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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Coincidentally, I started to read yesterday morning a new book by Dmitry Orlov titled – “Reinventing Collapse.” The book was released by New Society Publishers www.newsociety.com and was sent to me by Perseus Distribution of Jackson Tennessee.

Dmitry Orlov was born and grew up in Leningrad, and came first to the US in 1985 and after 10 years started going back and forth so he says – hehasbecome a witness to the changes in Russia.

Orlow is an engineer who worked in high-energy Physics and in Internet Security. He came under our cross-hairs when it turned out that he is also a leading Peak Oil theorist. But this is not why I am mentioning him today. The reason is much deeper then that.

Dmitry Orlov writes that when he came back to the US in 1996, after a longer stay in Russia where he just got married, but also said that at the time he started to understand the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed – and horror – he started to see that the US had already at that time all the symptoms of the same disease that did in the Soviet Union. He writes that he came back with his wife to make for themselves a new life in the US, but he also started to write about his insights that made him see that the second shoe will drop eventually – that is the US after the Soviet Union – two very different States – but nevertheless two States with similar destinies because they suffer from very similar malaise.

His description of the ingredients of a super-power collapse are as follows: (a) A severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil; (b) A severe and worsening trade deficit, (c) A runaway military budget and (d) Ballooning foreign debt. When such a soup starts boiling, then “the heat and agitation” are provided by (e) a fear of a humiliating military defeat, and (f) wide spread fear of a looming catastrophe.

He looks then at all of those ingredients that existed in the Soviet collapse – that was an internal collapse – an implosion I would say. He laughs at the thought that it was caused by outside influences, stemming from the actions of the US, except for the fact that the Soviets fell for the arms race of the “star-wars” competition that caused them further exhaustion. On the other hand, he sees all these ingredients in the present state of the US, and he watched these aspects grow during the last decade.

Orlov looks at Chernobyl as the backdrop of catastrophe that sent off the Soviet Union, and sees the need of oil in order to grow food in the US – at the tune of ten calories of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of food – this, and runaway foreign foreign debt, leading to the decrease in credibility of US monetary instruments – killer hurricanes and global climate upheaval – become the US fear of catastrophe. The eventual reason for the drop of the second shoe.

I only mention here these morning thoughts – I will be getting back to this book later and write a book review. Now I intend to touch on another incomplete activity I found myself involved in yesterday.

***

This was a “Pre-Concert Discussion” of the “Mostly Mozart” Lincoln Center Festival presentation of “REQUIEM.” Yesterday was the US premiere, but I will be seeing the show only tonight. All what I did was to sit in at the discussion between the Festival’s Director Peter Sellars, and Lemi Ponifasio, a Samoan living in Auckland, New Zealand, who is the Director/Choreographer/Designer of this Requiem.

Again, this writing of mine is a half backed attempt, and not yet a finished review of the show. This will come later. But now what I want to say here is that all such words as “Director,” “Choreographer,” “Designer,” “Show,””Review,” were actually knocked out of my head last evening, because I realized that we really are totally incapable of understanding the mind of those that do not think like us. Interesting, Peter Sellars, remarked in a even larger context – “in our age – the commentator on the Op-Ed page presumes to understand everything – we will see that it is not as simple as that.”

My mention of Orlov’s look at history showed me how trite it is to think that the US led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is safe because it thinks of itself as a democracy. Now, Lemi, and the movement of MAU in Samoa, and his troupe, that adopted the MAU name for their collective, are really no actors at all, according to how they see themselves. In effect they will be involved in CEREMONIES that come to them naturally – something that is not just a CELEBRATION – and this requiem is not a memorial for the dead – this because they are not dead at all – they are here with them – so it is as if there were a communal living with these unseen members of the community present. We will look in a future review at this as a “Requiem to Requiem” where the idea of a Requiem, in the second time it is mentioned in this comment, becomes sort of a synonim to culture, life, an island, an environment. Then the first mention of Requiem in the remark is the more accepted meaning. MAU is the name of the Samoan independence movement that took on the Germans, French, Dutch, and British. The meaning is Vision or Revolution. The activities of the MAU troupe serve “to energize dialogue and revive local oriented histories, arts, thought, languages, and narratives that have been silenced or excluded.”

In those Pacific Islands a house is not a home where you close in your belongings like in a storage – their concept is that this is a space for life and all are invited. There is always a standing pole in their culture – this pole gives you sort of a vertical feel of space and you and all your ancestors reside there. We will see that eventually this home without walls becomes the whole island and its sufferings.

