georgia produced predictable handwringing and finger-pointing inside the Democratic Party. It also raised anew a question that has troubled the party through a period in which they have lost ground political. Simply put: Do Democrats have a message?

Right now, the one discernable message is opposition to President Donald Trump. That might be enough to get through next year’s midterm elections, though some savvy Democratic elected officials doubt it. What’s needed is a message that attracts voters beyond the blue-state base of the party.

The defeat in Georgia came in a district that was always extremely challenging. Nonetheless, the loss touched off a hunt for scapegoats. Some Democrats, predictably, blamed the candidate, Jon Ossoff, for failing to capitalize on a flood of money and energy among party activists motivated to send a message of opposition to the president. He may have had flaws but he and the Democrats turned out lots of voters. There just weren’t enough of them.

Other critics went up the chain of command and leveled their criticism at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. She has held her party together in the House through many difficult fights – ask veterans of the Obama administration – but she also has become a prime target for GOP ad makers as a symbol of the Democrats’ liberal and bicoastal leanings. Pelosi, a fighter, has brushed aside the criticism.

Perhaps Democrats thought things would be easier because of Trump’s rocky start. His presidency has produced an outpouring of anger among Democrats but will that be enough to bring about a change in the party’s fortunes?

History says a president with approval ratings as low as Trump’s usually sustain substantial midterm losses. That could be the case in 2018, particularly if the Republicans end up passing a health care bill that right now is far more unpopular than Obamacare. But Trump has beaten the odds many times in his short political career. What beyond denunciations of the Republicans as heartless will the Democrats have to say to voters?

Though united in vehement opposition to the president, Democrats do not speak with one voice. Fault lines and fissures exist between the ascendant progressive wing at the grassroots and those Democrats who remain more business-friendly. While these differences are not as deep as those seen in Trump’s Republican Party, that hasn’t yet generated a compelling or fresh message to take to voters who aren’t already sold on the party.

Hillary Clinton, whose rhetoric often sounded more poll-tested than authentic, never found that compelling message during her 2016 campaign. She preferred to run a campaign by demonizing Trump and as a result drowned out her economic issues. This was a strategic gamble for which she paid a high price.

The absence of a convincing economic message did not start with Clinton. Former president Barack Obama struggled with the same during his 2012 reelection. He wanted to claim credit for a steady but slow recovery while acknowledging forthrightly the persistent growth that was rising far more rapidly for those at the top. It was a muddle at best, but he was saved the fact that Mitt Romney couldn’t speak to those stressed voters either. In 2016, however, Trump did.

Clinton’s loss forced Democrats to confront their deficiencies among white, working-class voters and the vast areas between the coasts that flipped in Trump’s direction. Their defection from the Democratic Party began well before Trump but until 2016 Democrats thought they could overcome that problem by tapping other voters. Trump showed the limits of that strategy.

The Georgia loss put a focus on a different type of voter, the well-educated suburbanites, particularly those who don’t live in deep blue states. While losing ground among working-class whites, Democrats have been gaining support among white voters with college degrees. Last fall, Clinton advisers believed she would do well enough with those college graduates to overcome projected erosion among those without college educations. She fell short of expectations, however, allowing Trump to prevail in the pivotal Midwest battlegrounds.

The Georgia district had the highest percentage of college graduates of any in the nation. Ossoff tried to win over those suburban voters with a moderate message on economic issues but it wasn’t powerful or persuasive enough to overcome the appeal of the Republican brand in an election in which the GOP made Pelosi-style Democrats a focus. Loyalty to party was strong enough to allow Karen Handel to prevail.

The long-running debate over the Democrats’ message likely will intensify as the party looks to 2018 and especially to 2020. It is a debate that the party needs. Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, writing in the American Prospect, sees a problem that goes beyond white, working-class voters to those within the Democratic base who also were left behind by the post-2008 economic gains. He argues that the part’s problem is with working class voters of all types, not just whites.

Greenberg has long been critical of the tepidness of the party’s economic message and puts some of the blame on Obama. He believes the former president’s economic message in 2012 and 2016 focused on progress in the recovery largely to the exclusion of the widespread pain that still existed. “That mix of heralding ‘progress’ while bailing out those responsible for the crisis and the real crash in incomes for working Americans was a fatal brew for Democrats,” he argues.

For progressives, the answer to this problem is clear: a boldly liberal message that attacks big corporations and Wall Street and calls for a significant increase in government’s role in reducing income and wealth inequality. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. has been aggressive in promoting exactly that, as he did during the 2016 campaign, a big investment in infrastructure, free college tuition at public colleges and universities. He has said he intends to introduce legislation he calls “Medicare for all.”

That kind of message likely will spark more internal debate, particularly among Democrats from swing districts or swing states. It points to one of the biggest challenges Democrats face as they move beyond being the anti-Trump party. That is the question of whether they are prepared to make a robust and appealing case in behalf of government in the face of continuing skepticism among many of the voters they are trying to win over. Trump might not succeed in draining the swamp, but he has tapped into sentiments about Washington that Democrat ignore at their peril.

Nor can Democrats ignore voters’ concerns about immigration. The Democrats’ message on immigration and immigrant rights (and some other cultural issues) plays well in many blue states, but it draws a much more mixed reception in those parts of the country where Trump turned the election in his direction.

In this divided era, it’s easy for either party to look at the other and conclude the opposition is in worse shape. That’s the trap for Democrats right now as they watch Trump struggle in office. But Democrats are in the minority in the House, Senate, governorships and state legislatures. Clinton may have won the popular vote but that proved about as satisfying as coming close while losing last week in Georgia. It’s no substitute for the real thing. If continued frustration with losing doesn’t prompt rethinking about the message, what will?

From OpenDEMOCRACY:

Macron and absolute responsibility
PATRICE DE BEER 23 June 2017
If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out.

French President Emmanuel Macron has won his ambitious and unlikely bet. After having been elected president last May at the age of 39, he now holds an absolute majority in the National Assembly, with 350 seats out of 577 – his own movement, La République En Marche (LREM), having 308 MPs, the rest being held by his centrist MoDem allies.

For a movement created only14 months ago and long considered by pundits and politicians alike as a “bubble”, this is an incredible success. Even if it is less than what the most recent opinion polls had predicted (up to 470 seats), and even though the 57% abstention rate has reached an apex in the history of the Fifth Republic.

Now that he has turned the French party system upside down, he holds all the cards to implement his promised in-depth reform of a paralysed political, economic and social system. This is what most French voters elected him for. He will marginally revamp his government, which includes ministers from left, right and centre alongside personalities from civil society, serving under the conservative 46-year-old Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, before Parliament is due to convene on June 27. Yet he has to move fast on his reforms – first of the labour market, a very divisive one, on which negotiations with unions and employers have already started – knowing by experience as the former adviser and economic minister of the last Socialist president, François Hollande, that delaying crucial decisions means having their positive effects delayed till the end of his five year tenure, if not later. He knows this so well that some of his new bills are already in the pipeline, having even been partly drafted before he took office.

