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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

United Nations Press Release
 
Small Island Developing States Call for Global Partnerships to Take  Urgent Action on Climate Change.
(New York, 24 February) – Small Island Developing States called for global support for partnerships to take actions that would assist them in building resilience against climate change impacts and achieve sustainable development.
 
Representatives from small islands told  the first preparatory committee for the third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States that just concluded that global action on climate change is essential not only for their sustainable development but also for their survival.
 
“A reality that can no longer be ignored in this process is climate change. The crisis has made realizing our sustainable development more difficult,” said Ambassador of Nauru Marlene Moses, who currently chairs the Alliance of Small Island States.
 
“Extreme weather and ecological degradation erode the economies we depend on for food and survival. In other words, we cannot develop sustainably if we fail to act on climate change and we cannot act on climate change without effective sustainable development. These issues are inextricably linked.”
 
The series of meetings at UN headquarters discussed the main objectives of the Conference, whose theme this year is “sustainable development of small island States through genuine and durable partnerships.”
 
Representatives from small island developing states also emphasized that the Conference, which will be held in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014 {during the UN year of special attention to the SIDS}, should result in a concrete and focused document that could not only benefit small islands, but also inform other processes such as the climate negotiations in Paris in 2015 as well as the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.
 
For their part, China, the European Union, and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to support small island developing states at a regional and national level, as well as develop new partnerships that could evolve into more comprehensive cooperation on global challenges.
 
“The recognition of the extreme vulnerabilities of small island developing states should propel us urgently towards clarity of collective vision and concrete actions,” said the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States Gyan Chandra Acharya. “In doing so, we will be rendering a great service to the global community as whole.
 
“The situation in islands should be an eye-opener for all of us given the severity and multiplicity of the challenges this should lead us to urgent action.”
 
 Conference Secretary-General, Wu Hongbo, encouraged small island developing States to take advantage of this “historic year” for them. In addition to the Conference, 2014 has also been declared the International year of Small Island Developing States with the objective of highlighting these countries’ economic, social and cultural contributions.
 
“The Conference will be a major milestone for small island developing states,” Mr. Wu said. “It will make an important contribution to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. It will also result in tangible outcomes through strengthened and collaborative partnerships between small island developing states and the international community.”
 
For more information on the Conference and the preparatory committee see: sids2014.org
For information on the International Year and ways to get involved visit: www.un.org/islands2014
 
Media contacts: Florencia Soto Nino, sotonino@un.org, 917-367-4833; Melanie Prudhomme, prudhommem@un.org, 917-367-3541, UN Department of Public Information

What is missing from this UN PRESS RELEASE IS THE REALIZATION THAT THE PLIGHT OF THE SIDS IS NOT A MATTER FOR THE SIDS ALONE, BUT IN EFFECT THEY ARE THE PROVERBIAL CANARY IN THE ROOM THAT ITS CONDITION TELLS US ABOUT OUR OWN PLIGHT.

CLIMATE CHANGE DOES NOT ENDANGER JUST THE ISLANDS BUT ALSO THE MOUNTAINS AND HIGHLANDS – THE SHORES AND PLAINS – AND THE SIDS’ PROBLEMS WERE NOT CAUSED BY THEM,  BUT BY US – THOSE UNSCRUPULOUS EMITTERS OF FOSSIL CARBON FROM CHINA,  THE US,  THE EU, and other big-shots called now to participate in “PARTNERSHIPS” without any mention of the need for changes in production and consumption ways of the gluttonous Industrialized – old and new – States.Yes, we were there and attest that speakers did address these issues, but the PRESS RELEASE does not mention those criticisms. Giving money as aid has not washed clean the emitters in the past, and will not do so in the future – only a combined program that reduces emissions by those others – that is the mitigation work on climate change – linked with direct work with the Inhabitants of the SIDS – to help in their Adaptation to the misery that was created already,  can do.

The best we can say about the just concluded preparatory meeting for the Conference that will eventually be held in Apia, Samoa, is that it was a celebration of what those Island States contribute to the World Population at large – so it really is not only their loss from what goes on by our direct loss – beyond the Canary role – that should concern us.

That is why we find those meetings very important and we will continue to watch for signs that the UN talking about SIDS does not come instead of REAL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE BY ALL.

ON THE OTHER HAND – with the UN General Assembly meeting in New York 16-29 September 2014, this means the UN schedule for the second half of September is already taken – the Arctic Circle meeting is scheduled for September 5-7, 2014,  so the Apia , Samoa meeting was set for 1-4 September or as we found in a Samoa posting – ” title=”http://www.sids2014.org” target=”_blank”>, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Samoa

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Global launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States
 
Monday, 24 February
UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
10:00 am

The United Nations will launch the International Year of Small Islands Developing States to celebrate the economic, social and cultural contributions that this group of countries has made to the world, as well as raise awareness of the challenges they face such as climate change and rising sea levels. The Year will highlight the common links between small islands developing States and other countries, and encourage new partnerships to achieve a sustainable future for generations to come.
 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the ceremony along with the President of the General Assembly, John W. Ashe. A promotional video for the Year will be showcased followed by statements from senior representatives of small island developing States. The ceremony will close with cultural performances from each of the three small island regions.
 
