links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Global Warming issues:
Tiempo

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the New York Times, June 1, 2017:

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, suggested Mr. Trump did not understand the mechanics of the treaty. “Not everything written in international agreements is fake news,” he said.
Major players still hope to sway Mr. Trump’s decision. Here’s what other countries might do if the U.S. pulls out.


.* China’s premier, Li Keqiang, met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, before heading to Brussels for a Europe-China summit today. China may see President Trump’s antagonistic behavior in Europe last week as an opportunity.
President Trump’s criticism of German trade policy has set off alarm bells in parts of the American South. He is popular there, but German companies are important employers.
Meanwhile, China’s economic might is increasingly apparent in Europe, its top trade partner. Consider how China’s wealthy are turning to European clinics for medical treatment. Or the German engineer who moved to China, where he received a grant for artificial intelligence research six times larger than what he might have gotten in Europe.

From The Washington Post – Today’s WorldView

BY ISHAAN THAROOR June 1, 2017


If Trump quits the Paris climate accord, he will lead the U.S. into the wilderness

After months of speculation, it might finally be happening: President Trump appears ready to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. If he does, he will place Washington at odds with virtually the entire international community.

Despite the excited tone of Trump’s tweet (and reports suggesting that he had made up his mind), the matter seemed far from settled at the time of writing. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are supposedly urging Trump to stick with the Paris agreement. A host of big companies have urged Trump to reconsider withdrawing. On Wednesday, the shareholders of ExxonMobil, Tillerson’s former company, voted by a wide margin for a resolution they say will compel the oil giant to stick to the goal of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Many analysts also point to how clean energy is fueling job growth: There are already twice as many solar jobs as there are coal jobs in the United States.

Their opponents include White House chief adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate skeptic who has already set about dismantling Obama-era regulations on the U.S. fossil fuel industry. Trump seems inclined toward the Bannon and Pruitt position, which has some — though not unanimous — support from the Republican Party. (Only in the United States, of course, is the question of climate change subject to partisan debate.)

Championed by the Obama administration, the Paris agreement created, for the first time, a single framework for developed and developing countries to work together and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The New York Times has a helpful primer on what the landmark accord entailed:

“Under the Paris agreement, every country submitted an individual plan to tackle its greenhouse gas emissions and then agreed to meet regularly to review their progress and prod each other to ratchet up their efforts as the years went by,” explained the Times. “Unlike its predecessor treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris deal was intended to be nonbinding, so that countries could tailor their climate plans to their domestic situations and alter them as circumstances changed. There are no penalties for falling short of declared targets. The hope was that, through peer pressure and diplomacy, these policies would be strengthened over time.”

If the United States withdraws from the accord, it would find itself in farcically lonely company. The pact was signed by 195 countries, with only Nicaragua and Syria bowing out.

In coastal, low-lying Nicaragua’s case, leaders refused to sign because the pact didn’t go far enough. “Nicaragua’s lead envoy explained to reporters that the country would not support the agreed-upon plan as it hinged on voluntary pledges and would not punish those who failed to meet them,” wrote my colleague Adam Taylor.

As for Syria, the country “was effectively an international pariah when the Paris accord was first signed, making Damascus’s involvement at the least impractical,” wrote Taylor. Numerous officials in President Bashar al-Assad’s regime are the subject of international sanctions that limit their movement, and the ongoing, devastating war in the country means the Syrian government isn’t paying much attention to limiting its emissions.

The implications of a U.S. withdrawal, though, are profound and far-reaching.

“A U.S. withdrawal would remove the world’s second-largest emitter and nearly 18 percent of the globe’s present day emissions from the agreement, presenting a severe challenge to its structure and raising questions about whether it will weaken the commitments of other nations,” wrote Washington Post environment reporter Chris Mooney.

Some climate experts actually suggest that, given Trump’s steady dismantling of environmental protections, it’s better for the United States to leave the pact altogether than to undermine it from within.

“The success of Paris largely relies on its pledge and review process to create political pressure, and drive low-carbon investments,” wrote Luke Kemp, an environmental policy expert at Australian National University. “A great power that willfully misses its target could provide political cover for other laggards and weaken the soft power of process.”

But given the importance of U.S. investment in clean energy, as well as the huge effect U.S. emissions have on the environment, experts warn that the international community’s efforts to limit global warming to about 2 degrees Celsius may founder without U.S. compliance. The effects would be felt by vulnerable communities all around the world.

If Trump goes ahead and pulls the United States out, it would be “a decision made for domestic political purposes that puts the livelihood and lives of millions of people in developing countries at risk,” said Trevor Houser, a former climate negotiator for the Obama administration, to Vox’s Jim Tankersley. “This is a craven, symbolic political move without any direct benefits for the constituents he’s targeting.”

Although the Paris agreement is nonbinding, it may take three to four years to formally withdraw. Trump could expedite the process by quitting the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by President George H.W. Bush and ratified by the Senate in the early 1990s, which laid the foundation for the Paris accord. “But that is a more radical move, which would further withdraw the United States from all international climate change negotiations,” wrote Mooney.

And that’s the other effect of a withdrawal: the disappearance of U.S. leadership on a fundamental issue affecting the future of the planet. Already, other countries are taking the mantle once donned by Obama. Ahead of a Friday meeting between European Union leaders and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Beijing and Brussels issued a joint statement saying they were “determined to forge ahead” with measures to “lead the energy transition.” The statement, seen by the Financial Times, also stressed a point seemingly lost on the Trump administration: “Tackling climate change and reforming our energy systems are significant drivers of job creation, investment opportunities and economic growth.”

At a time when the world focuses its efforts to reckon with global warming, Trump may really leave the United States out in the cold.

• Another crucial argument around climate action in the age of Trump: The emergence of a global low-carbon economy may not require the full endorsement of a federal government or nation-state, but actors below that level. I’ve written in the past on how real work around combating emissions is being carried out by cities and regional governments, as well as by corporations themselves. The latter form a crucial constituency that may be unmoved by Trump’s “America First” posturing, writes U.S. climatologist Benjamin Sanderson in The Washington Post:

“Businesses (oil companies included) are well aware that the carbon economy is coming and their shareholders are increasingly demanding long-term investment strategies that allow those companies to profit in a low-carbon future. One can make the argument that the greatest casualty from U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord will be the United States itself. By sidelining mitigation investment, and leaving companies to act alone, U.S. companies are placed at a disadvantage while China races to establish itself as the world leader in clean technology.”

We, at SustainabiliTank.info believe that it is better for the world to pass the times of the Trump Presidency of the US with the non-participation of the US at Climate Change meetings.
Having them there would onnly impede progress by the wise world. So, rather then chasing after the Trump presence – invite them to leave and continue on President Obama’s path.

For Joe Biden see:  twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/8700…

For Mit Romney see:  twitter.com/MittRomney/status/87…


EU and China strengthen climate ties to counter US retreat
Tighter alliance comes as US prepares to announce decision on Paris accord withdrawal

China and the EU have forged a green alliance to combat climate change and counteract any retreat from international action by Donald Trump

 www.ft.com/content/585f1946-45e2…

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 19th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Design School for Planetary Collapse

Storm clouds gather for a future that will be turbulent and dangerous.
We need designers ready for this future.

