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Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York:
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 28th, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Why the lingering dispute between Denmark and Canada over a high Arctic island is so important.

ANALYSIS: The long-running dispute over an island halfway between Nunavut and Greenland is a reminder that sovereignty matters.

By Martin Breum -May 27, 2018

Not many people ever get to this island, which is a real pity. This tiny, nondescript, icy and basically useless piece of real estate far up in the Kennedy Channel between northwestern Greenland and Ellesmere Island in the far north of Canada is one of the only pieces of territory still disputed by two Arctic nations.

Canada claims that this rocky, uninhabited piece of rock is 100 percent Canadian. Denmark says that every inch of it is part of Greenland and that the entirety therefore belongs to the Danish Kingdom. I cannot imagine many purposes for which Hans Island, or Tartupaluk in Greenlandic, would be useful for a government at all. It is extremely remote, provides no shelter, no decent landing for any vessels. No oil and gas reserves are known to hide in its vicinity, no mineral deposits in its core. It is ice-encapsulated and dangerously windswept most of the year. Perhaps in a distant ice-free future a bit of high Arctic marine traffic might pass by, but it would still most likely have no reason to dwell here.

But, of course, as a political phenomena Hans Island is extremely provoking. It bears testimony to just how easily even the lowliest, most desolate piece of territory may still excite otherwise friendly, democratic, NATO-embedded nations and make them unable to reach any semblance of an agreement even after 45 years of negotiations. The Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelsen this week told the media that a diplomatic task force will now seek a solution, but he did not specify why this force is more likely to succeed than previous attempts.

[Denmark, Canada agree to settle Hans Island dispute]

Hans Island, all 1.3 square kilometers of it, is worth keeping in mind for several reasons.

For one, so that we may reflect more deeply over our own ways when we come across calls for increased sovereignty in Scotland, Greenland, Nunavut, the Faroe Islands, Catalonia or elsewhere. These are deep-rooted sentiments that one cannot meet only with simplistic counter-arguments.

Hans Island also reminds us of our own potential tenacity when we look forward to the diplomatic negotiations over who owns which parts of the seabed under the Arctic Ocean. Here a lot more is at stake and in this instance Canada and Denmark will not be the only contenders. Russia has also filed a claim. Russia has done so peacefully, according to U.N. procedures and not aggressively wide — but nevertheless a claim that overlaps the even more ambitious Danish-Greenlandic claim and most likely also the upcoming Canadian claim that was delayed only so that Canada could also claim the North Pole.

Two flagpoles
I landed on top of Hans Island in an Air Greenland helicopter 168 meters above sea level in blasting sunshine and with a spectacular view of the Kennedy Channel high up in the Nares Strait. Snowy Canadian mountain peaks were easily visible some 18 kilometers to the west and their Greenlandic counterparts just as easily visible to the East. Hans Island lies precisely in the middle of the channel. It was named after Hans Hendrik, one of the Greenlandic assistants on the 1871 so-called North Polar Expedition, led by C. F. Hall. Our helicopter, a large, red Sikorsky S-61, arrived from the north as part of the support for a team of Swiss climate scientists, artist and a business leader touring north Greenland on a private, unofficial visit; an initiative to boost Switzerland’s presence in the Arctic and its contributions as a new observer-member of the Arctic Council.

No flags fly on Hans Island any longer, but the two flagpoles are still there, some 10 meters apart. The island is not divided in two; both countries claim the entire island, but the Canadian flagpole stands towards Nunavut, the Danish one towards Greenland.

The Danish flagpole is white and in wood, with a broken white cord and very evidently between jobs. The Canadian flagpole is metallic, constructed in three pieces, only the lowest still standing, the two other rusty and dismantled on the ground. The Canadian flag was metallic, too. A red, broken and haggard piece of red metal, the last part of the flag, is still screwed onto one of the dismantled parts of the pole. The rest of the flag has probably been secured for posterity.

In 2005 the two claimants to Hans Island, the government in Ottawa and that in Copenhagen, formerly agreed to stop all national posturing on the island, hence the absence of flags. Only smaller signs of patriotic chest-thumping are still here: On a brick pillar about 1.5 meters high, next to the Danish flagpole, the names of visiting Danish naval ships can still be read on small metallic placards. Danish soldiers used to come here to replenish wind-torn Danish flags. Tradition was that they would leave a bottle of Danish booze as a gesture to their Canadian counterparts, who would then retaliate with Canadian booze when possible. All very cozy until it was not so cozy anymore.

The Canadian — unofficial — story of the escalation goes that in the early part of this century the Danish navy began popping by more frequently. The Danes acknowledge no such change of attitude. Then, in 2005, Canada’s minister of defense, Bill Graham, paid a visit.

The Canadian flag was hoisted, and a inukshuk — a traditional stone-structure once used as a way-points by Inuit travelers from Canada — was built. Bill Graham also had the Danish flag on Hans Island carefully downed, folded, shipped back to Ottawa and officially handed over to Her Majesty, Queen Margrethe II’s representatives at the Danish Embassy.

Legend in Denmark has it that this flag was delivered neatly folded in a cardboard box from a local bakery in Ottawa. It was badly shredded by several years of Arctic storms on Hans Island. I know, since I saw it later on a wall in the office of an official in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He had had it framed, probably as a reminder of how unresolved sovereignty can potentially lead to bad trouble. The same man later became one of the lead authors of the famous Ilulissat Declaration from 2008 in which the five states around the Arctic Ocean, including Canada and Denmark, Russia, Norway and the U.S. vowed to solve all issues of sovereignty in the central Arctic Ocean by peaceful, U.N.-sanctioned rules. This declaration, which celebrates its 10th anniversary these days, was provoked by the Russian planting of the Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean where sovereignty is still disputed – precisely at the North Pole – the year before.

Still unresolved
In 2005, the Danes were not amused by Bill Graham’s visit or the downing of the Danish flag. A Danish naval ship was dispatched towards Hans Island and for a brief moment things looked unsavory. Nobody really knew what the Danish marines would do when, or if, they reached Hans Island, inaccessible as it often is because of ice and bad weather.

Then of course, common sense took sway. The foreign ministers of the two nations, Per Stig Møller from Denmark and Pierre Pettigrew of Canada, both of whom where in New York anyway, met and quickly agreed to stop all further foolishness at Hans Island, hence today’s absence of flags. The Danish navy was called back and the ministers agreed that no more posturing would henceforth take place. They also declared their common desire to soon find a lasting solution.

The problem is that this was 13 years ago and that nothing has since changed except the decaying flagpoles. In 2008, a joint Automated Weather Station was installed between the flagpoles, but as far as sovereignty is concerned, there has been no news for more than a decade. In 2012, Canada and Denmark agreed on the exact border in the waters between Canada and Greenland all the way to the shores of Hans Island, but the island itself remains as disputed as ever.

Inuit land
To some in Canada and Greenland much of the ice, land, water, inlets, islands, polynyas, fish, mammals and fowl in the part of the Arctic that includes Hans Island shouldn’t even be considered as something to which the governments may lay claim.

To those who support this line of argument, this is ancestral land, inhabited by Inuit for millennia without much attention being paid to legal title. And in the great open water not far south of Hans Island something is stirring.

The so-called North Water Polynya, or Pikialasorsuaq, is home to very rich hunting; whales, polar bears, walrus, seals and waterfowl congregate here in astonishing numbers, and a joint commission of Inuit from Nunavut in Canada and from Greenland has recently suggested that this phenomenal polynya — water that never freezes over — should be governed by the Inuit themselves, regardless that the governments of Canada and Denmark each hold sovereignty over parts of it. The Pikislasorsuaq Commission, established by the Inuit Circumpolar Council in 2014, does not concern itself with Hans Island at all, but it takes little imagining for the rest of us to extend potential inuit governance over Pikialasorsuaq to Hans Island. In 2015 a suggestion was indeed made to hand over power over Hans Island to the Inuit of both Canada and Greenland, not by the Inuit themselves, but by two prominent Arctic experts, professor Michael Byers from the University of British Columbia and associate professor Michael Böss of the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

When we landed on Hans Island last Saturday, the mechanic on the Sikorsky, Søren Lund, born in Greenland and of Inuit descend, was very happy to have his picture taken on the island. Like me, he also brought a small piece of the island with him home. He would have liked to also wave the Greenlandic flag, just to make a subtle point, but he held back, not wanting to create any trouble for the Swiss guests or Air Greenland, his employer. Flags of any sort on Hans Island may cause turbulence. When tourists from a Danish cruise vessel landed on the island in 2010 and Facebook showed them planting the Danish and Greenlandic flags, the head of Denmark’s Arctic Command had to act. He urgently called his Canadian counterpart and made sure that there was no room for misinterpretation: The flags were not officially Danish and did not represent any hostile act whatsoever. It seems the situation remains volatile.

Personally, as a happy greeting to all future visitors, I left my business card on the island, tucked behind one of the old placards with names of ships on it. I hope no one who might find it takes offense.

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The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by “ArcticToday” which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary (at) arctictoday.com.

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This lingering dispute is just a tiny taste of what will go on with the USA, Russia, China joining the fight about territory and resources of the high Arctic region.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 5th, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Europe Shouldn’t Be Too Smug with US About Emissions – suggests CNN’s Fareed Zakaria of the Global Public Square:


A UN climate meeting began in Bonn this week. But while Europe has talked a good game in recent years, America actually bested the continent in cutting emissions last year, writes Bob Berwyn for Pacific Standard.

“Despite a year-long pro-fossil fuel propaganda campaign by the government, US emissions dropped in 2017 by 0.5 percent (32 million tons); the EU, which talks a good climate game, saw emissions increase by 1.5 percent last year,” Berwyn notes.

“Regarding the one-year comparison between emissions in the US vs. the EU, [climate expert Glen] Peters says that, while it doesn’t tell the whole story, the comparison is a clarifying piece of that story, and demonstrates that market incentives can be just as important as policies and regulations.”

“The US emissions decline was bigger than in any other major developed economy, mainly thanks to rapid deployment of renewable energy sources, including in red states like Texas and Kansas. But that may change in the future, pending the outcome of current efforts to encourage expanded oil and gas drilling, as well as coal production, and to roll back anti-pollution measures like auto efficiency standards and the Clean Power Plan.”

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WHY THIS WEEK’S CLIMATE TALKS IN BONN WILL BE A LITTLE AWKWARD
Europe talks a good game on climate, but its emissions rose last year—while in the U.S., despite the efforts of the Trump administration, emissions fell.
BOB BERWYNMAY 3, 2018, THE PACIFIC STANDARD based in Ventura County, California.

Climate negotiators gathering in Bonn, Germany, this week must grapple with the fact that the carbon age still hasn’t peaked.

After plateauing for three years, global CO2 emissions increased in 2017 by 1.4 percent, to a record 32.5 gigatons, according to the International Energy Agency. The European Union, China, and India all registered a hefty increase in emissions, but in the United States, they dropped, despite the Trump administration’s pro-coal agenda.