If his predicted triumph has been downsized to an historical success in presiding over the demise of the two parties who ruled France in the last 60 years, it is mostly because of a massive abstention rate. Already noted during the first round, when other parties lost up to 60% of the votes obtained during the April-May presidential election, this conviction on the part of many voters that this is the only election that matters, also afflicted the Macron vote last Sunday. Some of his voters thought there was no point voting again as the dice were cast, others were not so keen to give him too big a majority. At the same time, it looks as if tactical voting from opposition voters, starting with the left and right extremes – France Insoumise (FI or Unsubdued Left) and National Front (FN) – helped defeat some LREM candidates who were ahead on the first round.

Faced by these 350 seats, conservative Républicains and their centrist allies had their worse ever score with 130 seats (against 229 in the last Parliament). Socialists slumped to 30, 10% of their previous score. They are in total disarray, having lost their historical strongholds and some MPs only having survived thanks to Macron’s support for those considered “Macron compatible”, after they voiced support in public for some of his reforms and their willingness to support his government in its first vote of confidence. A split between such recruits and the hard-liners has already occurred in the Republicains, with the same expected to ensue any moment now within the Socialists, all of which should benefit the new President.

Together for the first time, the far left and the far right will play an albeit minor role within a split opposition. FN has now 8 MPs instead of 2, including the election of its leader Ms Marine Le Pen. This is far less than they had hoped for and not enough to form a parliamentary group (a minimum of 15 MPs). The FI, the new populist party led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, has 17 MPs when it previously had none. This will give him a basis to pursue his war against Macron whom he considers as the devil incarnate of the worst type of capitalist and financial system. This is a huge disappointment for a man who still hoped a few weeks ago for a majority in Parliament and who considers Macron’s power as illegitimate because, he says, overlooking the fact that less than 2.5 millions voted for him, that it only represents 7.3 million registered voters out of 47.6 million. The Communists, rejecting fealty to the FI, cling to their 10 MPs. As for the Greens, bitterly torn among themselves, they have gone from 17 to one MP while French ecology icon, Nicolas Hulot, is now number 3 in the Philippe government, in charge of energy transition.

If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out. “Dégagisme” of old politicians, old parties, of the old world, to build a new one made up of several bold promises regularly repeated like mantras by this gifted orator who can hold the attention of large audiences for hours, while sporting his Mao-like jacket. “Dégagisme” for him began with his rivals on the left, starting with the PS whom he vowed to destroy and replace, and with whom he rejected any alliance, even choosing to stand against the local head of the party in Marseilles, and winning.

But it is also clear that a large majority of those who left the PS were from its moderate wing and disillusioned by Hollande as well as by his vociferous minority of hard-liners who took control of a rump party in the presidential primaries – their candidate came out fifth with only 6% of the vote at the presidential election – the rest siding with France Insoumise. So, the main beneficiary of this “dégagisme” against politicians who had been in charge for decades and were held responsible by so many of the French voters, left and right, has been Macron himself. It was they who helped him build his following before he received support from the centre and from part of the right in his “neither left nor right” or “and left and right” strategy.

Absolute majority, absolute responsibility

So the easy part of his job has now been done and a hard task lies ahead. Initially, few people believed he could be elected. Now all of a sudden they expect him to deliver. And fast. To balance his job-creating reforms by loosening up the French labour system with social reforms. To make it easier to lay-off but also to recruit. To improve the living of the less-well-off by simplifying taxes and financing health and unemployment benefits, not from wages but through a higher tax on all income, financial and corporate included, and by removing an obsolete and unjust housing tax for 80% of taxpayers.

The French want things to change for the better but are at the same time afraid of the future. And they are also reluctant to see these changes affect them directly. Difficult people to deal with! But by promoting a more benevolent type of politics, by refusing to countenance verbal abuse against his opponents, asking people in rallies to stop booing them, he has tried to promote a more peaceful atmosphere. This might pacify the political arena for a time but there will be no honeymoon: he will have to deliver.

He has started by building an image of himself as a leader. At home, by not ducking out of talking face to face with strikers fighting against the outsourcing of their jobs; booed at first, he managed at least twice to have a frank discussion with them without making, as he said, promises everyone knew he could not fulfil. Then he did the same in the international world where so many pundits said that he was too young and lacked the international exposure and guts to talk face to face with world leaders, starting with Trump and Putin. But now he will have to dirty his hands with day to day politics.

He will do this with the help of his new majority in an Assembly profoundly affected by another brand of institutional ”dégagisme”. Thanks to a recent bill, no politician can be elected for more than three terms or hold more than one position of responsibility (deputy or senator, mayor, regional counsellor). Macron has also decided to implement strict parity between women and men in his government as among his candidates for Parliament. So the new Assembly will accommodate 432 (75%) new MPs, 223 of them women (160 from LREM) instead of 155. With an average age of 48 years instead of 54 years as before, they are elected under Macron’s name. New in politics but active in business, start-ups, social services, various jobs and professions who will have to learn the tricks of the trade while remaining close to people outside Parliament. Loyal? yes, but hopefully bringing new blood, new ideas, new experience to a political world far too long endogamous and male orientated.

Will they all be up to the task? The fact is that they represent the first revolution – the title of Macron’s last book – to occur in fossilised French politics and a timely chance to bring France back as a European, and world power, thanks to his promised reforms and his pro-European stand at a moment when the EU is not that popular in the Old Continent. Just at the time when the EU’s future is at stake and Britain is starting her long, complex and, probably, bitter divorce proceedings.

As the conservative Le Figaro, criticised by readers for being too accommodating with Macron wrote on Monday, “Absolute majority, absolute responsibility”. And Le Monde’s publisher added, “Rebuild confidence”. A tough programme indeed.

‘It only needs all’: re-reading Dialectic of Enlightenment at 70

MARCEL STOETZLER 24 June 2017

Seventy years ago, Querido Verlag published a densely written book that has become a key title of modern social philosophy. Underneath its pessimistic granite surface a strangely sanguine message awaits us.

How do you make an argument against social domination when the very terms, concepts and languages at your disposal are shaped by, and in turn serve that same social domination? Probably in the way you would light a fire in a wooden stove. How would you write a book about the impossibility of writing just that book? Like a poem about the pointlessness of poems. What if your enemies’ enemies are your own worst enemies? Can you defend liberal society from its fascist enemies when you know it is the wrong state of things? You must, but dialectics may well ‘make cowards of us all’ and spoil our ‘native hue of resolution’.

Dialectic of Enlightenment[1] is a very strange book, and although it was published, in 1947, by the leading publishing house for exiled, German-language anti-fascist literature, the Querido Verlag in Amsterdam, alongside many of the biggest literary names of the time, no-one will have expected that it gradually became one of the classics of modern social philosophy.