by: Joe Brewer – Medium – May 19, 2017

Design schools all over the world are failing their students by ignoring the most important challenges they will face as they live through a time of unprecedented disruption and ecological collapse. Let me state plainly?—?we need a Design School for Planetary Collapse.
All roads to the future must cross broken terrain. Our political institutions are designed to hoard wealth and reward greed, with a myopic focus on the near future that ignores the long term trajectories for every community on Earth. I have written about this previously as the global architecture for wealth extraction that made it possible for 62 people to accumulate the same total wealth as 3.7 billion others who are condemned to live in poverty by a vast Poverty Creation System.
Add that a cultural sickness is rapidly making the world unlivable for the majority of people (to say nothing about the millions of other species that our collective activities are currently driving to extinction). Most people don’t yet know that the “climate doomsday” already happened in Sub-Saharan Africa and that the refugee crisis in Syria is a teaser trailer for coming attractions all over the world as the planet continues to build up greenhouse gases in its atmosphere.
These are design problems and they will only be solved with rigorously applied design principles that embrace whole systems and address root causes of systemic behavior. So why is it that most designers are being trained to create gadgets and sell products that only increase the wealth of billionaire investors? When will we realize that all hands on deck for planetary emergency includes designers of all kinds?
I have written extensively about the need for culture design?—?see here for the toolkit; here for a description of culture design labs; here for a network approach to collaboration; here for insights into the lived experience of culture designers. The clock is ticking and we don’t have any time to waste!
Perhaps it will help if I paint a picture of what a Design School for Planetary Collapse might look like… imagine that you have just graduated high school and are readying yourself for professional training. Or that you have been enrolled in a workshop series to change fields now that the one you were in is falling apart. You will need to know about things like:
What is the Earth System and how does it work? There are many ways that human activities have altered the delicate balance of planetary processes. You will need to know how agriculture altered the chemistry of rivers and the “dead zones” its runoff creates at the mouth of rivers all over the world. And how the ocean mixes heat from a warming atmosphere decades slower with an inertia that drives change inter-generationally that most people are not aware of. Designing for planetary emergency requires knowing how the planet works!
What does it mean to be human and why is this important? At the core of our predicament is the painful truth that human activities are causing a lot of problems. The silver lining here is that we are capable of changing social norms and collective behaviors to become wise managers of evolutionary change if we know what it means to be human. Many of the flaws in mainstream economic and political thought come from incorrect beliefs about what it means to be human that must be corrected if any design approach is to be actionable and effective.
How does one study change in all its forms? Students of physics have to learn calculus (the mathematics of change). Students of culture have to learn statistical methods. At the heart of all major challenges in the world today is an emphasis on rates of change and how they differ from one trending pattern to another. Navigating such complexity means learning to analyze and intuit what is changing, how it is doing so, and what can be done to influence how the change process happens.
How can a design approach be applied to systemic challenges? One must learn the system-level view for how societies and the planet function in order to grasp their governing dynamics and discover interventions that disrupt current patterns of behavior and replace them with healthier alternatives. Sadly, most universities now are fragmented into “silos” of knowledge by academic field and few seek to take the system-level view.
What kinds of competency will be needed to do the work? Not only will there be hard skills like pattern analysis and systems modeling, this kind of design work must be lived through as the world is in crisis. There will be deaths among friends, chaos and pain in many moments, and the need to grapple with moral dilemmas about the use of political power that may effect millions of people. These are competencies in emotional and social intelligence. They include body-based practices like meditation and the martial arts as well as social skill learning like that of group facilitators and personnel managers.
Who else is doing this that is also on this learning journey? Fellow designers will be empathetic and compassionate, awakened to the state of emergency and ready to live intentional lives of deliberate action. They will come from all walks of life, have every color of skin, be representatives of all genders, and hold a representative diversity of cultures to match the splendid variety that exists in the world.
At the core, such a school would be a right of passage for achieving the combination of intellectual, emotional, and moral maturity that our present “leaders” clearly lack. Selfishness replaced with a selfless commitment to preserve sacred things and the moral fortitude to do what is right even if it means taking a painful or scary path. The world needs spiritual leaders with design skills to do their part in what is sure to be a time of great turbulence and hardship for billions of fellow people.
It is in this spirt that I invite you to ponder whether you would attend such a school. And if you did, would you dedicate your life to service knowing that economic systems are too broken to guarantee safety or security as you go about such important work? Ponder this seriously. Then prepare yourself for action. For the world is now calling us all to greatness.
Onward, fellow humans!

 medium.com/@joe_brewer

###

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

A spokesman for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said that he would consider replacing academic scientists with representatives from industries that the agency is supposed to regulate.

Chicago Mayor Recoups Climate Change Data Deleted From EPA Website
By Cassie Kelly, EcoWatch
08 May 17

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has his own ideas about the Trump administration taking down important climate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

This weekend, Emanuel posted the scrubbed data on the City of Chicago’s official website to preserve the “decades of research [the agency] has done to advance the fight against climate change.” Emanuel said he plans to develop the site further in the coming weeks.

Follow EcoWatch @EcoWatch

#EPA Takes Hatchet to Website rbl.ms/2qpaIma @ClimateNexus @climatehawk1 @CenterForBioDiv @NRDC
10:52 AM – 1 May 2017
Photo published for EPA Takes Hatchet to Website

The U.S. Environmental Protection is editing pages from its website related to …
 ecowatch.com

“While this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it,” Mayor Emanuel said.

The new page highlights NOAA records on global warming, basic information on what climate change is, the impact that it will have on things like farming and human health, and what citizens can do to reduce their emissions. It even has a section linking to the president’s Climate Action Plan, which as of right now, doesn’t lead anywhere but a blank page that says “stay tuned.”

The Trump Administration has shown it is not making climate action a priority and is leaning toward withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel said.

——————————————-

EPA Cuts Half of Advisers on Key Panel

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, The Washington Post
08 May 17


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.


The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA’s key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that “no one has been fired or terminated,” and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.

“We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” Freire said. “This approach is what was always intended for the Board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.”

But the move came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term.

“I was kind of shocked to receive this news,” Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and an associate professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability, said in an interview Sunday.

Richardson, who tweeted on Saturday, “Today, I was Trumped,” said that he was at the end of an initial three-year term on the board, but that board members traditionally have served two such stints. “I’ve never heard of any circumstance where someone didn’t serve two consecutive terms,” he said, adding that the dismissals gave him “great concern that objective science is being marginalized in this administration.”

Courtney Flint, a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University who had served one term on the board, said in an email that she was also surprised to learn that her term would not be renewed, “particularly since I was told that such a renewal was expected.”

“In the broader view, I suppose it is the prerogative of this administration to set the goals of federal agencies and to appoint members to advisory boards,” she added.

Ryan Jackson, Pruitt’s chief of staff, noted in an email that all the board members whose terms are not being renewed could reapply for their positions.

“I’m not quite sure why some EPA career staff simply get angry by us opening up the process,” he said. “It seems unprofessional to me.”

Pruitt is planning a much broader overhaul of how the agency conducts its scientific analysis, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The administration has been meeting with academics to talk about the matter and putting thought into which areas of investigation warrant attention from the agency’s scientific advisers.

The agency may consider industry scientific experts for some of the board positions, Freire said, as long as these appointments do not pose a conflict of interest.

Conservatives have complained about EPA’s approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years. Both the Board of Scientific Counselors and a larger, 47-person Scientific Advisory Board have come under criticism for bolstering the cause for greater federal regulation.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who questions the link between human activity and climate change and has several former aides now working for Pruitt, said in an interview earlier this year that under the new administration, “They’re going to have to start dealing with science and not rigged science” at EPA.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) held a hearing on the issue in February, arguing that the composition of the Scientific Advisory Board, which was established in 1978, should be expanded to include more non-academics. It is primarily made up of academic scientists and other experts who review EPA’s research to ensure that the regulations the agency undertakes have a sound scientific basis.

“The EPA routinely stacks this board with friendly scientists who receive millions of dollars in grants from the federal government,” Smith said at the time. “The conflict of interest here is clear.”

In a budget proposal obtained by The Washington Post last month, the panel is slated for an 84 percent cut — or $542,000 — from its operating budget. That money typically covers travel and other expenses for outside experts who attend the board’s public meetings.

The reasoning behind the budget cut, said the document, reflects “an anticipated lower number of peer reviews.”

Joe Arvai, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board who directs University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, said in an email that Pruitt and his colleagues should keep in mind that the board’s membership and its standing and ad hoc panels “already includes credible scientists from industry” and its “work on agency rulemaking is open to public viewing and comment. So, if diversity of thought and transparency are the administrator’s concerns, his worries are misplaced because the SAB is already has these bases covered.”

“So, if you ask me, his moves over the weekend — as well as the House bill to reform the SAB — are attempts to use the SAB as a political toy,” Arvai added. “By making these moves, the administrator and members of the House can pander to the president’s base by looking like they’re getting tough on all those pesky ‘liberal scientists.’ But, all else being equal, nothing fundamentally changes about how the SAB operates.”

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On Saturday April 22, 2017, Earth Day, Scientists and their related fields, marched in New York – on Central Park West Avenue and Broadway – down to Times Square.

A week later – Saturday, April 29, 2017, there is no major march in Manhattan, New York, but all efforts are directed to Washington DC for what becomes a People’s March on Washington –
a march for Jobs, the Earth, Climate, and Decency. It happens on the 100th day since the Trump inaugural – and stretches out before our eyes and minds the dangers of a full four years term of this science-devoid President.

SCIENCE is REAL – The FACTS are with SCIENCE.
A scientific theory isn’t just a hunch or guess –
It’s more like a question that’s been put through a lot of tests.

And when a theory emerges consistent with the facts,
The Proof is witH Science – The truth is with Science.

In Science we Trust – Science is not just an Alternate Fact.

NO SCIENCE IS NON-SENSE. Science, Reason, Knowledge, Trump Stupidity or Opinion.
SCIENCE NOT SILENCE – Resist Stupidity

PRO FACTS – WE ARE NOT SLAVES TO FOSSIL FUEL – SCIENCE TRUMPS POLITICS.

“WHEN ICEBERGS ARE CRACKING IT IS NOT FUNNY.” This was the wording on a poster carried
down New York’s Broadway by an active 8-years young boy who MARCHED with his mom – a university person. She said he picked those words.

THERE IS NO PLANET B – EDUCATE WASHINGTON. GOP – DON’T FLUSH OUR EARTH AWAY.
REMEMBER – PLANET NOT PROFIT. MAKE AMERICA SUSTAINABLE FOR EVERYONE.

Above all – Remember – “SCIENCE MAKES AMERICA GREAT” – DEFEND OUR PLANET – WE LIVE HERE.

THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON CAN BASICALLY BE SUMMED UP AS: “CLIMATE SCIENCE IS REAL – TRUMP IS FAKE.

For the April 29, 2017 People’s March on Washington – please see also:
 www.cnn.com/2017/04/29/us/climate…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Thousands to march in defFence of science

By ALEKSANDRA ERIKSSON, THE EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, April 21, 2017

Thousands of people in hundreds of places worldwide will take to the streets in support for science on Earth Day, taking place this year on Saturday (22 April), in an event underlining the difficult relationship between science and politics.

