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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The idea driving the protests is that climate change can be blunted only by moving to renewable energy and capping any growth of fossil fuels.

The New York Times – Environment

Environmental Activists Take to Local Protests for Global Results

By JOHN SCHWARTZ – MARCH 19, 2016

READING, N.Y. — They came here to get arrested.

Nearly 60 protesters blocked the driveway of a storage plant for natural gas on March 7. Its owners want to expand the facility, which the opponents say would endanger nearby Seneca Lake. But their concerns were global, as well.

“There’s a climate emergency happening,” one of the protesters, Coby Schultz, said. “It’s a life-or-death struggle.”

The demonstration here was part of a wave of actions across the nation that combines traditional not-in-my-backyard protests against fossil-fuel projects with an overarching concern about climate change.


Activists have been energized by successes on several fronts, including the decision last week by President Obama to block offshore drilling along the Atlantic Seaboard; his decision in November to reject the Keystone XL pipeline; and the Paris climate agreement.

Bound together through social media, networks of far-flung activists are opposing virtually all new oil, gas and coal infrastructure projects — a process that has been called “Keystone-ization.”

As the climate evangelist Bill McKibben put it in a Twitter post after Paris negotiators agreed on a goal of limiting global temperature increases: “We’re damn well going to hold them to it. Every pipeline, every mine.”

Regulators almost always approve such projects, though often with modifications, said Donald F. Santa Jr., chief executive of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Still, the protests are having some impact. The engineering consultants Black and Veatch recently published a report that said the most significant barrier to building new pipeline capacity was “delay from opposition groups.”

Activists regularly protest at the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, but there have also been sizable protests in places like St. Paul and across the Northeast.

In Portland, Ore., where protesters conducted a “kayaktivist” blockade in July to keep Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs from leaving port, the City Council passed a resolution opposing the expansion of facilities for the storage and transportation of fossil fuels.

Greg Yost, a math teacher in North Carolina who works with the group NC PowerForward, said the activists emboldened one another.

“When we pick up the ball and run with it here in North Carolina, we’re well aware of what’s going on in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island,” he said. “The fight we’re doing here, it bears on what happens elsewhere — we’re all in this together, we feel like.”

The movement extends well beyond the United States. In May, a wave of protests and acts of civil disobedience, under an umbrella campaign called Break Free 2016, is scheduled around the world to urge governments and fossil fuel companies to “keep coal, oil and gas in the ground.”

This approach — think globally, protest locally — is captured in the words of Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and a scholar in residence at Ithaca College who helped organize the demonstration at the storage plant near Seneca Lake: “This driveway is a battleground, and there are driveways like this all over the world.”

The idea driving the protests is that climate change can be blunted only by moving to renewable energy and capping any growth of fossil fuels.

Speaking to the crowd at Seneca Lake, Mr. McKibben, who had come from his home in Vermont, said, “Our job on behalf of the planet is to slow them down.”

He added, “If we can hold them off for two or three years, there’s no way any of this stuff can be built again.”

But the issues are not so clear cut. The protests aimed at natural gas pipelines, for example, may conflict with policies intended to fight climate change and pollution by reducing reliance on dirtier fossil fuels.

“The irony is this,” said Phil West, a spokesman for Spectra Energy, whose pipeline projects, including those in New York State, have come under attack. “The shift to additional natural gas use is a key contributor to helping the U.S. reduce energy-related emissions and improve air quality.”

Those who oppose natural gas pipelines say the science is on their side.

They note that methane, the chief component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas in the short term, with more than 80 times the effect of carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

The Obama administration is issuing regulations to reduce leaks, but environmental opposition to fracking, and events like the huge methane plume released at a storage facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood near Los Angeles, have helped embolden the movement.

Once new natural gas pipelines and plants are in place, opponents argue, they will operate for decades, blocking the shift to solar and wind power.

“It’s not a bridge to renewable energy — it’s a competitor,” said Patrick Robbins, co-director of the Sane Energy Project, which protests pipeline development and is based in New York.

Such logic does not convince Michael A. Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Saying no to gas doesn’t miraculously lead to the substitution of wind and solar — it may lead to the continued operation of coal-fired plants,” he said, noting that when the price of natural gas is not competitive, owners take the plants, which are relatively cheap to build, out of service.

“There is enormous uncertainty about how quickly you can build out renewable energy systems, about what the cost will be and what the consequences will be for the electricity network,” Mr. Levi said.

Even some who believe that natural gas has a continuing role to play say that not every gas project makes sense.

N. Jonathan Peress, an expert on electricity and natural gas markets at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that while companies push to add capacity, the long-term need might not materialize.

“There is a disconnect between the perception of the need for massive amounts of new pipeline capacity and the reality,” he said.

Market forces, regulatory assumptions and business habits favor the building of new pipelines even though an evolving electrical grid and patterns of power use suggest that the demand for gas will, in many cases, decrease.

Even now, only 6 percent of gas-fired plants run at greater than 80 percent of their capacity, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, and nearly half of such plants run at an average load factor of just 17 percent.

“The electricity grid is evolving in a way that strongly suggests what’s necessary today won’t be necessary in another 20 years, let alone 10 or 15,” Mr. Peress said.

Back at Seneca Lake, the protesters cheered when Schuyler County sheriff’s vans showed up. The group had protested before, and so the arrests had the friendly familiarity of a contra dance. As one deputy, A.W. Yessman, placed zip-tie cuffs on Catherine Rossiter, he asked jovially, “Is this three, or four?”

She beamed. “You remember me!”

Brad Bacon, a spokesman for the owner of the plant at Seneca Lake, Crestwood Equity Partners, acknowledged that it had become more burdensome to get approval to build energy infrastructure in the Northeast even though regulatory experts have tended not to be persuaded by the protesters’ environmental arguments.

The protesters, in turn, disagree with the regulators, and forcefully.

As he was being handcuffed, Mr. McKibben called the morning “a good scene.” The actions against fossil fuels, he said, will continue. “There’s 15 places like this around the world today,” he said. “There will be 15 more tomorrow, and the day after that.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IIASA study assesses land use impacts of EU biofuel policy

Laxenburg Austria, 16 March 2016 – The indirect impacts of biofuel production on land use change and greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union vary widely depending on the type of biofuel, according to a study published last week.

{The Study Argues – this is our insert}
Biofuel policy in the European Union has been under scrutiny for several years, with intense debate around its efficiency in reducing greenhouse gases emissions. Indeed, biofuel production can take up agricultural land otherwise used for food and feed, and lead to land use conversion elsewhere that would offset some of the climate benefits of the policy, a problem known as indirect land use change. In a new study for the European Commission in partnership with the sustainable energy consultancies Ecofys and E4tech, IIASA researchers have now brought more precise insight to the topic, showing the different levels of impact that different biofuels have on land use change and the climate.

The study revisits the impacts of biofuels consumed in the European Union and is the most comprehensive comparison to date of land use effects across feedstocks. It provides the first analysis, in a consistent modeling framework, of both conventional (or first-generation) biofuels, produced from food crops such as vegetable oil, and advanced (or second-generation) biofuels, produced from residues or energy crops such as grasses, forestry residues and cereal straw.

IIASA researcher Hugo Valin led the modeling for the study. He says, “First generation biofuels have been criticized in the past due to their indirect land use change impact, which our study confirms. But by looking at a much broader range of biofuel options, we clearly show that not all biofuels are equal.”

On one end of the spectrum, the study shows that certain types of vegetable oils, such palm or soybean oil, can lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions. It also shows that impacts of ethanol feedstocks are relatively lower than for biodiesel, in particular for high yielded crops such as sugar beet or maize. And on the other end of the spectrum, second generation crops, included for the first time in the analysis for the EU, showed a good performance overall with in several cases net negative emissions.
{This part is a very wise conclusion with which we can completely agree – our insert}

The study also included mitigation scenarios which showed that promoting agricultural expansion on European land compared to the rest of the world would help reducing the impacts in the short run. However, in the long run, the most efficient policy for limiting land-based greenhouse gas emissions would be a better control of agricultural land expansion globally, through policies to preserve forests and other natural ecosystems which can sequester large amounts of carbon including peatlands in Southeast Asia.

The study also included an in-depth analysis of uncertainties in the scenarios to better inform stakeholders. While in some cases uncertainties can be large, the study clearly indicates how impacts of different policy orientations compare.

Valin says, “It’s impossible to remove all uncertainties in such an analysis, but the real value of this study is that it helps decision makers to better anticipate the potential implications of the option they choose. Models help to develop a common understanding of what the problems at stake are and how to mitigate them. In the context of biofuel policies this is especially true, as modeling illustrates the trade-offs between greenhouse gas emissions, food consumption, land occupation, agricultural income, and other issues.”

More information
Ecofys: Report quantifies land use change impact of biofuels consumed in the EU

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We, at SustainabiliTank, find some problems with above study based on our own experience.

Years ago – end of seventies-beginning of eighties – we published via US Congressional hearings about land use and industrial liquid biofuels production. Our argument was that agriculture in industrialized countries is managed by government policy. This was clearly true in the US, and I was approached by the newly formed Brussels based EU Agriculture Commissioner who was interested in that analysis of policy for the EU States as well.

The argument was that the various Departments of Agriculture support the price of food commodities by limiting their production or simply put – by paying farmers NOT TO PRODUCE or keep land out of production. My argument was to use that land – the so called SET-ASIDES – for the new industry of liquid biofuels and stop non-production-subsidies. I went so far as to calculate that for the US I could PRODUCE ETHANOL FROM CORN THAT WAS NOT GROWN AND PAY FOR IT WITH MONEY THAT WAS NOT SPENT. That testimony caused – because of request from Members of Congress – to my being hired as a consultant by the Office of the Comptroller General Of the United States – the US GAO – the General Accounting Office – in order to have them check out those arguments. Surely they found that there was a base for my arguments. They also found that the reduction of the quantities of agricultural commodity produced was much smaller then expected because, naturally, the farmer kept out of production the worst parts of their land. The funniest part was that agricultural corporations would switch the non-production claims from one commodity o another contingent on which ‘asides” provided higher subsidies that year – one year it could have been historic corn, but another year it could have been a claim of not growing wheat.

Whatever, at least for the EU and the US – the “set aside” policy is just public money dished out to the large farming industry for no good purpose and the concept of “hunger in China” just did not hold water. Environmentalists in this context did rather play up to the big oil and farming interests rather then my perception of reduction of dependence on petroleum. Surely, this is different when replacing natural forests in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil with oil- producing palm trees in the tropics. In those cases the damage to the environment is real. But not when we talk about the vast already deforested agricultural expances of Europe and America. Further, it is clear to us that in a globalized world – producing those commodities in smaller farms overseas, and subsistence farming, would save CO2 emissions that occur in the transport of those commodities originating in highly agriculture-industrialized economies – albeit this means lower take in the industrialized countries, lower need for food production by industrialized countries, and a parallel gain in employment by therural sector in non-industrialized countries we usually define as Developing Countries.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 15th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Oregon Becomes First State in Nation to Sign Bill That Phases Out Coal, Ramps Up Renewables

By Ben Jervey, DeSmogBlog

15 March 2016

The Oregon legislature just put another nail in the coffin of the coal era.

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law one of the most ambitious and sweeping pieces of energy legislation in the country’s history, one which will eradicate the use of coal for electricity generation entirely within two decades.

The pioneering law makes Oregon the first state in the nation to legislate a ban on coal for the electric supply, while also mandating that utilities provide half of their electricity from new renewable sources by 2040.

Add those new renewables to Oregon’s existing hydropower resources and, in less than 25 years, the state’s electric sector will be between 70 and 90 percent carbon-free, one of the cleanest energy portfolios in the country.