It is a book that commits all the sins editors tend to warn against: its chapters are about wildly differing subject matters; the writing is repetitive, circular and fragmented; no argument ever seems exhausted or final and there are no explicitly stated conclusions, and certainly no trace of a policy impact trajectory. Arguments start somewhere, suddenly come to a halt and then move on to something else. If this sounds like the script for a Soviet film from the revolutionary period, then that is not totally coincidental: it is an avant-garde montage film, transcribed into philosophy.

Unsurprisingly, given that it was written during WW2 in American exile and published at the beginning of the Cold War, it does not carry its Marxism on its sleeves, but it gives clear enough hints: in the preface, Horkheimer and Adorno state that the aim of the book is ‘to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism’. This addresses the dialectic referenced in the title of the book. The important bit here is the ‘instead of’: the reality of barbarism was undeniable and clearly visible, but the originality of the formulation lies in its implication that humanity could have been expected to enter ‘a truly human state’ sometime earlier in the twentieth century, leaving behind its not so human state.

The promise of progress towards humanity, held by socialists (and some liberals), blew up in their faces. It would have been easy and straightforward then to write a book arguing against the holding of such hope, but this would not have been a dialectical book; Dialectic of Enlightenment undertakes to rescue this hope by looking at why progress tipped over into its opposite.

Whose barbarism?
A number of propositions have been made, at the time and later, as to who or what is to be blamed for the barbarism. Capitalism was an obvious answer, but then, capitalism does not typically and all the time produce Holocausts (and capitalists could be found among the victims). Others pointed at ‘the Germans’ and their peculiar intellectual and social history; this, too, is neither an entirely wrong nor a quite satisfying answer. Again others pointed at ‘the bureaucracy’ and modern statecraft. These surely played a role but there are plenty of state bureaucracies that do not engage in genocides and world wars, most of the time. Horkheimer and Adorno made a much stranger, more abstract and strangely radical proposition: the barbarism that destroyed civilization was a product of civilization as such. It is civilization’s self-destruction.

The attempt to formulate a theory of barbarism as the product of civilization creates a very thorny problem, though: theorizing, the attempt to bring about enlightenment, is very much the stuff of civilization, as it involves thinking, language, perceptions, concepts, images, ideas, judgements, ‘spirit’ (which in the philosophical tradition Horkheimer and Adorno came from means as much as ‘culture’). Dialectic of Enlightenment blames the destruction of enlightenment on enlightenment, i.e. on itself. The philosopher Jürgen Habermas some decades later cleverly pointed out that this is a bit of a contradiction. That was exactly the point, though: the hint is in the title, in the word ‘Dialectic’.

————————
Title-page of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.
The book’s painful starting point is described in the preface: Horkheimer and Adorno looked for a position from which to confront fascism and found that ‘in reflecting on its own guilt’, thought finds that it lacks a language.

In the name of what exactly is it possible to challenge fascism effectively? In the languages of sociology, psychology, history, philosophy? The discourses of truth, freedom, human rights?

Barbarism… is civilization’s self-destruction.
————————

Here is the rub: in the period in which fascism took power these sounded hollow as they had been stripped of their authority. If this sounds familiar, it is because, almost a century later, we are in a not so different situation. Horkheimer and Adorno state – still in the preface – that fascist demagogues and liberal intellectuals feed off the same (positivist) zeitgeist, marked by the ‘self-destruction of the enlightenment’. Science and scholarship are not potent weapons against fascism anymore, and this even affects tendencies that are opposed to ‘official’, positivistic science.

The basic point here is that scientific, materialist, technological rationality is a force for good only when it is linked to the idealistic notion of general human emancipation, the goal of full rich lives for all, without suffering, exploitation and oppression. (Using a word they had good reasons to avoid, this is what Marx would have called ‘communism’). Only this link gives empirical and rationalist science its truth and significance: enlightenment needs to be ‘transcendental’, i.e. something that points beyond the actually existing reality, not unlike metaphysics in traditional philosophy. It needs to be critical, that is, in opposition to reality as it is.

The principal thesis of the book is that enlightenment purged itself of this connection to society-transcending, non-empirical, critical truth, and as early as on the second page of the preface Horkheimer and Adorno are happy to name the thinker who exemplifies for them this fatal development: Auguste Comte, the founder of positivist philosophy. They assert that in the hostile and brutal conditions of the eighteenth century – the period often described as that of ‘the Enlightenment’ – philosophy had dared to challenge the ‘infamy’ (as Voltaire called it) of the church and the society it helped maintain, while in the aftermath of the French Revolution philosophy switched sides and put itself at the service of the state. This was of course, by now, the modernising state, but still the same state. They write that the Comtean school of positivism – ‘apologists’ of the modern, capitalist society that emerged in the nineteenth century – ‘usurped’ the succession to the genuine Enlighteners, and reconciled philosophy with the forces it previously had opposed, such as the Catholic church.

Horkheimer and Adorno mention in this context the ultra-nationalist organisation Action Française, whose chief ideologist Charles Maurras had been an ardent admirer of Comte. This hint helps understand what kind of historical developments they had on their minds: while Comte himself surely saw himself in good faith as a protagonist of social reform meant to overcome-but-preserve the achievements of the Revolution, and his translation of enlightenment empiricism into the system of ‘positivist philosophy’ as a contribution to the process of modernization, his followers in many ways contributed to the development of the modern authoritarian state and, as in the case of Maurras, proto-fascism.

Dear Reader of SustainabiiTank – if you got up to here and want to read further please find the continuation starting with WATERLOO at the souce:

 www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe…

——————————
About the author
Marcel Stoetzler is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Bangor University, Wales.
He studied at Hamburg University, Germany, and at the Universities of Greenwich and Middlesex (both London). He works on social and political theory, intellectual history and historical sociology, and has lately concentrated on various aspects of modern antisemitism, especially its interconnections with liberalism and nationalism and the emergence of the discipline of sociology. He serves on the editorial board of Patterns of Prejudice and is a fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester.

###

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

June 24, 2017

(MENAFN – AFP) #France is to stop granting new licenses for oil and gas exploration on the mainland and in overseas territories.

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said Friday:
“There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn,” Hulot said on BFMTV.

President Emmanuel Macron said during his election campaign in February that he was opposed to exploration for gas and shale gas in mainland France.

Macron even saide would like to see the exploitation of oil and gas halted altogether in France’s overseas territories, especially in #FrenchGuiana on the northeastern coast of South America.

But Hulot, an environmental campaigner and former TV star before he joined the cabinet last month, said it would currently be impossible to take such a move without triggering lawsuits from energy companies.

MENAFN2306201701430000ID1095575755

###

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


This column is based on sorrow reading of the May 8 issue.

On page A 12 we looked up the article “Israel Presses Trump on Vows” that was a very short reporting from yesterday’s whole day Jerusalem Post Conference at the Times Square Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The problem was not the shortness but the sentence: “The U.S. leader is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe beginning May 19.” By saying Europe rather then Rome or the Vatican – this shows that the reporter hid what went on there or he just did not liste and made it up. At the meeting – several speakers explained that this continuation to Rome was with deep meaning of bringing Christianity into this conflict between Jews and Muslims.