The idea of a global March of Science developed shortly after the inauguration of US president Donald Trump in January, amid fears that his term would be marked by disregard for facts and research.

.
Some 517 rallies have been registered so far, with the main one taking place in Washington.

But Calum MacKichan, a Scotsman who organises the march in Brussels, said the goal was much broader than just an anti-Trump protest.

“We want to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives, protect facts and promote dialogue between the scientific community and the public,” MacKichan said at a press event on Thursday (20 April).

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Belgian professor who is the former vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP for the Green group, were also present at the gathering.

They said there was need for scientists to play a wider role in public life, also on this side of the Atlantic.


Van Ypersele welcomed that Earth Day’s theme this year is climate literacy, and said scientists should be in broader dialogue with both the public and politicians.


Eickhout, who trained as a chemist and worked as a climate change researcher at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said he entered politics “out of frustration that politicians made so little with science”.


“We are pointing fingers at Trump, but we should also point them at ourselves,” he added.


Politicians are dependent on research if they are to make good decisions, but many scientists are afraid of actively providing information to politicians, Eickhout said.

“They fear it makes them into lobbyists. But I don’t think it’s lobbying what you are doing, it’s about informing decision-makers throughout the legislative process,” he said.

This would help to strengthen EU policies, he said.

The European Commission, since 2001, has been conducting impact assessments for all major legislative proposals, covering the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of each proposed policy.

But Eickhout said the assessments were not as objective as one would think. Rather, impact assessments usually portray the commission’s preferred scenario as the best option.

“If I was the commission, I would do the same, so I don’t blame them for this. But I blame them for claiming that the assessments are neutral, when they in fact are designed to fit the political interests of those that commanded them,” Eickhout said.


Trump’s actions could seem like a golden opportunity for green parties, but Eickhout wasn’t so sure.

“If you really want to get policies off the ground you need a broader political basis. I fear that in Europe, climate sceptics, who had a sleeping existence, are now waking up again. They see Trump’s election as an opportunity,” the Dutch MEP said.

The new US president has said the concept of global warming was made by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing less competitive.

Van Ypersele said, however, that Trump has also shown signs he believed in climate change.

In 2009, Trump had signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for “meaningful and effective measures to combat climate change”, just before president Barack Obama departed for the climate summit in Copenhagen.

His organisation has also used the term “global warming and its effects” when applying for a permit to build protection against coastal erosion for his golf course in Ireland.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CLIMATE – The New York Times

More Permafrost Than Thought May Be Lost as Planet Warms

By HENRY FOUNTAIN, APRIL 11, 2017


As global warming thaws the permafrost, the frozen land that covers nearly six million square miles of the earth, a big question for scientists is: How much will be lost?


The answer, according to a new analysis: more than many of them thought.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that as the planet warms toward two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, each degree Celsius of warming will lead to the thawing of about 1.5 million square miles of permafrost.

That figure is at least 20 percent higher than most previous studies, said Sarah E. Chadburn, a researcher at the University of Leeds in England and the lead author of the study.

“Previous estimates of global changes in permafrost were done using climate models,” Dr. Chadburn said. “Our approach is more based on using historical observations and extrapolating that to the future. It’s a very simple approach.”

GRAPHIC
How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps
Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that it will harm them personally.

OPEN GRAPHIC
Permafrost thaws slowly over time, but it is already causing problems in the Arctic, as slumping ground affects building foundations, roads and other infrastructure in places like the North Slope of Alaska, Yukon and parts of Siberia. The thawing also contributes to climate change, as warmed-up organic matter is decomposed by microbes, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Dr. Chadburn and her colleagues looked at how much permafrost would thaw if temperatures were to stabilize at a warming of two degrees Celsius, long a target of climate accords, or at 1.5 degrees, which the 2015 Paris agreement set as an ambitious goal.

A two-degree increase, the researchers found, would lead to a loss of about 2.5 million square miles of permafrost compared with a 1960-90 baseline, or about 40 percent of the current total.

The study showed the advantages to be gained from limiting warming to 1.5 degrees: Thawing would be reduced by about 30 percent, or 750,000 square miles.

Graphic: How 2016 Became Earth’s Hottest Year on Record
But the research also shows the potentially devastating consequences of missing either of those targets. Warming of five degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) would leave at most about a million square miles of permafrost, or less than 20 percent of the current total.

Edward A. G. Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University, said the study was “an important and interesting calculation of where permafrost will be at some distant point in the future as we undergo climate warming.”

“What’s really important is this is based on totally different assumptions,” Dr. Schuur said. “It’s useful because it gives us a different perspective.”

Dr. Chadburn said her study did not delve into the details of how different permafrost areas might be affected. Dr. Schuur said that as the planet warms, more southerly regions, where the permafrost occurs in discontinuous patches, would be expected to thaw first.

But there will still be changes even in areas of extensive permafrost in the far north, Dr. Schuur said. “There will be surface changes that affect everyone who lives there,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the permafrost zone that’s remote enough to escape changes.”

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From NRDC, Washington DC – Shahyd, Khalil  kshahyd at nrdc.org

Dear Colleagues,

Too often, action on climate change is given priority over sustainable development. No place is this disparity more vivid than in the attention and resources devoted to the Paris Climate Agreement (a formal international treaty), and the Sustainable Development Goals (a nonbinding agreement).

Discussions of climate action often neglect the role of wider dimensions of sustainable development in achieving climate goals. When the two are discussed in tandem the framing it most likely to highlight how climate action can spur sustainable development as a co-benefit.

“Sustainable development is not a fortunate byproduct of climate action; it is its organizing principle.”

Below is a new blog post that I hope will open a discussion of how to properly frame sustainable development as a larger priority in our work and vision for a post-carbon world.

Blog: “Sustainable Development is Critical for Climate Action”

And here is an earlier post I released on the day the Paris Climate Agreement became ratified.

Blog: “Celebrate Paris Agreement but don’t forget the SDGs”

Khalil Shahyd – Project Manager
Urban Solutions Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
1152 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
|202.513.6264| www.nrdc.org |  kshahyd at nrdc.org
 www.energyefficiencyforall.org/
 www.nrdc.org/experts/khalil-shah…

—————————————————————————–

EXPERT BLOG › KHALIL SHAHYD
Sustainable Development Is Critical for Climate Action
March 28, 2017 Khalil Shahyd
Climate activists are often frustrated by the slow pace of national and global actions on climate change. Recognizing the urgent need for action doesn’t always give rise to the political will necessary to follow through, particularly with an issue as complex as transitioning the global economy away from fossil fuels.

A recent paper in Science Magazine titled “A roadmap for rapid de-carbonization” (hereafter “the roadmap”) spells that part out—as does a perhaps more accessible Vox article reviewing it, and both explain in clear detail the scale of the daunting task ahead of us. However, the truth is that too often, discussion of actions required to address climate change neglect the broader dimensions of sustainable development that will be required to meet the U.N.’s ambitious and necessary targets on carbon emissions.

Patricia Espinosa, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently reminded that “the ultimate objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be achieved only if they are fully recognized as one encompassing agenda.”

A cynical approach to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals would be to simply assume they are a random accumulation of aspirations that most rational people would support. They favor, for example, logical steps like ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests but are less clear on how they all interact and complement one another.

The roadmap for success breaks the actions necessary to reduce carbon emissions and avoid the 2 degrees Celsius threshold into three 10-year time intervals each representing stages of development in achieving a post-carbon reality. The SDGs can complement these scenarios by ensuring that above all else, action on climate change “leaves no one behind.”

To accomplish that complex and challenging higher purpose, the 17 SDG goals were carefully considered and negotiated and contain numerous linkages to each other and to climate action more broadly.

2017-2020: Establishing the Policy Framework

The authors of the de-carbonization roadmap describe a period from 2017-2020 to set the policies to ensure that the reductions in carbon emissions begin by the end of the period. In addition, they suggest that “all cities and major corporations in the industrialized world should have de-carbonization strategies in place.”

Getting the right policies in place across nations and hundreds of cities, of diverse sizes, histories and economic character will require an extraordinary amount of “political will” to achieve it and the engagement of people and actors across many nations, cities and sectors. More importantly, how and who decides this policy mix will determine the patterns of development, the pace, space and structure of our decarbonized future. It is a critical step in the work that should be inclusive of multiple voices and perspectives.

Goal 17 of the SDGs—on strengthening partnerships—includes key elements of a strategy to build the political will and capacity of cities and nations to respond to the challenging scenario set forth in the de-carbonization roadmap. Achieving these ambitious targets will require a revitalized and enhanced global partnership bringing together governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors to mobilize all available resources. This means the task will only be successful with strong relationships—no minor point.

2020-2030: Time to Show and Prove

The period between 2020-2030 is the core implementation phase of the de-carbonization strategy (and simultaneously the final 10-year stretch of the 2030 Agenda on the SDGs). Within this period, the roadmap suggest that coal will be about to exit the global energy scene, and carbon pricing should be expanded to cover all greenhouse gas emissions with a minimum price of $50 per metric ton. The authors of note that improving energy efficiency alone could reduce emissions “40 to 50% by around 2030.” Finally a massive new investment in transportation technology, light rail and electrification, along with greater efficiencies in industrial production will round out to core advancements necessary to reduce emissions.