Overall, the global increase is bad news for communities trying to adapt to climate extremes caused by heat-trapping pollution. It also raises the stakes at the current round of climate talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn this week, where the focus is on on finalizing the rulebook for the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius.

The remaining questions about the rulebook are big ones: Who will count and verify carbon emissions? What will assessments of emission-reduction measures look like? How will we know that we’ve finally bent the global emissions curve downward for good?

Last year’s jump in CO2 emissions increases the pressure on the climate negotiators because it puts the most ambitious target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius farther out of reach. Hitting that goal would require a 70 to 90 percent reduction of emissions by 2050 (from 2010 levels), according to Climate Analytics, a non-profit climate think tank. And that will become nearly impossible if emissions continue to go up for just a few more years.

If emissions don’t peak by 2020, we’ll be forced to try the much more expensive paths of trying to suck CO2 out of the air, or potentially dangerous geo-engineering.

The global emissions increase in 2017 was driven by increased energy demand from the rapidly growing economies of India and China, showing that economic growth and carbon emissions have not yet been completely decoupled, says Glen Peters, a climate expert with the Global Carbon Project, a non-profit think tank that closely tracks the world’s CO2 budget. But both countries are headed in that direction. China’s economy grew by 7 percent in 2017, while its emissions grew by just 1.7 percent.

Notable was the contrast, highlighted in the IEA report, between emissions in the U.S. and the E.U., Peters says. Despite a year-long pro-fossil fuel propaganda campaign by the government, U.S. emissions dropped in 2017 by 0.5 percent (32 million tons); the E.U., which talks a good climate game, saw emissions increase by 1.5 percent last year.

Regarding the one-year comparison between emissions in the U.S. vs. the E.U., Peters says that, while it doesn’t tell the whole story, the comparison is a clarifying piece of that story, and demonstrates that market incentives can be just as important as policies and regulations.

The U.S. emissions decline was bigger than in any other major developed economy, mainly thanks to rapid deployment of renewable energy sources, including in red states like Texas and Kansas. But that may change in the future, pending the outcome of current efforts to encourage expanded oil and gas drilling, as well as coal production, and to roll back anti-pollution measures like auto efficiency standards and the Clean Power Plan.

“The damage may not come for a few years in the U.S.,” Peters says. “The changes to regulations on oil and gas extraction could take years to take effect.” At the same time, he notes that some of the U.S. emissions reductions in the past decade did not come from climate policy, but were driven by simple energy economics: the declining price of wind and solar.

Recent adjustments to the E.U. emissions system should start raising the price of carbon by 2020, leading to bigger CO2 cuts, and individual European countries have announced an ambitious slew of initiatives to make much deeper cuts in the years ahead.

The United Kingdom, for example, is aiming for net zero carbon by 2050; Norway wants to electrify all domestic flights by 2040, and a group of seven major European countries, including France, agreed in advance of the Bonn negotiations to enact a more ambitious European climate policy that would include big emissions cuts by 2030 to reach the Paris target.

But those good intentions are partly at the mercy of the E.U.’s unwieldy decision-making process.

“The E.U. is a slave to its weakest link, and that’s Poland. Your climate policy can only be as strong as Poland will allow, and that’s going to make things harder,” Peters says.

Poland still relies heavily on coal to keep its economy growing, and there’s no sign of a significant short-term shift in that country’s energy policy. The real debate for Europe is about goals for 2030, since the bloc has essentially already met its 2020 target, Peters adds.

One year’s worth of data doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend, so we shouldn’t overhype the 2017 drop in U.S. emissions, Kelly Levin, a climate analyst with the World Resources Institute, tells Pacific Standard.

“If you look behind the numbers, the pace of decline certainly slowed in the U.S.; CO2 emissions from energy production fell at half the rate of the 2005–16 average. This 2017 blip may not be indicative for what’s coming in the U.S.,” Levin says, explaining that the drop from emissions in the power sector masks increases from transport, industry, and aviation.

Overall, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects U.S. emissions will increase by 1 percent in 2018, which is is a big deal, because the U.S. is still the second-biggest global emitter after China, responsible for 14 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

But the pro-coal push by the current U.S. government may be more sound and fury than anything else, according to Susanne Droege, an energy and climate policy expert with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

“[President Donald] Trump isn’t really getting anywhere with coal revival. Producing more coal-fired electricity is not happening on any large scale,” Droege says.

The global push to cut emissions may also hit an obstacle in November, when Poland hosts the COP 24 talks, the penultimate UNFCCC session as the earliest deadlines for mitigation, financing, and stock-taking under the Paris Agreement approach in 2020.

According to Droege, there is some concern that Poland’s current nationalistic path will be reflected in a continued pro-coal climate policy that could hinder E.U.-wide efforts toward more ambitious reductions.

And since it will be tough for the world to reach its global climate goals if U.S. emissions were to soar over the next few years, the American negotiating team will once again be scrutinized for clues as to the direction of U.S. climate and energy policy—especially after speculation that French President Emmanuel Macron may be able to woo Trump back into the climate deal.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from the American-Iranian Council in the US.

Rouhani: Iran ‘ready’ to talk to Arab neighbors.


US-Iran Relations

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Iran is ready to discuss regional security issues with its Gulf Arab neighbours as long as foreign powers are kept out of any potential talks.

“We don’t need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.

“When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbours and friends, without the presence of foreigners,” he added. (The New Arab)


Trump Administration Turns Away Iranian Christians

The Trump administration has denied asylum to more than 100 Iranian Christians and other refugees who face possible persecution in their home country, despite White House promises to relieve the plight of religious minorities in the Middle East.

The group of refugees, mostly Christians along with other non-Muslims, have been stranded in Vienna for more than a year, waiting for final approval to resettle in the United States. Now they face possible deportation back to Iran, where rights advocates say they face potential retaliation or imprisonment by the regime in Tehran for seeking asylum in the United States.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has vowed action to alleviate the suffering of Christians in the region and the administration has condemned Tehran’s treatment of religious minorities. But critics say the decision on the Iranian Christians shows the administration had failed to live up to its own rhetoric. (Foreign Policy)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

By ANDREW RETTMAN

BRUSSELS, TODAY, 09:27

US plans to impose steel and aluminium tariffs risk prompting a wider trade war after the EU, China, and others vowed to retaliate.
“We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday (1 March).
He said the EU would “react firmly” in “the next few days” with “countermeasures” that were compatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

He also indicated that US president Donald Trump’s “blatant … protectionism” risked doing wider harm to transatlantic relations.

“The EU has been a close security ally of the US for decades,” Juncker noted, after Trump ignored proposals by his own trade chief to exclude “friendly states” from the metals decision.

Trump said, earlier on Thursday, that steel importers would have to pay a 25 percent tariff and aluminium importers 10 percent after the measures entered into life next week.

Germany is the EU’s biggest steel exporter to the US and shipped 1.4 million tonnes there last year.

That figure is small compared to Canada and Brazil, which shipped around 5 million tonnes each to the US.

But VW Stahl, the German steel lobby, said Trump’s move threatened to flood the EU market with foreign steel when those countries diverted exports from the US.

“If the EU does not act, our steel industry will pay the bill for protectionism in the US. Europe is threatened by trade diversion by a new steel spill, in a situation where the import crisis in the EU market is far from over,” VW Stahl chief Hans Juergen Kerkhoff said, referring to global overcapacity in the sector.

With Canada, Brazil, and other steel exporters, such as China, also threatening retaliatory measures, Kerkhoff added that the risk of a broader trade war risked seeing EU exporters shut out of other markets as well.

“German supplies to other countries would also be affected, as the US measures would have imitation effects and thus an increase in global protectionism,” he said.

He spoke after Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said “Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers”.

The US measures “overturn the international trade order,” Wen Xianjun, vice chairman of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, said, adding: “Other countries, including China, will [also] take relevant retaliatory measures.”

The Chinese reaction is expected to target US exports of soy beans as well as metals, highlighting the risk of a wider protectionist backlash around the world.

The Trump tariffs raise “risks of an all-out trade war, which could dampen economic growth,” the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group said in a note.

Trump made the announcement at a meeting with a dozen or so CEOs of US steel makers, including US Steel Corp and Arcelor Mittal, which stand to gain from his decision.

But the resulting hike in raw materials costs for US steel-using industries, such as energy companies, car makers, and the aerospace and construction sectors, which employ 80 times as many people as US steel makers, risked undoing any benefits for the American economy.

“We are urging the administration to avoid killing US jobs through a steel tariff that impacts pipelines,” said Andy Black, CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, a US pressure group.

The situation was quickly reflected on Wall Street, where shares in US steel firms rose by 7 percent on Thursday, while those in steel-users such as Ford, Caterpillar, and Boeing fell by 3 percent.

Shares in steel firms in China, Japan, and South Korea also fell on the news.

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And from The New York Times – March 2, 2018:

Major stock markets in the U.S. and Asia fell after President Trump announced stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The European Union, Canada and others threatened to retaliate. The stability of the global trade system is at risk, our senior economics correspondent writes.
Mr. Trump’s announcement highlighted the dysfunction in the White House, which has not completed a legal review of the measures. The president’s chief economic adviser, who lobbied fiercely against the measures, threatened to quit.

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And from Trump’s Washington:

President Trump on March 1 announced tariffs on steel and aluminum. “Without steel and aluminum, your country is not the same,” Trump said.

President Trump on Thursday said he has decided to impose punishing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in a major escalation of his trade offensive, disappointing Republican congressional leaders and inviting retaliation by U.S. trading partners.

Speaking at the White House, the president said he has decided on tariffs of 25 percent for foreign-made steel and 10 percent for aluminum.

“We’ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports and tariffs on aluminum imports,” the president said. “…You will have protection for the first time in a long while, and you’re going to regrow your industries.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Ultimate Blowback Universe, a Planet Boiling With Unintended Consequence.

By Tom Engelhardt in TomDispatch of 01 March 2018


The Ultimate Blowback Universe
A Planet Boiling With Unintended Consequences.

ou want to see “blowback” in action? That’s easy enough. All you need is a vague sense of how Google Search works. Then type into it phrases like “warmest years,” “rising sea levels,” “melting ice,” “lengthening wildfire season,” or “future climate refugees,” and you’ll find yourself immersed in the grimmest of blowback universes. It’s a world which should give that CIA term of tradecraft a meaning even the Agency never imagined for it.

But before I put you on this blowback planet of ours and introduce you to the blowback president presiding over it, I want to take a moment to remember Mr. Blowback himself.

And what a guy he was! Here’s how he described himself in the last piece he wrote for TomDispatch just months before his death in November 2010: “My own role these past 20 years has been that of Cassandra, whom the gods gave the gift of foreseeing the future, but also cursed because no one believed her.”