Voodoo Economics was represented under the Opinion page A19 with “Trump’s Tax Plan Would Spur Growth” – A Consumption levy could generate a GDP gain of between 2.5% and 4.5%

A nebulous aim to favor a return to old energy dependence is on same page under the title:
“Remake the Paris Climate Deal to Promote U.S. Energy.” A place at the table would let Trump counter Chinese predation and European unrealism.

The Editorial on page A19 is the least enthusiastic article of Macron’s achievements in yesterday’s France presidential elections. “The French center held barely.
If Mr. Macron fails to deliver faster growth, France may not be so lucky the net time.
The reality just passed the writer – the fact the French did not like to get an American outcome!

Page A9 is even more worrisome – seemingly intentional – with columns: “Macron Clashes With World Rivals” and “Le Pen Grows in Stature.” Really?

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

###

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

The Washington Post – May 8, 2017 – Today’s WorldView: Macron defeated Le Pen in France’s presidential election. Here’s what happens next.

 mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1…

————-

And from: Andy Borowitz, the New York Times best-selling author of “The 50 Funniest American Writers,” and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report, a satirical column on the news, for newyorker.com.

SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT, The New Yorker.
FRENCH ANNOYINGLY RETAIN RIGHT TO CLAIM INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY OVER AMERICANS

 www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-…

——————————————————

From the EUobserver:

ANALYSIS Macron, a new French-European monarch

 euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/1…

TODAYThe new French president mixed republican pomp and European faith in his victory celebration. But to succeed, he will have to start a revolution.

—-

EU relieved by Macron’s win

 euobserver.com/political/137813

TODAYEU leaders saw Macron’s victory as a blow against nationalism and Russian meddling, but one in three French voters still picked the far right.

—-

Macron wins French presidency

 euobserver.com/elections/137812:

The centrist pro-EU candidate easily beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, with 66.06 percent of the vote against 33.94 percent.

————————————————————-

The Trump – Le Pen relationship as per Los Angeles Times.

 www.latimes.com/politics/washingt…

 www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-f…

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

###

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


CLIMATE CHANGE CORPORATIONS – CLIMATE DENIERS

Exxon Knew Everything There Was to Know About Climate Change by the Mid-1980s—and Denied It
And thanks to their willingness to sucker the world, the world is now a chaotic mess.
By Bill McKibben Twitter and THE NATION Magazine – OCTOBER 20, 2015

eading Photo – Oil and gas industry executives testify on Capitol Hill in Washington
Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO and Chairman. (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

A few weeks before the last great international climate conference—2009, in Copenhagen—the e-mail accounts of a few climate scientists were hacked and reviewed for incriminating evidence suggesting that global warming was a charade. Eight separate investigations later concluded that there was literally nothing to “Climategate,” save a few sentences taken completely out of context—but by that time, endless, breathless media accounts about the “scandal” had damaged the prospects for any progress at the conference.

Now, on the eve of the next global gathering in Paris this December, there’s a new scandal. But this one doesn’t come from an anonymous hacker taking a few sentences out of context. This one comes from months of careful reporting by two separate teams, one at the Pulitzer Prize–winning website Inside Climate News, and the other at the Los Angeles Times (with an assist from the Columbia Journalism School). Following separate lines of evidence and document trails, they’ve reached the same bombshell conclusion: ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.

This scandal—traveling under the hashtag #exxonknew—is just beginning to build. The Inside Climate News series of six pieces is set to conclude this week and be published as a book, but the LA Times apparently has far more reporting waiting to be released. Already members of Congress—Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California—and presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have called on the Department of Justice to investigate, comparing it to the predations of the tobacco industry.

Should the DOJ muster its courage to go after this most profitable and connected of companies, the roadmap is already well laid out by the two investigations.

ICN has demonstrated that as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product. By the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.

Exxon’s own climate models predicted—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.

The LA Times reporting is at least as important. It demonstrated that Exxon clearly believed their own climate models and used them to guide their efforts in the newly melting Arctic, where as their senior researcher said “warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.” (Indeed, he added, climate change “can only help lower exploration and development costs,” thus making their bids for Arctic lease rights more profitable).

But though we know now that behind the scenes Exxon understood precisely what was going on, in public they feigned ignorance or worse. CEO Lee Raymond described global warming as “projections are based on completely unproven climate models, or, more often, on sheer speculation,” and insisted—in a key presentation to China’s leading officials in 1997—that the globe was probably cooling.

This scandal will not go away easily. The insider Washington Monthly came out with language as strong as you’re likely to hear:

A fossil fuel company intentionally and knowingly obfuscating research into climate change constitutes criminal negligence and malicious intent at best, and a crime against humanity at worst. The Department of Justice has a moral obligation to prosecute Exxon and its co-conspirators accordingly.


DEMAND A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF EXXON’S CLIMATE CHANGE DECEPTION

And on Sunday the investigation truly came home, when the The Dallas Morning News—read across the oil patch and hometown paper for Exxon—put the ICN investigation on its front page. The whole business angered me so much that I sat down in front of a Mobil gas pump near my home, shutting it down for the few minutes before I was arrested in an effort to draw more attention to the story. (It’s possible that this is the first time anyone’s gone to jail to encourage newspaper readership.)

A few observers, especially on the professionally jaded left, have treated the story as old news—as something that even if we didn’t know, we knew. “Of course they lied,” someone told me. That cynicism, however, serves as the most effective kind of cover for Exxon (right alongside the tired argument that it’s “not the fault of the companies—they’re just meeting demand from all of us”). What’s beginning to sink in is the horrible impact of their lies: Exxon, had its leaders merely stated directly what they knew to be true, could have ended the pretend debate over climate change as early as the 1980s. When scientists like NASA’s Jim Hansen first raised public awareness of climate change, think of what would have happened if Exxon’s CEO had gone to Congress, too, and said that their internal scientific efforts show precisely the same thing. Instead, they funded every climate-denial outfit that asked for cash and worked with veterans of the tobacco wars to help raise the same kind of doubt about climate science.

RELATED ARTICLE

THE GOVERNMENT MAY ALREADY HAVE THE LAW IT NEEDS TO BEAT BIG OIL

Zoë Carpenter
When Hansen testified before a Congressional committee in 1988, the atmospheric level of CO2 was just passing 350 parts per million. Now we’ve gone beyond 400 ppm, we’ve seen the rapid melt of the Arctic, the acidification of the planet’s oceans, and the rapid rise in extreme weather events. (Just lately: “thousand-year-rainfalls” in South Carolina and Southern California so far this month, and now a typhoon dropping a meter or more of rain on the Philippines.) Thanks to Exxon’s willingness to sucker the world, that world is now a chaotic mess. We’ve finally begun to see the rise of a movement large enough to challenge the power of the oil companies, and that means that Paris will come out better than Copenhagen, but the quarter-century wasted will never be made up.