First, eliminating coal from the global energy supply implies a massive shift in energy assets and most importantly labor. SDG Goal 8 helps ensure that the transition from coal does not abandon workers and the communities that rely on revenue from those industries for economic growth.

Second improving energy efficiency is a worthy goal. However, unless attention is paid to the distribution of efficiency services, many low-income families, communities and the institutions that serve them will remain isolated and unserved. The SDGs provide a useful frame to target resources to this fact with Goal 7, ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” that includes the target to increase investment in energy efficiency as a percentage of GDP.

Further, the authors identified the need for greater efficiency in industrial production, and the SDGs, too, make a priority of this issue with Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns. Attaining and sustaining human quality of life requires certain levels of economic growth and development. Ensuring that we meet the physical needs of people without endangering the planet is at the root of this discussion and often most difficult challenge in the transition.

2030-2040: On the Path to Sustainability

During this 10-year period, the policies, institutions and processes driving our transition to a more sustainable society are becoming more mature, including carbon-neutral or carbon-negative building construction.

Internal combustion engines for short distance hauling and personal transit along with fossil driven aircraft will be almost non-existent and oil will be in rapid decline as a the primary fuel in the global energy mix.

This phase is critical for ensuring that the policies established in the initial period and the implementation strategies deployed in the first 10-year increment distribute the benefits and burdens of this transition equitably.

The SDGs offer many goals that can help to focus our efforts in a way to meet multiple objectives. More importantly, we must address the implication of these changes and how they impact the ability of people to choose how and where to live. SDG Goals 1–poverty; 5–gender equity; and 10–reducing inequality respectively provide important frameworks to measuring policy outcomes. For example, how does carbon-neutral or carbon-negative building construction impact the cost of housing for families, particularly in many cities were housing affordability is already at crisis points?

Similarly, shifting from gas-fueled cars to electric vehicles and alternative transit options will have clear impacts on the spatial organization and social structure of cities, including issues of mobility and access. SDG Goal 11, on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, is a key strategic framework for addressing these specific challenges, as is Goal 9 on inclusive industrialization and a more resilient infrastructure.

Also, some goals of the 2030 sustainability agenda will benefit from improved environmental quality and reduced carbon emissions. However these same goals can provide important incentives and motivations for continuing progress toward the climate agenda.

One such goal is SDG Goal 3 on health and wellbeing. The relationship between climate change and health outcomes is now well understood. Health is often framed as a “co-benefit” to climate action where carbon emissions are the primary target or goal. However in as many cases, climate action and financing can benefit from the priorities of messaging health and wellbeing outcomes as the core priority. Rather than just a co-benefit, investments in health that take climate change impacts into consideration can create complementary relationships between targets on improving health and wellbeing as provided by the SDGs and building public support for climate action.

Additional issues will also have to be fleshed out—such as creating a more sustainable food production system, SDG Goal 2 (Zero Hunger). More than 10 percent of carbon emissions is attributable to the global food industry and a more sustainable food system also goes back to supporting improved health and wellbeing.

Improving the capacity of degraded land and forest cover, SDG Goal 15 (Life on Land); and oceans, seas and larger water bodies, SDG Goal 14 (Life Below Water), to improve ability of these critical ecosystems to act as natural carbon sinks will also prove key to meeting climate targets, according to the roadmap. However, the authors warn that we must be careful in addressing these issues by ensuring to “resolve deployment issues relating to food security, biodiversity preservation, indigenous rights, and societal acceptance.”

2040-2050: Monitor, Evaluate, and Renew

In this final stage of the roadmap, nations are well on their way toward meeting climate goals and are evaluating those processes, with any needed reassessments developed and incorporated immediately.

This is also where the work comes full circle. Just as we began this discussion with SDG Goal 17; we come back to the development of partnerships and inclusive processes to engage the public and civil society in assessments of outcomes, addressing challenges and charting new courses. However, we must not take for granted that various sectors of the public and civil society will have the capacity and interest to participate in these necessary conversations. To ensure that the trust in public institutions exists and that engagement is truly inclusive, SDG Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions is vital to overcoming the conflict and the instability with which many communities now struggle.

Finally, a society that lacks a strong education system will struggle to galvanize the human resources necessary to make difficult decisions and execute them successfully. SDG Goal 4 (Quality Education) serves as a reminder of the central role of education in creating inclusive societies capable of innovation and accountability to the public.

All Together Now

Action on climate change and sustainable development must be considered in tandem.

Climate Change and increased risk of extreme weather resulting in natural disasters have the potential to undermine progress on poverty alleviation, weaken the stability of communities and increase inequality. Similarly, unsustainable development can slow, or threaten progress on climate change, by potentially increasing consumption of fossil fuels as consumers become more wealthy, homes become larger and people rely more on private cars than public transit.

In a previous post I warned against a tendency by many, particularly in the environmental community, to focus on the Paris Climate Agreement while neglecting implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As the roadmap shows, a global climate solution goes well beyond a mathematical formula for the least costly method of reducing carbon emissions. It requires a global development agenda—one in which all nations are equal participants and engaged.

The SDGs are exactly that, a global development agenda negotiated by the people and nations of the world. The SDGs are comprised of 17 goals further broken out into 169 individual targets that can be further refined and localized to ensure meaningful representation on the ground.

No roadmap can be absolutely precise in its description of such a complex issue at the scale necessary to address climate change. This makes it all the more important that as many people as possible are allowed to engage in thinking through the appropriate strategies.

Sustainable development is not a fortunate byproduct of climate action; it is its organizing principle. As we continue to advance and confront the coming executive actions looming over continued climate action, the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and actions to address Climate Change provide a blueprint for how we move forward.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

KHALIL SHAHYD
Project Manager, Urban Solutions program

——————————————————

EXPERT BLOG › KHALIL SHAHYD
Celebrate Paris Agreement, But Don’t Forget the SDGs
October 05, 2016 Khalil Shahyd

It’s a historic week for the environment, with the Paris Climate agreement entering into effect after the United States, India and the European Union moved to formally join the accord. The inclusion of these large emitters brings the total number of signatories to 71, representing approximately 57 percent of global emissions.

The agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, will take effect in 30 days—an incredibly quick adoption in the history of such agreements.

As we celebrate, and the world looks to implement the agreement, we must remember another critical global agreement that will need to come into play.

What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted on Sept. 25, 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in New York by world leaders from all 193 U.N.-member countries. The goals are built on a 15-year framework and include 17 goals and 169 specific targets, ranging from the eradication of extreme poverty to the provision of clean and affordable energy. The SDGs extend from previous international targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the SDGs apply to all nations.

Why a sustainable development agenda matters?

Sustainable development, defined by the UN after the Bundtland Comission report, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” More importantly, “development” can best be understood as a collective vision and the institutional processes that guide how desirable or progressive change in society is best achieved.

As the Paris Agreement comes into effect, meeting our carbon emissions target will imply drastic changes to our global society at the national and local levels. The SDGs provide a way of ensuring our processes for determining the best strategies for reducing carbon emissions are socially embedded in and paired to societal goals such as reducing poverty and inequality.

Social Embeddedness and Environmental Policy

The concept of social embeddedness was first articulated by economic sociologist Karl Polanyi in 1944. Polanyi argued that economies are better understood as embedded in “non-market” institutions such as familial and ethnic relations, religion and politics. These non-market institutions discipline market activity and keep it bound to the collective social vision of society.

The SDGs use this approach to create a universally applied framework for re-embedding climate policy with social goals, and can be a key to ensuring an equitable transition from a fossil-driven global society to a sustainable one. In other words, they reintegrate environmental policy with human social realities, opening the way for a different and more positive way of thinking about altering our economies to remove fossil fuels from our energy mix in a massive economic and industrial transition on a scale never before seen, particularly given the limited time we have to achieve it.

The impacts of this transition, obviously, are likely to be wide-reaching and uneven, but the global consensus—as demonstrated this week—has decided we must proceed nonetheless.

The importance of having shared targets

Much as the Paris Agreement was negotiated by nations before eventually being adopted, the SDGs are global in nature and represent a mutually decided consensus and a common language. The process of creating the SDGs took three years and included input from more than 10 million people, including close to 80,000 Americans.

By adopting universally applicable targets, we are creating greater accountability in our policymaking and response to the climate crisis. We are committing ourselves to meeting specific, measurable outcomes and not just making empty processes to “engage” or be “inclusive.” In the climate context, when we pair emissions targets with additional social targets it reminds us to consider the social outcomes inherent in our various policy responses. Without that we risk creating negative social externalities and unintended consequences.

Reengaging the “development” discipline as progressive politics

The assumption is typically that UN agreements and ideas have little bearing on what happens in the United States. But when we look at problems like the drinking water crisis in Flint and many cities across the nation, a national crisis of housing affordability, persistent poverty, and rising inequality, development isn’t just an issue of need in struggling nations, but a common challenge facing all nations.