He wasn’t being immodest. He had, in many ways, seen the shape of things to come for what he never hesitated to call “the American empire,” including — in that 2010 piece — its decline. As he wrote then, “Thirty-five years from now, America’s official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face to face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy.”

You know how — if you’re of a certain age at least — there are those moments when you go back to the books that truly mattered to you, the ones that somehow prepared you, as best anyone can be prepared, for the years to come. One I return to regularly is his. I’m talking about Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

The man who wrote that was Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant and eminent scholar of modern Asian history, who would in that work characterize himself in his former life as a “spear-carrier for empire.”

Blowback was published in 2000 to next to no notice. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, it became a bestseller. There was so much to learn from it, starting with the very definition of blowback, a word he brought out of the secret world for the rest of us to consider. “The term ‘blowback,’ which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use,” he wrote, “refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of ‘terrorists’ or ‘drug lords’ or ‘rogue states’ or ‘illegal arms merchants’ often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations.”

And if “unintended consequences” isn’t a supremely appropriate title under which to write the misbegotten history of the years that followed 9/11 in the era of the self-proclaimed “sole superpower” or, as American politicians love to say, “the indispensable nation,” what is? Of course, in the best blowback fashion, al-Qaeda’s attacks of that day hit this country like literal bolts from the blue — even the top officials of George W. Bush’s administration were stunned as they scurried for cover. Of all Americans, they at least should have been better prepared, given the warning offered to the president only weeks earlier by that blowback center of operations, the CIA. (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” was the title of the presidential daily brief of August 6, 2001.)

Osama bin Laden would prove to be the poster boy of blowback. His organization, al-Qaeda, would be nurtured into existence by an all-American urge to give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam, what its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, would later call its “bleeding wound,” and to do so in, of all places, Afghanistan. In October 2001, 12 years after the Red Army limped out of that country in defeat and a decade after the Soviet Union imploded, in part thanks to that very wound, Washington would launch a “Global War on Terror.” It would be the Bush administration’s response to al-Qaeda’s supposedly inexplicable attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The Taliban’s Afghanistan would be its first target and so would begin America’s second Afghan War, a conflict now almost 17 years old with no end in sight. Yet in our American world, remarkably few connections are ever made between the present war and that blowback moment against the Soviets nearly 40 years ago. (Were he alive, Chalmers Johnson, who never ceased to make such connections, would have been grimly amused.)

Giving Imperial Overstretch New Meaning

Talk about the endless ramifications of blowback. It was bin Laden’s genius — for a mere $400,000 to $500,000 — to goad Washington into spending trillions of dollars across significant parts of the Islamic world fighting conflict after conflict, all of which only seemed to create yet more rubble, terror outfits, and refugees (who, in turn, have helped fuel yet more right-wing populist movements from Europe to Donald Trump’s America). Tell me it’s not a blowback world!

As it happened, bin Laden’s 2001 attacks brought official Washington not to its knees but to its deepest post-Cold War conviction: that the world was its oyster; that, for the first time in history, a single great power potentially had it all, a shot at everything, starting with Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, then much of the rest of the Middle East, and sooner or later the whole planet. In a post-Soviet world in which America’s leaders felt the deepest sense of triumphalism, the 9/11 attacks seemed like the ultimate insult. Who would dream of doing such a thing to the greatest power of all of time?

In an act of pure wizardry, bin Laden drew out of Bush, Cheney, and company their deepest geopolitical fantasies about the ability of that all-powerful country and, in particular, “the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world,” the U.S. military, to dominate any situation on Earth. The early months of 2003, when they were preparing to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, may have been their ultimate hubristic moment, in which imagining anything other than success of a historic sort, not just in that country but far beyond it, was inconceivable.

Until then, never — except in Hollywood movies when the bad guy rubbed his hands with glee and cackled that the world was his — had any power truly dreamed of taking it all, of ruling, or at least directing, the planet itself. Even for a globalizing great power without rivals and wealthy almost beyond compare that would prove the ultimate in conceptual overstretch. Looking back, it’s easy enough to see that almost 17 years of ceaseless war and conflict across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and even parts of Asia, of massive destruction, of multiplying failed states, of burgeoning terror outfits, and of blowback of every sort, have given the old phrase, “biting off more than you can chew,” new geopolitical meaning.

Washington created what was, in effect, a never-ending blowback machine. In those years, while the distant wars went on and on (and terrors of every imaginable sort grew in this country), the United States was transformed in a remarkable, if not yet fully graspable, fashion. The national security state now reigns supreme in Washington; generals (or retired generals) are perched (however precariously) atop key parts of the civilian government; a right-wing populist, who rose to power in part on the fear of immigrants, refugees, and Islamic extremists, has his giant golden letters emblazoned on the White House (and a hotel just down Pennsylvania Avenue that no diplomat or lobbyist with any sense would dare not patronize); the police have been militarized; borders have been further fortified; spy drones have been dispatched to American skies; and the surveillance of the citizenry and its communications have been made the order of the day. Meanwhile, the latest disturbed teen, armed with a military-style AR-15 semi-automatic, has just perpetrated another in a growing list of slaughters in American schools. In response, the president, Republican politicians, and the National Rifle Association have all plugged the arming of teachers and administrators, as well as the “hardening” of schools (including the use of surveillance systems and other militarized methods of “defense”), and so have given phrases like “citadel of learning” or “bastion of education” new meaning. In these same years, various unnamed terrors and the weaponization of the most psychically distraught parts of the citizenry under the rubric of the Second Amendment and the sponsorship of the NRA, the Republican Party, and most recently Donald Trump have transformed this country into something like an armed camp.

It seems, in other words, that in setting out to take the world, in some surprising fashion this country both terrorized and conquered itself. For that, Osama bin Laden should certainly be congratulated but so should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and all their neoconservative pals, not to speak of David Petraeus, James Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and a host of other generals of America’s losing wars.

Think of it this way: at what looked like the height of American power, Washington managed to give imperial overstretch a historically new meaning. Even on a planet without other great power rivals, a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East, no less the full-scale garrisoning and policing of significant parts of the rest of the globe proved far too much for the sole superpower, no matter how technologically advanced its military or powerful and transnational its economy. As it turned out, that urge to take everything would prove the perfect launching pad for this country’s decline.

Someday (if there is such a day), this record will prove a goldmine for historians of imperial power and blowback. And yet all of this, even the fate of this country, should be considered relatively minor matters, given the ultimate blowback to come.

Humanity Nailed to a Cross of Coal

There was, in fact, another kind of blowback underway and the American empire was clearly a player in it, too, even a major one, but hardly the only one. Every place using fossil fuels was involved. This form of blowback threatens not just the decline of a single great imperial power but of humanity itself, of the very environment that nurtured generation after generation of us over these thousands of years. By definition, that makes it the worst form of blowback imaginable.

What I have in mind, of course, is climate change or global warming. In a way, you could think of it as the story of another kind of superpower and how it launched the decline of us all. On a planetary scale, the giant corporations (and national fuel companies) that make up global Big Energy have long been on the hunt for every imaginable reserve of fossil fuels and for ways to control and exploit them. The oil, natural gas, and coal such outfits extracted fueled industrial society, still-spreading car cultures, and consumerism as we know it.

Over most of the years such companies were powering human development, the men who ran them and their employees had no idea that the greenhouse gasses released by the burning of fossil fuels were heating the atmosphere and the planet’s waters in potentially disastrous ways. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, like scientists elsewhere, those employed by ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, had become aware of the phenomenon (as would those of other energy companies). That meant the men who ran Exxon and other major firms recognized in advance of most of the rest of us just what kind of blowback the long-term burning of oil, natural gas, and coal was going to deliver: a planet ever less fit for human habitation.

They just didn’t think those of us in the non-scientific community should know about it and so, by the 1990s, they were already doing their damnedest to hide it from us. However, when scientists not in their employ started to publicize the new reality in a significant way, as the heads of some of the most influential and wealthiest corporations on Earth they began to invest striking sums in the fostering of a universe of think tanks, lobbyists, and politicians devoted to what became known as climate-change denial. Between 1998 and 2014, for instance, Exxon would pump $30 million into just such think tanks and similar groups, while donating $1.87 million directly to congressional climate-change deniers.

It doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that, from its inception, this was the functional definition of the worst crime in history. In the name of record profits and the comfortable life (as well as corporate sustainability in an unendingly fossil-fuelized world), their CEOs had no hesitation about potentially dooming the human future to a hell on Earth of rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and ever more extreme weather; they gave, that is, a new, all-encompassing meaning to the term genocide. They were prepared, if necessary, to take out the human species.

But I suspect even they couldn’t have imagined quite how successful they would be when it came to bringing the sole superpower of the post-9/11 world on board. In a sense, the two leading forms of blowback of the twenty-first century — the imperial and fossil-fuelized ones — came to be focused in a single figure. After all, it’s hard to imagine the rise to power of Donald Trump in a world in which the Bush administration had decided not to invade either Afghanistan or Iraq but to treat its “Global War on Terror” as a localized set of police actions against one international criminal and his scattered group of followers.

As it happened, one form of blowback from the disastrous wars that were meant to create the basis for a Pax Americana planet helped to produce the conditions and fears at home that put Donald Trump in the White House.

Or put another way, in the face of the evidence produced by essentially every knowledgeable scientist on Earth, on a planet already feeling the early and increasingly extreme results of a warming atmosphere, millions of Americans elected a man who claimed it was all a “hoax,” who was unabashedly dedicated above anything else (except perhaps his “big, fat, beautiful wall” on the Mexican border) to a fossil-fuelized American planet, and who insisted that he would run an administration that would make this country “energy dominant” again. They elected, in other words, a representative of the very set of lobbyists, climate deniers, and politicians who had, in essence, been created by Big Energy. Or put another way, they voted for a man who pledged to bring back the dying American coal industry and was prepared to green-light oil and natural gas pipelines of whatever sort, open the nation’s coastal waters to drilling, and lift restrictions of every kind on energy companies, while impeding the development of alternative sources of energy and other attempts to mitigate climate change. As the ultimate President Blowback, Donald Trump promptly filled every last faintly relevant post in his administration with climate-change deniers and allies of Big Energy, while abandoning the Paris climate accord.

In other words, President Donald Trump has dedicated himself to nailing humanity to a cross of coal.

Where’s Chalmers Johnson now that we really need him?

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. His next book, A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books), will be published in May.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

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[Note for TomDispatch readers: Just another of my small reminders as 2018 becomes the year from hell. At our donation page, you can, as ever, find a set of outstanding books on that very hell ready to be signed and personalized in return for a donation of at least $100 to this website ($125 if you live outside the United States). Among them are historian Alfred McCoy’s hit Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power; John Feffer’s dystopian thriller, Splinterlands; Rebecca Gordon’s American Nuremberg; and my own Shadow Government. Check out our donation page for the details and keep in mind that this website relies on your never-ending generosity to stay afloat in rough seas.