And count on the fossil-fuel industry to continue trying to delay progress and obfuscate reality. Exxon is clearly flustered (its PR guy called the LA Times story “complete bullshit”) but unrepentant. They continue to demand favors from government, most recently a lifting of the longstanding ban on exporting American crude (“The sooner this happens, the better for us,” said Kenneth P. Cohen, Exxon Mobil’s vice president for public and governmental affairs informed The New York Times.) It remains to be seen if the world’s media will overcome their tendency to truckle and give this true scandal anything like the oxygen it poured on those few hapless e-mails.

If they do, then more rapid progress on climate will be possible. The evidence of Exxon’s bad faith is so overpowering that this debacle will only deepen on further investigation; think about what a prosecutor with deposition power could accomplish. If the media and the authorities don’t shirk their jobs, then someday, when the world thinks back on this greatest of crises, those climate scientists whose e-mails were hacked will be remembered as heroes, and Exxon will be the great object lesson for the damage unfettered greed can do.

—————————–
BILL MCKIBBEN TWITTER Bill McKibben is the author of 15 books, most recently Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he is the co-founder of 350.org, the largest global grassroots organizing campaign on climate change.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK TIMES FIRST PAGE SCIENCE

A Dream of Clean Energy at a Very High Price
By HENRY FOUNTAINMARCH 27, 2017

The doughnut-shaped fusion reactor, or tokamak, and other components are kept cool inside one of the world’s largest vacuum chambers.

SAINT-PAUL-LEZ-DURANCE, France — At a dusty construction site here amid the limestone ridges of Provence, workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge.

It looks like the beginnings of a large commercial power plant, but it is not.
The project, called ITER, is an enormous, and enormously complex and costly, physics experiment. But if it succeeds, it could determine the power plants of the future and
make an invaluable contribution to reducing planet-warming emissions.


ITER, short for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (and pronounced EAT-er), is being built to test a long-held dream: that nuclear fusion, the atomic reaction that takes place in the sun and in hydrogen bombs, can be controlled to generate power.

First discussed in 1985 at a United States-Soviet Union summit, the multinational effort, in which the European Union has a 45 percent stake and the United States, Russia, China and three other partners 9 percent each, has long been cited as a crucial step toward a future of near-limitless electric power.

ITER will produce heat, not electricity. But if it works — if it produces more energy than it consumes, which smaller fusion experiments so far have not been able to do — it could lead to plants that generate electricity without the climate-affecting carbon emissions of fossil-fuel plants or most of the hazards of existing nuclear reactors that split atoms rather than join them.


Mimicking the Sun

PLASMA CHAMBER
1 Central magnet induces a current in the plasma, which contains two hydrogen isotopes. Heating begins.

2 External magnets confine plasma as radio waves and microwaves heat it to 150 million degrees Celsius.

3 When plasma is at proper temperature and density, isotopes collide and fuse, releasing high-energy neutrons.

4 Neutrons hit blanket, converting energy into heat. Helium and impurities are removed through diverter at bottom of chamber.

5 In a fusion power plant, the heat would be used to make steam to spin a turbine and generate
electricity.

Success, however, has always seemed just a few decades away for ITER. The project has progressed in fits and starts for years, plagued by design and management problems that have led to long delays and ballooning costs.

ITER is moving ahead now, with a director-general, Bernard Bigot, who took over two years ago after an independent analysis that was highly critical of the project. Dr. Bigot, who previously ran France’s atomic energy agency, has earned high marks for resolving management problems and developing a realistic schedule based more on physics and engineering and less on politics.

“I do believe we are moving at full speed and maybe accelerating,” Dr. Bigot said in an interview.

The site here is now studded with tower cranes as crews work on the concrete structures that will support and surround the heart of the experiment, a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak. This is where the fusion reactions will take place, within a plasma, a roiling cloud of ionized atoms so hot that it can be contained only by extremely strong magnetic fields.

Pieces of the tokamak and other components, including giant superconducting electromagnets and a structure that at approximately 100 feet in diameter and 100 feet tall will be the largest stainless-steel vacuum vessel ever made, are being fabricated in the participating countries. Assembly is set to begin next year in a giant hall erected next to the tokamak site.

At the ITER construction site, immense slabs of concrete lie in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge. Credit ITER Organization

There are major technical hurdles in a project where the manufacturing and construction are on the scale of shipbuilding but the parts need to fit with the precision of a fine watch.

“It’s a challenge,” said Dr. Bigot, who devotes much of his time to issues related to integrating parts from various countries. “We need to be very sensitive about quality.”

Even if the project proceeds smoothly, the goal of “first plasma,” using pure hydrogen that does not undergo fusion, would not be reached for another eight years. A so-called burning plasma, which contains a fraction of an ounce of fusible fuel in the form of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, and can be sustained for perhaps six or seven minutes and release large amounts of energy, would not be achieved until 2035 at the earliest.

That is a half century after the subject of cooperating on a fusion project came up at a meeting in Geneva between President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. A functional commercial fusion power plant would be even further down the road.

“Fusion is very hard,” said Riccardo Betti, a researcher at the University of Rochester who has followed the ITER project for years. “Plasma is not your friend. It tries to do everything it can to really displease you.”

Main Tokamak Components

CENTRAL MAGNET
PLASMA CHAMBER AND DIVERTER (BLUE) TOROIDAL MAGNETS
POLOIDAL MAGNETS

Fusion is also very expensive. ITER estimates the cost of design and construction at about 20 billion euros (currently about $22 billion). But the actual cost of components may be higher in some of the participating countries, like the United States, because of high labor costs. The eventual total United States contribution, which includes an enormous central electromagnet capable, it is said, of lifting an aircraft carrier, has been estimated at about $4 billion.

Despite the recent progress there are still plenty of doubts about ITER, especially in the United States, which left the project for five years at the turn of the century and where funding through the Energy Department has long been a political football.

The department confirmed its support for ITER in a report last year and Congress approved $115 million for it. It is unclear, though, how the project will fare in the Trump administration, which has proposed a cut of roughly 20 percent to the department’s Office of Science, which funds basic research including ITER. (The department also funds another long-troubled fusion project, which uses lasers, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.)

Dr. Bigot met with the new energy secretary, Rick Perry, last week in Washington, and said he found Mr. Perry “very open to listening” about ITER and its long-term goals. “But he has to make some short-term choices” with his budget, Dr. Bigot said.

Energy Department press aides did not respond to requests for comment.

Some in Congress, including Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, while lauding Dr. Bigot’s efforts, argue that the project already consumes too much of the Energy Department’s basic research budget of about $5 billion.

Pillars at the ITER Cryoplant in Provencal; Bernard Bigot, the ITER director-general, previously ran France’s atomic energy agency. Credit ITER Organization
“I remain concerned that continuing to support the ITER project would come at the expense of other Office of Science priorities that the Department of Energy has said are more important — and that I consider more important,” Mr. Alexander said in a statement.