When compared internationally, in fact, the U.S. consistently falls in the lower half of industrialized nations on social indicators, and that is reflected in the SDGs. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, led by Jeffery Sachs, developed an SDG Index and Dashboard to track progress on achieving each of the 17 goals. The U.S. ranks 25th globally, behind nations such as Hungary, Belarus and New Zealand. Further, a recent report by the group, Future of Spaceship Earth, found that the U.S. is not likely to meet 10 of the 17 SDG targets without more deliberate action, particularly the targets on Decent work and economic growth, inequality and climate action. The latter may be due to the fact that our combined policy responses to Climate Change to date fall short of our international commitments to reduce emissions.

Re-engaging a development agenda in the U.S. will require rethinking the purpose and practice of development at the local level. It must be about more than housing and property development. Community advocates working in environmental and economic justice realms will need to reconsider community development as a progressive political strategy. Most importantly, as we delve deeper into the conversation of global climate action, development is the platform through which a much wider and diverse segment of the population can participate. While the average person may not be able to analyze or articulate how much carbon by parts per million is safe in the atmosphere, he or she can talk about the social goals that should be prioritized as we attempt such a massive transition of our global economy.

Such reimagining sounds like a large task but it is already happening. New York City has already adapted its OneNYC plan to the Sustainable Development Goals in a document titled, “Global Vision/Urban Action” and foundations across the country have been meeting for over a year to discuss the role they can play in implementing the SDGs in the U.S.

David Roberts, writing for Vox, may have put it best:

When climate activists say, ‘We have the technology; all we need is the political will,’ they act like that’s good news. But think about the political will we need: to immediately cease fossil fuel exploration, start shutting down coal mines, and put in place a plan for managed decline of the fossil fuel industry; to double or triple the global budget for clean energy research, development, and deployment; to transfer billions of dollars from wealthy countries to poorer ones, to protect them from climate impacts they are most vulnerable to but least responsible for; and quite possibly, if it comes to it, to limit the consumptive choices of the globe’s wealthiest and most carbon-intensive citizens.

I think David lays out the sheer scale of the activity we must undertake.

A climate solution of that magnitude goes well beyond a mathematical formula for the least costly method of reducing carbon emissions in our atmosphere. It requires a global development agenda—one in which all nations are equal participants and engaged.

That is the opportunity the SDGs represent as a globally sanctioned framework and common language toward our collective future.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

KHALIL SHAHYD
Project Manager, Urban Solutions program

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE, January 5, 2017, The New York Times

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.

The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.

The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much. For years, its oil and coal industries prospered under powerful political patrons and the growth-above-anything mantra of the ruling Communist Party.

The result was choking pollution and the growing recognition that China, many of whose biggest cities are on the coast, will be threatened by rising sea levels.

But even disregarding the threat of climate change, China’s announcement was a bold claim on leadership in the renewable energy industry, where Chinese companies, buoyed by a huge domestic market, are already among the world’s dominant players. Thanks in part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Sam Geall, executive editor of Chinadialogue, an English- and Chinese-language website that focuses on the environment, said that the United States, by moving away from a focus on reducing carbon emissions, risked losing out to China in the race to lead the industry.

Mr. Trump has in the past called the theory of human-cased global warming a hoax and picked a fierce opponent of President Obama’s rules to reduce carbon emissions, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The investment commitment made by the Chinese, combined with Mr. Trump’s moves, means jobs that would have been created in the United States may instead go to Chinese workers.

Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.

China may meet its 2020 goals for solar installation by 2018, said Lauri Myllyvirta, a research analyst at Greenpeace, who is based in Beijing.

But despite these impressive numbers, China’s push to clean its air and reduce its greenhouse gasses faces political pressure from the politically powerful coal industry.

Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta both said that Thursday’s announcement was missing any language on curtailment, or the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar that never finds its way to the country’s power grid. In China, wind power curtailment was 19 percent in the first nine months 2016, Mr. Myllyvirta said, many times higher than in the United States, where curtailment levels are often negligible.

The main reason for curtailment, he said, is that China is plagued by overcapacity in electricity generation and operators of China’s grid often favor electricity generated from coal.

In recent years the country has also been building coal-fired power plants at a furious pace, although that has recently slowed along with China’s economy. Another omission from Thursday’s announcements, Mr. Myllyvirta said, was the absence of any specific target to reduce coal consumption.

But both Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta said Thursday’s announcement set the stage for still more power generation from renewable energy and a gradual shift away from coal.

“My experience with China is when a numeric target gets written down, it gets implemented,” Mr. Myllyvirta said. “It doesn’t always get implemented in the way you like, but it does get implemented.”

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Zarif is Right but his advice is old hat to us – Stop the Contrived Dependence on Oil – the only way that Unties the US from its Slavery to Saudi Arabia.

Zarif talks of WAVE – “World Against Violent Extremism” – and wants this to become a UN sponsored policy with the understanding that it is the Saudi Petrodollars that led to the destruction of Syria and that Wahhabi Sunni Extremism has not led only to attacks on Christians, Jews, and Shia, but also on the destruction of more normal Sunni communities that thrived in Syria and all ver the World. His pinpointing the Saudis and their enslavement to Wahhabism comes naturally to an Iranian who is part of a mainly Shia Nation that also an oil exporter – but nevertheless – his analysis is correct.

The posting of the Zarif column by The New York Times comes at a time President Obama has announced that he will VETO the bill in case Congress votes to allow Court cases against Saudi Arabia as having been in part responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the like of sane people jumping to their death because of crimes committed by Saudi citizens proven to have been aided by their government.

Please note – this is a rare occasion we have no understanding for a President Obama held position. In effect he seems to side with the GW Bush position when he released the Bin Laden family and sent them home from an airport that was closed to American citizens.

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR to The New York Times

Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism

By MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF – September 13, 2016
Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

From Tehran: Public relations firms with no qualms about taking tainted petrodollars are experiencing a bonanza. Their latest project has been to persuade us that the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, is no more. As a Nusra spokesman told CNN, the rebranded rebel group, supposedly separated from its parent terrorist organization, has become “moderate.”

Thus is fanaticism from the Dark Ages sold as a bright vision for the 21st century. The problem for the P.R. firms’ wealthy, often Saudi, clients, who have lavishly funded Nusra, is that the evidence of their ruinous policies can’t be photoshopped out of existence. If anyone had any doubt, the recent video images of other “moderates” beheading a 12-year-old boy were a horrifying reality check.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, militant Wahhabism has undergone a series of face-lifts, but underneath, the ideology remains the same — whether it’s the Taliban, the various incarnations of Al Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state. But the millions of people faced with the Nusra Front’s tyranny are not buying the fiction of this disaffiliation. Past experience of such attempts at whitewashing points to the real aim: to enable the covert flow of petrodollars to extremist groups in Syria to become overt, and even to lure Western governments into supporting these “moderates.” The fact that Nusra still dominates the rebel alliance in Aleppo flouts the public relations message.

Saudi Arabia’s effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran. The fanciful notions that regional instability will help to “contain” Iran, and that supposed rivalries between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are fueling conflicts, are contradicted by the reality that the worst bloodshed in the region is caused by Wahhabists fighting fellow Arabs and murdering fellow Sunnis.

While these extremists, with the backing of their wealthy sponsors, have targeted Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Shiites and other “heretics,” it is their fellow Sunni Arabs who have been most beleaguered by this exported doctrine of hate. Indeed, it is not the supposed ancient sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites but the contest between Wahhabism and mainstream Islam that will have the most profound consequences for the region and beyond.

While the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq set in motion the fighting we see today, the key driver of violence has been this extremist ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia — even if it was invisible to Western eyes until the tragedy of 9/11.

The princes in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, have been desperate to revive the regional status quo of the days of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq, when a surrogate repressive despot, eliciting wealth and material support from fellow Arabs and a gullible West, countered the so-called Iranian threat. There is only one problem: Mr. Hussein is long dead, and the clock cannot be turned back.

The sooner Saudi Arabia’s rulers come to terms with this, the better for all. The new realities in our region can accommodate even Riyadh, should the Saudis choose to change their ways.

What would change mean? Over the past three decades, Riyadh has spent tens of billions of dollars exporting Wahhabism through thousands of mosques and madrasas across the world. From Asia to Africa, from Europe to the Americas, this theological perversion has wrought havoc. As one former extremist in Kosovo told The Times, “The Saudis completely changed Islam here with their money.”

Though it has attracted only a minute proportion of Muslims, Wahhabism has been devastating in its impact. Virtually every terrorist group abusing the name of Islam — from Al Qaeda and its offshoots in Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria — has been inspired by this death cult.

So far, the Saudis have succeeded in inducing their allies to go along with their folly, whether in Syria or Yemen, by playing the “Iran card.” That will surely change, as the realization grows that Riyadh’s persistent sponsorship of extremism repudiates its claim to be a force for stability.

The world cannot afford to sit by and witness Wahhabists targeting not only Christians, Jews and Shiites but also Sunnis. With a large section of the Middle East in turmoil, there is a grave danger that the few remaining pockets of stability will be undermined by this clash of Wahhabism and mainstream Sunni Islam.

There needs to be coordinated action at the United Nations to cut off the funding for ideologies of hate and extremism, and a willingness from the international community to investigate the channels that supply the cash and the arms. In 2013, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, proposed an initiative called World Against Violent Extremism, or WAVE. The United Nations should build on that framework to foster greater dialogue between religions and sects to counter this dangerous medieval fanaticism.