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Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. His next book, A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books), will be published in May.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From KIMO’s IISD:

The International Civil Aviation Organization and its 191 member States agreed in October 2016 to implement a Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to limit future increases in greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.

Now countries are undertaking technical discussions on what types of emission reductions will be eligible for airlines to use under CORSIA. While the discussions are yet to conclude, one potential option could be Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+.

Recent IISD analysis, available here, finds that Colombia could meet some of this demand through its current and projected supply of emissions reduced from deforestation and forest degradation, and through forest restoration.

By choosing to participate in the early Phases of this scheme, starting in 2021, the Colombian Government could generate more than $300 million in additional investment at an estimated cost of $23 million to its aviation industry, which represents a small fraction – less than 0.4 percent – of global emissions from international aviation. Depending on the level of participation and other factors, the potential revenues could be much higher.

Key Findings:

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in October 2016 created a potential global demand of more than 2 billion tonnes of investment-grade emissions reductions from 2021 to 2035 that could be partially met through continuing development of programs and projects in Colombia.

Colombia has the potential to benefit by linking this market demand to domestic supply through eligible supply-side activities, including REDD+, structured via existing World Bank and business investment tools and structures and its many on-going long-term international investment supply contracts for emissions reductions.
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The value to Colombia of supplying the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is, conservatively, around $300 million in additional private institutional investment.

To facilitate this investment, the Colombian national government policy must deliver the necessary institutional and legal conditions for REDD to succeed, at national and subnational jurisdictional levels, building on those currently applied to existing programs and projects.
Colombia can increase the impact of CORSIA and augment the associated demand for offset credits by opting-in to the scheme starting in 2021, and by encouraging others in the region to do the same.

For more information, please check out the full analysis.

Linking the ICAO Global Market-Based Mechanism to REDD+ in Colombia

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

2 August 2017
A tiny Greek island to become the first energy independent island in the Mediterranean

? Europe, Finance, Smart Cities, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Innovation Forum, Sustainable Investment Forum

Tilos, a small island in the Cyclades complex in the Aegean Sea, is on set to become the first energy independent island in the Mediterranean by solely relying in renewables.

The initiative under the name TILOS comes by a collaboration of the University of Anglia (UEA) and the University of Applied Sciences in Piraeus, engaging 15 participating enterprises and institutes from seven European countries.

The project’s main goal is to demonstrate the potential of off-grid hybrid mini grids comprised of solar and wind power.

TILOS was launched in February 2015 receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and is planned to last four years, with its total budget reaching €15m.

So far, TILOS has received €11m from Horizon 2020, €3m from the industry and €1m from private investment.

Konstantinos Chalvatzis, Senior Lecturer in Business and Climate Change at UEA’s Norwich Business School said: “The island’s population is only around 200 in the winter but rises to more than 1,500 in the summer when the tourists arrive”.

He added: “Energy supply is a major issue, with frequent black-outs and power surges. But while its remote location makes traditional ways of providing power so challenging, it also makes Tilos ideal for our pioneering work”.

The project executives underlie the importance of the project in the context of the non-interconnected islands’ electricity regime, which mostly constitutes of expensive and often unreliable oil-fired isolated diesel generators.

Dr. Chalvatzis said: “Most Greek and other Mediterranean islands also depend on unreliable, oil-based electricity, so our goal is to roll the model out to them, as well as to small islands across Europe and beyond”.

The proposed energy solution will comprise 700kW of wind power, 500kW of solar power combined with high? temperature NaNiCl battery storage, residential hot water storage and demand-side management (DSM), all coordinated under a sophisticated energy management system.

Dr Chalvatzis commented: “The uniqueness is not in the way we generate the electricity but in the way we’ve developed the technology to make it cost-effective, reliable and completely green” adding: “For example, normal batteries will last around five years and are filled with non-recyclable chemicals, but ours have a much lengthier lifespan and are completely recyclable”.

Two years into its four-year schedule, TILOS has already received two EU Sustainable Energy Awards, namely the Energy Island Award and the Citizen’s Award- the latter underlying the importance of the public acceptance of renewable energy projects.

Dr Chalvatzis stated: “Tilos is ahead of its time – the islanders welcome new ideas and were open to our initiative”.

“As a result, we now have a blueprint for generating sustainable energy in a profitable and scalable way, so the benefits can be felt across the world, whether that’s other islands, faraway communities or even by providing clean and efficient energy for refugee camps or remote hospitals. This technology could truly change people’s lives”.

RELATED ARTICLES:
— World’s first island micro-grid created in Australia
— First US offshore wind farm powers island
–Rising sea levels force Pacific islanders to evacuate

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

10-21 JULY 2017 New York City, US

Fourth Session of the Preparatory Committee on BBNJ

The fourth session of the Preparatory Committee for the development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ PrepCom 4) will convene from 10-21 July 2017, in New York, US.

dates: 10-21 July 2017
location: New York City, US
contact: UNDOALOS
www: www.un.org/depts/los/biodiversity…

IISD Reporting Services / ENB 

SDGS
14. LIFE BELOW WATER

ISSUES
Biodiversity, Governance, Oceans & Coasts, International Negotiations.

ACTORS
UNCLOS, Multilateral Environmental Agreement Body, UN Intergovernmental Body

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

10-19 JULY 2017New York City, US

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2017

The fifth High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), convening under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), will take place from 10-19 July 2017.

The theme of the session will be ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world,’ as decided in UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution A/70/299.

The set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be reviewed in depth will be:

Goal 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere);

Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture);

Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages);

Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls);

Goal 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation);

Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development);

and Goal 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development), which will be considered each year.

The theme and these SDGs will be addressed in the first week (10-14 July).

The second week will include a three-day ministerial meeting (17-19 July), as part of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC (17-20), during which 44 countries will present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The HLPF is expected to adopt the Joint Ministerial Declaration of the HLPF and ECOSOC High-level Segment and the report of the HLPF on 19 July at 5 pm.

Subsequently, the ECOSOC High-level Segment is expected to adopt the Ministerial Declaration on 20 July at 5:30 pm.

Inputs to this year’s HLPF will include:

SDG progress report of UN Secretary-General;
VNR reports; reports from regional fora on sustainable development (ECA, ECE, ECLAC, ESCAP, ESCWA);
reports from Major Groups and other Stakeholders on the theme and SDGs under consideration; contributions from ECOSOC functional commissions and other intergovernmental bodies on the theme and SDGs under consideration;
report of the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production;
the Secretary-General’s report on mainstreaming sustainable development into the UN system; reports from preparatory meetings of the SDGs under consideration;
inputs from the UN system and other relevant organizations and stakeholders on the theme and SDGs under consideration;
briefs on the SDGs under consideration prepared by the UN system;
and outcomes of the Ocean Conference.

dates: 10-19 July 2017
location: New York City, US
www: sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hl…

IISD Reporting Services / ENB 

SDGS
1. NO POVERTY
2. ZERO HUNGER
3. GOOD HEALTH & WELL-BEING
5. GENDER EQUALITY
9. INDUSTRY, INNOVATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
14. LIFE BELOW WATER
17. PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS
ISSUES
Governance, Health, Gender, Sustainable Development, Agriculture & Food Security, Poverty Eradication, Industrial Development, Oceans & Coasts, International Negotiations, National Action, Follow-Up and Review
=============================

10-14 JULY 2017New York City, US

International WCRP/IOC Conference on Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts

This conference is organized jointly by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The event will address the existing challenges in describing and predicting regional sea level changes, and in quantifying the intrinsic uncertainties. The conference will serve as a basis for a new assessment of the state-of-the-art on regional sea level research that serve as input to the sixth assessment of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

An outcome from the conference will be an evaluation of the current state of sea level science, an outline of future research requirements for improving our understanding of sea level rise and variability, and a description of the observational requirements.

dates: 10-14 July 2017
venue: Columbia University
location: New York City, US
www: www.wcrp-climate.org/images/WCRP…

SDGS
13. CLIMATE ACTION
14. LIFE BELOW WATER

ISSUES
Oceans & Coasts, Science, Climate Change, Adaptation, Mitigation
ACTORS
UNESCO, WMO, UN Programme, Agency or Fund

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Info from UN ENVIRONMENT – the US Independence weekend.

3 July 2017
Record 66 million trees planted in 12 hours in India

links to: Asia, COP 21, COP 23, Policy at UN Environment.

Around 1.5 million volunteers planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours as part of a record-breaking environmental campaign.

The volunteers planted an average of 44 saplings each along the Narmada River in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday 2 July.

The previous record was also set in India, when volunteers in Uttar Pradesh state set a world record by planting over 50 million trees in one day in July 2016.

Elsewhere in the country, volunteers in the state of Kerala planted more than 10 million in 24 hours in June this year and Maharashtra is set to plant 40 million later this year as part of the nationwide reforestation campaign.

Deforestation in India is a growing issue with its increasing population of 1 billion people in need of more agricultural land and housing.

Under the Paris Agreement, India has pledged to increase its forests by 95 million hectares by 2030, costing around $6.2 billion.

The record-breaking environmental campaign – which saw the planting of over 20 different species of trees – was organised by the Madhya Pradesh government.

Observers from Guinness World Records monitored the mass plantation, and are expected to confirm the new record within the coming weeks.

Shirvraj Singh Chouhan, the State’s Chief Minister, described the efforts as a “historic day”.

He went on to say: “The world talks of global warming and climate change, but Madhya Pradesh has taken a concrete step to deal with it.”

Taking to social media, Shirvraj Singh Chouhan praised the volunteers which included children and the elderly.

He stated that between the hours of 7am and 7pm 66.3 million saplings had been planted.

He added: “By planting trees we are not only serving Madhya Pradesh but the world at large.”

To receive similar news articles, sign up to our free newsletter here.

——————————————————————
RELATED ARTICLES
Billion tree campaign grows past 3 billion mark, says UN agency
Mass tree-planting in Indonesia
Solar generates over 1 billion kwH in a month in India

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

06 June 2017 THE RELEASE OF A IIASA STUDY titled:

Ambiguous pledges leave large uncertainty under Paris climate agreement

Emission reduction pledges made by individual countries under the Paris Agreement leave a wide range of possible climate outcomes, according to new research. Without stronger pledges, the study shows, the climate goals may not be possible to achieve.

Under the pledges made by countries under the Paris Agreement on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions could range from 47 to 63 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) per year in 2030, compared to about 52 GtCO2e in 2015, according to a new analysis. That range has critical consequences for the feasibility of achieving the goal of keeping warming “well below 2°C” over preindustrial levels, according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The pledges, known as National Determined Contributions (NDCs) lay out a roadmap of how individual countries will reduce their emissions, with the intention of adding up to a global emissions reduction sufficient to achieve the Paris targets. Yet the new study shows that these individual maps leave out key details that would enable policymakers to see if they are headed in the right direction.