Currently, coal supplies roughly 30 percent of the state’s electricity.

“Knowing how important it is to Oregonians to act on climate change, a wide range of stakeholders came to the table around Oregonians’ investments in coal and renewable energy,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “Working together, they found a path to best equip our state with the energy resource mix of the future. Now, Oregon will be less reliant on fossil fuels and shift our focus to clean energy. I’m proud to sign a bill that moves Oregon forward, together with the shared values of current and future generations.”

In Blue Oregon, Nick Abraham of Oil Check Northwest described this remarkable coalition of groups that came together to push for the law, an alliance that included ratepayer advocates, green groups and the utilities themselves.

“CUB believes that this a big victory for utility customers. Coal is a huge financial risk and we are mitigating this risk by moving away from coal and investing in clean energy instead,” said Bob Jenks, executive director of the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon, the ratepayer advocacy group.

Still, the legislation was fought tooth and nail by clean energy opponents in the state senate, particularly Republican Ted Ferrioli (who, according to Abraham, “takes tens of thousand from oil, gas and coal companies” every year). But, again, the utilities impacted by the law support the measure.

“Our company has been reducing reliance on coal generation and expanding our renewable energy portfolio for the past 10 years as market forces, regulation and evolving customer preference continue to drive change in the way electricity is generated and delivered,” stated Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power. “This landmark legislation allows us to effectively manage Oregon’s transition to a clean energy future in a manner that protects customers from cost impacts, ensures grid reliability and allows us to meet all of our responsibilities to the communities we serve.”

This sentiment was echoed by Jim Piro, president and CEO of Portland General Electric, the state’s largest electric utility.

“The path forward was forged through a collaborative process where we all tried to balance stakeholder needs,” said Piro in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Public Utility Commission and all of our stakeholders to implement this policy in a way that benefits the environment, manages price impacts for our customers and ensures that the reliability of the electric grid is not compromised.”

Clean energy advocates who fought for passage of the bill are celebrating. “Oregon had a clear choice to make: do we want to power our homes with coal or with clean energy? Today it is clear we chose clean,” said Oregon Environmental Council Executive Director Andrea Durbin in a press release. “Kissing coal goodbye and doubling renewable energy will give Oregon some of the cleanest power? in the country, delivers clean energy for all Oregon families and re-establishes our state as a leader in green.”

It will also effectively clean up the grid in neighboring states. Because of how the utilities procure their power, the impacts of the law will be felt throughout the whole northwest, as Noah Long and Angus Duncan explain on NRDC’s Switchboard:

“Although one-third of Oregon’s electricity today comes from coal-fired plants, the only in-state facility was already slated to retire by 2020. However, the two affected utilities supply power to Oregon from coal facilities they own in Utah, Wyoming and Montana. By ending Oregon’s investments, the market for dirty energy will shrink—which should speed the retirement of those aging plants.

“At the same time, the law doubles the amount of energy from new renewable resources that Pacific Power and Portland General Electric must provide to their Oregon customers. Therefore, the utilities will be obliged to look first to wind, solar and other clean energy sources—and not new base-load natural gas turbines—to replace those aged coal plants.”

Many state and national clean energy advocates have upheld the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan as a precedent setting model for other states to follow.

“This landmark climate legislation puts Oregon on a bold new course,” said Kristen Sheeran, Oregon director of Climate Solutions. “Moving away from coal and oil toward clean, renewable electricity raises the bar for clean energy in other states.”

Indeed, no other state has yet legislated an end to coal-powered electricity. (Though Hawaii and Vermont do boast electric grids that already operate free of coal).

The renewable energy standards that the transition plan mandates put Oregon amongst the small handful of states that have renewable standards of 50 percent of more. Hawaii, again a leader, will require a full 100 percent by 2045; California and New York now both require 50 percent within 25 years; Massachusetts is demanding a 1 percent annual increase indefinitely, until it reaches the full electric portfolio.

Now, given the state’s mandate to scrap coal from its electric mix, if the “thin green line” of Cascadia activists can continue to block coal exports from the state’s ports, Oregon can effectively bid adieu to coal entirely.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


As our readers must have realized by now – we are posting a series of columns focusing on activities in Vienna, Austria, that are of value to the global network intent to support Sustainability for all.

After having decided that global agreements chased by the UN Headquarters in New York are just pipe dreams. All we can hope for is this network of individual country promises that in their sum-total can answer needs like a decrease in CO2 presence in the atmosphere while not forgetting goals of poverty reduction, energy, climate, security, or equity. We were grateful to President Obama when we realized that this was his thinking as well, and the Paris2015 Outcome – that some insist on calling the Paris Agreement – does in effect constitute the answer to our needs – but only if a “verification of progress” system is put in place.

We looked around and realized that most energy related UN affiliates are headquartered, or at least have a foot, here in Vienna. So I started this series of articles. The more I looked at this – the harder it became writing it – this because of the richness of material – literally daily I am involved in activities, or at least get material that all relate to these topics.

In this last posting I take the advantage of an exceptional boon – the fact that again Vienna was declared the most livable city in the World. This can clearly help. Would you not rather want to live in the best city in the World?

———————–

Besides the city of Vienna, among the first 31 out of the 230 cities with ranking by Mercer, we find a total of 8 cities from German speaking Europe; further 8 assorted cities from other Western Europe (Copenhagen, Geneva, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Stockholm, Brussels, Helsinki, Oslo); New Zealand/Australia account for 9 cities, Canada for 4 cities, Singapore that this year dropped to only 26th place, and highest ranked US city – San Francisco – at 28th place.

Paris is at 37th place, London at 39, New York and Tokyo are at 44-45.

Dubai is at 75th place, Abu Dhabi at 81, Taipei at 84.

First Developing Country city is Durban, South Africa, 86th place.

Buenos Aires, first Spanish speaking South American city is at 93rd place.

Tel Aviv is at 104th place, Brasilia at 106, Muscat, at 107, Tunis at 113.

Beijing, first city in China, is at 118th place. Istanbul at 122.

Mexico City is at 127th place, Riyadh at 164, Moscow at 167, Tehran at 203, Damascus at 224, and at bottom 230 Baghdad.

What are your conclusions from looking at the above?

Is it not so that you would rather like to live in Western Europe – in Vienna and surrounding countries? In Australia, New Zealand and Canada? Would you contemplate on reasons why some of the richest countries’ capital-cities are low on the list?

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I will proceed now to review some of the most resent activities that occurred in the city of Vienna that were rooted with the city itself and not with organizations from afar planted here or organizations formed here in response to needs afar.

In our series we posted so far about: The IAEA Headquarters, The SE4All Headquarters The Outer-Space UN affiliates, The Laxenburg Palace based IIASA, and the Kommunalkredit Public Consulting Group that works with the Austrian Foreign Aid office connected to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Let us look now first at cultural life – and I will go after two amazing shows that just opened:

DER KONGRESS TANZT – “The Congress Dances” – an amazing Operetta that opened at the VOLKSOPER on the Guertel.

The Historical facts are that the Congress of Vienna (German: Wiener Kongress) was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815.

The Congress was intended to organize the post-Napoleon Europe and through that – the World. In many ways this was an attempt to create an overarching EU. All came except Napoleon who was left behind on his exile-island.

It was said that instead of being in session this Congress danced. The Congress of Vienna was the first of a series of international meetings that came to be known as the Concert of Europe, which was an attempt to forge a peaceful balance of power in Europe. It served as a model for later organizations such as the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations in 1945.

Covering the lighter side of this Congress Erik Charell used some of the songs from a Con ference-time operetta and produced a film that was released in 1931. Recently, Richard Heymann extracted some of the music from the film, added some of his own, and with the help of conductor and arranger Christian Kolonowiits recreated the operetta that was released now in 2016. This because Vienna celebrated in 2015 the 200th anniversary of the Vienna Congress. This operetta, a parody of the Congress, approached gingerly by the Volksoper, is now the newest “must see” in Vienna.

The BURGTHEATER on the Ring, premiered this week Peter Handke’s – DIE UNSCHULDIGEN, ICH UND DIE UNBEKANTE AM RAND DER LANDSTRASSE (Those Without Guilt, I and the unknown on the edge of the country road) – a masterpiece of modern theater in the celebrated hall of classicism.

Handke (born in 1942 – the war years – his mother resettled in the village Griffin in 1948 after leaving the DDR) was a young Austrian writer (novelist, playwright and political activist) who believed that at the beginning there was the word. Handke’s first play was PUBLIKUMSBESCHIMPFUNG (Talking Rough to the Public) that automatically made him a sensation in Germany – Austria was too small for him those days. Back those years we saw his work and works by the German Hans Magnus Enzensberger at the Brooklyn Academy of Music – the old Brooklyn Opera House. Handke’s luck was that He was recognized by the German Director Claus Peyman who staged that first play and since then another 10 plays by Handke. Handke gained international attention after an appearance at a meeting of avant-garde artists belonging to the Gruppe 47 in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

Landstrasse, stage work by Karl-Ernst Hermann, has a vague autobiographical content and ia all played out on the county road that connects his village Griffin with a neighboring village and in itself becomes a stage for the locals and the World at large. It reminds one of Martin Luther who already then saw the importance of taking reality to the streets – this for him a direct connection between humans and God. For Handke, this is not God but human truth. The simple staging – a broad white ellipse winding to a distant corner – is the path where the action walks by and we peep in on it. This is modern poetic theater at its best – a good place to relax when trying to deal with the World’s woes.

The action is not specific but rather full of hints and you get out really what you want to see. The hints include totaliarism – quite clearly a reminder of the villages Nazi past, butb then there are aspects of budding love and perhapse unanswered love and bitterness – but also hope for a better world.

I started with Vienna’s high locally centered life – but then there are musical events, not just Staatsoper and the Philharmonic, but locally produced musical events where Austrians play foreign folks to perfection. We just enjoyed evenings sponsored by the Austro-American Society with Irish and Mexican music. The Irish evening was held in a typical Austrian pub, and the Mexican and American event was at the organization’s Club rooms where the manager, an Austrian, is loved by all – an ideal American host.

But, the purpose of our Vienna series is not just to say that Vienna is the most livable city in the World – but that I contend that work with global scope can be performed right here – so let us look also at local organizations that can be enrolled in support of global activities – and the first to be mentioned is “the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA).” You will find there a department that deals with all global topics you may be interested to work on. Also, the city hosts many NGOs and great Think Tanks to work as local NGOs – sometimes connected to one of the many active Universities.

One such institution is “the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM).” I will mention the Presentation of last night by Professor Dr. Shalini Randeria, the IWM Rector, titled “Precarious livelihoods, disposable lives, and struggles for citizenship rights.” Dr. Randeria, from India, holds chairs at Budapest, Berlin, Zurich, and Vienna Universities. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalization, law, the state and social movements. Her presentation last night was the Keynote address at a IIASA and Forum Alpbach meeting at the Austrian Academy of Sciences on the occasion of the IIASA meeting called to formulate a “World in 2050″ Programme.

The Academy of Sciences public event – “Human Capital, Geopolitical Complexities, and Our Sustainable Future” had two panels (I) The release of a book by Professor Wolfgang Lutz – “Who Survives? Education Decides the Future of Humanity.
and (II) “Human Capital, Geopolitical Conflict, and Sustainable Development Goals.”

Panel II – Chaired by Professor Pavel Kabat, Director General of IIASA – had:
– Ambassador Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director-General Section VII-Development, Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign-Affairs.
– Professor Dirk Messner, Co-Chair, German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)
– Professor Carlos Nobre, President Brazilian Federal Agency for Support an Evaluation of Graduate Education. Brazilian Member of the Board of IIASA.
– Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Chair of the Leadership Council and Advisor to the UN Secretary-General; Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University.
– Dr. David Wilkinson, Director, Institute for Systems, Informatics and Safety at the Joint Recearch Center, European Commission.