WHO:            
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Mr. John W. Ashe, General Assembly President
Mr. Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on the Small Islands Developing States
Mr. Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru
Mr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
Ms. Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados
Mr. Devanand Virahsawmy, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritius
Mr. Warren Chanansigh, Major Groups Representative

Master of Ceremonies: Mr. Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador of Climate Change and Small Island Developing States, Seychelles
 
The event will be webcast live on UN Web TV. webtv.un.org/
For more information see: www.un.org/islands2014
 Hashtag: #islands2014

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THIS IS A VERY UNUSUAL EVENT AT THE UN – A CELEBRATION OF LIFE FOR DIEING STATES – STATES IN DANGER OF SINKING INTO THE RISING SEAS CAUSED BY THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE GLUTTONY FOR FOSSIL FUELS BY OTHER STATES – WE WILL BE THERE TO REPORT ON THIS AND TO WATCH IF THE OTHERS DO SHOW UP AT THE CELEBRATION. 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

15 February 2013

Press Conference held inside the UN with access to the room available only to those the UN calls PRESS, and allows in by means of a stranglehold on the process of Media Accreditation. As such, the many websites belonging to environmental media are not part of this process. No wonder that the outside world is hardly provided information on subjects like this one. Non Member-State government-backed media does not stand a chance under such scrutiny.

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Marshall Islands.

The Security Council should consider climate change as a threat to international peace and security, particularly for such low-lying nations as the Marshall Islands whose “very existence” was at risk, a Government minister from that country said at a Headquarters press conference today.

“This organization [the Council] that we put faith in to provide the security of our country is saying that that is not a security matter,” said Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, as he briefed journalists on today’s so-called “Arria Formula” meeting on security implications of climate change.

Initiated in 1992 by Ambassador Diego Arria, the representative of Venezuela on the Security Council, such informal gatherings do not constitute an activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council.

Mr. deBrum said he had participated as a panelist and reminded the Council that 35 years ago, he had come to the United Nations to petition for the independence of the Marshall Islands.  Between 1976 and 1986, his delegation had annually visited the United Nations.  In 1986, the Security Council finally approved the termination of the trusteeship and the establishment of an independent Government for the Marshall Islands, he added.

“We are very grateful for that, but it is hard to be excited about the independent Government seeking prosperity, progress and good life for its people to be faced with the situation where its very existence is threatened through climate change,” he said.

“It seems ironic that the very same agency whose approval was needed for my country to become a country again would consider my coming back to ask for help […] is not relevant to their work,” he said.  There was no outcome document or a running record from that meeting, but he expected that his appeal had convinced some or more of the participants that climate change “is in fact a security issue, not just an economic/social/political issue”.

When asked which countries opposed treating climate change as the Council’s prerogative, he said China, Russian Federation and Guatemala were among them.  “Surprisingly”, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, of which the Marshall Islands was a member, had taken a position that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was the appropriate venue for deliberations on that issue.  That revealed that “many of our own friends throughout the world do not realize the urgency of the problem,” he said.

Describing the situation, he said rising tides had started severely impacting the islands, with roads inundated every 14 days in keeping with the moon cycle.  In southern parts of the nation, where there used to be a military base in the Second World War, ordnances were being exposed by the tides, presenting a clear danger to the life and welfare of people there.  Even the nation’s capital was required to ration water.  In the northern part, emergency kits for making drinking water were being distributed as well water was inundated with salt.

“It became unsuitable for human consumption, and dangerous even to our staple food and citrus,” he said. He said he was not predicting a looming crisis — it was already happening, affecting not just his own country but also Kiribati, Tuvalu and some of the other low-lying islands of the Pacific.
He hoped that “logic will prevail and people see it as a just cause”.

In September, there will be a Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in his country, he said.  He wished to invite the most significant players in the politics of climate change to visit the Marshall Islands to see the situation first hand.  “We are not just sitting under coconut trees and waiting for coconuts to fall,” he said, stressing the need for proactive measures.

To an inquiry about Palau’s bid to bring the climate change issue before the International Court of Justice as a security and human rights violation, he said it was an interesting effort, but was not moving anywhere.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

“First, the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security to analyze the projected security impacts of climate change so that the Council and Member States can better understand what lies ahead.

“Second, the Secretary-General should assess the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to the likely security impacts of climate change, so that vulnerable countries can be assured that it is up to the task. These two proposals are the absolute minimum necessary to prepare for the greatest threat to international security of our generation.”

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PACIFIC ISLAND STATES CALL FOR UN MEASURES TO HELP COUNTRIES FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

The leaders of three Pacific Island countries called on the United Nations today to take a series of measures to help them and other small island nations combat the effects of climate change.

“Climate change threatens to undo all of our recent development gains if the major biggest polluters continue down the path of business as usual,” Nauru’s President Marcus Stephen told the General Assembly annual general debate.

He stressed that it is essential that the international community recognizes climate change as a peace and security issue, not just an environmental one, and called for further measures to ensure the issue was addressed by the Security Council.

“First, the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security to analyze the projected security impacts of climate change so that the Council and Member States can better understand what lies ahead.

“Second, the Secretary-General should assess the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to the likely security impacts of climate change, so that vulnerable countries can be assured that it is up to the task. These two proposals are the absolute minimum necessary to prepare for the greatest threat to international security of our generation.”

Mr. Stephen also urged Member States to honour their commitments made in existing environmental accords such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Cancún Agreements so that further progress can be made on sustainable development goals.

Micronesian President Emanuel Mori echoed Mr. Stephen’s remarks by saying that a special category for Small Island Developing Countries (SIDS) is imperative if the UN is to improve the lives of people who live in these states.

He also remarked that climate change as a security threat is not new, but should be taken even more seriously now by Member States.

“We cannot help but notice the persistent failure and reluctance by some countries to address the security aspect of climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

“We believe that those who opposed the debate in the Council and those who doubted the security implications of climate change simply ignored the obvious,” he said.