“Countries have put forward pledges to limit and reduce their emissions. But in many cases the actions described in these pledges are ambiguous or imprecise,” says IIASA researcher Joeri Rogelj, who led the study. For example, some pledges focus on improving “emissions intensity,” meaning reducing the emissions per dollar of economic output, but assumptions about socioeconomic growth are often implicit or unknown. Other countries focus on absolute emissions reductions, which are simpler to understand, or propose renewable energy targets, which can be expressed in different ways. Questions also remain about how much land-use-related climate mitigation will contribute, such as reducing deforestation or preserving forests.

The study finds that the emissions implied by the current NDCs can vary by -10 to +20% around the median estimate of 52 GtCO2e/yr in 2030. A previous study, also led by IIASA, had found that that the emissions reductions set out in the NDCs would not put the world on track to achieve the Paris targets.

The new study confirms this finding. It shows in a quantitative way that in order to keep warming to below 2°C, countries should either increase the stringency of their NDCs by 2030 or consider scaling up their ambition after 2030 by a factor 4 to 25. If the ambition of NDCs is not further increased by 2030, the study finds no pathways for returning warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century.

“The new results allow us to more precisely understand what is driving the uncertainty in emissions estimates implied by the Paris pledges,” says Rogelj. “With this information at hand, policymakers can formulate solutions to remediate this issue.”

“This is the first global study to systematically explore the range of emissions outcomes under the current pledges. Our study allows us to identify the key contributors to the overall uncertainty as well as potential clarifications by countries that would be most promising to reduce the overall uncertainty,” says IIASA Energy Program Director Keywan Riahi, a study coauthor.

The researchers find that uncertainty could be reduced by 10% with simple, technical clarifications, and could be further reduced by clearer guidelines for countries on building their NDCs. The study highlights the importance of a thorough and robust tracking process of progress made by countries towards the achievement of their NDCs and the Paris Agreement goals as a whole.

Reference

Rogelj J, Fricko O, Meinshausen M, Krey V, Zilliacus JJJ, Riahi K (2017). Understanding the origin of Paris Agreement emission uncertainties. Nature Communications.  pure.iiasa.ac.at/14631]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From [Columbia University Climate Law Blog]: UN Body Finds That Human Rights Treaty Requires Climate Action

Climate Law Blog

Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item, ‘UN Body Finds That
Human Rights Treaty Requires Climate Action’

By Jessica Wentz

On June 23 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
issued a statement recognizing that the failure to take adequate action on
climate change may rise to a violation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The Committee, a body of
independent experts that monitors compliance with the ICESR for the UN Economic
and Social Council, made the following observations and recommendations during
its review of Australia’s implementation of the treaty:

The Committee is concerned about the continued increase of CO2 emissions in the
State party, at risk of worsening in the coming years, despite the State
party’s commitments as a developed country under the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as its Nationally Determined
Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The Committee is also concerned that
environmental protection has decreased in recent years as shown by the repeal of
the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2013, and the State party’s ongoing support to
new coal mines and coal-fired power stations. The Committee is also concerned
that climate change is disproportionately affecting the enjoyment of Covenant
rights by indigenous peoples.

The Committee recommends that the State party revise its climate change and
energy policies, as indicated during the dialogue. It recommends that the State
party take immediate measures aimed at reversing the current trend of increasing
absolute emissions of greenhouse gases, and pursue alternative and renewable
energy production. The Committee also encourages the State party to review its
position in support of coal mines and coal export. The Committee further
recommends that the State party address the impact of climate change on
indigenous peoples more effectively while fully engaging indigenous peoples in
related policy and programme design and implementation.

You may view the post at
 blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

Best regards,

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Columbia Law School
 www.columbiaclimatelaw.com

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

From: Alice PAUTHIER  alice.pauthier at i4ce.org June 29, 2017


5 Principles for Climate Mainstreaming: 4 Work Streams for Climate Action in Financial Institutions.

Dear colleagues,

On the sidelines of COP21, public and private financial institutions around the globe adopted 5 Voluntary Principles for “mainstreaming” climate change. The Initiative now renamed Climate Action in Financial Institutions gathers as of June 2017 30 financial institutions.

It represents for them an opportunity to learn from each other, to disseminate good practice and lessons learned and to collaborate on areas of common interest.
Following the adoption of a governance structure and a long-term vision for the initiative, the 30 Supporting Institutions have launched four areas of focus of work to be conducted in 2017-2018:
· Climate risks: approaches, tools and methodologies
· Mapping reporting initiatives and understanding implementation challenges
· City-level climate smart approaches and financial instruments
· Spreading a climate strategy into a whole organization
·

Performing as the Secretariat of the Initiative I4CE will provide in depth inputs to the different work streams and facilitate collaboration among Supporting Institutions.

The result of this collaboration and other reports and news related to the Work Streams will be shared between members and with non-member institutions in the new website of the initiative: www.mainstreamingclimate.org

If you have relevant material to share on climate mainstreaming (reports, events, information on best practices and your own experience, etc.) please do not hesitate to let us know. We will be happy to publish it in the website and share it through the initiative’s internal and external newsletters.
You can also engage with the initiative through Twitter: @mainstreamclim
For more information on the initiative:  contact at mainstreamingclimate.org

———————-

About the Climate Action in Financial Institutions Initiative:

Signing up to the Five Voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action within Financial Institutions is a statement of leadership on climate relevant financing. As of June 2017, the Initiative gathers: the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina (CAF), the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (Bio Invest), BMCE Bank of Africa, BNP Paribas, the Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion (Morocco), the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), Crédit Agricole, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), HSBC Holdings plc, the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), KfW, Malaysia Credit Guarantee Corporation, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V., the New Development Bank (NDB), the Nordic Development Fund, Promotion et Participation pour la Coopération Économique (PROPARCO), Société Générale, Türkiye S?nai Kalk?nma Bankas? A.S.(TSKB), Yes Bank and the World Bank.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 16th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

30 May 2017
UN Secretary-General on Climate Action as delivered before NYU, the Stern School of Business.

I would like to thank everyone at New York University, and especially the Stern School of Business, for your warm welcome and your role in making today’s gathering possible.

Let me also thank all of you for being here to discuss the crucial challenge of climate change and how we must address it.

I can think of no better audience – this wonderful mix of scholars and scientists, students and activists, investors and entrepreneurs – the people who, together, are making climate action real.

And I can think of no better place to have this conversation than here at NYU and the Stern School, where you are dedicated to cultivating solutions and a new generation of leaders.

This notion of inter-generational responsibility is very much on my mind.

My grandfather was born in 1875. He could not have imagined the world we live in today.

Now I have three grand-daughters of my own – the oldest is eight. I cannot imagine the world they will inhabit decades from now, when they will be my age.

But not knowing is no excuse for not acting to ensure that we do not undermine their future.

I want my grandchildren to inherit a healthy world, free of conflict and suffering — and a healthy planet, rooted in low-carbon sustainable solutions.

That is my wish for everyone, everywhere. To get there, we have our work cut out for us.

Allow me to be blunt. The world is in a mess.

Countries and communities everywhere are facing pressures that are being exacerbated by megatrends – like population growth, rapid and many times chaotic urbanization, food insecurity, water scarcity, massive movements of population and migration… the list can go on and on.

But one overriding megatrend is far and away at the top of that list – climate change.

Climate change is a direct threat in itself and a multiplier of many other threats — from poverty to displacement to conflict.

The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world.

They are dangerous and they are accelerating.

And so my argument today is that it is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement – and that we fulfil that duty with increased ambition.

The reason is three-fold:

Climate change is undeniable. Climate action is unstoppable. And climate solutions provide opportunities that are unmatchable.

Let’s start with the reality of climate change today.

The science is beyond doubt.

The world’s top scientists have been shouting it from the rooftops.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has put it and I quote: “Human influence on the climate system is clear. The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.”

Dear friends,

If anything, that disruption is happening even faster than expected.

Last year was once again the hottest on record. The past decade has also been the hottest on record.

Every geo-physical system on which we depend is being affected, from mountains to oceans, from icecaps to forests, and across all the arable lands that provide our food.

Sea ice is at a historic low; sea levels are at a historic high, threatening the existence of low-lying island nations and cities.

The seas are also being affected by warmer temperatures, rapid acidification and coral bleaching, endangering the marine food chain on which so many livelihoods and economies depend.

On land, glaciers are retreating almost everywhere – a risk to the breadbaskets of the world as rivers fed by glaciers run dry.

Soon the famous snows of Kilimanjaro will exist only in stories.

Here in the United States, only 26 of Glacier National Park’s glaciers remain. When it was made a Park in 1910, there were around 150. I hope you will never have to rename it “no-Glacier National Park”!

Further north, we see an unfolding crisis of epic proportions.

The ice caps in the Arctic Ocean are shrinking dramatically. Some even predict that the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by the summer of 2020.

That would be catastrophic for Arctic wildlife. It would be a death-blow to the ways of life of indigenous peoples. And it would be a disaster for the world.

Why?

Because ice reflects sunlight. Dark water much less. That means warming will accelerate.

Frozen tundra will thaw earlier and freeze later, releasing vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

This will mean more ice melting from the Greenland ice cap.

It could alter the Gulf Stream and affect food production, water security and weather patterns from Canada to India.

We are already seeing massive floods, more extreme tornadoes, failed monsoons and fiercer hurricanes and typhoons.

But slow-motion disasters are also speeding up.

Areas where drought once struck every decade are now seeing cycles of five or even two years between droughts. Moreover, dry spells are lasting longer, from California to the Sahel.

Dear friends,

The moral imperative for action is clear.

The people hit first and worst by climate change are the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.

Women and girls will suffer as they are always the most disproportionately affected by disasters.

The nations that will face the most profound consequences are the least responsible for climate change and the least equipped to deal with it.

Droughts and floods around the world mean poverty will worsen, famines will spread and people will die.

As regions become unliveable, more and more people will be forced to move from degraded lands to cities and to other nations.

We see this already across North Africa and the Middle East.

That is why there is also a compelling security case for climate action.

Around the world, military strategists view climate change as a threat to global peace and security.

We are all aware of the political turmoil and societal tensions that have been generated by the mass movement of refugees.

Imagine how many people are poised to become climate-displaced when their lands become unliveable.

Last year, more than 24 million people in 118 countries and territories were displaced by natural disasters.

That is three times as many as were displaced by conflict.

Climate change is also a menace to jobs, to property and to business.

With wildfires, floods and other extreme weather events becoming more common, the economic costs are soaring.

The insurance industry raised the alarm long ago. They have been joined by many others across the business community.

They know that the time has come for transformation.

Dear friends,

Climate action is gathering momentum not just because it is a necessity but also because it presents an opportunity – to forge a peaceful and sustainable future on a healthy planet.

This is why governments adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015, with a pledge to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.