To be true to our www.SustainabiliTank.info website, I will add that Lemi and Peter also touched on the problems of global warming that threaten the demise of cultures like Kiribas (Kiribati). So, will we someday have to try our own hand at this kind of Requiem when remembering the independent indigenous cultures of these Small Islands Independent States of today – the SIDS of the Pacific?

This is the extent of how far I am ready to go here.

***

Now, with the above two snippets, in my head, let me say that I sat down before my TV set to watch the NBC, Channel 4, reporting from Beijing, that was handled by NBC as if it was just an excuse to sell us ExxonMobil trying to sell us that they take on “the largest energy challenges of the World.” I was amazed when after that an NBC journalist actually added “while you watched the advertisements China advanced several hundred years in its history.” I hope they will not fire him for this remark.

GE spoke of biogas technology and that was fine, but Chevy Silver was trying to impress us with their miserable 20 mpg technology. Oh! Yes – we also saw John McCain bashing Obama in the campaign well paid advertisement – and we thought that at least this night we can forget about the US Presidential non-debate.

This Chinese Coming-Out event was all about HARMONY. We watched the Tai-Chi performers and were told of Harmony between Man & Nature as the only chance for Sustainable Development for China and the rest of the World for next generation – and we said AMEN. When this is resolved there will be prosperity and environmentalism.

You do not have to be naive and embrace China’s government, or take for granted the smiles on the faces of all the participating dancers and musicians. It was too uniform and large to be taken at face value – but there was enough there to say that it was an honest attempt to say – look – we suffered in our history from what others did to us – but we are a sleeping giant that is now showing – yes – we can and we will.

China showed us that they are much closer to the MAU mentality now then they are to their previous MAO mentality. Yes, the legions of dancers and musicians were militarily trained. Their performance perfect, thus in some way threatening, but the content of their show was so we appreciate what they have given to the world – ink and paper for those believing in the needs of the press, and the compass for those in search of direction. Navigation is the means of communication with the great world, and they had their own naval chiefs of the caliber of a Christopher Columbus.

These performers did not hate us – they CELEBRATED their return to the world stage, and this was their CEREMONY. After this show, China and us will never be the same. Just think of the fact that they reminded us that there were days China had the highest GNP in the world. We saw some of their ghosts, and we saw some of our ghosts. We saw Confucius, and yes, we remembered how it was members of the Atlantic community that committed them to opium enslavement. It was not said – but I knew it was somewhere there in that huge mat, center stage, on the floor of the stadium.

Money is no problem, they bought the best architectural minds to work with their own best, and created the greatest venue for a global event. Pity that parts of the show were missed by us because of the commercialism of US TV world.

We saw how some foreign leaders, like Putin, that did not smile, President Bush looked at his watch, we wondered why President Peres of Israel, who is secular, had to make the gesture of going on foot back to his hotel because of the Sabbath, but then these were not China’s problems that day.

OK, now, I finished the Friday events. On Saturday morning I rushed to pickup the papers.

The opening of the Olympics was really not the main set of news. That debatable honor went to Russia’s attack inside Georgia, and to the John Edwards attack on the US political system by having endangered the Democratic Party’s chances for meaningful change in Washington.

I really have little to say about Edward’s male infidelity – that should have been left to be solved between him and his wife, but we know that this is not US reality. Such events can sink the US, as it happened in the Bill Clinton days. Clinton’s Presidency was decreased in potency, to the detriment of the American Nation, by some self appointed ethical judges who, as we know by now, some of them had much worse transgressions in their closets. What the US does not have is that vertical space the man from Samoa was talking about. There is no ceremonial thinking in our system – only raw hunt after the culprit who may have sinned much less then we did. And when the US is in decline, while China is on the rise – now we have things to think about – not so? And don’t forget – China holds the strings to the US treasury and Orlov made his unforgivable observations.

As for the second news of the day – Putin moving on Georgia – that is tough for the Georgians but again, Putin is back in the oil-saddle and is flush with money too. In effect, we believe that he came to Beijing not as a teacher, but now he comes to Beijing as a student. He has learned from the Chinese that if you put your economy in better shape, outsiders and your own people as well, will criticize you less on human rights and other transgressions. He did not smile on TV, and he knows what his intent is now.

So, what does Dmitry Orlov think of the opening of the Olympics and the near certainty that China will take over the Super-power manttle after the drop of what he described as the second shoe?

Then, to remind us that change may not be as smooth as some may hope for, two American Olympic tourists were just stabbed while visiting the Drum Tower in the center of Beijing – reasons yet unknown.

***

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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.
———————

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.info)

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 January 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Kyodo News Reports, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008

Japan selects 41 countries for priority climate aid: The government has selected 41 priority countries for assistance under its “financial mechanism” on climate change for developing countries in hopes of taking a lead in the battle against global warming, government sources said Saturday.