President of Kiribati Anote Tong noted that climate change is a threat that his country faces every day and this will be true for other countries in the future.

“In Kiribati, many young people go to sleep each night fearing what will happen to their homes overnight especially during the high tides,” he said.

“Accelerated and continued erosion of our shorelines is destroying settlements and as I speak some communities are relocating elsewhere on the island. I was glad that the Secretary-General was able to understand and feel for himself the sense of threat which our people and those of similarly vulnerable countries experience on a daily basis,” he said, referring to the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Kiribati earlier this month, which marked the first time ever that a Secretary-General visited the country.

* * *

SURINAME URGES SPEEDY CREATION OF UN-BACKED CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION FUND

Suriname has urged the international community to move quickly to create the United Nations-backed climate change adaptation fund to support vulnerable developing countries that risk losing their peoples’ livelihoods to the effects of climate change.

“Our understanding of the climate change suggests that our planet will undergo considerable changes over the next 50 years, impacting all areas of society,” President Desiré Delano Bouterse told the General Assembly.

“For Suriname and its low-lying coastline, this means a vulnerable exposure to a rising sea level, risking inundation of our fertile soil and fresh water reservoirs.” An estimated 80 per cent of the South American country’s population lives in coastal areas.

The climate change adaptation fund was established by the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries.

Mr. Bouterse also stressed that the upcoming Conference of Parties to UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, must reach concrete agreement on limiting emissions of the harmful greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

“We owe this to our present and future generations. We call upon parties concerned to reach agreement,” he said.

* * *

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Opinion: Polar Race.
Monday 28 July 2008
by: Guy Taillefer, Le Devoir

 www.truthout.org/article/polar-ra…

Guy Taillefer argues in Le Devoir that the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation of the polar depths – that they contain 412 billion barrels of oil, or a third of the planet’s proven reserves – will put additional strain on the already-fragile international understandings with respect to polar sovereignty and development.

The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …”
Four hundred and twelve billion barrels of oil. A third of the planet’s proven reserves. That’s what the depths of the Arctic contain, according to the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation. One may count on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take advantage of the opportunity to reassert Canada’s “unquestionable” sovereignty over the North – and to reduce the debate over the development of the circumpolar world to a war of flags and icebreakers.
Last Wednesday, after four years of research, the US Geological Survey, the American scientific agency specialized in hydrocarbons, delivered the first exhaustive estimate of potential oil and gas situated north of the polar circle: 90 billion barrels of crude, three times as much natural gas, 20 percent of the probable global reserves of liquefied natural gas…. The news is guaranteed to have a strong impact, given the present context of tightening energy supplies, surging prices at the pump, and the extraordinary growth of demand in developing countries. Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts…. If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases.
Moreover, quite by chance, the US Geological Survey estimates were made public one year, almost to the day, after two little Russian sailors dove to a depth of 4,000 meters in the beginning of August 2007 to plant a flag on the North Pole. This striking gesture – without any legal effect, however – relaunched the debate on the subject of sovereignty over the Arctic in great style.

Cut to the quick, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay decreed that the region Russia coveted was “unquestionably” Canadian.
Unquestionably? That remains to be seen. Experts from the UN, guarantors of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, will say between now and 2013 which between Ottawa and Moscow has the better-founded pretensions from a scientific perspective. At the moment, however, it seems that Russia is better placed to prove geologically that the Lomonossov Dorsal, a chain of undersea mountains that cross the Arctic, is the prolongation of the Russian continental plateau, and not of the Canadian plateau.
Politicians, unfortunately, don’t bother much with such scientific details in their communications with the electorate, preferring to play a nationalistic rhetoric that is easily digested. So the bad scenario would be that, in this race for the summit of the world, the sharing of the Arctic will be less the result of a UN judgment and multinational dialogue than of power struggles between the five countries involved – Canada, Russia, the United States, Denmark, and Norway. That scenario is altogether plausible.
“The Canadian Arctic is at the heart of our national identity,” Stephen Harper declared last year. He has announced, among other military measures in the last year, an investment of $7 billion over 25 years for buying naval patrol boats. A depressing prospect: that Canada seeks to take on its northern identity is laudable, that it proposes to get there by emphasizing military defense to the detriment of social, ecological and diplomatic initiatives, is much less so. It is difficult in any case to imagine that pugnacious Prime Minister-President Vladimir Putin will allow himself to be intimidated.
Nonetheless, the Harper way remains very questionable, in that it is a thousand leagues from the Canadian Way – based on dialogue and cooperation. Still, the most recent decades have demonstrated that it’s by balancing its own interests with those of its circumpolar neighbors – and not by sticking out its chest – that Canada has succeeded in preserving its Arctic sovereignty.
Moreover, in order to calm tensions, the five held a big meeting last spring, which ended in the participants’ commitment to settle any litigious question “in an orderly way,” to “strengthen their cooperation based on mutual trust and transparency” and to “assure the protection and preservation of the fragile marine environment of the Arctic Ocean.” Empty phrases? The future will show how these beautiful promises that we’d like to see kept will withstand the lust for 412 billion barrels of oil.
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We posted several days ago: “Reuters Reports That China Is Planting its Flag in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. Actually they started already at least in 2003, so this is not just a reaction to the Russian Flag-posting of August 2007.”

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

So, face up to it – China is also in this game. And why should not Nauru or Grenada also be entiled to some of the profits? if they cannot afford the expense of drilling – bet you Brazil or Japan, even Korea and India, and who knows who else – can!