I applaud the immense efforts of my predecessor, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who brought the essential stakeholders to the table and helped forge this landmark Agreement.

It is worth taking a moment to step back and reflect on the unity that was forged in Paris.

It was a remarkable moment in the history of humankind.

The world came together for the first time to address this global challenge collectively. And it did so at a time of division in so many other areas.

There has been nothing like it in terms of enabling the global community to work on an issue together that none of us can solve on our own.

Today, it is increasingly understood that implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goes hand-in-hand with limiting global temperature rise and increasing climate resilience.

As of today, 147 Parties representing more than 82 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the Paris Agreement.

Every month, more countries are translating their Paris pledges into national climate action plans.

Yes, not everyone will move at the same pace or with equal vigour.

But if any government doubts the global will and need for this accord, that is reason for all others to unite even stronger and stay the course.

It is reason to build ever broader coalitions – with civil society and business, with cities and states, with academia and community leaders.

Indeed, all around the world, cities, regions, states and territories are setting their own ambitious targets.

Thousands of private corporations, including major oil and gas companies, are taking their own action.

They know that green business is good business.

It is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.

Some may seek to portray the response to climate change as a fundamental threat to the economy. Yet what we are witnessing in these early years of a systemic response is the opposite.

We are seeing new industries. New markets. Healthier environments. More jobs. Less dependency on global supply chains of fossil fuels.

The real danger is not the threat to one’s economy that comes from acting. It is, instead, the risk to one’s economy by failing to act.

The message is simple: The sustainability train has left the station. Get on board or get left behind.

Those who fail to bet on the green economy will be living in a grey future.

On the other hand, those who embrace green technologies will set the gold standard for economic leadership in the 21st century.

Last year, solar power grew 50 per cent, with China and the United States in the lead.

Around the world, over half of the new power generation capacity now comes from renewables. In Europe, the figure is more than 90 per cent.

The falling cost of renewables is one of the most encouraging stories on the planet today.

In the United States and China, new renewable energy jobs now outstrip those created in the oil and gas industries.

China aims to increase its renewable energy by about 40 per cent by 2020.

Major oil producers are also seeing the future and diversifying their economies. Even Saudi Arabia announced plans to install 700 megawatts of solar and wind power.

And industry experts predict India’s solar capacity will double this year to 18 gigawatts.

Boosting energy efficiency is also crucial – for reducing climate risk and for increasing profits.

The International Energy Agency has indicated that investing in energy efficiency could increase global economic output by $18 trillion dollars — more than the outputs of the United States, Canada and Mexico combined.

Future spending on energy infrastructure alone could total some $37 trillion dollars.

Now if that is the case, it is crucial for such massive investments to be sustainable and climate-friendly; otherwise, we will lock ourselves into bad practices for decades to come.

Given the facts about youth unemployment, air pollution and climate change, surely it is common sense to put our investments where they will generate the most savings, create the most jobs, deliver the biggest health dividends and have the most impact against global warming.

Surely that is why nearly two dozen of the world’s most successful business leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists plan to invest in a fund called Breakthrough Energy Ventures, led by Bill Gates, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with clean energy technology.

It is why green bonds are starting to come in many different shades as the size of the market for securities designed to benefit the environment is on track to double again – from $93 billion dollars in 2016, to $206 [billion dollars] this year.

It is why 60 per cent of the world’s 500 largest asset owners are taking steps to recognize the financial risks associated with climate change.

And it is why more than 7,000 cities in the newly launched Global Covenant of Mayors have agreed to report their emissions and climate progress according to a standard set of tools that are more rigorous than those currently used by many countries.

Here I want to salute my Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He is showing great leadership in mobilizing mayors and cities to build the resilient and dynamic cities of the future.

Dear friends,

Science is speaking to us very clearly about what is happening. Innovation is showing us very clearly what can be done.

If we want to protect forests and life on land, safeguard our oceans, create massive economic opportunities, prevent even more massive losses and improve the health and well-being of people and the planet, we have one simple option staring us in the face: Climate action.

Today, I call on all leaders of government, business and civil society to back the most ambitious action on climate change for the benefit of this generation and generations to come.

As Secretary-General, I am committed to mobilize the world to meet this challenge.

I will do so in at least five concrete ways.

First, I will intensify high-level political engagement to raise the bar on climate action.

The Paris pledges are historic but still do not go nearly far enough to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.

Commitments so far could still see temperatures rise by 3 degrees or more.

So we must do our utmost to increase ambition and action until we can bend the emissions curve and slow down global warming.

Most immediately, I will also press for ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Next week’s Ocean Conference at United Nations Headquarters is yet another opportunity to build momentum.

Second, I will rally the full capacity of the United Nations development system behind climate action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially at the country-level. Because that is where true change will be achieved.

As we support Member States, I will continue to emphasize the urgency of empowering the world’s women and girls. There can be no successful response to a changing climate without also changing mind-sets about the key role of women in tackling climate change and building the future we want.

Third, I will use the convening power of the United Nations to work with Governments and all major actors, such as the coal, oil and gas industries, to accelerate the necessary energy transition.

Eighty per cent of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal. We cannot phase out fossil fuels overnight. We have to engage the energy industry and governments to use fossil fuels as cleanly, sparingly and responsibly as possible, while transforming our energy systems.

I will work with all actors to promote a global energy transition, the greening of investments in infrastructure and transport, and progress on carbon pricing.

More and more politicians, policy makers and business actors are calling for a carbon price as the green economy’s missing link.

Putting a price on carbon at a global scale could unleash innovation and provide the incentives that industries and consumers need to make sustainable choices.

Fourth, I will work with countries to mobilize national and international resources to support mitigation, adaptation, resilience and the implementation of their national climate action plans.

And I will focus on strengthening resilience of the small island states against the existential threat that climate change poses to them.

I will encourage developed countries to fulfil the pledges they have made to support developing countries – including for the Green Climate Fund.

As a matter of global solidarity, the international community must also help developing countries increase their capacity to generate their own resources and to gain access to capital markets. The international financial institutions have a key role to play to help deliver innovative financing that matches the enormous needs.

And fifth, I will encourage new and strengthened partnerships for implementing the Paris Agreement through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. We need to harness the enormous potential of these partnerships.

In all these areas, I will use every possible opportunity to persuade, prod and push for progress. I will count on the vital forces of civil society to do the same.

Looking further ahead, I also intend to convene a dedicated climate summit in 2019 to make sure we reach the critical first review of Paris implementation with the strong wind of a green economy at our backs.

Let me also stress that my door is open to all who wish to discuss the way forward, even those who might hold divergent perspectives.

The climate conversation should cease to be a shouting match.

Yet, there will continue to be strong differences about how to achieve our climate goals.

Yet it is also clear that the journey from Paris is well under way. The support across all sectors of society is profound. The transition in the real economy is a fact.

There will be bumps along the path; that is understandable in a family of over 190 nations.

But with everyone’s participation, the world can bring the Paris Agreement fully to life.

I look forward to continuing to engage all countries in forging a truly shared vision of the way ahead that leaves no one behind.

Dear friends,

Let me conclude where I began — with all of you and with the power of people to make a difference.

Climate change is an unprecedented and growing threat.

The arguments for action are clear.

So are the immense opportunities for peace and prosperity if we act quickly and decisively.

All of us – governments, businesses, consumers – will have to make changes. More than that, we will have to “be” the change.

This may not be easy at times. But for the sake of today’s and future generations, it is the path we must pursue.

This is my message to all the world’s leaders.

Students, scientists and others such as you across the world helped to put the climate challenge on the table.

If we work together as a global community, we can emerge stronger, safer and more prosperous for our shared future and the future of all of our grandchildren like my three granddaughters.

Thank you very much.

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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…

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

From: Celebrating 30 Years of ACUNS (May E-Update) (Academic Council on the United Nations System)

Review of: “Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons: A Comprehensive Approach for International Security” —- 9 May 2017


Scott Jasper (ed.) Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons: A Comprehensive Approach for International Security (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012)
, pp. 280.

Reviewed by: Manas Dutta (Department of History, Kazi Nazrul University, India)

In recent times, the global community is witnessing that several countries, both friendly and unfriendly to the United States (U.S.), have tried to gain economic power and military capabilities. This stimulates concerns about whether there can be peace and harmony in the near and distant future. China, for example, continues to increase its economic power by rapidly acquiring scarce assets around the world. Natural resources such as agricultural land, water, oil, and precious metals, such as gold and silver, have been acquired by China. Besides, North Korea continues to acquire greater military capability and challenges the U.S. by defying it and by violating basic human rights. North Korean leadership continues to refuse to sign agreements that will limit the production of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, in the Middle East, Iran’s leaders seek to establish better relations with the U.S. Still, one wonders whether North Korea is going to use their nuclear assets and capabilities only for peaceful purposes. Amidst such uncertainties, which cause discomfort and unease, it is hard to establish global peace and security. Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons tries to addresses our concerns and indicates areas where freedom of action is threatened mainly in the air, at sea, in outer space, and in cyberspace.

The book explains the conditions of the global commons in the international scenario, which is more congested, contested, and competitive. Scott Jasper, the editor of this volume, is a retired navy captain, who served in the U.S. Navy. He describes the four global commons, namely maritime, air, space, and cyberspace, which, according to him, “no one state can control but on which all states must rely.” (p. 1)The text tries to emphasize the collaborative efforts in each sphere, yet more emphasis is placed on cyberspace and maritime domains.

US support for the global war on terrorism. photo credit: Wikimedia Commons: United States Navy.
The foreword of this monograph addresses three complex and challenging security areas that influence the commons: violent extremist organizations, regional antagonists, and a rising China (p. ix). Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons includes thirteen essays which are categorized into five sections under the subheadings of security dynamics, conflict methods, cooperative opportunities, interface mechanism, and behavioural norms. At the outset of the book, the authors mention that the U.S. has a long-standing interest in protecting access to the global commons. The U.S. military has protected the global commons as this, not only provided security and prosperity for the nation, but also protected international airspace and the high seas to guarantee a global free flow of ideas, commerce, and travel. Though, the U.S. involvement in the protection of the global commons has been a matter of debate for quite some time among the security strategists and policy makers of the globe.

The monograph tries to identify and explore the trends, contexts, and implications of persistent conflict and shared cooperation that occur within the four domains of the global commons. In this respect, the global commons according to the authors, “can serve as an organizing principle…for developing strategy, policy, and capabilities” (p. 12). The first section of the book explains various aspects of security dynamics and introduces the reader to the notion of competing interests and motivations. These competing interests and motivations in turn threaten the security and prosperity in the global commons. Thus, this section provides a ground through which one can build a basic understanding regarding the collective action, where groups cooperate to ensure the security of the global commons. This section also explains various causes and types of conflict in the global commons and elaborates on concepts of deterrence.