While the first panel dealt with education as an imperative if one wants to take advantage of the SDGs and in effect achieve the wished-for results, he second panel touched upon the topics that are the framework for the program-in-construction for the year 2050 and on tis we will deal separately.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 3rd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)



If we don’t confront climate change, we won’t end poverty
Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group

The Paris Agreement, coal and Ms. Meier

February 2016

As received from Marion Vieweg —  marion.vieweg at current-future.org via lists.iisd.ca

Ms. Meier is a secretary. She lives and works in a small town in Germany. She has – very likely – never heard of the Paris Agreement, nor would it interest her. Let’s discuss why Ms. Meier is nevertheless key to the success of the Paris Agreement.

Curious? Read the full story at: current-future.org/index.php/25-b…
Best regards,

Marion

And here it is:

Ms. Meier is a secretary. She lives and works in a small town in Germany. She has – very likely – never heard of the Paris Agreement, nor would it interest her. Let’s discuss why Ms. Meier is nevertheless key to the success of the Paris Agreement.

One of the successes of Paris is the joint commitment to a complete change in our energy systems. The common goal to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels” provides a strong political signal. It also calls for a “balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.” This will only be possible with a swift transition towards a fully decarbonized energy system.

To achieve the required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, all sectors will need to contribute. Here are a number of reasons, why this discussion focuses on the electricity sector and specifically on coal-fired power generation:

Electricity is currently the largest emitting part of the energy sector in most countries;
Over 40% of global electricity is produced with coal, with a total increase of coal production from 3 Gt in the 1970s to over 8 Gt in 2014[1];
The long investment time frames in the sector call for swift action to avoid missing the GHG goals or generating stranded assets;
Coal mining and power generation often dominates the economic structure in the region, leading to specific challenges.

Up to now, the impressive growth in renewable electricity generation has mostly addressed additional demand from growing economies. Renewable technologies instead of fossil fuel power plants formed part of new capacity built. For most countries event this is already a challenge. In 2014, only 45% of new power production capacity added globally came from renewable sources. In 2012 the World Resources Institute estimated that 1,199 new coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 1,401,268 MW were being proposed globally. These numbers highlight the magnitude of the challenge. Even in Germany, home to the famous ‘Energiewende,’ new coal-fired power plants are in planning[2].

If we are taking the Paris Agreement seriously, then we need to not only satisfy additional demand with zero-carbon technologies, but need to start changing existing generation systems. To some extent, this can happen ‘naturally’ by closing down coal fired power plants at the end of their technical lifetime and replacing the capacity with renewable technologies. But in most countries, including Germany, this will not be enough, given the number of plants that went online in the last years and will go online in the next few years, and which have a technical lifetime well beyond the 2050s.

So why should Ms. Meier care?

Ms. Meier lives close to the Polish border in one of the three main lignite mining areas in Germany. Lignite has been mined in the area since the 1850s. The first power plant went online in 1894. Open pit mining has dramatically transformed the landscape and relocated a multitude of villages and towns. The region delivered the bulk of the energy fuelling the economy during the existence of the GDR. The sector has been the foundation of the economy for over a century and is deeply engrained in the regional identity. Today, only around 8,000 people actually work in the sector in the area, compared to more than 10 times as many in 1989. Still, salaries in the sector are significantly above average and make an important contribution to the local economy. Ms. Meier has a part-time job in a small engineering firm. Her husband works in one of the coal mining operations, as did his father and grandfather. They are afraid to lose their jobs if the mining and coal power generation ends, and wonder if their two children will have a future in the area or if they, like so many others have already done, will need to move away.

Economic studies show the benefits of renewables and energy efficiency technology to society. They are important and demonstrate the benefits to society as a whole. However, they rarely take a more detailed look at the regional and local level. This is where it starts to get difficult: The new jobs they create may or may not be in the same regions and may or may not require similar skills to those jobs that are lost. From an economic perspective at the national level this may not matter – from a societal, political and regional perspective it does. It also changes how we need to communicate, support and steer the transition.

Ms. Meier’s employer is member of a local initiative that promotes the continuation of lignite mining and power generation in the area. He is afraid that the closing of the lignite operations will damage overall economic activity, making his business unprofitable, causing his 15 employees to lose their jobs. The initiative runs a website, lobbies politicians and organizes public events. This is one of the many examples how fear creates resistance to change.

Many, who are directly affected, like Ms. Meier, fear for their jobs and well-being. Others fear for their profits while some just feel generally insecure of what this change will mean for their lives. In total, this often leads to a situation where decisions to close down old power plants or mines or not approving new ones will politically be impossible. We need to recognize that these fears are legitimate and that we need to address them seriously, appropriately and with respect – without compromising on the final goal: a full decarbonisation of the electricity sector.

If we don’t take the legitimate fears of people like Ms. Meier, her husband and the millions like them around the world seriously, Paris will fail to deliver.

Clear political signals for a phase-out of coal-fired power generations are only a first step. Politicians will find it difficult to send those signals, with strong local opposition rooted in fear. To overcome this and create a positive dynamic we need to consider five principles:

Build strong stakeholder coalitions at the regional level, involving everybody affected and all interest groups to define realistic phase-out scenarios: Yes, it is hard, but there is no way around talking WITH rather than AGAINST each other. A lot of time, energy and resources are currently used on all sides to generate biased information to inform public and politicians to promote individual vested interests. All sides need to work together and agree on basic facts that allow to start discussing SOLUTIONS rather than PROBLEMS.

Facilitate stakeholders to create an individual vision for a development that works in the given context: The solutions will, by necessity, be individual and different for each affected region. It is essential that all interest groups and stakeholders in a region define the vision as well as the steps required to get there. This allows tapping their detailed knowledge and experience, this way creating realistic pathways and ensuring ownership and commitment in implementation.

Tailor support instruments to the individual vision: The standard solution for policy-related structural change is to create a fund. This is a bit like creating a working group, when you are not sure what else to do, and then hope they come up with something useful. Money for required changes is certainly an important element to support regions. It will, however, not be effective, if not used in a targeted way and with a clear and realistic vision to guide activities. Additional support may be required, depending on the vision, including changes in the legal and regulatory framework or cooperation with other regions.

Learn from experiences: Structural change is not a new phenomenon. Especially the coal-mining sector has seen multiple changes over the last century due to economic shifts, through mines being mined out or becoming economically unviable. While these processes were often slow and thus easier to adjust to, some were rapid, like the changes in economic structure in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. But also other sectors have seen major changes, resulting in whole regions needing to readjust. The textile industry in large parts of Europe is one example for similar large-scale structural change that affects whole regions. We need to look at experiences made with such processes within the sector, but also learn from other sectors and across borders. The fundamental challenge of re-orienting the economy in a region remains the same. We need to look more closely at what worked, what didn’t and – most importantly – why.

Develop new business models together with utilities and customers: Utilities and companies operating coal mines and coal-fired power plants are naturally opposed to phase-out plans, as it promises to cut profits and requires changes to well-established activities. We need to acknowledge that these companies provide work for a lot of people and electricity to important parts of our societies. Their expertise on the functioning of the electricity system is vital for ensuring stable systems. We need to make them part of the solution, with a clear vision on their future role in a new system. This requires to let go of cherished stereotypes on both sides and the will to overcome differences to create something new and better for the benefit of all.

Germany, as all other countries, is only at the starting point of this new road. Globally, we need to start changing existing systems, not only adding on some renewables. A recent proposal to bring all stakeholders together in a coal ‘round table’ for Germany is a good starting point. If this process can also manage to address the regional challenges posed through the required structural change in a bottom-up process that involves all stakeholders, it has the potential to become a role model for other countries and regions that are facing similar problems globally.

If we take all concerns seriously and invite stakeholders to help shape their future rather than only react and block, we might – just – make it in time to prevent the worst effects of climate change and make the Paris Agreement a lasting success.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In the last hours of the last day of COP 21 – December 12, 2016 – the PARIS AGREEMENT was born. In effect this was a compilation of individual countries statements of what they are ready to do in order to decrease their GHG emissions in the hope that the sum-total of these promises will somehow limit the warming of the planet by only 2 degrees or even by only 1.5 degrees. Everybody understood that the sum total of the promises in those papers does not suffice to achieve the stated goals. Nevertheless, the so called agreement was indeed a great achievement as it puts a limit to work of 24 years since the 1992 first Rio Conference on Sustainable Development.

French President Francois Holland – via his Prime Minister Laurent Fabius let the raucous diplomats know that lights will be closed at the set time for the Conference end and thus got them to terminate the debate and declare that what they had was an agreement.

Very well – this ends the introductory effort to tackle the problem of global warming that causes climate change, and now we are free to start putting flesh on these bare bones that came out of the Paris negotiation rooms.

With the end of the conference, the French leadership was passed to the French Minister of the Environment Mme Segolene Royale as from now it will be viewed as a technical problem to be addressed by more technical people – not by fighting politicians as ib was perceived in the past. The main issue is now how to involve private financing in order to achieve the goals and targets that were set up in the Paris meeting.

Also the UN mechanisms that were set up are not needed anymore. In effect much of the personnel will eventually be let go and instead new mechanisms established – the verification mechanisms to see if the countries live up to what they voluntarily promised to do – and perhaps could be induced to do more as what they promised is still a far cry from what is needed.

The UN’s top climate diplomat, Christiana Figueres, has said she would not accept an extension of her appointment which finishes this summer – she will leave her post in July.

Looking to the future – others move into the breach, and only two months after Paris we just had an interesting international meeting in Vienna on finding financial routes to start implementing some of the things that were left without an indication of follow up procedure.

The meeting was held under the leadership of Kommunalkredit Public Consulting attached to a bank that deals with the Austrian Foreign Aid programs as operated by the Life Ministry and other government offices with experience of working with private enterprises active overseas.

The first day dealt with policy, but much more important in our opinion was the second day that was built around two sessions “LEVERAGING PRIVATE FINANCE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION.”

Twenty years of providing foreign aid did really nothing to help reduce the impact of climate change and now the foreign aid spigots have dried up. On the other hand, it has become clear that doing the right things for the environment is actually good business – so the way is to provide inducements that activate private enterprise. Investors can be found also in developing countries to participate with outside investors.

The Day was started by Tobias Grimm from Munich Reinsurance Co. who is a Senior Project Manager for Geo Risks – read losses from tings like Climate Change. They provide money for immediate recovery from extreme events.

He was followed by Angelika Frei-Oldenburg from the German European Bank GIZ Gmbh (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The Germans have joint projects in Morocco, Bsangladesh, Central America and Rwanda.
They deal with the opening of a path for private money going into adaptation projects and openly acknowledged thatthey have more questions then answers. This led me to summarize the topic as follows:

“WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY RATHER THEN RISK WHEN WORKING WITH ADAPTATION – THE IDEA IS TO BE DIFFERENT FROM BUSINESS AS USUAL.”

GIZ thinks of the need to create new products or to reallocate resources – the search is for how to bundle theideas and look at efficiencies in adaptation measures. As an example she told us bout a medium size Moroccan fishery tht suffered from loss of fishing stock and was moved to look at a recycling facility.

Felicity Spors, Sr. Carbon Finance Specialist at the Climate and Carbon Finance Unit of the World Bank Group, is working currently on Methane and Climate Change Mitigation and a Pilot Auction Facility. This as a new tool to get investments in private auctions.

Martin Berg from the European Investment Bank in Luxemburg looks at blending Capital markets with public funds.
His product could be Green Bonds. He was talking of markets that could move to 12.6 Billion Euro – 104 projects in 41 countries.