OK – Now Let Us Sit Down And Talk. For Once We Are Behind China and Expect The Dragon To Stand Its Ground.

a1_072908f.jpg
The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …” (Photo: NASA GSFC Direct Readout Laboratory / Allen Lunsford).

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Back from the Bangkok meeting, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be passing through New York on Thursday April 10, 2008.

He will be summing up before the ten members of world media, a fracture of the 90 members of the UN Correspondence Association, that will be present in the building at that time, the outcomes of last week’s United Nations Climate Change Talks in Bangkok, the first major UN climate change meeting this year.

The Press Briefing will be held in room S-226 at the UN headquarters in New York – the second floor, the UN Secretariat Building where floors 2-4 are partly turned over to the press accredited with the UN.   The briefing will take place on: Thursday,   April 10, 2008, at 12:30 p.m.
In Bangkok, delegates from 162 countries gathered to map out their work programme leading to a long-term international climate change agreement in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. The Bangkok meeting had its hot and cold times; the opinions about the results verry vary. The UN declared roses, but others see only positioning towards the precipice. We trust that Mr. de Boer wants to present his point of view, and he needs thus more attention then the dried up UN press corps is allowed to provide him with.
The briefing will be webcast and in Manhattan you can watch it on UNTV, Channel 78.

Mr. de Boer is also available for interviews and media opportunities – the problem is that the UN Department of Information Control allows him to do all of this only in relation to those the Department selected for accreditation to the UN. We know that Mr. de Boer, in order to succeed in his job, must have wider access to the public. The fact that UNFCCC will allow for a webcast, and UNTV, unless it cuts of the program because of some activity at the UN Security Council that is deemed by DPI as more important – is also a possibility for some to get his input. But this does not make for a vibrant press coverage. Media is about asking questions – not just a conduit of information from the UN tub to the gasping mouth of the uninformed. Our website is full of examples of what I am talking here about. The last time we wrote about this it was in the context of the Japanese preparations for media contact at this year’s upcoming G8, that by the way, will have a lot to do also with our interest in climate change policy.

In short – what Mr. de Boer needs to do is to have a press conference also outside the UN confines – a place where every correspondent active in New York, every blogger interested in the subject, can come – listen, ask, be informed, and tell then his readers, listeners, watchers – this because the subject of climate change is of interest not just to the governing elites of 192 UN Member Governments, but to every Joe and Jane who will be in the end those that pay for inaction of the few – and watch what I am saying – it is these folks that need the information in order to help them impact policy.

Just watch this simple fact: The New York Times has an excellent experienced scientist/blogger – Andy Revkin – who covers climate change. But when there will be the April 10th briefing, Mr. de Boer will be lucky to see in the room Mr. Warren Hoge, who has the regular UN beat for the paper. Andy willl not be there, because he is not the regular NYT UN accredited reporter. So the readers of the NYT will at best find a note that Mr. Boer made a presentation in New York, and they will have lost the chance to find out what could have been a news breaking answer to a good question from Andy. Needless to say that less famous bloggers have no back up whatsoever – and today news are spread by the blogs!
Background:
At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year, countries agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to an agreement on long-term cooperative action. They decided on the ambitious time-line to conclude negotiations by the end of 2009 and identified the main elements for discussion, including a shared-long term vision and enhanced action on adaptation, mitigation, technology and finance. The new working group that was mandated in Bali to lead the work has met in Bangkok for the first time with the intention of spelling out the steps needed to come to the envisaged agreement.

Furthermore, talks in Bangkok advanced work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met.   This work was taken up by an already existing working group in which discussions take place on further commitments for Annex I countries under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Problem is how and when will the developing countries join above effort. Clearly, they cannot be asked to carry the brunt of the responsibility even though they are the growing new polluters on the bloc. On the other hand, governments like the US, Japan, Germany, these days say that there is a need to expand the responsibility also to the major economies of the front-runners among the now developing countries – China, India, Brazil. But what about the Small Island States, The Least Developed States, the Naurus and Bangladesh of this world? They stood up to speak for themselves at Bangkok because of the long existing truth that the G77 does not back their needs. After all, it is not the economic loss of the oil exporters that the submerging islands should be asked to worry about.

Bubbles float all over the UN – plain talk is what is needed. I know that Mr. de Boer knows that and we want the opportunity to ask him direct questions that are not monitored by the UN Secretariat political appointees.Will Mr. de Boer stand up to this challenge and have please a press briefing outside the UN?

How does Mr. de Boer expect to handle in December 2008, at this Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC and the meeting of the members to the Kyoto Protocol, when in November there was a Presidential election in the US   and the man in the White House has really just a few more days – not the years needed for him to be a serious player in the negotiations?

Above is a question that will not be asked at the UN – But for the Planet’s sake – there must be somewhere space to allow such a question – or really lots of travel just produces lots of emissions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Drama and tears before Bali deal was struck.

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor,Telegraph.co.uk from Bali
Last Updated: 4:01pm GMT 15/12/2007

An extraordinary day began with a fresh text of the Bali “road map” which Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, as president of the conference, presented to delegates saying a “delicate balance” had been achieved.

India’s ambassador immediately made clear that he was not prepared to go along without it being made clear that there was responsibility of industrialised nations to supply developing countries with clean technologies, finance and support to deal with them problem “in a measurable manner.”

The crucial part of the agreement for developing countries had been rewritten overnight in a way that G77 countries said made it unclear that the supply of finance and clean technology, such as clean coal plants, had to be measurable reportable and verifiable.

China piled in, then Pakistan, and it became clear that this was a full scale row.

The conference was stopped, then restarted by Mr Witoelar, leading to wild accusations by China that the UN’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, had allowed it to re-start while negotiations, chaired by the Indonesian foreign minister, were still continuing.