China Victory Day parade 2015. photo credit: Wikimedia Commons: Voice of America.
The next three essays namely, ‘Problems in Collective Action’, ‘The Character of Conflict’, and ‘Strategies of Deterrence’ deal with conflicts, which according to the authors, could originate within the global commons. It is evident that these three essays are wide-ranging, however they primarily discuss the impact of Chinese military modernization within the maritime, aerospace, and cyberspace domains of the commons. This section also explores how China’s ballistic missile improvements could potentially undermine the U.S.-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This example demonstrates that any changes within the global commons can affect all of the global players.

The next two sections, cooperative opportunities and interface mechanisms, provide a notion of alternative solutions to conflicts that occur in the global commons. Two of the essays from these sections address maritime security, two others address cyberspace concerns, and one of the essays discusses the U.S. joint operational access. Theses sections explain the collaborative methods undertaken jointly by the government, commercial, and military stakeholders in defence of the commons and provide insights on the various types of forums, practices, and incentives used in implementing a comprehensive approach for the commons.

Paul Giarra’s “Assuring Joint Operational Access” is one of the excellent articles published in this book. The article summarizes intellectual changes required by the U.S. strategists to deal with complex challenges. Giarra examines operational access needs embedded in traditional American war models of “getting forward, staying forward,” and operating along secured lines of communication (p. 150). Adversary modernization, highlighted in earlier essays, could prevent the U.S. from enjoying these advantages as fully as in the past. Giarra suggests that we need to elevate operational access planning to a new strategic context by recognizing our past assumptions, “enroute and forward-deployed infrastructure” demands, and how our competitors exploit the commons (p. 150). As Giarra suggested, we cannot move forward if the U.S. falls back to its old strategic mind-sets.

Discussion on Cyber Security Held at UN in Geneva. photo credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.
The last section of Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons argues that new mind-sets and global understanding of the actors and of the threats must be shaped by new behavioural norms. The two essays namely, ‘Setting Norms for Activities in Space’ and ‘Establishing Rules for Cyber Security’ focus on space and cyberspace domains. They explain the notion of behavioural norms used to maintain peace and stability in the international environment. The ‘Setting Norms for Activities in Space’ article highlights the responsibilities of state and non-state actor to provide debris mitigation, prevent harmful interference, and manage space traffic. An essay on “Establishing Rules for Cyber Security”, written by Eneken Tikk, is the second exceptional article in this volume. State and non-state actors should be more responsible and should avoid vulnerable ambivalence in the cyber security area. The readers can identify with several international issues that connect people around the global commons. One can argue that all ideas presented in the book are interesting, while some could be seen as contradictory during implementation.

Scott Jasper sheds a light on a crucial area of international relations – the global commons – that most of us have not looked at closely enough, but need to. Overall, Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Commons provides excellent ideas that can be used to promote cooperation in a comprehensive manner against the ongoing security threats, military domination, civilian antagonism, commercial agendas, and conflicts. All of these factors play active role in creating a global crisis in the global commons. This book will definitely fill our knowledge gaps about shared international domains that are absolutely essential to our security and prosperity. The book specifically highlights the importance of cooperation as a prerequisite required to overcome national power in the political, diplomatic, economic, and military realms. Finally, the book tries to highlight issues that can enhance cooperation by avoiding conflict among the nations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The UN General Assembly, UN Headquarters, 29 March 2017 – Intervention of the Holy See
During the Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292
dedicated to the Development of an international legally binding instrument
under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity
of areas beyond national jurisdiction

Presentation by Susan M. Whelan

Madame Facilitator,

Since this is the first time our delegation takes the floor, we would like to congratulate you
and thank you for your able assistance in this session. We thank Ambassador Charles for his
instructive leadership in the prior Preparatory Committee meetings and we congratulate Ambassador Duarte for his election as Chair.

We have listened carefully to the discussion yesterday and today, and our delegation would
agree with others that there seems to be an unbridgeable divide between those seeking to apply two competing principles to this agreement. Therefore, in the interest of moving forward, we will restrict our discussion to the topic of obligations stemming from the use of ocean resources in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

As other delegations have noted, Freedom of the High Seas is not an absolute right and is
subject to limitations and corresponding duties. This “right of access” is conditioned as a result of the use of the ocean space and resources. Various uses such as the general obligation for peaceful use, laying of submarine cables, the construction of artificial islands, fishing and scientific research are identified and subsequently qualified, subject to certain limitations and obligations. So regulating use and providing for responsibilities as well as rights are nothing new.

The practical reality is, however, that not all resources in the ocean are equal and not all human activity has the same impact on biodiversity. Some resources, such as minerals, have an immediate inherent value, or the human activity in using the resource creates such a negative impact on the environment that there is a depreciation value. Others, such as marine genetic resources (MGRs), only have potential value and no real value or impact at the time of extraction or use; therefore, there is no benefit to share. Because of these practical realities – and in the spirit of Norway’s intervention, our delegation suggests that our analysis and our resulting agreement must be more nuanced than just identifying specific uses or ocean resources. We cannot have a successful, forward-looking regime without gaps if we focus solely on where resources are located, or what benefits States will enjoy as a result.

Therefore, our delegation suggests a bifurcated structure for considering the “use” of ocean
resources, and payments and obligations for that use. This proposed framework consists first of benefit sharing and, second, of Commercial Entitlement/Use Obligations. We have tried to fashion this analysis so that it can be applied, not only to MGRs, but to the use of all potential resources in ABNJ — for example, wind, tide, current, or geothermal renewable energies.

1. With respect to “Benefit Sharing”

Provisions are obviously already in place in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Seas (UNCLOS) with respect to benefit sharing. With the advent of new uses and discoveries of
ocean resources, however, and in connection with conservation and sustainable use, some
thresholds for how benefits might accrue seem helpful. In order to consider whether benefit sharing payments or obligations are appropriate, our delegation suggests that one of the following four criteria should be met:

First, the resource must have an inherent value (such as a mineral) without the intervention of mankind making it something entirely new; or

Second, there is significant harm to the environment in extracting the resource that impacts marine biodiversity for present and future generations; or

Third, the resource is non-living, and specifically not a biological resource used as a commodity in trade such as fish; or

Fourth, the resource cannot be sustainably used.

If one of these four thresholds is met, then the provisions of Part XI and Article 82 of
UNCLOS apply 82 and both monetary and non-monetary benefits must be shared. All existing
resources covered by these provisions would qualify. If one of these thresholds is not met, however, then instead of “benefit sharing” – since there is no benefit – possible “commercial Entitlement/use Obligations” attach based on “utilization” of resources jointly owned by all States.


2. With respect to Commercial Entitlement/Use Obligations.

We note at the outset that these obligations will not apply to any activities that are associated with Marine Scientific Research as provided for in UNCLOS.

As stated above, MGRs fall into a category of resources that have no value at the time of
extraction, and for which it is impossible to agree on the potential value at that time. This issue is not a new one for the business world as often a seller, such as a large pharmaceutical company, has potential products or drugs that are in various stages of development when they sell their company.
As a result, the valuation of the company is difficult and most merger or sales contracts include whatare called “earn-out provisions.”
An earn-out provision is a contractual clause stating that the seller of a business is to obtain additional compensation in the future if the business achieves certain non-financial and financial milestones. In other words, it is a contingent obligation. Non-financial targets often include the study start, study success, regulatory filing, filing of a patent, regulatory approval for use, first sale, launch of a new product, or minimum number of or increase in sales or customers. Financial targets can include the number of products sold (annual or cumulative sales), unit sales, royalty or license revenue, earnings, revenue, net income, net equity, earnings etc. As New Zealand noted yesterday, the various stages of MGR collection, analysis and utilization could form the basis for these milestones. This model could provide for non-monetary benefits to developing countries with respect to triggers that are not financial in nature, for example, regulatory approvals and patent filings. These non-monetary obligations could include access to collection, data sharing, and clearinghouse or repository arrangements. Monetary payments, if agreed, could be tied to financial
benchmarks, but could also be formulated as preventive measures against selling resulting products or drugs into developing countries at exorbitant prices.

As for how this is structured: A party, for example a private company seeking to find and
develop MGRs into a useful product, has the option of entering into an agreement prior to use
(here, collection of samples) in which case the bargaining power is in their court. If they wait until they file for a patent, the regulator can set the terms. One suggestion is that the mechanism could be the same as used for fishing – through bilateral agreements, Regional Fishing Management Organizations or Agreements (RFMOs or RFMAs), however this is agreed.
As for Intellectual property issues, our delegation believes that this agreement should not
impact or try to undermine patent laws. We hope that this can be avoided by including the
presumption that the origin of every MGR patent is presumed to be in ABNJ unless otherwise
stated. Traceability could become associated with one of the milestone events.

In conclusion: beyond the fact that it fulfills the general principle of economic equity, why
should we use this approach? There are several reasons:

First, the Nagoya Protocol anticipates this model and earn-out provisions in particular. The
Annex lists monetary benefits, including access fees, upfront payments and milestone payments.

Second, in life sciences merger deals, specifically bio-pharmaceutical deals, 82 percent of biopharmaceutical deals included earn-out provisions in 2012. These are provisions that the business world is familiar with and are part of existing international law and practice.

Third, it allows all States to move forward when the parties cannot agree on the value of the
resource, especially when it has no value at all at the time of extraction. This is particularly critical where the source of uncertainty may be the undeveloped product, when there is a new market, when the financial information is unreliable, or when there’s an uncertain future but non-State private investors, developers, enterprises and individuals are involved.

Fourth, it permits private companies or actors greater control over whether and when the
milestone events are triggered, reduces the risk of overpaying, defers obligations and therefore decreases the disincentives.

Finally, from the perspective of developing countries, the user ultimately compensates States
for the use of a resource in the Commons. Every use has the potential to give value, whether
monetary or non-monetary, at some point. It also provides the opportunity to benefit from synergies of working with sophisticated parties in business integration as a matter of contract.

I thank you for your patience with this lengthy intervention.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) 2017 Conference: “Sustainable energy for the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement” convened 9-12 May 2017.


The VEF is a biennial, global multi-stakeholder forum, launched in 2008 to explore development challenges from the perspective of sustainable energy – and to debate solutions to those challenges. It is a joint initiative of the Austrian Government, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IASA) based in Laxenburg, Austria, and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) , as well based in Vienna.


[This year’s meeting overlapped The Bonn Climate Change Conference, organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 8-18, 2017 – a technical meeting dealing with areas like the Green house effects, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, green urban environments, Clean Energy … Nature’s Role. Obviously, this time conflict might have taken away some of the coverage of the Vienna event.]

VEF 2017 is intended to contribute to the practicalities in successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement. Among other things, it discussed the importance of the linkages between climate and development, and examined the role of innovation in achieving SDG 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” and related SDGs.

The Forum featured side events held on the UN Grounds in Vienna, from 9-10 May – followed by plenary sessions from 11-12 May.