While it is not clear what would happen to the project if the United States withdrew, Dr. Bigot argues that it is in every participating country’s interest to see it through. “You have a chance to know if fusion works or not,” he said. “If you miss this chance, maybe it will never come again.”

But even scientists who support ITER are concerned about the impact it has on other research.

“People around the country who work on projects that are the scientific basis for fusion are worried that they’re in a no-win situation,” said William Dorland, a physicist at the University of Maryland who is chairman of the plasma science committee of the National Academy of Sciences. “If ITER goes forward, it might eat up all the money. If it doesn’t expand and the U.S. pulls out, it may pull down a lot of good science in the downdraft.”

In the ITER tokamak, deuterium and tritium nuclei will fuse to form helium, losing a small amount of mass that is converted into a huge amount of energy. Most of the energy will be carried away by neutrons, which will escape the plasma and strike the walls of the tokamak, producing heat.

In a fusion power plant, that heat would be used to make steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity, much as existing power plants do using other sources of heat, like burning coal. ITER’s heat will be dissipated through cooling towers.

There is no risk of a runaway reaction and meltdown as with nuclear fission and, while radioactive waste is produced, it is not nearly as long-lived as the spent fuel rods and irradiated components of a fission reactor.

To fuse, atomic nuclei must move very fast — they must be extremely hot — to overcome natural repulsive forces and collide. In the sun, the extreme gravitational field does much of the work. Nuclei need to be at a temperature of about 15 million degrees Celsius.

In a tokamak, without such a strong gravitational pull, the atoms need to be about 10 times hotter. So enormous amounts of energy are required to heat the plasma, using pulsating magnetic fields and other sources like microwaves. Just a few feet away, on the other hand, the windings of the superconducting electromagnets need to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. Needless to say, the material and technical challenges are extreme.

Although all fusion reactors to date have produced less energy than they use, physicists are expecting that ITER will benefit from its larger size, and will produce about 10 times more power than it consumes. But they will face many challenges, chief among them developing the ability to prevent instabilities in the edges of the plasma that can damage the experiment.

Even in its early stages of construction, the project seems overwhelmingly complex. Embedded in the concrete surfaces are thousands of steel plates. They seem to be scattered at random throughout the structure, but actually are precisely located. ITER is being built to French nuclear plant standards, which prohibit drilling into concrete. So the plates — eventually about 80,000 of them — are where other components of the structure will be attached as construction progresses.

A mistake or two now could wreak havoc a few years down the road, but Dr. Bigot said that in this and other work on ITER, the key to avoiding errors was taking time.

“People consider that it’s long,” he said, referring to critics of the project timetable. “But if you want full control of quality, you need time.”

Twitter: @henryfountain

RELATED COVERAGE

‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood JAN. 18, 2017

Start-Ups Take On Challenge of Nuclear Fusion OCT. 25, 2015

The Challenge: How to Keep Fusion Going Long Enough MARCH 17, 2014

Giant Laser Complex Makes Fusion Advance, Finally FEB. 12, 2014

———————————————-
A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2017, on Page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Dream Machine.

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

###

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

Summer School of Sustainability Science
Ecole d’été en science de la durabilité

THE GOVERNANCE OF SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
LES SOCIO-ÉCOSYSTÈMES SOUS L’ANGLE DU POLITIQUE :
POUR UNE DISSECTION DU CONCEPT DE GOUVERNANCE

EXPLORING THE LAND-OCEAN CONTINUUM: COASTAL ZONES, RIVER DELTAS, ISLANDS AND WETLANDS
A LA DECOUVERTE DU CONTINUUM TERRE-OCEAN : COTES, DELTAS, ILES ET ZONES HUMIDES

Brest, Brittany, France, 2-7 July 2017
Brest, Bretagne, France, 2-7 juillet 2017

organized jointly by
organisé conjointement par

French Network of LTER Sites
Réseau des Zones Ateliers
Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment
Ecole néerlandaise de recherche pour les sciences socio-économiques et naturelles de l’environnement

in partnership with
en collaboration avec

European University Institute of the Sea of Brest
Institut universitaire européen de la mer de Brest
HABITER Research Laboratory
Equipe d’accueil HABITER
School of Geometers and Topographers of Tours
Ecole supérieure des géomètres et topographes de Tours

The GOSES Summer School is specifically designed not only for doctoral candidates, but also for pre-docs, post-docs, junior and senior scholars, who wish to further explore the governance of socio-ecological systems, discuss cutting-edge research with peers and established scholars alike and develop specific skills such as presenting and discussing their own research, co-writing scientific articles and modeling socio-ecological systems. The language of instruction will be English.

Keywords

Social-Ecological Systems – Ecosystems – Environmental Regions – Governance – Scale – Local – Regional – Global – Sustainability – Integrated Approaches – Diagnostic Frameworks – Boundary Work – Participative Research – Coastal Zones – River Deltas – Islands – Wetlands – Fisheries – Parks – Landscapes – Food Systems – Irrigation Schemes – Aquifers – River Basins – Regional Seas – Oceans – Biodiversity – Endangered Species

Disciplines

Sustainability Science – Environmental Sciences – Ecology – Biology – Sociology – Political Science – International Relations – Management – Economics – Agronomics – Geography – Planning – Law – Philosophy – any discipline related to ecosystems, society, governance and sustainability

Pre-registration

If you are interested in attending, please pre-register to the GOSES Summer School using the link below. Actual inscriptions will be opened approximately three months before the event. Pre-registrations help us plan the event and ensure that all those who are interested in attending are informed as soon as more information is available and inscriptions are open. The deadline for pre-registration is 15 April 2017. Pre-registration must be submitted though the following link:

 enquete.univ-reims.fr/limesurvey/…

This Summer School is part of an Action Nationale de Formation (ANF) of the CNRS. Up to 10 scholarships to cover tuition, travel, board and accommodation will be available for CNRS staff members and up to 5 extra scholarships will be available for scholars affiliated to CNRS mixed research units (UMR). Moreover, at least 5 spots will be reserved for members of SENSE who confirm participation by 31 May 2017. At least 5 spots will be open to external participants. Inscriptions will be on a first come first serve basis, provided certain minimum requirements are met.

Contact:  goses-school at univ-reims.fr

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

###

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

Europe | News Analysis — The New York Times
Trust and Money at Core of Crucial Paris Talks on Climate Change

By CORAL DAVENPORTDEC. 6, 2015

Photo: On Sunday, hundreds of people in Paris formed a message about how to confront climate change.
It shows at Le Bourget a mini-Eifel and the words 100% RENEWARLE
Credit Benoit Tessier/Reuters

LE BOURGET, France — The international climate change negotiations entering their second and final week encompass a vast and complicated array of political, economic and legal questions. But at bottom, the talks boil down to two issues: trust and money.

In this global forum, no one questions the established science that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are warming the planet — or that both developed and developing economies must all eventually lower their greenhouse emissions to stave off a future that could wreak havoc on the world’s safety and economic stability.