The attacks in Nice, Paris and Brussels should convince the West that the toxic threat of Wahhabism cannot be ignored. After a year of almost weekly tragic news, the international community needs to do more than express outrage, sorrow and condolences; concrete action against extremism is needed.

Though much of the violence committed in the name of Islam can be traced to Wahhabism, I by no means suggest that Saudi Arabia cannot be part of the solution. Quite the reverse: We invite Saudi rulers to put aside the rhetoric of blame and fear, and join hands with the rest of the community of nations to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and violence that threatens us all.

————————————————————————————-
Mohammad Javad Zarif is the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

It is known that the world produces enough food for everyone but why do 800 million in the world still go to bed hungry?

GODAN has the answer to end this suffering – opening data on agriculture and nutrition – which will also stimulate global GDP by $6 trillion

What does the climate mean for food security?

In December 2015, 195 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement –the agreement that nations around the world would be committed to keeping the average global temperature increase at well below 2 ºC and at no more than 1.5 ºC from 2020 onwards. As of August 2016, 180 countries have signed the agreement – but average global temperatures have already reached 1.3 ºC. Coupled with the occurrence of the El-Nino, it is undeniable that the climate is having a huge impact on our planet, as more countries are affected by record breaking and unusual weather. But what impact is this weather having on our food supplies? And if there is more to come, what can we do about it?

To see the impact that climate has on food one only has to look at the spate of droughts that multiple parts of the world have been experiencing in the last decade. Ethiopia experienced its worst drought in decades earlier this year, causing crop failure and the loss of livestock. This was followed by heavy rains that further aggravated the agricultural disruption.

Ethiopia has made great strides since the famine of the 1980s. It has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and thanks to working with the information and expertise of international aid organisations was able to build a food security system which, despite the desperate situation of the drought, has allowed the country to stay out of famine. Given that 43% of the country’s economy[1] relies on agriculture and it forms the livelihood of much of the country’s rural population, food security for Ethiopia has meant more than food reserves.

The government, with the help of aid groups, have made a sustained effort to support farmers over the last decade, which has included launching open data for agriculture and socio-economic wellbeing in early 2015. This open data included detailed agricultural practices, information on health and data on food consumption and security. Ethiopia’s recent drought has been devastating –but the government’s attempt to mitigate its effects through years of investment in food security and making agricultural data available has allowed the country to escape the worst.

Meanwhile, a long drought over the past six years in California has caused water shortages, cost farmers billions of dollars with serious concerns over food security. Within California, residents have felt the impact of reducing water consumptions, and given that the state alone accounts ¼ of the USA’s fruit and vegetable produce[2], the implications of continued drought are concerning.

California has the benefit of being a state within the richest and most powerful country on Earth. The citizens of California have had access to public information giving them guidance on how best to cope throughout. The US Department of Agriculture has been monitoring the progress of the drought and its effect on everything from Californian farms to food prices, the results of which is open data that is publically available to all who need it. Although thousands of farmers[3] have lost their livelihood, and the drought continues, the data and information made available by the US government has been invaluable in keeping the farmers of California informed of the drought’s progress and in allowing them to maintain food security through substitution and diversification of their produce.

The impacts of both droughts are having a drastic effect on the availability of food. As the climate continues to become more extreme, the issue of food security will become more urgent. But as Ethiopia and California have shown, open data on agriculture, weather trends and more can help farmers and governments alike prepare and adapt to some of the worst conditions for agriculture imaginable. That’s why it is so important to make vital agricultural data available for all who could use it.

GODAN (Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition) aims to do just that. In New York City on September 15-16, the GODAN Summit 2016 is taking place, lobbying world leaders to open up their agricultural and nutrition data. Government ministers from Kenya and the UK will be in attendance, alongside open data activists, scientists and other leading figures, all of whom will be discussing the benefits of making relevant data available to everyone. There will also be a hackathon that will see the brightest and most disruptive young minds doing their bit to come up with innovative new open data solutions.

But GODAN needs your support. We have launched a petition in association with Global Citizen. Once complete, the petition will be presented to the world’s leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, calling on them to make agricultural and nutrition data open. Help secure food security for the world by signing the petition today: summit.godan.info/register/

Key Questions:

· Why are governments hiding this data that could end world hunger?

· How can data truly better agriculture and farming in 3rd world countries?

· There is enough food in the world so why are 800 million people hungry?

· Technology really is saving the world, but how?

· How will open data affect health issues globally?

· What does this mean for the agriculture industry?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 4th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The New York Times Top News September 24, 2016

Highway 80, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., in June. High tides are forcing the road to close several times a year.
Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline are no longer theoretical.

President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China formally committed to the Paris climate agreement on Saturday.
Rare Harmony as China and U.S. Commit to Climate Deal
By MARK LANDLER and JANE PERLEZ
President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China formally committed to the Paris climate agreement at a time of increasingly discordant relations between their nations.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 26th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Those interested in how a near 0 economy could be achieved using existing technology may find this chapter, available at papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?a…

Integrating Vehicles and the Electricity Grid to Store and Use Renewable Energy by David Hodas :

 SSRNpapers.ssrn.com

The world could be powered by renewable energy: more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.

In Delivering Energy Policy in the EU and US: A Multi-Disciplinary Reader, (Heffron and Little, eds.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)

Widener University Delaware Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 16-13


Abstract:


The world could be powered by renewable energy: more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.


Achieving a low-carbon economy is less technology dependent than it is dependent on new, well-designed energy law that broadly shifts private incentives towards efficient use of renewable energy using of “game-changing” technology such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) motor vehicles that could shift the world to a low-carbon economy.

V2G vehicles integrate separate energy conversion systems: the electricity grid and light vehicle transportation fleet by storing electricity from the grid when it is not needed and returning it to the grid when it is needed.

The total U.S. light vehicle fleet power capacity is about 39 times the power generation capacity of the U.S. electrical generation system.

The grid could use power stored in idle V2G batteries whenever needed, yet each vehicle would be tapped only within the constraints of its drivers’ specific schedule and driving needs. 20,000,000 V2G cars (just 10% of the U.S. fleet) with an average peak power rating of only 50 Kw, would have the combined power capacity equivalent to the entire U.S. Electric grid. This fleet would be the backup system for a fully renewable (e.g., solar and wind) energy generation system.

The benefits of a V2G system could be enormous: dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions and the adverse health effects of air pollution from burning fossil fuels and a more robust electric grid. A renewable energy V2G system could replace fossil fuels in many regions of the world.

David R. Hodas
Distinguished Professor of Law
Widener University
Delaware Law School

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE 19803-0474

302 477 2186 (tel)
302 477 2257 (fax)
 drhodas at widener.edu

 papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsBy…
 works.bepress.com/david_hodas/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE NEW YORK TIMES – SCIENCE

English Village Becomes Climate Leader by Quietly Cleaning Up Its Own Patch

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERGAUG. 21, 2016

ASHTON HAYES, England — This small village of about 1,000 people looks like any other nestled in the countryside.

But Ashton Hayes is different in an important way when it comes to one of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change.

Hundreds of residents have banded together to cut greenhouse emissions — they use clotheslines instead of dryers, take fewer flights, install solar panels and glaze windows to better insulate their homes.

The effort, reaching its 10th anniversary this year, has led to a 24 percent cut in emissions, according to surveys by a professor of environmental sustainability who lives here.

But what makes Ashton Hayes unusual is its approach — the residents have done it themselves, without prodding from government. About 200 towns, cities and counties around the world — including Notteroy, Norway; Upper Saddle River, N.J.; and Changhua County, Taiwan — have reached out to learn how the villagers here did it.


As climate science has become more accepted, and the effects of a warming planet are becoming increasingly clear, Ashton Hayes is a case study for the next phase of battling climate change: getting people to change their habits.

“We just think everyone should try to clean up their patch,” said Rosemary Dossett, a resident of the village. “And rather than going out and shouting about it, we just do it.”

One of their secrets, it seems, is that the people of Ashton Hayes feel in charge, rather than following government policies. When the member of Parliament who represents the village showed up at their first public meeting in January 2006, he was told he could not make any speeches.

“We said, ‘This is not about you tonight, this is about us, and you can listen to what we’ve got to say for a change,’” said Kate Harrison, a resident and early member of the group.

No politician has been allowed to address the group since. The village has kept the effort separate from party politics, which residents thought would only divide them along ideological lines.


The project was started by Garry Charnock, a former journalist who trained as a hydrologist and has lived in the village for about 30 years. He got the idea a little more than a decade ago after attending a lecture about climate change at the Hay Festival, an annual literary gathering in Wales. He decided to try to get Ashton Hayes to become, as he put it, “Britain’s first carbon-neutral village.”


“But even if we don’t,” he recalls thinking at the time, “let’s try to have a little fun.”

Sometimes, efforts to reduce greenhouse gases involve guilt-tripping or doomsday scenarios that make people feel as if the problem is too overwhelming to tackle.

In Ashton Hayes — about 25 miles southeast of Liverpool, with a 19th-century Anglican church and a community-owned shop that doubles as a post office — the villagers have lightened the mood.