Adrien Couton from Dalberg Advisers Cosultancy working with MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Companies) that he clusters in groups. He was previously Chief Executive Officer of Naandi Water, the largest … Sanitation and Agriculture portfolios and as a consultant for the World Bank’s Water.

Clemens Ploechl who works now on Crowd Funding to Combat Climate Change. He ges many small funds via te internet in order to bundle these funds abd achieve an important goal. We understand that most people do not expect rurn on their money and eventually are happy to write them off if the important good cause was helped indeed.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Slow Violence of Climate Change.

By Sara Nelson, Jacobin

19 February 16

at READERS WRITE
readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…


The spectacle of international climate negotiations shows that climate justice won’t come through existing institutions.

he Paris Agreement, achieved December 12 at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21), has been heralded as a “turning point for humanity” and “a new type of international cooperation.” In his remarks to the General Assembly following the close of COP21, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it “a triumph for people, the planet, and multilateralism.”

More critical voices have pointed to the “wrinkles” that mar the agreement, while influential climate scientist James Hanson has dismissed it as “just worthless words.” Most commentary falls in a middle ground, viewing the agreement as an important, if faltering, step in the right direction: even if we’re not entirely happy with what has been achieved, that something was achieved at all signals a “political will” for change.

But the drama and significance of the COP as an event isn’t primarily about the emergence of an agreement. The history of international climate negotiations — with the exception of the spectacular failure at Copenhagen — boasts a long line of Outcomes, Accords, and even Protocols. Throughout, emissions have continued not only unabated, but at an accelerated pace.

Bolivian president Evo Morales remarked on this uncomfortable truth at last year’s COP20 in Lima, when he admonished delegates for having little to show for over two decades of climate change negotiations other than “a heavy load of hypocrisy and neocolonialism.”

The COP as an event, then, does not simply represent the failure to contend with the ongoing catastrophe of climate change. Its very process perpetrates what Rob Nixon calls the “slow violence” of climate change.

Nixon uses this term to describe how contemporary imperialism transfers its toxic byproducts to peoples and ecosystems at the peripheries of the global economy, challenging us to recognize imperial violence in the cumulative, attritional, and mundane forms of death and disease that do not resolve into moments of spectacular destruction.


Climate change, for Nixon, is the ultimate expression of slow violence, a “temporal and geographical outsourcing” of environmental devastation to the most vulnerable populations and to future generations, a “discounting” of lives and livelihoods that cannot prove their worth in economic terms.

But if climate change is “slow violence” in terms of its cumulative effects, it is equally slow in its execution — and nothing illustrates this quite so effectively as the trudging pace of international negotiations.

Geopolitical power operates here in decidedly non-spectacular ways, through the procedural minutiae of negotiations over subtleties of wording. The drama of urgency around the production of an outcome distracts from the reality of negotiations as a long process of strategic refusal, whereby wealthy countries deny their historical responsibility for global emissions and thereby lock in catastrophic climate trajectories.

Rather than heralding the success of an agreement or rejecting it outright as a failure, we should attend to the COP as an instance of slow violence in action.


Saving Tuvalu

Unlike previous efforts, the substance of the Paris agreement is based on individual countries’ voluntary emissions targets, which each nation was encouraged to submit in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs.

The voluntary nature of these targets is the result of, among other things, the fact that a binding treaty including quantified emissions targets would need to be ratified by the US Congress.

Given political realities in the US, seeking legally binding emissions targets would have effectively excluded at least one of the world’s largest emitters. (During COP21, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz convened a congressional hearing on climate change entitled “Data or Dogma?”, in which he claimed that “for the past eighteen years . . . there has been no significant warming whatsoever” and that CO2 is “good for plant life.”)

The fact that quantified emissions targets were off the negotiating table in Paris sat in tension with growing pressure to establish a global limit for temperature rise. Whereas the 2-degree Celsius threshold identified at Copenhagen has long been the marker separating “acceptable” levels of warming from catastrophic ones, a new limit was asserted by a coalition of vulnerable countries and civil society groups in a mantra that reverberated through the COP halls: “1.5 to stay alive.”

If 2C was a political compromise more suited to northern latitudes, the 1.5 threshold aimed to move vulnerable nations from the peripheral vision of the international system to its focal point. As Tuvalu’s environmental minister proclaimed in his national statement, “If we save Tuvalu, we save the world.”

But things don’t look good for Tuvalu. According to a recent United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report, the current national commitments, if realized, would add up to a 2.7 degree increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels — well beyond the “acceptable” range for any part of the globe. Moreover, the large majority of developing countries’ national commitments are at least partially conditional upon international climate finance.

The substantive political problems of the COP therefore concerned whether and how developing countries will be provided with the financial support to respond to climate change; whether the most vulnerable countries will be entitled to compensation for loss and damage suffered as a result of climate impacts; and how the international community will contend with climate-induced displacement.

All these issues hinge on the crucial notion of “differentiation.” This principle, put forth in Article 3 of the UNFCCC, establishes the differential responsibilities of developed and developing nations regarding climate change, based on industrialized countries’ historical responsibility for causing global warming as well as their far-greater capacity to respond to it.

Based on this historical responsibility, developed countries have a legal obligation under Article 4.3 of the UNFCCC to provide developing countries with the resources necessary to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.

But while it is the cornerstone of the Convention, the notion of differentiation is something that developing nations cannot take for granted. The US and other wealthy countries have pushed for a reinterpretation of differentiation based on current emissions rather than historical ones, a move that would shift a large part of the burden to BRIC countries.

At the COP, all these problems of responsibility and obligation play out through the nuances of the text. Through all manner of minor turns of phrase and strategic omissions, rich countries continually seek to delink decisions from the provision.

Meanwhile developing countries are continually reinserting textual references to the Articles of the convention where this principle is enshrined. Up until the penultimate draft, the problem of whether the agreement would “be implemented on the basis of . . . common but differentiated responsibility” or would merely “reflect” this principle remained unresolved, although the US had been forced to back off its proposal to delete the relevant article altogether.

Should and Shall

The COP is a massive logistical and infrastructural endeavor that requires transportation, catering, security, and information services for 22,000 registered participants, where everything from lighting to menu design is a diplomatic affair.

Because the very process of negotiation is itself subject to negotiation, trying to keep up with the COP can be a disorienting experience. There is an established schedule of side events, press conferences, and “High-Level Segments,” but the time, location, and details of access to the negotiations themselves are in constant flux.

The confusion of the schedule is not just annoying for observers — it also bears geopolitical weight. During the second week of the COP, many developing nations with fewer delegates complained that they struggled to locate the “informal” discussions and “bilaterals” that COP President Laurent Fabius has convened in order to sort out particularly sticky political problems in the text, undermining their participation in the agreement.

Although Fabius has been praised for avoiding the backroom process that undermined the Copenhagen agreement, the problem of transparency is consistently raised by developing countries through debate over when, where, and how meetings should be conducted.

Inside the meeting rooms, the pace of events is markedly slower. The working documents are the product of years of negotiations, inaugurated by the Durban Platform in 2011, all of which have led up to the promise of a global agreement for the post-2020 period and an agenda for pre-2020 action in Paris. Lack of consensus is depicted by a succession of nested brackets, resulting in grammatically tortured constructions like this:

[[Developed country Parties [and other developed country Parties included in Annex II to the Convention][and Parties in a position to do so] [should take the lead and]][All Parties in a position to do so] [shall][should][other] provide [support][[new and additional] financial resources] to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation [as well as addressing loss and damage] [and others in a position to do so should complement such efforts].]

The weight of global futures that bears on each nuanced shift in language is more, apparently, than the text can withstand. Developing countries strongly favor that climate finance be “provided” by developed countries through public funds, whereas developed countries push for such resources to be “mobilized,” opening the door for private capital to fulfill the bulk of climate finance obligations.

In the final moments leading up to the agreement, the US threatened to back out altogether when a “should” was replaced with a more-legally-binding “shall,” a change that was quickly chalked up to a technical error.

Similarly, the seemingly innocuous afterthought urging “others in a position to do so” to “complement such efforts” carries particular import, as it would include rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India among those responsible for financing the mitigation and adaptation efforts of the rest of the developing world — a proposition that for these countries disavows the West’s historical responsibility for squandering the global “emissions budget.”

Much of the substance of differentiation comes down to the question of “climate finance,” or who will pay for climate change mitigation and adaptation. For many countries, the answer to this has been emissions markets. Through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), developed countries with binding emissions reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol can “offset” their emissions by purchasing credits from offsetting projects in developing countries, where the cost of mitigation is cheaper.

Criticisms of the CDM for its failure to actually deliver on mitigation are nothing new, whether due to outright fraud or to the inherent flaws in emissions accounting. Equally ubiquitous are documented cases of the land- and resource-grabbing that often accompanies offsetting projects, especially those involving forest offsets. The CDM, as many have argued, is essentially a big loophole designed to enable developed countries to meet their emissions targets on paper without actually investing in infrastructural changes back home.

But since the market essentially collapsed from lack of demand in 2012, arguments in favor of the program have become even less tenable. Offset prices of one to three dollars per metric ton of CO2 undermine the whole economic logic of carbon markets, which is to “internalize” the cost of emissions and thereby provide a disincentive to emit (managing director of the IMF Christine Lagarde recently suggested that an economically efficient price for carbon would be far higher, around $30 per ton).

It was clear in Paris that the emissions trading industry had high hopes that the carbon markets might be revived in a new agreement. At a business-focused side event, Jeff Swartz, Director of Policy for the industry group International Emissions Trading Association, described the group’s lobbying efforts leading up to COP21, which included proposing specific wording for the agreement to delegates in 90 countries.

Whereas the current geography of carbon trading is a fragmented patchwork of regional and national markets, each with their own accounting and verification procedures, the Paris agreement could open the door for new international standards that would enable carbon to circulate seamlessly in globally-integrated markets. “Business wants rules,” Swartz said; it is up to governments, he argued, to create the necessary conditions that will expand foreign investment in climate finance and enable carbon to become a truly “fungible” commodity.

With Brazil and India among those pushing hardest for an expansion of emissions trading, the issue hardly marks a binary division between “developing” and “developed” countries; Patrick Bond recently wrote that “with regard to both world financial markets and climate policy, the BRICs are not anti-imperialist but instead subimperialist.” Nonetheless, the expansion of market-based climate finance such as carbon trading serves developed countries by shifting the burden of climate finance off of their public coffers and onto private markets.

At a COP side event on climate finance, a speaker from the Kenyan government demonstrated the extent to which some developing countries are overhauling their policy infrastructure in order to attract much-needed climate finance in all forms. Outlining Kenya’s “Elaborate Climate Finance Readiness Strategy (ECFRS),” he argued that developing countries need to establish legal, institutional, financial, and reporting frameworks that will make them as “attractive” as possible to the private capital flowing into climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The state’s role, the Kenyan speaker argued, is to provide the accounting frameworks, institutional support, and regulatory environment necessary to “liberate” the private capital flowing through a tangled network of financial channels.

This mandate that the developing state contort itself to the demands of private climate finance was countered by the speaker’s colleagues on the panel. The climate justice activist Mithika Mwenda pointed out that the whole point of climate finance is to support those necessary activities that don’t produce a return on investment.

Likewise, Mariama Williams of the South Centre, a consulting group that assists developing nations in international negotiations, was clear that “Climate finance arises out of one fact: historical responsibility.” This alone distinguishes it from voluntary development assistance.

In practice, however, this distinction is not so simple. According to the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative, with some monies going through public budgets, some through national climate funds, some through designated international funds, and some through private markets, tracing the flows of climate finance — and where they ultimately end up — is near impossible.