In a major breakthrough, 184 governments have already submitted plans detailing how they will cut their domestic emissions after 2020.

Those pledges are expected to make up the core of a new accord, which could be signed next weekend. The agreement is also expected to require countries to return to the table at least once every 10 years with even more stringent emissions reduction pledges.

—————————————————

Laurence Tubiana has applied the full extent of her diplomatic skills to her role in facilitating the Paris climate talks.
At Paris Climate Talks, Top French Envoy Tries to Avoid Mistakes of Past Hosts DEC. 6, 2015

A woman wearing a mask in central Beijing on Monday in the worst recorded smog of the year. Dangerous particulates reached nearly 20 times healthy levels as President Xi Jinping joined other world leaders in Paris for climate change talks.

Sinosphere: The Findings of China’s Climate Change Report NOV. 30, 2015
President Obama with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in Paris on Monday during the climate conference. The two have met six times in 14 months.

Narendra Modi Could Make or Break Obama’s Climate Legacy NOV. 30, 2015
Progress is being made in the use of, from left, wind turbines, solar panels and water treatment to create energy savings. But one energy analyst, Jesse Jenkins, says, “I just don’t see a World War II-style mobilization happening for anything other than a world war.”

Canada’s New Leadership Reverses Course on Climate Change NOV. 26, 2015
————————————————

But can those governments be trusted to do what they say they will do?

That is the crucial question that will determine whether a Paris climate change accord has teeth, or whether it is little more than an expression of good will.

The United States is pushing for aggressive, legally binding provisions that would require governments to monitor, verify and report their emissions reductions to an international body. But many developing nations have balked at such provisions, calling them intrusive and a potential violation of sovereignty.

The issue has emerged as a point of tension between the United States and China, after the two countries last year celebrated a breakthrough on climate policy, announcing a joint plan to reduce their future emissions.

But last month it was discovered that China was burning 17 percent more coal than it had previously reported. That episode highlighted the need for an outside body to verify countries’ emissions reductions, many observers said.

“Transparency is an enormously important part of this,” said Todd Stern, the American climate change negotiator. “One hundred and eighty-four countries have put forth targets. The transparency regime is the thing that will allow everyone to have confidence and trust that other countries are acting. It is at the core of this deal.”

Asked about the issue at a news briefing, the Chinese negotiator Su Wei said simply, “Transparency would be very important to build mutual confidence and trust,” adding, “This is one of the key issues to be resolved.

Mr. Stern said that the United States would like to see the creation of an international body of experts who would monitor and review how countries are following through on their emissions-reduction pledges. That idea has been likened to a climate-change version of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear weapons watchdog.

Another method to verify changes in global emissions could be the use of satellites to monitor tree coverage in countries like Brazil and Indonesia, which have pledged to reduce mass deforestation, a major source of greenhouse gas pollution.

“We have been defending transparency mechanisms provided they are nonintrusive, that the work is done on a cooperative way, and that the required support for the countries to undertake the work is there,” said Antonio Marcondes, the Brazilian climate change envoy. “But intrusiveness is not welcome.”

One difficulty for many countries is that they do not have the basic government accounting resources to track and monitor their industrial carbon pollution.

“We agree in principle,” with the idea of a strong verification regime, said the chief climate negotiator for Indonesia, Rachmat Witoelar. “But there are some prerequisites to that. Some of the countries need technical assistance and capacity assistance to do what is asked.”

Mr. Stern has also supported proposals in which developed nations with strong monitoring and data-crunching agencies would supply expertise to help poor countries create new institutions to measure and track their emissions. It is unclear whether that support would include a fresh allocation of United States taxpayer dollars.

That would be an intensely contentious proposal, coming in the context of the already explosive fight over money.

At the heart of the financial fight is a pledge made in 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that developed countries would mobilize $100 billion annually to help poor countries transform their energy systems from fossil fuel dependency to reliance on clean energy sources, and to adapt to the ravages of climate change.

But rich countries such as the United States have insisted that most of that money come from private investments, rather than taxpayer dollars.

President Obama’s initial pledge of $3 billion in climate finance over three years is already meeting with fierce objections from Congress.

But India has demanded that a final text include legally binding language that would commit the developed world to allocating the money from public funds.

“We will push for an increase in public spending,” said Ajay Mathur, an Indian climate change negotiator. “We want developed countries to provide resources that can help mobilize capital. The amounts that have been pledged are not enough.”

He added: “Finance is the easiest thing. All you have to do is write a check.”

Despite the standoffs, many negotiators and observers here say they are confident that a deal is in sight.

That is in part, they say, because of an optimistic and collegial mood created by the fact that, with the submission of the individual climate pledges, negotiations are further along than they have ever been in the unsuccessful two-decade process to form a climate pact.

There is also a sense of good will toward the French hosts of the summit meeting, in the wake of the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last month. Top French officials have demonstrated an intense emotional commitment toward forging a deal.

In a speech Saturday night to the plenary session, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, clearly emotional, spoke of the urgent need to reach a deal.

“We’re talking about life itself,” he said.

He added, “I intend to muster the experience of my entire life to the service of success for next Friday.”

Given the emotional sensitivity of the moment, and the sympathy toward France, it is unlikely, say experts, that any one country would take action to block a deal entirely.

“I think if a country were to go up against France right now, it would be looked at so badly in the broader global context,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert in climate change negotiations at the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

However, she added, in their efforts to forge a deal no matter what, it is possible that negotiators may water down demands or simply remove crucial elements from the text — weakening the policy outcome in order to end up with a positive political moment.

“Instead of spoilers,” she said, “they could push to make the deal as weak as possible.”

—————————-
Justin Gillis contributed reporting from Paris.

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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


The reality at the Conference is not the search for a magical agreement between all participating Nations – but rather the accountants work to paste together what is being put on the table by many individual Nations. The discussion is thus between the think-tanks that do the calculations – a far cry from what the UN wants you to believe – but then there is only one week left before the truth becomes reality.


Diplomats are trying to agree to a plan to slow global warming.
Chasing a Climate Deal in Paris

With the help of the article by Justin Gillis of The New York Times
Saturday, December 5, 2015
The end of the first week of the COP21 meeting in Paris.

The Photo – A coal-fired steel factory in Hebei, China. Groups at the climate conference in France say that to achieve a goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures, politicians of the future will have to do a lot more on emissions.

Gillis calls this – In War of the Temperatures, a Cease-Fire of Sorts
December 5, 2015

LE BOURGET, France — In the climate deal being put together here, every country gets to decide for itself how ambitious to be about cutting emissions, and how to put its goals into writing.

That means there is no standardization in the national pledges, and adding them all up to see exactly what they might accomplish is no small trick. Still, lots of think tanks have been working at it for weeks, and they have said how much they expect the deal to do for the climate if it is finalized.

The problem is that they do not agree.

Climate Interactive, an American group with ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, projects that by the end of the century, the deal would allow the planet to warm about 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 Fahrenheit) above the level that prevailed before the Industrial Revolution. That is an exceedingly worrisome number that would mean an extensive melting of the polar ice caps and a large rise in sea levels.