China and India, two of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, are included among the 41, which are mainly in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, the sources said.

Eleven of the countries, including Kenya, have been designated as “early implementation” countries.

By demonstrating the effectiveness of the mechanism in helping developing nations, Japan hopes to gain international support for initiatives on dealing with global warming.

The government is planning to speed up consultations with each country to hammer out the details, such as how to provide assistance and how much, the sources said.

The financial mechanism on climate change for developing countries is aimed at supporting developing countries that have the “will and ambition” to combat global warming by implementing energy-saving projects and specific action plans, among other steps.



In selecting the 41 priority countries, the government took into account their funding needs, their own undertakings to combat global warming, their international influence, and the degree of their understanding of and cooperation with Japan’s initiatives. China and India are expected to be key to Japan’s plan.

“It is impossible to resolve the problem of global warming without the active participation of both countries,” a Foreign Ministry official said of the two rapidly developing powerhouses. “It is important to show a cooperative stance on the financial aspect.”

Divided by region, the 11 “early implementation” countries are:

Kenya, Ethiopia, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Madagascar;

Indonesia and Malaysia;

Guyana and Mexico;

and Micronesia.

Japan and Indonesia have already reached a basic agreement on the framework for financial assistance, the sources said.

———–

Six of the countries are in Africa, then there are Guyana and Micronesia, but what is most important is that Japan will cooperate with China, India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Malaysia – all upper tier countries that have high growth rates.

The key for doing anything on climate change revolves around these countries and starting with them cooperative programs before the July G8 meeting, will be very significant for the success of that meeting.

Also, interesting to see that Japan intends to cooperate with Mexico – a country member of NAFTA – thus in the backyard of the US.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Subject: Fukuda, Japan’s Premier, Wants To Pick Up From Where Kyoto Left, and In 2008 To Bring China Into The Fold; but More – Japan Wants To Strengthen Bilateral Relations With The Growing China, and Must Also Compete With China’s Political and Economic Expansion in The Pacific and Africa. This Year’s G8 is a Catalyst. Japan Has A Full Agenda.

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007

Fukuda to make pitch on energy, environment to Chinese leaders.
Kyodo News

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda plans to make a proposal to top Chinese leaders concerning environmental and energy issues when he goes to Beijing this week, but he isn’t saying what that proposal will be, a government official said.

In an interview with Chinese media prior to his visit that begins Thursday, Fukuda said he also wants to discuss bilateral issues, including the dispute over gas and oil exploration rights in the East China Sea, as well as topics of international concern, such as North Korea’s nuclear threat.

“I believe we must think not only about bilateral cooperation between Japan and China, but also how we can cooperate and be of use in bringing about the stability and advancement of this region and the world, so I want to discuss these things,” Fukuda was quoted by the official as saying.

Fukuda made the remarks in a joint interview with the Tokyo bureau chiefs of China’s official Xinhua News Agency, the state-run China Central Television and the People’s Daily, which is the Communist Party’s newspaper.

Fukuda is scheduled to leave Thursday for the four-day trip. He will meet with President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and other leaders, and visit regional sites, including Tianjin and Qufu, the hometown of Confucius.

Regarding climate change, Fukuda said he wants to continue cooperating with China on improving the efficiency of coal thermal power plants, preventing water pollution and building a recycling-oriented economic system, the official said.

Fukuda said such assistance will be made possible using technology, knowledge and experience that Japan has in the fields of energy conservation and environmental improvement.

Fukuda said he hopes to “see and feel” the growth of China by visiting a development zone in Tianjin, which has deep economic relations with Japan.

He said he is looking forward to his first trip to the Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, a World Heritage site, to look back on the exchanges between Japan and China from ancient times to the present.

“Confucianism has had a big influence on Japan and other countries in Northeast Asia,” the official quoted Fukuda as saying. “In advancing diplomacy, I think we must think about the development of history, culture and bilateral exchanges with the other country.”

Fukuda said China’s rapid economic growth is an opportunity for Japan, and emphasized that the further deepening of economic cooperation between the two countries is important for the healthy advancement of their economies as well as the stability and development of Asia and the world.

————————————

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007

Japan to open six embassies Jan. 1, 2008.
Kyodo News

Six new Japanese embassies will be opened on New Year’s Day, including in the African nations of Botswana, Malawi and Mali, to strengthen Tokyo’s diplomatic presence internationally as well as bilateral relations with the countries concerned, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Mitsuo Sakaba said Wednesday.

The new embassies, which will also be established in Micronesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lithuania, were approved in the budget for this fiscal year.

They will bring the total number of Japanese embassies worldwide to 123.