This Mr de Boer, in tears after two nights without sleep, later denied, to supportive applause.
Then Mr Witoelar called for another break in which he summoned the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and the Indonesian President Yudhoyono, to read the riot act to delegates and break the deadlock.

Mr Yudhoyono urged the conference not to allow “the planet to crumble because we can’t find the right wording.”

Mr Ban said he was “disappointed at the lack of progress” and pointed out the conference was already due to have ended five hours earlier. This was at 1.20 pm local time.


The conference reconvened. South Africa made an emotional appeal for the Americans to reconsider their statement – and was supported by delegation after delegation from the developing world while Miss Dobriansky and James Connaughton, President Bush’s climate change adviser, talked increasingly animatedly off-microphone.

The killer blow came from the Harvard-educated representative of Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad, who used Mr Connaughton’s diplomatic gaffe of earlier in the week to humiliate the Americans.

Mr Connaughton had said: “We will lead. We will continue to lead but leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow.” Mr Conrad said, to applause: “If you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way.”

Miss Dobriansky finally pressed her button to speak again and said: “We will go forward and join the consensus.”

After cheers and diplomatic congratulations, the president of the conference assessed that “we are very, very close”, then banged his gavel down on India’s proposal to mark that a consensus had been achieved.

——————————-
Bali Climate Plan Leads to Washington.

By Charles J. Hanley, AP Special Correspondent Published on Guardian.co.UK, Saturday December 15, 2007 7:31 AM.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) – The “Bali Roadmap” for new climate negotiations leads to one address and one date: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and Jan. 20, 2009.

That’s when a new occupant of the White House will be sworn into office, and when a fresh U.S. team, with what many expect to be a new attitude, will take up the negotiating mandate issued here Saturday at the end of the two-week U.N. climate conference.

For seven years, these annual sessions have witnessed a long-running diplomatic feud between the Bush administration, deadset against international obligations for industrial nations to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, and most of the rest of the world, which favors them.

The faceoff played out again in Bali this past week, when the U.S. delegation blocked an effort to insert an ambitious negotiating goal for the next two years – emissions cuts of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

It was a repeat of what has happened consistently since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandated relatively small reductions but was rejected by the U.S.

Time now may be on the side of emission cuts proponents.

From California to New England, U.S. state governments are enacting their own mandatory caps on carbon dioxide and other industrial and transportation gases blamed for global warming. Scores of U.S. cities have adopted Kyoto-style targets, trimming emissions via “green” building codes, conversion of municipal fleets to hybrid vehicles, energy-saving lighting and other measures.

Judging from recent opinion polls, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the southeastern U.S. drought and the California wildfires apparently are awakening more and more Americans to the potential perils of climate change.

“The majority of the United States is with you,” California’s environment secretary, Linda Adams, told the hundreds of Bali conference delegates last week. “We know that climate change affects all of us.”

In Washington, too, there’s movement after years of inaction. A Senate committee has approved the first legislation mandating caps on greenhouse gases and sent it to the full Senate.

“What you see is a new direction coming,” said David Doniger, a veteran climate policy analyst with the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council. “And this new direction is a very clear indication of where our policy is going in the future.”

That policy will be set primarily by the new president, and the Democratic presidential candidates and at least two of the Republicans – Arizona’s Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – have endorsed mandatory emissions caps.

To many at Bali, the U.S. election calendar dominates the climate calendar. Even the diplomatically cautious and precise Yvo de Boer, U.N. climate chief, managed to hint that delegates should bide their time in the coming 2008-2009 negotiations.

“I really hope that that is a discussion” – about emissions reduction levels – “taken up toward the end of that two-year debate,” he told reporters.

But decisive U.S. action, even after Bush, is far from assured.

“The real problem is Congress,” Michael R. Bloomberg, New York’s climate-activist mayor, told a Bali gathering this past week. “They’re unwilling to face any issue that has costs or antagonizes any group of voters.” In fact, the emissions-caps bill may face trouble in the full Senate.

Even swift action may come too late for some.

Rising seas, expanding from warmth and from the runoff of melted land ice, are encroaching on low-lying island states, especially in the western Pacific. In these islanders’ minds, the roadmaps and new directions were needed a decade or more ago.

“We are very concerned that there is so little progress,” Kete Ioane, environment minister of the Cook Islands, told the Bali assembly days ago. “We are merely asking for our survival, nothing more, nothing less.”

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Climate Plan Looks Beyond Bush’s Tenure.
By THOMAS FULLER and ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: December 16, 2007

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — The world’s faltering effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions got a new lease on life on Saturday, as delegates from 187 countries agreed to negotiate a new accord over the next two years — pushing the crucial debates about United States participation into the administration of a new American president.

Many officials and environmental campaigners said American negotiators had remained obstructionist until the final hour of the two-week convention and had changed their stance only after public rebukes that included boos and hisses from other delegates.

The resulting “Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago.

“The next presidential election takes place at the halfway point in these treaty talks,” David D. Doniger, who directs climate policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council and served in the Clinton administration, said on his Web log on Saturday. “So the U.S. will field a new team in the second half. And there are good odds that the next president will get serious on global warming.”

But the White House, while calling the negotiating plan “quite positive” in a printed statement, said the problem lay elsewhere. It described “serious concerns” about the limited steps taken by emerging economic powers.

Without citing China and India by name, it clearly singled them out, saying: “The negotiations must proceed on the view that the problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone. Major developing economies must likewise act.”