A coalition of European think tanks, operating under the name Climate Action Tracker, projects an increase of 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 Fahrenheit) under the deal — still pretty worrisome, but closer to the two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) that countries agreed five years ago would be a climatological red line.

Not surprisingly, the people running the climate conference like the lower number.

In carefully calibrated language, they have said that countries are doing enough at this conference, although they acknowledge that achieving their goals would require further action in coming years.

But if the more pessimistic forecasts are correct, one implication is that climate negotiators might be overestimating how much they have achieved.

What, exactly, is behind the so-called war of the temperatures?

The computer models that the groups are using incorporate pretty similar calculations on how sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gases. On the basic arithmetic of adding up the emissions reductions incorporated into the Paris pledges, the groups get fairly similar numbers.

Other factors are at work, as Kelly Levin and Taryn Fransen of the World Resources Institute explained on the organization’s website. Among the biggest issues dividing the groups are the assumptions they make about what will happen after 2030.

The groups getting low numbers assume that if emissions are falling in 2030 at the rate countries have promised, then that means a sweeping transformation of the energy system will be underway — and emissions will keep falling.

“We have made a call that we want to inform the people here, and the public, of what would be the consequences if this level of effort would be continued,” said Michiel Schaeffer, science director of Climate Analytics, one of the groups involved in the Climate Action Tracker analysis.

That may sound reasonable enough. But recently, experts have been warning about potential dead ends that could cause emissions reductions to stall in the 2030s.

One example would be a decision by the United States to rely too heavily on natural gas to meet its near-term emissions goals. The country might build a lot of gas power plants and pipelines that would still be in use 15 years from now, and which would then be hard to shut down in favor of cleaner technologies.

Groups like Climate Interactive do not want to assume as much about what will happen after 2030. They point out that if emissions are really going to keep falling after that, it will be a result of hard political decisions that have yet to be made. Some of those include costly investments, like improvements in electric cars — or the needed technologies might not be in place by the 2030s.

“It is dangerous for our leaders to count on emissions cuts that have not been pledged as if they will somehow occur automatically when those cuts require tough negotiations, greater funding and technology transfer for developing nations, and big changes in public opinion,” said John D. Sterman, a professor of management at M.I.T. and one of the brains behind Climate Interactive. “Our leaders must not sugar coat the challenge we face just to paint Paris as a success.”

In the war of the temperatures, it turns out the groups have reached a cease-fire.

They have looked at each others’ work and come to a clear understanding of the factors dividing them. They have basically agreed to disagree about what should be reported as the most likely temperature consequence of the Paris deal.

They all agree about one thing, however: They say the deal coming together here is inadequate.

To meet the global community’s stated goal of limiting the temperature increase, the politicians of the future will have to do a lot more on emissions than the ones who turned up in Paris early this week to take credit for helping to save the planet, the groups have said.

###

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


India Unveils Global Solar Alliance of 120 Countries at Paris Climate Summit
.

Narendra Modi announces a new alliance of nations and industry on large-scale expansion of solar energy use in the tropics and beyond.

Reported from Paris by Arthur Neslen / The Guardian
December 4, 2015

India’s prime minister has launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries with the French president, François Hollande, at the Paris COP21 climate summit.


Narendra Modi told a press conference that as fossil fuels put the planet in peril, hopes for future prosperity in the developing world now rest on bold initiatives.


“Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving,” he said. “The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”

Modi described the solar alliance as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun”.

Earlier, France’s climate change ambassador, Laurence Tubiana, had called the group “a true game-changer”.

While signatory nations mostly hail from the tropics, several European countries are also on board with the initiative, including France.

Hollande described the project as climate justice in action, mobilizing public finance from richer states to help deliver universal energy access.

“What we are putting in place is an avant garde of countries that believe in renewable energies,” he told a press conference in Paris. “What we are showing here is an illustration of the future Paris accord, as this initiative gives meaning to sharing technology and mobilizing financial resources in an example of what we wish to do in the course of the climate conference.”


The Indian government is investing an initial $30m (£20m) in setting up the alliance’s headquarters in India. The eventual goal is to raise $400m from membership fees, and international agencies.


Companies involved in the project include Areva, Engie, Enel, HSBC France and Tata Steel.

“It is very, very exciting to see India nailing its colours to the mast and providing leadership on this issue,” said James Watson, the director of SolarPower Europe, which represents the continents’ solar photovoltaic industry. “It will mean more opportunities for solar across the world and that can only be positive for combating climate change.”

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, placed the initiative in the context of the body’s sustainable development goals, particularly a related target, set in 2011, of achieving universal access to sustainable energy by 2030.

India has repeatedly said that it wants to use cheap solar to connect citizens who are currently without access to the electricity grid in remote and rural areas.

“The idea is that larger markets and bigger volumes will lead to lower costs, making it possible to spur demand,” said Ajay Mathur, India’s senior negotiator and spokesperson at the Paris summit.

“This bold effort could bring affordable solar power to tropical villages and communities worldwide,” said Jennifer Morgan, the director of the World Research Institute’s climate programme.

India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to draw 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. The country is projected to be the world’s most populous by then, with 1.45 billion people.

Climate Action Tracker described the promise as being “at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution”, and not consistent with meeting a 2C target.

But some see Modi as a clean energy enabler, having rapidly rolled out more than 900MW of solar energy across Gujaratwhen he was chief minister there.

“India has emerged as the natural leader for this alliance, with its ambitious targets to install 175GW of renewable energy by 2022,” said Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive of the Council for Energy, Environment and Water in India.

Modi’s announcement on Monday comes hot on the heels of a pledge by the US and 18 other countries to provide $20bn for clean energy research by 2020, a doubling of current funding commitments.

————————————————

A separate Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which will act as an investment platform for clean energy projects, is also being launched on Monday by Bill Gates and the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

On Sunday, Dubai announced a Dh100bn ($27bn) programme to make solar panels mandatory for all rooftop buildings by 2030, part of a plan to make the city a global clean energy centre.

Dubai aims to generate 25% of its energy from clean sources by 2030, rising to 75% by 2050.

The Indian initiative, called the International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications (Iasta), aims to spread cheap solar technology across the globe with pooled policy knowledge.

“We share a collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts aimed at reducing the costs of financing and urgent technological deployment for competitive solar facilities throughout our country,” a membership statement by the alliance says.

It adds that the alliance will “pave the way for production technologies and storage of solar energy, adapted to the specific needs of our country”.

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

###

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)

Uri Avnery
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
probably both.

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
other.

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
means.”

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
for).

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
world.

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,
without avail.

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,
psychological.

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
homeland.

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
new Crusaders.

If I were a believer, I would whisper: God forbid.

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

N.B.: My articles can be read
online at:
 zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/chan…
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.

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

Comment:

Jan Lundberg
 www.Sailmed.org
 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,
Jan

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

###

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.

###