Japan, which will take the rotating presidency of the Group of Eight nations next year and host the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, is seeking to open five more embassies in the next year, including another two in Africa.

“We are working toward a goal of having 150 embassies,” Sakaba said.

The new embassies reflect Japan’s eagerness to catch up with other major nations in the number of diplomatic posts around the world amid the aggressive expansion of China’s presence, especially in Africa.

On the new Micronesian embassy, the Foreign Ministry said, “It is important to further strengthen Japan’s relations (with Micronesia) in the international arena amid China’s growing influence on Pacific island nations.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 November 200 “Making of the New 7 Wonders” DVD Now Available!
New7Wonders Voting Analysis Now Online   – Nominate & Support New7Wonders of Nature Candidates NOW!
Check out the New7Wonders Official Silver Medals, Medallions and Song.

Nominate New7Wonders of Nature Candidates NOW, get an Official Supporting Committee going!
New7Wonders Voting Analysis Now Online
EXCLUSIVE EARLY OFFER to N7W Members Before the Holidays: Get Behind the Scenes with New7Wonders on our Brand-New DVD
The new New7Wonders of Nature campaign was launched at the end of the Declaration gala on 07.07.07. Since then, we have received input from more than half a million people around the planet, and hundreds of natural sites have been nominated.

There is a wonderful diversity in the nominees. They include bodies of water such as Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia or the Dead Sea between Israel, Jordan and Palestine, canyons such as the Grand Canyon in the U.S. and Colca Canyon in Peru, waterfalls including Iguassu Falls in Brazil and Argentina, Victoria Falls in Zambia, Angel Falls in Venezuela and Niagara Falls between the U.S. and Canada, islands such as Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and Yemen’s Socotra Island, as well as fjords such as Norway’s Geirangerfjord. Perhaps less easy to categorize but equally impressive are other natural marvels being nominated, such as Sunderbans, the largest mangrove forest in India and Bangladesh, the world’s largest salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia, Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, Mongolia’s Flaming Cliffs and the submarine Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

Click here to nominate your favorite natural sites, or to support a favorite. We will soon be announcing the start of the first voting stage, during which we will have a live ranking of the Official Supported Nominees online. This phase will determine the Top 77 nominees, from which the 21 finalists will be chosen. So these steps are really important – think of all the beautiful places you know, and nominate them! Then, since only Official Supported Nominees will be able to receive votes, get an Official Supporting Committee going to support them! Spread the word to your family, friends and encourage them to get involved in the world’s only democratic campaign.


Please note: No Official Supporting Committee means no participation in the New7Wonders of Nature campaign.

New7Wonders Official Song.

The beat of the first-ever global election has people grooving from all four corners of the planet. Click here and experience the musical heart of the New 7 Wonders of the World – your feet will soon be tapping along.

Please see the diagram at the bottom of this newsletter for the stages and timing of the New7Wonders of Nature campaign.        The first-ever global election revealed some surprising insights, first and foremost that the largest group that took part in the campaign was – contrary to what you may think – not the Chinese or the Indians, but rather the children! Yes, kids worldwide participated by voting, campaigning, submitting artwork, showing how New7Wonders is stimulating intercultural dialogue and fostering an environment of mutual appreciation.
Unexpectedly to many, it was not the wealthy world, with its Internet connections and non-stop media access which played the key role in choosing the 7 symbols of global unity! Rather, it was people across Latin America, Asia and Africa who voted en masse.

In another interesting twist, monuments inspired real cross-cultural support – sometimes more than national! For example, more Koreans and Japanese voted for the Eiffel Tower than did people in France, and children everywhere cast their votes for fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle – more than people in Germany. In an African sprint, an avalanche of votes in support of Timbuktu were cast in the final weeks of the event from throughout Africa.

Founder and President of New7Wonders Bernard Weber says, “On a personal note, I am especially pleased to see that my two countries, Switzerland and Canada, were amongst the most active participants without having national candidates, along with some more exotic countries like Yemen, Albania and Afghanistan.” Read Bernard Weber’s fascinating, short analysis of the vote by clicking here.

The 07.07.07 celebration truly spanned the globe! Huge, often spontaneous parties were held in the winning countries, like those held to celebrate being named Olympic Games host or winning a major international sporting event.

The journey to the spectacular gala Declaration of the New 7 Wonders in Lisbon was full of exciting, thought-provoking and enlightening moments. Follow Bernard Weber and his team as they travel and work to fulfil the vision of bringing our world together to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World. See magnificent footage of many of the New7Wonders finalists, listen to rare music from many of the cultures represented, and enjoy interviews with people around the world who played a special part in the birth of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This is a great holiday gift, so order NOW!
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


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.”

———————

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)

——————-

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.”

———————–

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.

———————-

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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