As Williams pointed out, the very confusion of climate finance flows is a strategy on the part of developed countries to overrepresent their contributions to developing countries. Moreover, as Mwenda described, developed countries tend to direct funds to institutions that they dominate, such as the World Bank, rather than the more democratic funds that serve the Convention.

In this light, the $248 million pledges heralded at COP21 for the Least Developed Countries Fund are not so much a boon as a belated acknowledgement that while billions are reportedly flowing into climate finance, the funds dedicated to making these resources available to the most vulnerable countries remain empty.

This is why developing countries pushed so hard for the qualifier “new and additional” to be added to the text on climate finance — it’s an attempt to ensure that climate finance means more than just a redirection of existing development assistance.

As the environmental minister of Tonga — one of the planet’s most climate-vulnerable nations — explained in his address to the COP, the country is already spending 30 percent of its overseas development assistance on climate change adaptation. Unless the climate finance promised for developing countries comes on top of existing development assistance, it effectively means that these countries will be sacrificing long-term development goals to the demands of basic survival.


Loss and Damage

Across town at Paris’s Grand Palais, the corporate perspective on climate finance was represented at the COP21 Solutions exhibit. Dubbed “The Climate Experience,” the exhibition by major energy, transportation, and beverage corporations sparked a protest in which activists were forcibly removed for calling out the environmental and human rights violations of companies participating in the event.

Inside the Grand Palais’s art nouveau pavilion, a display by the transnational energy, water, and waste management corporation Veolia invited the visitor to “Voyage to the land of +2C” through a set of white curtains. Inside, rather than submerged coastal cities and devastating droughts, the land of +2C was a “circular economy” powered by methane, in which the currency was the “price of carbon.”

Across the pavilion, on a stairway constructed in a form of a glacier, visitors donned goggles to embark on a virtual reality tour of Evian’s sustainability solutions while chickens pecked in the grass of a tiny barnyard maintained by the French oilseed industry group Avril.

Of course “The Climate Experience” for much of the world’s population bears little resemblance to corporate techno-futures of biofuels and cradle-to-cradle plastics. For most, that future is better articulated through the Paris agreement’s language of “loss and damage.” Loss and damage recognizes the limits of adaptation, beyond which affected countries and populations should be subject to some kind of redress for the loss.

But how and by whom this redress should take place is not easy to answer. Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that compounds existing stressors, making the “climate-induced” elements of loss and damage difficult to extricate from the social and political ones.

An average of 26 million people have been displaced annually by natural disasters since 2008, compounding the existing refugee crisis that promises to become still more dire. What exactly counts as “loss and damage” in this instance is hard to pin down, given the tendency for the slow violence of climate change to flip into the fast violence of conflict. In his address to the COP, for example, Al Gore drew a narrative line from drought-induced grain shortages in Russia to the food riots and self-immolation that helped to catalyze the Arab Spring in Tunis.

Yet the language of loss and damage has been crucial for developing countries and activists hoping to pry open a space for the possibility of compensation from high-emitting countries for the impacts of climate change — what some have referred to as climate reparations. Loss and damage compensation would transform the general acknowledgement of historical responsibility into a principle of liability.

However, the complexities of climate change as a form of slow violence make meeting the narrow demands of liability in most legal contexts extremely difficult. Nevertheless Friends of the Earth has argued that existing principles of international law barring states from causing environmental harms outside of their borders could provide a basis for loss and damage liability.


In Paris, loss and damage was a red line issue for both vulnerable countries and high-emitters. Vulnerable countries insisted that loss and damage from both “slow onset” and “extreme” events be acknowledged as an issue distinct from adaptation, and pushed for the establishment of a “climate change induced displacement facility” to coordinate migration and planned relocation. Meanwhile the US threatened to back out altogether if the text allowed for liability, and insisted that a waiver be added that explicitly barred this possibility.


Performing Justice

As negotiations stretched on in midnight-to-5 AM meetings, there was a general sense of drama around the possibility of collapse. In the final hours of negotiations, COP President Laurent Fabius warned that Paris must not become “Copenhagen with more police.”

But US brinksmanship notwithstanding, there was always going to be an agreement. As Fabius made clear in his plea to delegates in the final hours, a failure to come out with something would have compromised “the very credibility of multilateralism and the international community as an entity able to respond to global challenges.” The reality is that the COP’s function as a performance of international consensus is probably too important at this juncture for even the least-cooperative nations to let it fail entirely.


What, then, was accomplished in Paris?


The final agreement is a stripped-down compromise text that has lost much substantive detail, but in which some crucial provisions remain. Language on human rights, gender equality, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the need for a just transition — the product of years of work on the part of civil society groups and indigenous movements — have been relegated to the preamble of the text, weakening their legal import.


The temperature goal also falls in a middle ground, with a commitment to staying “well below 2C above preindustrial levels” and a promise to “pursue efforts” to keep it below 1.5. The legal structure of the agreement itself — based on non-enforceable voluntary emissions reductions — makes these targets purely rhetorical.

Differentiation is less strict than in some previous agreements (like the Kyoto Protocol), but it cuts through the entire text. Article 2, in a somewhat awkward compromise, asserts that “The Agreement will be implemented to reflect [my emphasis] equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.” This overarching statement — which the US wanted to delete entirely — is an important gain for developing countries.

The section on finance, now in Article 9, clearly states that “Developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.”

It also “encourages” other Parties to do so voluntarily, to the apparent satisfaction of India and China who had strongly resisted being subject to the obligations of the major historic emitters in the West.

But the $100 billion promised in the decision text accompanying the agreement is actually a figure that was already negotiated eight years ago in Cancun; its presence in this text is simply testament to the unceasing work of activists and developing country parties to prevent the US and other rich countries from backsliding on this promise. It is also a number that pales in comparison to the $500 billion spent annually on fossil fuel subsidies, which receive scant mention in the agreement.

Moreover, the crucial details surrounding the $100 billion figure — primarily the provision that these monies be “new and additional,” that they be grant-based, and that they come primarily from public coffers — have evaporated, and the Article encourages the “mobilization” of resources “from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels.” Giving substance to this, Article 6 establishes a new mechanism for cooperation on “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” — newspeak for emissions trading.

The agreement gives loss and damage its own section separate from adaptation, makes permanent the Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage (established in 2013 and previously set to expire in 2016), and establishes a task force to address climate displacement.

In place of liability or compensation, however, the text prioritizes insurance-based solutions for vulnerable populations. As a final nail to the issue of reparations, the US has succeeded in gaining a general waiver that “Article 8 of the Agreement does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”

Thus what has really been accomplished at the COP is the slow, careful work by which rich countries refuse to substantively accept their historical responsibility (and that of the corporations whose agendas they support) for the environmental devastation that threatens lives and livelihoods, and the very existence of many nations, around the globe.

Each strategic delay, each subtle weakening of language, each return to the passive voice reduces our capacity for collective action, helping to lock in irreversible climate change that condemns many nations to wholesale extinction. This is the banal, bureaucratic work of slow violence.

But this is work that is far from complete. Developing countries have fought successfully and made significant gains in this process; indeed, since the 1972 Stockholm Convention on the Environment that helped to inaugurate the Third World Forum, international environmental politics has been an important arena in which formerly Third World countries have asserted national sovereignty.

In regard to climate change, however, the uneven geography of vulnerability intersects with that of geopolitical power, such that it is the most vulnerable countries who can least afford the hardline negotiating strategies that might undermine an agreement.

On the other hand, “non-outcomes suit the powerful,” by substituting the “performance of care” for substantive policy. Speaking for the Caribbean community, Barbados admonished delegates that the failure to acknowledge these uneven capacities and vulnerabilities constituted a “benign neglect” that would condemn island nations to “certain extinction.” In this context, climate change is not simply an unintended byproduct of colonial history, but an ongoing act of imperial violence.

Looking at the COP as a process of slow violence raises questions about the meaning of climate justice in the context of the UN system. In her coverage of Israel’s 1962 prosecution of Nazi SS commander Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt reflected on the basic juridical problem at the heart of the trial: to what extent could criminal law provide justice for the kind of “administrative massacre” perpetrated by the German state bureaucracy?

In the final paragraphs of her postscript to the trial report, Arendt distinguished between the notion of individual guilt and the fact of political responsibility, which “every government assumes . . . for the deeds and misdeeds of its predecessor and every nation for the deeds and misdeeds of its past.”

“It is quite conceivable,” she argued, “that certain political responsibilities among nations might some day be adjudicated in an international court; what is inconceivable is that such a court would be a criminal tribunal which pronounces on the guilt or innocence of individuals.”

Based on the process in Paris, such an institution would not be the UNFCCC, either. Through the principle of differentiation based on historical emissions, the UNFCCC establishes this notion of political responsibility as the basis for an international legal framework for contending with climate change. Nevertheless, the reality of international negotiations means that it falls far short of holding Parties accountable to this in practice.

If justice requires the capacity to judge, to allocate responsibility for wrongdoing, how is climate justice to be achieved in an institution that requires the consent of those who bear the lion’s share of that responsibility? What does the promise of a “just transition,” relegated now to the non-operative preamble of the text, mean without the ability to enforce that justice?

The lesson from COP21, as a political process and spectacle, is not only that our international institutions remain woefully inadequate for facing the structural violence that underpins modern life. Arendt highlights how the performance of justice, by failing to confront its own limitations, risks perpetuating the atrocities it seeks to address. The COP21 was nothing if not such a performance, in which the language of “climate justice” was invoked by heads of state and delegates from rich countries and poor alike.

The ongoing violence of climate change demands that, rather than seeking justice in an institution fundamentally incapable of delivering it, we confront the question inspired by Nixon. How do we create institutions that hold actors responsible for “a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all”?

The Paris Agreement is not an outcome to be celebrated or rejected, but a series of foot- and handholds along a path that remains a steep climb.

The presence of loss and damage, the up-front acknowledgement of differentiation, the mandated reporting and updating of national contributions every five years, and the mention of a 1.5 Celsius temperature limit all provide imperfect tools with which to demand state policy that would make the targets meaningful.

All of these tools, as Kate Aronoff has noted, are the results of years of struggle, and all of them will continue to be grasped by activists at the forefront of that struggle. As Carroll Muffett, president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental law, put it:

It’s simply easier [if the mention of human rights is] in the operative text; but I can tell you, lawyers like me, and lawyers around the world, will be taking those existing rights, they’ll be taking this preamble, and they’ll be taking every word of this text against any party who tries to block human rights.

Because it’s international in scope, the agreement can provide a common point of gravity among a diversity of local movements on the front lines of the struggle to keep fossil fuels in the ground, to address climate-related displacement, and to prevent land grabbing under the guise of sustainable development.

Much of this will have to happen at the national or sub-national level, as it is in domestic law where the goals articulated in the INDCs will or will not take legal form. With the recognition that “the legalities standing in the way of justice” demand that environmental activists, labor unions, indigenous movements, and coalitions of climate-vulnerable peoples continue to take climate justice into their own hands, the Paris agreement may provide a framework for strengthening existing solidarities and forming new ones.

[ THE CONCLUSION OF THIS ARTICLE IS IN OUR OPINION: }

There is a danger, however, that the COP process itself, in its attritional slowness, will drain vital energy and resources from efforts to build more effective climate justice institutions. Without rejecting the international process as simply dysfunctional, we should be wary of how its particular functions can absorb and redirect activist energy that might be better spent elsewhere.

As Sarah Bracking and M. K. Dorsey caution, “having an inflated and not very well proved faith in the ability for supranational structures to change our future . . . detracts from efforts to build it ourselves in the everyday now.” In these efforts, the Paris Agreement might be one more tool in the shed, but only if it is taken up with the understanding that the institutions capable of delivering on climate justice are yet to be built.