They hold public wine-and-cheese meetings in the biggest houses in town, “so everyone can have a look around,” and see how the wealthier people live, said Mr. Charnock, the executive director of RSK, an environmental consulting company. “We don’t ever finger-wag in Ashton Hayes.”

About 650 people — more than half of the village’s residents — showed up to the first meeting, Mr. Charnock said. Some in the village were less keen, but little by little, they began to participate.

Some have gone further. When they were looking to build their energy-efficient home and heard about Ashton Hayes’s carbon-neutral project, Ms. Dossett and her husband, Ian, thought it might be the perfect village for them.

They moved from nearby South Warrington and found two old farm cottages, which they converted into a two-story brick house, and installed huge triple-glazed windows, photovoltaic cells on the roof, a geothermal heat pump that heats the home and its water, and an underground cistern to hold rainwater for toilets and the garden.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to think we live in a mud hut,” Ms. Dossett said, sitting on a couch in her warm, well-lit living room.

The Dossetts also have a vegetable garden, grow grapes for wine, brew beer and keep two cows, which mow the lawn and may also eventually become food in a few years. They pay about 500 pounds (about $650) a year for electricity and heating.

The success of the carbon-neutral project seems to have inspired other community efforts in Ashton Hayes. The residents, for example, have built a new playing field with a solar-powered pavilion, which is the home of a community cafe three days a week. They have also put photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the primary school.

Other towns and cities around the world hope to copy Ashton Hayes. Their representatives have contacted the project’s leaders, asking for help in setting up similar initiatives, according to the diary the Ashton Hayes group keeps about the project, chronicling almost everything they have done over the past 10 years.


Eden Mills, a small community in Ontario, Canada, is one of them. Charles Simon traveled to Ashton Hayes in 2007 to learn how to translate their approach to his town, adopting the apolitical, voluntary, fun method.

“Some of the changes are so easy,” Mr. Simon said. “Just put on a sweater instead of turning on the heat.”


Eden Mills has cut emissions by about 14 percent, Mr. Simon said, and has plans to do more. Residents have been working with experts from the nearby University of Guelph, planting trees in the village forest to help absorb the carbon dioxide the town emits, Mr. Simon said.

Janet Gullvaag, a councilwoman in Notteroy, Norway, an island municipality of about 21,000 people, reached out to Ashton Hayes about nine years ago after her political party decided to include reducing carbon dioxide emissions in its platform.

“I think that the idea that Ashton Hayes had — to make caring for the environment fun, without pointing fingers — was quite revolutionary,” Ms. Gullvaag said.

Though her community’s approach is decidedly more political, Ms. Gullvaag said that adopting Ashton Hayes’s mantra of fun had paid dividends: She has seen changes in her community, she said, as people buy more electric cars and bicycles, and convert their home heating from oil to more environmentally friendly sources.

“Whatever you’re trying to do, if you can create enthusiasm and spread knowledge, normally, people will react in a positive way,” she added.

Though deep cuts across the globe are still required to make broader progress, actions to reduce emissions, even by small towns, are a step in the right direction, say experts who study community action on climate change.

“The community-building element of all this has been as important as the environmental impact so far,” said Sarah Darby, a researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

She added that Ashton Hayes was in a good position to take on these kinds of projects — it is a small village of well-off and well-educated people, so simply taking fewer flights each year can have a big effect.

Residents were able to cut emissions by about 20 percent in the first year alone, according to surveys used to calculate carbon footprints that were developed by Roy Alexander, a local professor, and his students.

Some have had even more significant reductions: Households that participated in surveys in both the first and 10th years shrank their energy use by about 40 percent.

Mr. Charnock said he thought the village could get the cuts in its 2006 carbon footprint to 80 percent in the next few years with the help of grant money to buy and install solar panels on the local school and other buildings.

The next thing they have to do, he said, is to get the county government to be as committed to cutting emissions as Ashton Hayes is.

“There’s so much apathy,” Mr. Charnock said. “We need to squeeze that layer of apathy jelly and get it out.”

—————————————–
A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: An English Village Leads a Climate Revolution.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

2016 Hannover Messe: US is Partner Country
United States is Partner Country at the 2016 Hannover Messe

Chancellor Merkel to Welcome President Obama in Hannover

Chancellor Merkel and President Obama will take part in the opening event of the trade fair on Sunday, April 24. Afterwards, the Chancellor will host a dinner in honor of President Obama with business representatives from both countries.

Obama to Visit Hannover Messe Panel Discussion

With less than a month to go before the Hannover Messe, the German Embassy in cooperation with Siemens USA and The US Department of Commerce hosted an event entitled, “On the Road to Hannover Messe.”

HANNOVER MESSE – US Named Partner Country for Hannover Messe 2016

The US will be the partner country of the Hannover Messe in 2016. “Hannover Messe is of exceptional importance to the development of our transatlantic trade relations,” Ambassador Wittig said on the news.

President Obama Will Open Hannover Messe with Chancellor Merkel

US President Barack Obama announced that he will make his fifth trip to Germany in April of this year. President Obama will join Chancellor Angela Merkel in opening the annual Hannover Messe, one of the world’s largest industrial trade fairs.

Hannover Messe
Doing Business in Germany and the US
German Foreign Chamber of Commerce (c) ahk
Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT)

RGIT is the liaison office of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) in Washington. RGIT represents the interests of the German business community vis-à-vis both the U.S. administration and the international organizations based in D.C. They report regularly on economically significant developments as well as legislative activities in the U.S. and provide their partners in the United States with information on German business.

Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) – German American Chambers of Commerce

With a network of six offices and 2,500 member companies throughout the United States and Germany, the German American Chambers of Commerce offer a broad spectrum of activities and services.

AHK SelectUSA

SelectUSA, a subsidiary of the US Commerce Department, is in charge of the US presence at the 2016 Hannover Messe. Information on taking part in the trade fair and on the US businesses attending can be found on their website.

SelectUSA

German Missions
in the United States

Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT)

RGIT is the liaison office of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) in Washington. RGIT represents the interests of the German business community vis-à-vis both the U.S. administration and the international organizations based in D.C. They report regularly on economically significant developments as well as legislative activities in the U.S. and provide their partners in the United States with information on German business.

Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT)

Transatlantic Ties
Flags of the European Union and the United States -Tapping Potential with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

With TTIP, the EU and the U.S. will strive to negotiate the most comprehensive and largest bilateral trade and investment agreement ever.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

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

###

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

————————-

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.

###

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.

###

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

Jane Mayer: How the Koch Brothers Have Changed America

By Lauren Kelley, Rolling Stone

18 February 2016

“The super-rich have become… possibly the most powerful private interest group in America,” says Mayer

ew Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer spent some five years researching the Koch brothers and the vast network of right-wing, ultra-wealthy donors of which they’re a part. In her new book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Mayer lays out how this relatively small group of very rich Americans has managed to make views that once seemed radical part of mainstream American thought and life.

Mayer recently spoke to Rolling Stone about how America looks different today because of this network, how the Kochs are trying to influence the next generation, and how they tried to smear her reputation during the reporting process.

You write that the Koch brothers have “used their fortune to impose their minority views on the majority.” What have they accomplished in that respect?

One of their greatest accomplishments is in funding complete confusion on the subject of global warming in America. You can trace something like $25 million from the Koch family and their foundations, just over a three-year period, to organizations that deny the reality of global warming. And you can see that they’ve managed to change public opinion on the subject. Americans have gotten less certain on this issue, as the rest of the world has been going in the opposite direction. And you can see that our Congress has been captured by their interests and those of the fossil-fuel companies, so it will do nothing about global warming.

What are some other examples of how American society looks different today because of the Kochs’ influence?

This has been a 40-year project that Charles and David Koch have been funding with their vast fortunes to try to change the way Americans think. Another of their greatest accomplishments is in turning Americans against the idea of government being a force for good. It’s not they alone who have done this, but they’ve pushed very hard on it, and public-opinion polls show that Americans’ regard for government has just plummeted in recent years.

They’ve also succeeded in many ways in pushing through lawsuits that their donor group has funded. They’ve succeeded in gutting campaign finance laws, so many of the problems we now see in terms of unlimited spending were stirred in the first place by organizations that they’ve helped fund.

Speaking of unlimited funding, let’s talk about Citizens United. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have said that they would use overturning Citizens United as a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, and even Jeb Bush has criticized the decision. What’s so bad about it? What has it wrought?

What Citizens United has done is equate spending money with free speech without limits. What people originally thought it would do is flood the system with corporate money, but in fact something quite different has happened: It’s flooded our system with unlimited money from individual tycoons, who all have very strong opinions.

And by the way, it’s not just Citizens United, there’s a second case, SpeechNow, that was almost entirely cooked up by the Kochs and their allies, that lifted the limit on individual spending.

What’s happened is even more pernicious, in a way, than just unlimited spending. What’s happened is that “dark money” — that is, contributions from undisclosed donors — has exploded. Once individuals and companies and nonprofit corporations could spend as much as they wanted, a new form of spending exploded: spending by groups that claimed to be nonprofit, nonpolitical organizations. They’re called 501(c)(4)s, and they don’t disclose where their money is coming from. In 2006, only two percent of outside political spending came from these dark-money groups — which call themselves social-welfare groups. After 2010, it rose to 40 percent. Almost all of that money was spending on the right. So you’re getting a flood of undisclosed spending by right-wing billionaires and multimillionaires, basically. It’s creating distortions in American politics and American life.