In the talks, China and other emerging powers did inch forward, agreeing for the first time to seek ways to make “measurable, reportable and verifiable” emissions cuts. But those countries showed no signs of agreeing to any mandatory restrictions any time soon, saying their priority remained growing out of poverty.

The finish to the negotiations came after a last-minute standoff in the public plenary at the end of a day of high emotions, with the co-organizer of the conference, Yvo de Boer, fleeing the podium at one point as he held back tears.

The standoff started when developing countries demanded that the United States agree that the eventual pact measure not only poorer countries’ steps, but also the effectiveness of financial and technological assistance from wealthier ones.

The United States capitulated in that open session, which many observers and delegates said included more public acrimony than any of the treaty conferences since the 1992 framework.

The concession, though, came after a more profound shift by the Bush administration, which agreed during the two-week conference to pursue a new pact fulfilling the unmet goals of the original treaty; the pact would take effect in 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

While many observers described the United States change as a U-turn, it was the culmination of months of movement by the Bush administration, which had for years insisted that the 1992 treaty was enough to avoid dangerous human interference with the climate.

In 2005 talks in Montreal, for example, the American negotiating team walked out of one session, rejecting any talk of formal negotiations to improve on that pact.

Since then, the Bush administration has been confronted by new scientific data on climate change and by growing political pressure both internationally and domestically.

Still, while accepting on Saturday the need for a new agreement, the United States retained the flexibility that it had sought at the outset, fending off European attempts to set binding commitments on emission reductions. American negotiators said that was vital to gain global consensus.

The targets sought by Europe and others remain in the action plan — including the need for rich countries to cut emissions by 2020 up to 40 percent below 1990 levels, and a 50 percent cut in emissions globally by 2050. But they are now a footnote to the nonbinding preamble, not a main feature of the plan.

Andrew Light, an expert on environmental ethics at the University of Washington who was in Bali, criticized the Bush administration for insisting on those targets being sidelined, saying the United States had, in essence, rejected the foreboding climate projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which it had repeatedly praised in recent weeks.

“We could have moved on from here with a confident range of future cuts,” Mr. Light said. “Instead we have to move on with the same continued uncertainty. At the beginning of the week I was really heartened by the public praise the U.S. delegation was giving to the I.P.C.C. and now I can’t help but think, was it all lip service?”

Some environmental groups criticized Europe for not sticking to its guns. But it appeared that, in the end, the Europeans followed a path recommended in a speech last Monday by former Vice President Al Gore, fresh from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

He advised Bali negotiators to look beyond the Bush administration, whose tenure ends in one year.

Beyond the histrionics and the politics, there were deeper reasons for the continuing clashes: in particular, the huge wave of industrialization and economic growth sweeping Asia.

The United States and Europe were largely responsible for taking the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted by the burning of fossil fuels, to its current concentration of 380 parts per million from 280, a level which, until the industrial revolution, was not exceeded in at least 650,000 years.

But the growth in emissions for decades to come will largely be driven by developing countries, where some two billion people still cook on firewood or dung and crave the comforts and prosperity that come with abundant energy.

According to a recent analysis led by economists at the Electric Power Research Institute, if rich and poor countries do not together divert from “business as usual,” the concentration by 2040 could exceed 450 parts per million, a threshold that many scientists say could set in motion harmful changes for centuries to come.

Europe prevailed over the United States in one area, insisting that the next two years of talks proceed on two tracks: one for those countries, including the United States, not committing to mandatory limits, and a second building on the Kyoto Procotol, the 1997 update to the original treaty that requires emissions reductions in 36 major industrialized nations, but has been rejected by the United States.

The United States team in Bali had fought against that, demanding that a new agreement encompass the world’s major polluters and have sufficient flexibility, and no hard targets, to do that.

But in the end the United States had to agree to two tracks to avoid a total breakdown of the talks.

That is important, environmental campaigners said, because it guarantees work toward new mandatory gas restrictions in 2012, when the limits under the current Kyoto accord expire.

It also sustains a mechanism that, in theory, the United States could join under a new administration — if Congress becomes less insistent that the biggest developing countries move in lockstep.

That demand is reflected in some language in the current climate bill moving forward in the Senate, which demands “comparable” action from such countries.

There were many moments of drama and theater in the negotiations, at a resort complex on the southern tip of Bali, involving 11,000 officials, environmentalists, industry lobbyists and journalists. But nothing else matched the point on Saturday, in the final tumultuous plenary, when the American team was booed for trying to block a proposal by India.

Kevin Conrad, the negotiator from Papua New Guinea, rebuked the American delegation. “If for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us,” he said. “Please, get out of the way.”

He was alluding to remarks made by an American official, James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, last week to a Reuters reporter, who quoted him as saying, “The U.S. will lead, and we will continue to lead, but leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow.”

That statement had become a sore point to many delegations.

A few more statements were made, but none of America’s traditional allies came to its defense.

Finally, Paula Dobriansky, the lead American negotiator, spoke.

“We came here to Bali because we want to go forward as part of a new framework,” said Ms. Dobriansky, the under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs. “We believe we have a shared vision and we want to move that forward. We want a success here in Bali. We will go forward and join consensus.”

The delegates erupted in lengthy applause, realizing that a deal was finally at hand.

Thomas Fuller reported from Nusa Dua, and Andrew C. Revkin from New York. Peter Gelling contributed reporting from Nusa Dua.

Related
Dot Earth: Move Over Kyoto — Here Comes a ‘Copenhagen Protocol’ (December 15, 2007)
TierneyLab: Contrarians vs. Bali (December 14, 2007)

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The World – As China Goes, So Goes Global Warming.