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

THE NEW YORK TIMES Politics section:

Supreme Court’s Blow to Emissions Efforts May Imperil Paris Climate Accord.

By CORAL DAVENPORT February 10, 2016

Photo — A coal-fired power plant behind homes in Poca, W.V., in 2014. Credit Robert Galbraith/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s surprise decision Tuesday to halt the carrying out of President Obama’s climate change regulation could weaken or even imperil the international global warming accord reached with great ceremony in Paris less than two months ago, climate diplomats say.

The Paris Agreement, the first accord to commit every country to combat climate change, had as a cornerstone Mr. Obama’s assurance that the United States would enact strong, legally sound policies to significantly cut carbon emissions.
The United States is the largest historical greenhouse gas polluter, although its annual emissions have been overtaken by China’s.

But in the capitals of India and China, the other two largest polluters, climate change policy experts said the court’s decision threw the United States’ commitment into question, and possibly New Delhi’s and Beijing’s.

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“If the U.S. Supreme Court actually declares the coal power plant rules stillborn, the chances of nurturing trust between countries would all but vanish,” said Navroz K. Dubash, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. “This could be the proverbial string which causes Paris to unravel.”

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Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

The issue can be overwhelming. The science is complicated. We get it. This is your cheat sheet.

The court did not block the rule permanently, but halted it from being carried out in the states until legal challenges against it have been decided, a process that could take a year or more. Legal experts said the justices’ decision to stop work on the rule before any court had decided against it was unprecedented and signaled that the regulation might ultimately be overturned. That could set back the United States’ climate efforts for years, although there would still be a chance for Washington to meet its commitments by 2025.

“If the American clean energy plan is overturned, we’ll need to reassess whether the United States can meet its commitments,” said Zou Ji, the deputy director general of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, a government think tank in Beijing.

Mr. Zou, who was an adviser to the Chinese delegation at the Paris negotiations, said by telephone: “It had seemed that with the American commitments, it was possible to get on the right emissions path globally. But without those commitments, that could be a blow to confidence in low-carbon development. In China domestically, there is also resistance to low-carbon policies, and they would be able to say: ‘Look, the United States doesn’t keep its word. Why make so many demands on us?’ ”

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Paris Climate Change Conference 2015
Complete coverage of the United Nations meeting in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, and efforts to reach an emissions deal.

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Inaction by the United States has long been the chief obstacle to meaningful global climate change agreements.

Mr. Obama sought to change that with aggressive but politically controversial Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. With those rules, Mr. Obama won agreements from China and India to enact pollution reduction plans and helped push other countries to sign on to the Paris measure.

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The top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India remains to provide cheap electricity to the 300 million Indians without power. If the United States reneges on its commitments, “it really would strengthen the hand of those who say Paris was ineffective and a bad deal for India,” Mr. Dubash said.

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What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Halt Climate Regulation Means:

Answers to questions about the court’s decision to temporarily block the Obama administration’s effort to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Under Mr. Obama’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, the United States will cut its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, largely through the E.P.A. regulations on power plants and a mix of rules reining in pollution from cars, buildings and other sources. All of those policies were set to be carried out briskly so they would be well underway by the time Mr. Obama left office.

White House officials insisted on Wednesday that the rule would eventually be upheld, and that given the timetable for litigation and for meeting the target, the United States could still achieve its Paris commitment.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, pointed to other greenhouse gas reduction policies Mr. Obama had established to help meet the 2025 target, including a federal budget agreement late last year that included long-term extensions of tax credits for wind and solar power.

Still, the Supreme Court’s decision ensures that climate policy will not be set on Mr. Obama’s watch. A Federal District Court will hear oral arguments on the climate rule June 2 and is expected to issue its decision later this year, but an appeal to the Supreme Court is all but certain. If the justices agree to hear the case, a ruling is unlikely before June 2017.

If the rule is eventually overturned, the E.P.A. is still required by law to put forth a regulation controlling carbon dioxide emissions. That rule would be shaped by the next president and face its own legal gantlet, pushing action years into the future.

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The White House and its supporters took hope from announcements that the governors of some states, including California, New York and Washington, would continue to work voluntarily to carry out the rule.

————————

More Reporting on Climate Change

A Climate Deal, 6 Fateful Years in the Making Dec. 14, 2015
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Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate June 16, 2015
The New Optimism of Al Gore March 17, 2015

But most states are expected to halt their compliance efforts. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, had already been urging governors to refuse to comply with the plan. “These regulations are, in my view, likely illegal,” Mr. McConnell said Wednesday. “Yesterday’s Supreme Court order is just the latest sign of that. If nothing else, it shows we were right to let governors know their options.”

American policy experts said that the Supreme Court decision might be the first of many fractures in the deal.

“This pushback is not something that’s unique to the United States,” said John Sterman, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who attended the negotiations in Paris. “It’s happening all over the developed world.”

Poland and some other coal-reliant countries have resisted the European Union’s commitment under the agreement to more stringently reduce emissions across member states.

Already, some people close to the climate talks worry that the events in the United States could lead to a repeat of what happened after the signing of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first major climate change treaty. Vice President Al Gore, a staunch environmentalist, negotiated the treaty with other world leaders, but the Senate voted against it. Then President George W. Bush pulled the United States out entirely.

The Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have pledged to continue and strengthen Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, so a rule developed by their administrations would probably let the country meet its Paris goals.

But Republican contenders, including Donald J. Trump, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have questioned or denied the science of human-caused climate change and sharply criticized the climate change regulations and the Paris Agreement.

“The Supreme Court just clarified the stakes for the American people in the election when it comes to climate change,” said Nigel Purvis, the president of the Climate Advisers consulting group and a climate diplomat under Bill Clinton and Mr. Bush.


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Ellen Barry contributed reporting from New Delhi, Chris Buckley from Beijing and Justin Gillis from New York.

You can follow The New York Times’s politics and Washington coverage on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the First Draft politics newsletter.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Above the entrance to 21 Zerubabel Street in the Yemenite Quarter in Tel Aviv – next door to the Rabbi Shabzi Synagogue and the warning – a dog in the courtyard – it says – in Hebrew:Sun light is very bleak to someone who does not find sense in his life. Next tomit in English is written: “There is no Fear in Love.”

The Israeli papers that are still not owned by an Israeli government related American individual – The HAARETZ and the Yedioth Aharonot – are now full with hints at internal culture wars started by an uneducated Culture Minister – Ms. Miri Regev who contended that even uneducated people can be educated. That is not my topic here – for those interested please read The New York Times article of today – “Israel, Mired in Ideological Battles, Fights on Cultural Fronts” – By STEVEN ERLANGER January 29, 2016. We are here rather interested in what the rather officialpro-government papers say – The MAARIV and The ISRAEL HAYOM say.

A main report comes from the meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus between Israel’s Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu and His counterparts from Greece and Cyprus titled as the “Mediterranean Alliance.” As I just arrived here from Vienna I am quite familiar with the Merkel & Faymann problems with Greece and Turkey and the simple facts that the EU in ordr to survive tends now to shed Greece and trade it for higher reliance on Turkey. What I sense thus is the contemplation of the Israeli government to look as well for new allies in its troubled corner of thev World.

Then, no misunderstanding here – President Obama just declared for all to hear that Putin is corrupt and Mr. Putin reacted by asking for evidence. No problem on this front – the UK obliged and declared Putin involved in the execution of a financial competitor – mafia style. This sort of language was not heard even in the days of President Regan’s attacks on the Soviet “Evil Empire.”

Obama looks at the mess in Western Asia he inherited from G.W. Bush who really turned all local devils there lose by taking off the lids that kept a modicum of order as left by the British and French colonial powers. G.W. continued the reliance on the Saudis that came down from Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and thus became partial to an evolving Sunni Shia rift with an ever increasing Iranian threat to the US oil supplies from the Middle East. Obviously, US interests did not match in all of this the European effort to build their own power bloc and the difficulties the EU put before Turkey’s attemp to join in the Union. Russia had its own problems with the EU and when life for the US and the EU became difficultbin the Arab region – they jumped in and used the occasion to move on the Ukraine as well.

So what now?

My suggestion based on an acknowledged very superficial reading of the real news – is: By necessity there are now two new potential NEUTRAL Centers in a renewed COLD WAR scenario.

Oman is the Neutral space between the Saudis and Iran – to be cherished by the US.

The small group of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel – a new buffer zone between the EU & Turkey alliance and the Sunni Arab Golf and the US – with Syria and Iraq the actual battle-field that will churn the Arab World until it reorganizes the remaining waste-lands. Russia has gained a footing via the Shiia Muslims and the US will see to limit this by making it more profitable to Iran to play the US in exchange for diminished role to the Saudis. It is all in the new world cards.

And what about the Arab North African States? Will they fall into the hands of extreme Sunnis as preached by Saudi Wahhabism – the source of what has moved to the creation of the new Islamic powder keg? I do not think this is possible in North Africa – simply because there are no Shiia elements there that justify to the Sunnis such an effort. Will there be another neutral zone in the North African region in the Cold War arena? This makes sense eventually.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 19th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This last Sunday, the venerable Austrian jewel – THE BURGTHEATER – once more lived up to the Brechtian concept of an ideal Theater as an arena for Ideas. Let me confess that I am not innocent when it comes to this. Back in the sixties and seventies I was part of a team that was running THE THEATER FOR IDEAS in the West Village of Manhattan, and in the summers – out of a summer house I shared in East Hampton on Long Island, the State of New York. Shirley Broughton, a former dancer and Brechtian theater person, from the days Brecht exiled himself from Nazi Germany and was active in the US,
picked up the idea after Bertolt Brecht returned to East Berlin. With the help of some family foundations she established this institution that at its best was described as a play-ground for the cream of New York intelligentia. For the 1965-1966 season, THE THEATER FOR IDEAS was awarded an OBIE Special Citation “for encouraging exploration in dramatic literature and music and providing a forum for thought in the theater.” It is the 11 am Sunday debates at the Burgtheater that remind me now of those old days.

Under the general topic of DEBATING EUROPE – and under the leadership of the Editor of DER STANDARD – Alexandra Föderl-Schmid – and with support from the ERSTE FOUNDATION and the IWM (Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen – The Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna), The Burgtheater organized a debate on the topic “Wozu brauchen wir TTIP? – What for do we need TTIP? – “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” – a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US.

The Chair of the panel was Ms. Shalini Randeria, Rector of IWM in Vienna and Research Director and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva.

The Panel (in seating order) included Mr. Peter-Tobias Stall, professor of public international law at the Georg August University of Göttingen; Ms. Eva Dessewffy, lecturer at the Department of European Integration and Economy-Right at the Danube University in Krems, Austria and Consultant with the Labor-Unions Headquarter, Austria; Mr. Franz Schellhorn, Head of the liberal-economy think-tank Agenda Austria and previous Economy-Journalist for Die Presse; Mr. Lutz Guellner, a German, the new elected Head for Communication in the Trade Office of the European Commission, Brussels; Ms. Petra Pinzler, in September 2015 she published a volume on un-free-trade under the domination of big companies and government officials – “Der Unfreihandel. Die heimliche Herrschaft von Konzernen und Kanzleien” (Rowohlt) – a critical review of the European Trade policy with an analysis of the rights, democracy and economy aspects of the Free-Trade planned programs such as TTIP, CETA und TISA.

As we see – the panel was well balance and all points of view present – from the self justifying European Commission and the liberal economist to the strict guardians of labor rights and honest analysts of what it means for Europe to allow itself to be dominated by American business interests based in very different legislature then any of the EU member states. So, I see no sense in repeating here the arguments, and I will now rather point out why a deal between two un-equals is just not to the Europeans’ interest.