Many studies have shown that the priorities of the super, super rich are really very different from those of the rest of the country. Ninety percent of Americans think Citizens United was a bad idea and that there’s too much money in American politics. But of course the big spenders see it differently, and they’re the ones who are dominating. Majorities of Americans now think that climate change is real, and that mankind is causing it, and something needs to be done about it. But, again, the big private interests have captured the government on that issue, and nothing’s getting done about it. Huge majorities of Americans in both parties want to see Social Security not weakened but strengthened. The very, very rich want to privatize it; they want to shred it. They don’t want to pay for it. They don’t need it.

On issue after issue, the super-rich have become, because of Citizens United and the other court cases associated with it, possibly the most powerful private interest group in America today.

The Koch brothers and many of these other billionaire donors are not young; they won’t live forever. What does that mean for the future of their project?

It’s a great question, and I think the answer is unknown. But what they’ve got are self-perpetuating foundations. Foundations are weird creatures in American politics — they’re perpetual forces of unaccountable money and influence. And they’ve got tremendous private foundations on the right that have been built up purposely to try to change American politics, starting in about 1970. The Kochs’ foundations are among them, but they’re not the only ones by any means. They’re funding think tanks, they’re funding university programs, they’re funding junkets for judges to try to teach them to be more suspicious of environmental regulations. Their network is functioning on so many different levels, I don’t know whether it will require specific people running it or not. I think we’ll probably know 10, 15 years from now.

One of the things that popped out at me when I was doing research for this book is that Charles Koch has always looked at the youth of the country as the most promising recruits for his movement. And you can see that he and his brother and their allies have been focusing an awful lot of their efforts on bringing kids into their network. Some of the people they work with describe the students like bottles of wine: They’re very valuable early on, but with age they became much more valuable, because they become more prominent and powerful in society as they move up in it. It’s a movement that counts on kids being drawn into it.

One thing I always wonder about these guys is: Why are they doing this? Do they genuinely believe they have a better version for America, or are their efforts purely self-serving?

I think it’s all of the above. I think that Charles Koch is a true believer in his own vision of what a perfect society would be. And he hasn’t really changed his view very much since the late Sixties, when the group he belonged to was described as Anarcho-Totalitarian by William F. Buckley. They were so far to the right that conservatives like Buckley viewed them as the fringe; they are so anti-government that they bordered on anarchy. I have papers and documents I describe in the book, in which Charles Koch talks about how he wants to fund and build a movement that will be radical, that will destroy the “statist paradigm,” as he calls it. He really believes it. Some of his ideas that seemed so crazy and fringe back in 1980, such as abolishing the IRS and the EPA, you’re hearing those same ideas now echoing among the Republican presidential candidates. So these ideas have really gained a lot of traction through the years, in part because of their funding. Do they really believe it? Yes, they truly believe it. And is it good for their bottom line? That too.

It sounds like your experience writing this book was a bit harrowing. The Kochs really went after you.

They play very rough. I’ve been a reporter for a long time, covering wars, the CIA, presidencies and a lot of very powerful organizations. But the Kochs are the only people I’ve ever covered who have hired a private investigator to try to dig up dirt and plant untrue stories about me in order to hurt my reputation. And it’s not just me; they’ve used private eyes to try to discredit people throughout their lives, including their own brothers. There are four Koch brothers, and the two we know of, Charles and David, have spent 20 years litigating against the two other ones, Fred and Bill. They hired private eyes to go through each other’s garbage.

But, you know, that’s what reporting is all about: trying to speak truth to power, and holding accountable those who’ve got tremendous power — especially people who don’t even run for office and want to change American politics.

TWO COMMENTS:

# Buddha 2016-02-18 13:45
“Mayer lays out how this relatively small group of very rich Americans has managed to make views that once seemed radical part of mainstream American thought and life.”

While at the same time, make views of Progressivism (universal healthcare, strong public education and subsidized universities to keep tuition low, investment in infrastructure, support of unions and decent wages, etc) seem today to be “extreme” and “impossible” and “pie in the sky”. The actions of the Kochs and their ilk have yielded us people like the Clintons who tell us that we should only aim to achieve that which the Republicans will agree to do together.

+19 # reiverpacific 2016-02-18 18:23
“And he hasn’t really changed his view very much since the late Sixties, when the group he belonged to was described as Anarcho-Totalitarian by William F. Buckley.”(Quote).
This shows just how far they’ve gone and succeeded: Buckley would actually be seen as a “Liberal” these days.


One thing the article didn’t touch on is that these bastards are two of the biggest polluters in the US -even the World- through their extractive companies, which is linked to their anti-climate-change stance.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 23rd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Environment

2016 Elections, Climate Change, Climate Desk, Science, Top Stories
Attention GOP Presidential Candidates: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming –
Weather is not climate.

By Jeremy Schulman of Mother Jones
| Mon Jan. 26, 2015 1:24 PM EST

Update, 1/21/2016: With an epic blizzard expected to bury Washington, DC, this weekend, and an epic caucus night quickly approaching in Iowa, I decided to revisit this post. It remains true that winter storms and cold weather are in no way inconsistent with global warming. But I can no longer stand by my assertion that Donald Trump is “probably not going to run for president.” As Rick Perry would say: Oops.

Snow is falling across the Northeast, and millions of people are preparing for a massive blizzard. Due to the extreme winter conditions, my colleague at Climate Desk has issued the following advisory:

Tim McDonnell Verified account
?@timmcdonnell

PSA: Big snowstorm ? (IS NOT) proof global warming is a hoax.

It may seem obvious to you that the existence of extreme winter weather doesn’t negate the scientific fact that humans are warming the planet. But that’s probably because you aren’t a climate change denier who’s contemplating a run for the GOP presidential nomination.

Last year, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) weighed in on the issue. “It is really freezing in DC,” Cruz said during a speech on energy policy, according to Talking Points Memo. “I have to admit I was surprised. Al Gore told us this wouldn’t happen!” Cruz said the same thing a month earlier, according to Slate: “It’s cold!…Al Gore told me this wouldn’t happen.”

And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show, negated global warming as well after a major blizzard back in December 20, 2009.

Which brings us to a couple of Republicans who are probably not going to run for president but who have nevertheless generated headlines recently by suggesting they might. Here’s Donald Trump, during a cold snap last year:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
2 January 2014

And then there is a Facebook post of January 12, 2012, from former Gov. Sarah Palin, citing extremely cold winter temperatures in her home state of Alaska.

Palin Facebook

If you’re a regular Climate affectionado, you already know why all this is wrong. You understand the difference between individual weather events and long-term climate trends. You probably even know that according to the National Climate Assessment, winter precipitation is expected to increase in the northeastern United States as a result of climate change. But if you’re a Republican who wants to be president, please pay close attention to the following video:

to get his – lease look at –  www.motherjones.com/environment/2…

also, if you want updates on the effects of the blizzard – CNN.com –  BreakingNews at mail.cnn.com

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

###

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

In a letter to all IISD readers of the Clean Energy List, Ms. Victoria Healey, the Project Leader at US NREL writes:

A representative from the Clean Energy Solutions Center (Solutions Center), Ms. Victoria Healey, will attend the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly and the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, from January 16-21, 2016. Under the joint IRENA and Solutions Center Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN), Ms. Healey will be available to meet individually with government representatives, government affiliated practitioners, and policymakers seeking clean energy policy, program, regulation, and finance technical assistance. The REPAN was established to help developing countries to design and adopt clean energy policies and programs that support the deployment of clean energy technologies, and to identify design, and implement finance instruments that mobilize private and public sector capital, and formulate clean energy investment strategies. This support is provided free of charge. To schedule an appointment, please contact Victoria Healey at  nrel.gov.


Consultations during the IRENA General Assembly will occur at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island in a location to be determined. During the WFES the 1-on-1 consultations will take place at the IRENA networking area located in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

About the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network, the Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, and the Clean Energy Solutions Center:

The Clean Energy Solutions Center and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) joined forces in 2013 to launch the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN)—a collaboration that leverages both organizations’ resources by coordinating a global network of experts and practitioners to help countries design and implement renewable energy policies and programs. To learn more visit cleanenergysolutions.org/expert/…

The Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center of NREL assists governments and practitioners with identifying appropriate finance mechanisms and designing and implementing policies to reduce risk and encourage private sector investment; helping to achieve the transition to clean energy at the speed and scale necessary to meet local development needs and address global challenges. The CEFSC is an expanded and dedicated resource that is part of the Clean Energy Solutions Center, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative that helps governments design and adopt policies and programs that support deployment of clean energy technologies.

signed:
Victoria Healey,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Leader for the Clean Energy Solutions Center

To learn more about how these initiatives can assist in meeting countries’ clean energy objectives, please visit cleanenergysolutions.org and finance.cleanenergysolutions.org…, and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CleanEnergySolu… and Twitter twitter.com/Clean_Energy_SC

###

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!

###