By ANDREW C. REVKIN, The New York Times, December 16, 2007.
GIVEN the accelerated melting these days in Greenland, it’s probably no longer appropriate to use the adjective “glacial” to describe treaty negotiations aimed at curbing dangerous human interference with the climate.

{Dot Earth – A New York Times blog about climate change, the environment and sustainability. Join the discussion. Comment on this article at Dot Earth }

The talks in Bali over the last two weeks were just the latest baby step in trying to make that happen. The Bali achievement? Two more years of talks. In the meantime, concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main climate-heating emission, continue the climb that began 250 years ago, as industrialization surged on a diet of fossil fuels.

So, presuming the industrialized and industrializing nations are serious, who or what can realistically turn the carbon tide?

As always, the fingers of many experts on energy and the environment point both west and east — to the United States and China.

The established superpower arose riding a wave of fossil-fueled prosperity. The emerging one, sitting on a wealth of coal, sees few reasons not to follow suit; after all, it has only just caught its wave (with India and others in hot pursuit).

Yet the tide can only be turned, a host of scientists and economists with varied perspectives agree, if China and other rising powers like India speed through the familiar path in nation building — resource extraction, industrial and economic growth, accompanying despoliation, and then environmental restoration and protection. If they don’t, their emissions will eventually swamp all other sources, according to many analyses.

Richard Richels, an economist at the Electric Power Research Institute, helped produce an ominous forecast: even if the established industrial powers turned off every power plant and car right now, unless there are changes in policy in poorer countries the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could still reach 450 parts per million — a level deemed unacceptably dangerous by many scientists — by 2070. (If no one does anything, that threshold is reached in 2040.)

Libertarians say that once countries get rich, they’ll do the right thing for the climate. But critics of this view say the long life of carbon dioxide (and of sources like the coal-burning plants China is building at the rate of one a week) mean that waiting just compounds the problem beyond fixing.

Theories abound over how best to help China embrace emissions-reducing policies. One way, many scientists and scholars say, is to make nonpolluting energy sources cheaper than the unfettered burning of abundant fossil fuels. Right now they are far more expensive.

That is why several dozen top-flight climate and energy experts sent a letter this month to members of Congress and the presidential candidates seeking a tenfold rise in the federal budget for energy research, now about $3 billion a year.

Some economists say the only thing that will speed the change is money, whether it is called aid, technology assistance, or something else.

Representatives of developing countries have long made this point, noting that the established powers spent a century building the greenhouse-gas blanket. Speaking in Bali, Munir Akram, Pakistan’s United Nations ambassador, said: “What we have to do is to find a way to reduce emissions by those who can afford to reduce emissions.”

But there are plenty of doubts about the willingness of Congress, particularly, to pay emerging economic competitors.

Some experts see the best prospects for change coming from the ground up, pointing to efforts like MetroBus, a program involving the World Resources Institute that greatly expanded the use of mass transit in Mexico City.

BinBin Jiang, a research associate in energy and development at Stanford University, sees similar opportunities in creating an efficient infrastructure for China’s exploding midsize cities. “That’s where you determine if you are going to leapfrog or go along the old Western path,” she said.

But Ms. Jiang also stressed that meaningful change in energy and climate policy within the United States was critical, too. “China is clearly responsible for the largest wedge of emissions in the future, but the United States is still the biggest roadblock,” she said. “The U.S. is not going to be influential by telling China what to do. It has to lead by example.”

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ECONOMIC VIEW – A Carbon Cap That Starts in Washington.

By JUDITH CHEVALIER, The New York Times, December 16, 2007.


THE United Nations conference on climate change wrapped up in Bali, Indonesia, last week without a firm commitment from the United States or China to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. While a binding global agreement would be the best way to cut back on those emissions, a more limited but still useful approach is available, and it is wending its way through Congress.

In its current version, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, as the bill is known, would cap American carbon consumption through a tradeable permit plan. Even among those who support tradeable permits, there is considerable debate about what level of emissions reductions is realistic. Critics also object that it would damage American competitiveness to commit to domestic reductions without parallel commitments from developing-country trade partners like China.

But instead of using Chinese inaction as an excuse to avoid dealing with the problem, we should consider why emissions from China are soaring. There are numerous factors, all stemming from China’s rapid economic development. Yet one of the biggest is the enormous increase in China’s production of manufactured goods for export. Indeed, a study by the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in Britain estimated that in 2004, net exports accounted for 23 percent of Chinese greenhouse gas emissions.

We know where most of those Chinese exports are headed — to developed countries, like the United States, which accounts for about a quarter of them. A rough calculation suggests that almost 6 percent of Chinese carbon emissions are generated in the production of goods consumed here. That is the rough equivalent of the total emissions produced by Australia or France.

The Tyndall Center argues that carbon reduction policies should focus on carbon consumption, not emissions. That makes sense, especially in the absence of a binding global agreement.

One goal of a tradeable permit system is to force consumer prices for goods to reflect the harm that the production of those goods causes the planet. For example, if a television were made using a high-emission process, the factory would have to buy many carbon permits, driving up the TV’s price. A television made in a low-emission factory would require fewer permits, lowering its relative price. Consumers, of course, would have an incentive to choose the TV from the low-emission factory, and all factories would have an incentive to lower emissions.

A problem would arise, however, if a producer needed to buy permits to make televisions in a country with a carbon cap, while no permits were required in a country without a cap. The television from the country without the cap would be cheaper, consumers would prefer it, and there would be no economic incentive to cut emissions. Environmentalists call this the “leakage problem”: just as a balloon squeezed at one end will bulge at the other, emissions caps applied in only some economies will lead to emissions surges in others.