The two un-equals are a United States – united under the banner of pure capitalism that rejects the niceties of social and environmental aspects in running the economy. This American Democracy gives people the right to earn money with money. This naturally leads to concentration of wealth and to more power to the wealthy.


On the other hand, the European Democracy has evolved as a Social Democracy that uses taxes in order to provide services to the citizens. True, Europe is not as united as it ought to be and the individual states are pursuing the social democracy goals with different levels of enthusiasm. It is the old established democracies that are better off, and have thus more advanced social norms – with some of those that more recently freed themselves from totalitarian systems lagging behind and being more susceptible to US charms.


The European Commission as such, seemingly as well, has allowed itself to be dragged into secret negotiations with the US super-business and this seems completely unacceptable to the labor unions and the environmentalists that judge correctly the immense danger from losing protective laws – laws that protect the people and the environment from the power of immense money grab and loss of judicial cover.


The goal of an economy ought to be SUSTAINABILITY rather then GROWTH – the charms of FREE-TRADE can mean that a Country with lower protective legislation – or no protective legislation at all – can by overriding in name of agreed upon expediency – simply wipe away the protection that so painstakingly has been established in a more advanced social state, that night evaluate sustainability more then the immediate financial gain that destroys the environment, lowers quality of life, and is responsible for health problems.

To be sure – I do have a personal story on this. Back in the seventies, the US decided finally that the health problems created by combustion of lead-contained gasoline where not worth the profits of the petroleum refinery – and leaded gasoline was outlawed. So what? The company that produced the Tetra-Ethyl-Lead – the compound that was used by the refiners – created a daughter company in Canada, and under THE FREE TRADE NAFTA agreement moved to export this to California where the petroleum industry was happy to buy it from them. Under NAFTA they just tried to over-ride US law. And what do you know, the US government said they had no legal means to stop this. They cannot close the border to poison because that would unravel NAFTA. California had to pay off that company to get them to desist from exporting the stuff – plain extortion on an international level. A story that should be known to all those European TTIP dreamers. What made things worse was the fact that by then there was proposed an alternative to lead – low percentages of ethanol mixed to the gasoline did provide the octane boost need to replace the lead compound – but refiners did not want this solution.

The opposition to TTIP in Austria is clear in the unwillingness to accept transnational legal system that is intended to override the Austrian and European legislation. That is clear.

Austria is fighting genetic engineering technologies and requires clear information about content of food and other products – any decrease in this sort of safeguards imposed by someone with less stringent rules is unacceptable.

Social and ecological achievements by Austria and the EU cannot be rolled back for sake of profit – that is clear.

Most countries including the EU, the US, and Canada, have accepted the 8 minimum-agreed-norms of the ILO – such as the right to collective agreements – to unionize and have an agreement; no children’s work; no forced labor; non-discrimination of any kind. Above all – no secrecy allowed. Democracy is based on transparency.

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Hoping I will get another hint to something about Europe, I went to see the Burgtheater project “Hotel Europa oder Der Antichrist” (Hotel Europe or the Anti-Christ) fashioned freely after a novel written by Joseph Roth with further inputs from other pieces and correspondence.

Moses Joseph Roth (1894 in Brody, eastern Galicia, Austria-Hungary – died in 1939 in Paris exile having committed suicide with excess drinking) was an Austrian writer and journalist.

This piece deals with someone coming back after World War I to the gates of Europe. It is possible to see in this theater event the slide to World War II. The one point I found in the direction I was looking to is Roth’s equalizing Hollywood and Hitler. Could we say that I saw there the danger from an excess that dehumanizes us? Maybe.

Whatever – this was very good theater and the four actors looked like Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph dressed as Hotel bell-hops. I guess – a bow to Mr. Roth living in hotels in exile from his Austria.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 12th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Climate change means more fear, less fun for global middle class – UBS

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Mon, 11 Jan 2016
Author: Megan Rowling

BARCELONA, Jan 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The erosion of wealth among the world’s middle class due to climate change is a threat to economic and social stability which could spur its 1 billion members to push for action on global warming, Swiss bank UBS Group AG said.

In a study of middle-class consumption in 215 cities around the world, UBS analysts found spending priorities were noticeably different in cities most at risk from climate change such as Los Angeles, Tokyo and Shanghai.

In those top-risk cities, the middle class spent between 0.6 and 0.8 percent more on housing compared to the national average, and less on luxuries, entertainment and durable goods.

The report said middle-class households are already changing their lifestyles in the cities most exposed to hotter temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather such as storms and floods.

“More fear, less fun is how we might sum it up,” said the study.

In places with high risks of climate-related shocks, people spend more on the upkeep of their properties. And homes may decrease in value if certain places become less appealing to live, eating into wealth, the report said.

Efforts to adapt to changing climate conditions – which remain modest and sporadic among the middle class – can also bring new costs.

In cities that suffer extreme heat, the middle-class is increasingly laying out for air conditioning, the report noted.

But some types of adaptation can create “a negative feedback loop”, it warned. For instance, higher demand for air conditioning requires more electricity, which can lead to grid failure and increased planet-warming emissions.

In addition, inadequate infrastructure and health care systems increase the need to rely on emergency government support when disasters strike. “In our assessment this is likely, even in the richest of countries,” the report said.

The largest cities are home to nearly a quarter of the global population and generate around half of global GDP, the report said.

Most of the global middle class lives in Southeast Asia, the region that has experienced the fastest urban population growth in recent years, it noted.

But 91 percent of weather-related losses in Asia are uninsured, it added, compared with 32 percent in the United States, which had the highest level of insurance penetration in the study sample.

DRIVER OF CONFLICT

The report also said climate-driven population shifts into urban areas have the potential to create and exacerbate conflict, as in Syria.

In the course of five years of drought starting in 2006, Syria lost 85 percent of its livestock and saw crop production plummet, child malnutrition worsen and the subsequent migration of 1.5 million residents from rural to urban areas.

“These conditions led to protests, which ultimately escalated into civil war,” Zurich-based UBS said in a statement.

However, the political and social clout of middle-class populations means their vulnerability to climate change risks should translate into pressure on governments to tackle global warming, the report noted.

“The middle class has two important qualities that make them critically important to the conversation about climate change: substantial assets and political influence,” said Paul Donovan, global economist and managing director at UBS Investment Bank.

“If the effects of climate change significantly hurt the middle class, the inevitable reaction should in turn elicit a strong response from policy makers.”

(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IRENA’s two added workshops during World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that will be held January 16-21, 2016.

from: Virginia Yu <VYu@irena.org>

Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 2:22 PM

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announces two side events at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE – 1) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy, 18 January, and 2) Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, 19 January.

1) The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy will take place on 18th January, 2016 at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre) – future home of World Fair 2020), Abu Dhabi. The purpose of this workshop is to gather information and ideas from stakeholders that can feed into IRENA’s development of the medium-term strategy (1-2 years) for the Global Atlas. Workshop participants will engage in a practical discussion around how the Global Atlas can help overcome barriers to renewable energy development, generate ideas for more effective communication on the Global Atlas, and investigate the needs and ideas of data providers.

To register, please send an email to  potentials at irena.org by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please read the final event concept note and announcement. Please connect to:  www.irena.org
prior to the meeting.

2) The Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, in collaboration with DLR will take place on 19th January, 2016 at IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

With this training, IRENA gives an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy. To register, please send an email to  carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de. We would be grateful to receive your confirmation by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please see the attached PDF.

IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City | P.O. Box 236 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Tel: +97124179988 | Mob: +971566161584 | www.irena.org

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Solar-Med-Atlas Workshop for Policy Makers.pdf 164K


Solar Resource Assessment for Policy Makers:


Date: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016, 10-16h Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Venue: IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City

Solar resource is “fuel” for solar energy technologies and the availability of accurate solar data is a key parameter in planning solar power systems. Solar resource assessment portals as the Solar-Med- Atlas and the IRENA Global Atlas have been developed to ease access to this data, to improve planning of policies and implementation of solar energy systems.
With this training we want to give you an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy.

Training Schedule 10:00h – 10:45h
10:45h – 12:15h
12:15h – 13:15h 13:15h – 14:15h
14:15h – 15:45h
15:45h – 16:00h

- Introduction and expectations of the participants
- Getting information from solar resource portals, hands on experience on using the Solar-Med-Atlas and the Global Atlas for Renewable Energies

Lunch Break

- Analysis of the data in Geographical information systems (demonstration) – Interpretation of results
What is a good nationwide solar resource assessment – requirements for a successful campaign.

- Conclusions and further questions. Short assessment of the Global Atlas

Please bring along your laptops, to be able to participate in the hands on exercises.
Please register your participation at:  carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de

Transportation: Shuttle bus will be provided from ADNEC at 9:15am going to IRENA HQ, then leaving again at 4:00 pm from IRENA HQ going to ADNEC

We thank IRENA for hosting the workshop in their headquarters.

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THE IRENA 6-TH ASSEMBLY IS SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 16-17, 2016 AND WILL START ON JANUARY 16TH WITH A MINISTERIAL ROUNDTABLE TITLED: “AFTER COP 21 – CONCERTED ACTION TOWARDS RENEWABLE ENERGY DEPLOYMENT.”

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Posted in Abu Dhabi, Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Future Events, Futurism, Geneva, Germany, Nairobi, Paris, UAE, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Between 1979 and 1983, the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s most powerful lobby group, ran a task force for fossil fuel companies to ‘monitor and share climate research.’


Almost All Major Oil Companies Have Known About Global Warming Since the 1970s

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

26 December 2015

It wasn’t just Exxon that knew fossil fuels were cooking the planet.

New investigative reporting by Neela Banerjee with Inside Climate News revealed on Tuesday that scientists and engineers from nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company may have for decades known about the impacts of carbon emissions on the climate.

Between 1979 and 1983, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry’s most powerful lobby group, ran a task force for fossil fuel companies to “monitor and share climate research,” according to internal documents obtained by Inside Climate News.

According to the reporting:

Like Exxon, the companies also expressed a willingness to understand the links between their product, greater CO2 concentrations and the climate, the papers reveal. Some corporations ran their own research units as well, although they were smaller and less ambitious than Exxon’s and focused on climate modeling, said James J. Nelson, the former director of the task force.

“It was a fact-finding task force,” Nelson said in an interview. “We wanted to look at emerging science, the implications of it and where improvements could be made, if possible, to reduce emissions.”

The “CO2 and Climate Task Force,” which changed in 1980 its name to the “Climate and Energy Task Force,” included researchers from Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco and Sohio, among others.

One memo by an Exxon task force representative pointed to 1979 “background paper on CO2,” which “predicted when the first clear effects of climate change might be felt,” noting that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was rising steadily.

And at a February 1980 meeting in New York, the task force invited Professor John A. Laurmann of Stanford University to brief members about climate science.

“In his conclusions section, Laurmann estimated that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would double in 2038, which he said would likely lead to a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global average temperatures with ‘major economic consequences,’” Banerjee reports. He then told the task force that models showed a 5 degrees Celsius rise by 2067, with ‘globally catastrophic effects,’” Banerjee reports.

The documents show that API members, at one point, considered an alternative path in the face of these dire predictions:

Bruce S. Bailey of Texaco offered “for consideration” the idea that “an overall goal of the Task Force should be to help develop ground rules for energy release of fuels and the cleanup of fuels as they relate to CO2 creation,” according to the minutes of a meeting on Feb. 29, 1980.

The minutes also show that the task force discussed a “potential area” for research and development that called for it to “‘Investigate the Market Penetration Requirements of Introducing a New Energy Source into World Wide Use.’ This would include the technical implications of energy source changeover, research timing and requirements.”

“Yet,” Banerjee notes, “by the 1990s, it was clear that API had opted for a markedly different approach to the threat of climate change.”

The lobby group teamed up with Exxon and others to form the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), which successfully lobbied the U.S. to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.

The damning revelations are the latest in an ongoing investigation into what the fossil fuel industry knew about climate change and then suppressed for decades—all while continuing to profit from the planet’s destruction.

Reports that Exxon, specifically, lied about climate change were published early October in the Los Angeles Times, mirroring a separate but similar investigation by Inside Climate News in September. Those findings set off a storm of outrage, including a probe by the New York Attorney General.

Nelson, a former head of the API task force, told Banerjee that with the growing powers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1980’s, API decided to shift gears.

“They took the environmental unit and put it into the political department, which was primarily lobbyists,” he said. “They weren’t focused on doing research or on improving the oil industry’s impact on pollution. They were less interested in pushing the envelope of science and more interested in how to make it more advantageous politically or economically for the oil industry. That’s not meant as a criticism. It’s just a fact of life.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We are familiar with fossil-fuels industries science arguments – but the new thing that surprised me was that “Truthout” internet site gives them a venue for publicity as in:
 www.truth-out.org/news/item/34152…

“Climate Change 2015: The Latest Science”
Saturday, 26 December 2015 00:00 By Bruce Melton, Truthout | News Analysis

Oh well, but those questionable scientists quoted did push a little too far. They actually claim that Kyoto had it better then Paris – and that Kyoto was going to fulfill Rio. Does that mean that the Truthout Analyst gives away here that the Kyoto fake solution was also sponsored by the oil&coal folks that were active in Kyoto under the mantle of the International Chamber of Commerce?
I must confess here that the ICC at Kyoto turned me of completely when they threw me out when I showed up at one of their meetings. At Kyoto the ICC seemed in close relationship with the US delegation – and there is no secret what I thought of the US sponsored Protocol. Wonders seem to come back and explain themselves!

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

We wrote our own assessment of the so called Paris Agreement – this after we first submitted it to the OUTREACH MAGAZINE for their final issue of the conference – the evaluation and summary issue.
The material appears here at www.SustainabiliTank.info as – “PARIS2015 or COP21 ENDED IN FIRST SUCCESS IN MATTERS OF CLIMATE CHANGE BECAUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA DID LEARN FROM AL GORE’s MISTAKES.” (December 20th, 2015)

The problem with most assessments that find shortcomings with that agreement comes from the fact that they are authored by peple that were involved in the UN and its conferences that produced absolute nothing and wasted us 20 years. THey were chasing some elusive and impossible dream to get all the cats and dogs to find a meaningful way by consensus on how to handle the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

We pick here the assessment we got from Mr. Gleckman now fron Maine and Chappaqua, New York.

He was involved – as he says – via the UNFCCC as Former, Senior Advisor to UNFCCC at the Copenhagen COP15; and was
Former, Chief of the Environment Unit, UN Centre on Transnational Corporations. Both positions that were not positive from my seat at the meetings. Big business was threaded then through the Paris based International Chambers of Commerce chaired by Mobil oil with clear interest to sto;; the whole thing – something the UNFCCC did quite well. Now Mr. Gleckman finds fault with us – those that refuse to continue to hit the UN walls with their head.

The approach he represents is the one that asks for that elusive legal binding agreement that we know we cannot get. So President Obama settled to stay with the voluntary promises by governments – even he knew they will not add up to what is needed. But he also banks correctly on Civil Society to come out from the UN basement and in full daylight demand governments’ honesty and the increase of the voluntary promises to the true needed levels. The first swallow of this kind was the Patrick Sciarratta led rebellion of Civil Society, backed by six UN Member States, against the negatively oriented UN DPI. Patrick succeeded and others will as well. I pot here the Gleckman letter and hope our readers will fill in the voids.

Seven questions about the ‘successful’ Paris COP
asked by Mr. Harris Gleckman of the US.

He writes:

A good number of commentators on the Paris COP have shared views that could be summarized as “COP was a success-but.” Others have appraised the COP as a complete ‘success’ or a fraud .

The ‘success but’ message depends heavily what criteria one has for judging a successful outcome of an international negotiation.

Clearly some countries, UN-system, and some media commentators, have domestic and international rationales for declaring a ‘success’ in Paris – even it is just the act of concluding an agreement irrespective of the contents of the agreement, or whether it actually changes in the world for the better.

The following questions look at the definition of success but in different ways. They are intended to challenge a number of the presumptions behind the assessment of ‘success but’ advocates.

1. Goals and reality: a profound gap – The COP formally adopted a below 2 degree goal and de facto approved a 3.7 degree package of intended nationally determined contributions.

Why is so much post-COP attention on the goal and not on the planet instability of what Governments accepted? Or put in another way should the outcome of the meeting be called the Paris 1.5 degree COP or the Paris 3.7 degree COP ?

2. Free riders galore : – The intended nationally determined contributions are only promises about the future.

Based on the COP outcome, what arguments could be made to a Government that its best short-term economic and political interest is not to cut its emissions and quietly expand its existing industrial system and let everyone else make the GHG cuts ?

3. Five year fictions : Each year that mitigation cuts are postponed means that a higher and sharper level of cuts are needed to bring the carbon budget down to a less than 2.0 degree goal.

If governments in 2015 could formally adopt a below 2 degrees goal with the knowledge that the aggregate impact of the declared nationally determined contributions come to 3.7 degrees, what evidence is there that they would they have even greater political willingness for sharply increased mitigation cuts at five year stocktakings ?

4. A fantastic non-enforcement system : Under most bilateral investment treaties, MNCs can file complaints before a binding arbitration panel that an action taken by a specific Government reduced their expected level of profitability and that the foreign investor should be compensated by that Governments for damages.

As the Paris Agreement invites voluntary national contributions, what arguments can a Government use to defend itself before a binding arbitration panel from a MNC which seeks compensation for loss expected income ?

Climate change does not exist in a vacuum – In the Paris negotiations a good number of important policy areas were deleted by the chairs and host government from the final text of the Paris Agreement.

Why did the Paris COP disconnect climate change from the management of oceans, human rights, gender, workers, mountains, health effects, oil and gas subsidies, international transport emission, climate migrants, carbon black, carbon budget, historical responsibility, the trade regime, agricultural destabilization, etc ?

6. Financial support – now you see it and now you don’t – One outcome of the Copenhagen process five years ago was a commitment to have $100 billion available for developing countries by 2020. Since Copenhagen Governments have recognized that annual costs from 2020 are likely to be 3-5 times larger than the $100 billion ‘commitment’

Is there a greater commitment to have money available for developing countries to reduce GHG emission or prepared for the impacts of climate change in the Paris Agreement than in the ‘failed’ Copenhagen Accord ?

7. Voluntarism, voluntarism – where is the rule of law -

Under the Paris Agreement (and under the Copenhagen Accord) Governments were authorized to submit their voluntary national goal posts and GHG reducing plans to the UNFCCC. Under the Paris Agreement Governments agreed to have a 5 year stocktaking of these plans without any process to adapt these plans to meet the less than 2 degree goal.

Does the practice of voluntary national implementation included in the Paris Agreement enhance or undermine the future development of international rule of law in other environmental, social, human rights and economic regimes?

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Comment and Replies can be sent to

Harris Gleckman
Director, Benchmark Environmental Consulting (Maine & New York)
Former, Senior Advisor to UNFCCC at the Copenhagen COP; and
Former, Chief of the Environment Unit, UN Centre on Transnational Corporations

Harris Gleckman
Principal
Benchmark Environmental Consulting
5 Kipp St,
Chappaqua, NY 10514
914-238-8072
914-330-1207 (c)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


President Obama succeeded in what he set out to do because he learned from Al Gore’s mistakes.

Pincas Jawetz, SustainabiliTank.info Media.

The following was submitted by us to the main Civil Society outlet at the UN, and published as part of their conference final issue – December 18, 2015. So, this is not an original anymore, thanks to the fact that our material was published first by someone else.


The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in December 1997 as a legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries were to reduce their collective emissions by 5.2 per cent compared to 1990 emissions (it is worth noting that this represented a 29 per cent emission cut by 2010 compared to an unmanaged emission scenario). This was achieved without putting any onus on those that claimed the right to pollute because they were at an industrializing stage of development. Vice President Al Gore came to Kyoto to help push the participants to accept this deal. But on July 25, 1997, by the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, the U.S. Senate led by Southern Republican Strom Thurmond, shot down the budding Protocol by an unprecedented 95-0 vote.

Al Gore’s heart was in the right place but his political know-how questionable and his leadership caused harm to his cause. Later on, in his run for the Presidency, Al Gore found himself squeezed between his own decision not to let Clinton help him – and the Green ‘Naderites’ that found him lacking in part because of the failure to find support for the Kyoto Protocol. President Obama was well familiar with the two great mistakes of Al Gore: 1) The fact that he did not understand that the Senators will never allow for a U.S. unilateral decrease in emissions if the growth of China and other countries will not bear a proportion of the responsibility. 2) That you must not speak of a legally binding international agreement because you really do not want to risk a vote in the Senate.

Looking back at the history of sustainable development and climate change, one has to start at the Rio Summit of 1992 with its high point in Agenda 21 and then go to COP1 of the UNFCCC in Berlin (1995) and jump to Kyoto (1997), followed by the empty years of the G.W. Bush/Cheney administration – until we reach the Copenhagen COP15 of 2009. That is when newly elected President Obama made his first move by going to Beijing on his way to the Conference in an attempt to make inroads with China. The Chinese agreed for the first time that they have grown to the point that they ought to worry about the effect of their emissions on the global environment and climate – but they were not ready to take the plunge without sharing this with the other BASIC countries – Brazil, India and South Africa. It took six more years for that first effort by President Obama to bear the fruits of the Paris COP21. Now the subject has opened up with nearly all countries having made voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and agreed to report their achievements on a cyclical basis. It is obvious the present commitments are only a first step in the right direction; it is anticipated that negotiations will now be possible between participating countries to further increase their efforts to decrease emissions. But one must start somewhere and Obama led to this starting position. The Senate cannot undo this.

The fact that in the meantime we saw the evolution of a sizable middle class in China that demands clean air has induced President Xi to be cooperative, but he still must keep an image of a developing country in his relationships with the old industrialized world and the lesser developed states. He is therefore slow in accepting outside monitoring of his forthcoming efforts – something that relates extremely well with another lesson President Obama has learned from Al Gore’s mistakes. President Obama does not want a strict legally binding agreement in his fight to move the world onto a path of slowing the effects of climate change. Why should he be interested in being undone by a Republican Senate obstructionist rejection?

Finally, on December 1, 2015, we received e-mail from the American Security Project (ASP) stating that former Senator Chuck Hagel – originator of the Resolution that found failing the Kyoto Protocol on counts that it did not require all nations to commit to limit the emissions and that it promised to seriously do harm to the American economy – now Board Member of ASP, now recommends the Paris Agreement and tells the U.S. Senate to get involved because climate change is a multiplier to instigators of conflicts such as resource disputes, ethnic tensions, and economic discontent. It is thus a security issue. Now think how this relates to migration forced by climate change – and you start to understand how dangerous it is to obstruct clear thinking – notoriously as caused by self serving interests of business and politics.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pincas Jawetz, Editor of SustainabiliTank.info Media and former Consultant on Energy Policy.

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for the complete issue of OUTREACH MAGAZINE please look at google for “OUTREACH MAGAZINE ISSUE OF December 18, 2015″

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

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

By CORAL DAVENPORTDEC. 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canada’s New Leadership Reverses Course on Climate Change NOV. 26, 2015
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But can those governments be trusted to do what they say they will do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Justin Gillis contributed reporting from Paris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem is that they do not agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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