A provision in the current version of the Climate Security Act links responsibility to carbon consumption, not production. This idea derives from a joint proposal by the American Electric Power Company and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The provision requires that importers of goods from countries without carbon caps obtain permits for the emissions resulting from the goods’ production. While this requirement could be used to protect American jobs from foreign competition, if handled equitably, it could provide an elegant solution to the leakage problem.

If the United States adopted a tradable permit system that treated emissions from domestic producers identically to emissions associated with imported goods, then products that are more emissions-intensive, whether domestic or imported, would require more permits and thus be more expensive. Producers in the United States and abroad would have an incentive to reduce greenhouse gases to make their goods more competitive.

Of course, such a plan would have an immediate cost for Chinese producers and American consumers. Chinese production methods are now much more carbon-emission-intensive than American methods, so the plan would probably raise the average price of Chinese imports. The alternative, however, is to try to force the Chinese to adopt binding carbon caps similar to those considered in the United States. But that would also raise the Chinese imports’ price. Moreover, Chinese adoption of carbon caps would apply to the whole economy and would be much more costly for China; an American carbon consumption permit system would shield the Chinese domestic sector.

“The best policy — both in terms of the environment and in terms of economic theory — would be to have all countries take on binding emissions caps under an international agreement,” said Nathaniel Keohane, director of economic policy and analysis at Environmental Defense, a nonprofit advocacy group. “But we have to recognize that’s not going to happen overnight.” In the meantime, he said, the United States and other developed countries “need to take the lead.” He called carbon consumption caps “a good first step.”

“FROM an environmental point of view,” Mr. Keohane said, “it would ensure that the pollution we cut here at home doesn’t simply end up coming out of a smokestack somewhere else. It levels the playing field for American companies in the global economy. And it also helps us move toward a truly international system, by providing an incentive for developing countries to take on binding caps of their own.”

The carbon consumption provision will face scrutiny under current trade agreements, but there is sound logic for including it in any emissions legislation. Most important, it would eliminate an excuse for doing nothing.

Judith Chevalier is a professor of economics and finance at the Yale School of Management.

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OP-ED COLUMNIST   – It’s Too Late for Later.

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, Bali, Indonesia, December 16, 2007.

The negotiators at the United Nations climate conference here in Bali came from almost 200 countries and spoke almost as many languages, but driving them all to find a better way to address climate change was one widely shared, if unspoken, sentiment: that “later” is over for our generation.

“Later” was a luxury for previous generations and civilizations. It meant that you could paint the same landscape, see the same animals, eat the same fruit, climb the same trees, fish the same rivers, enjoy the same weather or rescue the same endangered species that you did when you were a kid — but just do it later, whenever you got around to it.

If there is one change in global consciousness that seems to have settled in over just the past couple of years, it is the notion that later is over. Later is no longer when you get to do all those same things — just on your time schedule. Later is now when they’re gone — when you won’t get to do any of them ever again, unless there is some radical collective action to mitigate climate change, and maybe even if there is.

There are many reasons that later is over. The fact that global warming is now having such an observable effect on pillars of our ecosystem — like the frozen sea ice within the Arctic Circle, which a new study says could disappear entirely during summers by 2040 — is certainly one big factor. But the other is the voracious power of today’s global economy, which has created a situation in which the world is not just getting hot, it’s getting raped.

Throughout human history there was always some new part of the ocean to plunder, some new forest to devour, some new farmlands to exploit, noted Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, who came to observe the Bali conference. But “now that economic development has become the prerogative of every country,” he said, we’ve run out of virgin oceans and lands “for new rising economic powers to exploit.” So, too many countries are now chasing too few fish, trees and water resources, and are either devouring their own or plundering those of neighbors at alarming rates.

Indeed, today’s global economy has become like a monster truck with the gas pedal stuck, and we’ve lost the key — so no one can stop it from wiping out more and more of the natural world, no matter what the global plan. There was a chilling essay in The Jakarta Post last week by Andrio Adiwibowo, a lecturer in environmental management at the University of Indonesia. It was about how a smart plan to protect the mangrove forests around coastal Jakarta was never carried out, leading to widespread tidal flooding last month.

This line jumped out at me: “The plan was not implemented. Instead of providing a buffer zone, development encroached into the core zone, which was covered over by concrete.”

You could read that story in a hundred different developing countries today. But the fact that you read it here is one of the most important reasons that later has become extinct. Indonesia is second only to Brazil in terrestrial biodiversity and is No. 1 in the world in marine biodiversity. Just one and a half acres in Borneo contains more different tree species than all of North America — not to mention animals that don’t exist anywhere else on earth. If we lose them, there will be no later for some of the rarest plants and animals on the planet.

And we are losing them. Market-driven forces emanating primarily from China, Europe and America have become so powerful that Indonesia recently made the Guinness World Records for having the fastest rate of deforestation in the world.

Indonesia is now losing tropical forests the size of Maryland every year, and the carbon released by the cutting and clearing — much of it from illegal logging — has made Indonesia the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, after the United States and China. Deforestation actually accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world, an issue the Bali conference finally addressed.

I interviewed Barnabas Suebu, the governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, home to some of its richest forests. He waxed eloquent about how difficult it is to create jobs that will give his villagers anything close to the income they can get from chopping down a tree and selling it to smugglers, who will ship it to Malaysia or China to be made into furniture for Americans or Europeans. He said his motto was, “Think big, start small, act now — before everything becomes too late.”

Ditto for all of us. If you want to help preserve the Indonesian forests, think fast, start quick, act now. Just don’t say later.

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