The side events covered such topics as achieving SDG 7, sustainable energy solutions in landlocked developing countries, innovative business models to attract sustainable energy investment for least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), capacity building, clean energy for migrants and vulnerable groups, improving energy access, technology transfer, modern cooking energy, achieving a low-carbon society, regional incubation networks, micro-grids, smart city development, energy scenarios for sub-Saharan African cities, catalyzing action on energy efficiency, global research initiatives in support of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and promoting women to advance the global energy transition.

The follow up plenary sessions promoted then dialogue on the nexus between energy, climate, transport, food, water and health, linkages among the key SDGs and their contribution to the 2030 Development Agenda, and the role of innovation as a global driver for sustainable growth.

In this reporting by Irith Jawetz, she goes over a few highlights of the Conference she attended at the Austrian Hofburg – the Austria Presidential quarters in Vienna.

Also here there were many plenary panels and side events which will hopefully be posted on the website at a later date.  www.viennaenergyforum.org/


The Opening ceremony of the Vienna Energy Forum 2017 took place on May 11, 2017 at the magnificent Festsaal in the Hofburg.

Here is a short summary of the presentations:

Master of Ceremonies was Ms. Ralitsa Vassileva, the news Director Bulgarian International Television, who was previously anchorwoman on CNN.

She thanked the 1,500 delegates from 100 countries and the 50 speakers who have assembled to attend this important Conference, whose main goal is to fight poverty through Sustainable Development.

The first speaker was Mr. Michael Linhart, Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry for Integration & Foreign Affairs. He mentioned that this Conference has started in Vienna in 2009 and was the first Forum leading the need for access to Sustainable Development. The latest important events were the International Conference on Sustainable Development in New York, September 2016 and the COP 21 – UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, December 2016 where the important Paris Agreement was signed. Both events, together with the current conference in Vienna will decide whether we are on the right track.

The next speaker was Ms. Maria Vassilaku, Vice Mayor of Vienna, member of the Austrian Green Party, who welcomed everybody to Vienna, the most beautiful, sustainable and liberal city. She especially mentioned that we have to tackle the question of Climate Change for our children.

Sustainable Development is defined by sustainable mobility, more public transport (Vienna has reduced the price of annual transportation ticket in order to entice people to leave their cars at home and use Public transportation).

Achieving the goals of Sustainability will only be done by involving people, industry, Governments, and private sectors.

She was followed by Mr. Li Yong, Director General of UNIDO who insisted that we must make sure the Paris Agreement is implemented in full.

Then came up Ms. Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, formerly with the World Bank in Washington DC. She was the most passionate of the speakers. She mentioned that 1 in 7 people on our planet do not have access to energy. This is unacceptable.

We have to give everybody a chance for access to energy. We need it for schools, clinics, food, shelter, and everybody must have the right to it. She pleaded that we have to move, and to move fast, promises made should be promises kept.

{Ms Kyte served until December 2015 as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for an ambitious agreement at the 21st Convention of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 21). She was previously World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services.]

Next came Prof. Pavel Kabat, Director General and Chief Executive Office at IIASA, International Institute for Applied Systems Analyses located in Laxenburg, Austria. He put the emphasis on research and vision. He said that one should not view Climate Change as a threat but as a new start, energy is a necessity and not a goal and sustainability will only be achieved when there is a partnership of private and public sector.

The Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Ms. Chtistine Stix-Hackl read an official statement from the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who welcomed all participants to the Conference in Vienna, which has become a hub for Energy. The President stressed the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement and making sure that the goals set in that agreement will be met .

Andrä Ruprechter, Austrian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment & Water Management also mentioned the two conferences in 2016 in New York and Paris and said that we can and will clear the pathway to a clean energy future for all. He was looking forward to the next Climate Change Conference in November 6-17, 2017, in Bonn, Germany. Climate Change is a Global problem and needs Global solutions. He vowed that Austria will stick with the Paris agreement.

Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with independent Charge for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines in the Government of India was also very passionate in his speech. The world is changing since Thomas Edison discovered the light bulb and it is for us now, and not later, to do something in order to save the world. India is committed to the Paris Agreement even if other World leaders are not (this was the first time the audience clapped during a speech). Prime Minster Modi is a conservationist of Energy and under his leadership India has promoted energy efficiency for the last years and has reduced the use of electricity by a lot by using only energy saving light bulbs. He hopes that by 2019 every lights bulb will be replaced.


Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United nations and former Minister of Environment of Nigeria, also stressed that we must address Climate Change since it is a scientific fact, in spite of recent talks to the contrary
(this remark caused more clapping from the audience). The Paris Agreement has to be implemented in full in order to fight Climate Change and more important poverty. It is unacceptable that 1 in 7 people on the planet have no access to electricity.

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The second day started with the Ministerial segment moderated by Ms. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director General, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ), Germany. Let us remember that upcoming COP 23 of the UNFCCC will be held in Bonn, Germany, this November 6-17.

The keynote speaker was the very passionate and eloquent Prime Minister of Tuvalu, H.E. Enele Sopoaga. Being the Head of one of the endangered islands, he stressed the importance of regarding Climate Change as a real danger. He expressed solidarity with the Paris Agreement and stressed the importance of action to combat Climate Change. Survival is at stake, Governments & Private sectors of all countries have to work together to make sure the use of Renewable sources is increased. Tuvalu has numerous programs in that direction and hopes to achieve 100% use of Renewable sources of energy by the year 2020. Tuvalu is fully committed to explore Renewable energy from oceans but needs help in technology. 10,000 people in very small islands which are part of Tuvalu have already 100% electricity, but a lot still has to be done. He called upon all countries not to listen to diversion from the problems of Climate Change but “keep everybody on the boat & canoe”. Every country has to be on board and support the goals of developing Sustainable energy for all at all costs.

His speech caused a round of applause from all participants.

The other Ministers on the Podium were H.E. Ms. Jabulile Mashwama, Minister of Natural Resources & Energy of Swaziland who also stressed that Renewable agenda comes at a high cost, it’s coming slowly, but it has to happen.

H.E. Mr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister, Egypt Environmental affairs Agency, also supported in full the Paris Agreement, this is a Global agreement and all countries have to respect and adapt it. Egypt hopes to achieve 20% of renewable energy by 2020 which comes mainly from solar and wind. In order to implement this goal, the private sector must be involved, especially in order to bear the costs. This is a critical issue and the pace is too slow.

H.E. Mr. Aziz Rebbah, Minister of Energy, Mines & Sustainable Development from Morocco, home of the COP 22 of the UNFCCC in 2016, strives to achieve 52% of renewable energy by 2030 which will come mainly from solar power.

A very moving side event which Ms. Jawetz attended, and would like to share, was the “Networking Event: Women for Sustainable Energy”. This networking event connects people and provides a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange. It raises awareness on the potential of sustainable energy for women’s empowerment, and featured short presentations by women leaders in the energy sector. It provided insights into a broad range of career paths and initiatives that target women’s empowerment in the clean energy sector. This event was meant to promote sustainable energy approaches that have strong impact on gender equality and highlighted the major role of women in making the energy sector more sustainable. The event was hosted by UNIDO and supported by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Center for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Women’s Network for Energy Transition (GWNET) and the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA).


Before the closing session started we heard a short speech by Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, who is now a Sierra Leonean Agricultural economist and politician, and was, for many years, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, first as head of UN Energy and then for Sustainable Energy for All during the years 2009-2016. He was instrumental in organizing all the past Vienna Energy Forum events. He thanked everybody for inviting him this time as a guest and participant, and stressed time and again that “Energy for All” is the key for everything, and one has to take the fight from Vienna to New York and spread the word.

The closing remarks were carried out by Mr. Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director, Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division (PTC), UNIDO.

He thanked all the organizers for the successful event and counted 10 key massages:

1) Role of Energy in 2030 – urgency agenda for sustainable development;

2) Urgency in developing energy for food, security, land, water & health nexus;

3) Developing sustainable cities and urban communities, the need for use of sustainable energy for infrastructure;

4) Need to adapt to Climate Change by using clean energy;

5) Pioneering role of innovative technologies are a central piece of sustainable energy;

6) Financing innovative business models. Sustainable solutions depend on innovative businesses;

7) Catalysts for innovation – Governments needs to stimulate innovation and develop energy system support research & development;

8)Innovation for Appropriate & Sustainable solutions, planning frugal, flexible & inclusive energy systems;

9) Energy is ca crucial component for implementing of the 2029 agenda;

10) Businesses & Private sector must be included in implementing the Paris agreement.


All in All a very successful Conference, but the work is not done yet. To quote Ms. Rachel Kyte: “Promises made should be promises kept!”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From UNDP
Heena Ahmed  heena.ahmed at undp.org

Massive Open Online Course: Greening Consumption & Production
Wednesday 31 May to Wednesday 12 July 2017

Registration is open!

In the past 20 years, humanity added 1.6 billion people to the planet, while losing 20% of the world’s wilderness, and exploiting 90% of the world’s fisheries. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets and UN Sustainable Development Goals help shape a global policy agenda that strives to conserve the world’s ecosystems while meeting development priorities. How do we develop national policies and approaches that keep the global impacts of natural resources use within safe ecological limits?

This six-week facilitated course, from Wed. 31 May to Wed. 12 July 2017, will provide you with the answers to this question. It is aimed at policymakers and practitioners working in the area of sustainable consumption and production (SCP). By taking this course, you will gain an overview of key issues related to SCP and sustainable commodity supply chains. You will become proficient in mechanisms to facilitate SCP at the international level and in your own country, and have the chance to interact with world-known specialists from UNDP, the private sector, NGOs and national ministries. We will also encourage you to think critically about your resource use patterns in the context of international, national, and local SCP approaches to greening consumption and production.

The course will cover the following topics:
Week 1: What is green consumption and production?
Week 2: Key concepts and principles
Week 3: International policy framework
Week 4: Greening key production sectors
Week 5: Sustainable commodity supply chains
Week 6: Mainstreaming biodiversity into development planning
A certificate of completion will be provided by UNDP, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and The Nature Conservancy. The course is available in English, Spanish and French.

Follow the steps below to register today.

Step 1: Create an Account on the Conservation Training Website
The course is hosted on The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Training website. Before you can register for the course, you must create a Conservation Training account. If you already have an account, please log in. If you have forgotten your username or password, click here.

Step 2: Enroll in the Greening Consumption & Production Course

Once you are logged in to ConservationTraining.org, you can enroll. This simple process does not require an access key. Here are the steps:

Navigate to the Curriculums menu. Find the NBSAP Curriculum and click it. Alternatively, click here.

This action will take you to the NBSAP learning page, which offers five different e-learning modules. Your course – Greening Consumption & Production – is the first listing. Click on the course name or access it here.

This action will prompt you to “confirm enrollment”. Click “Yes” and you will be taken to the course homepage. You now have full access to the course! All course materials will become available on Wed., 24 May. Until then, there is basic information about the course and schedule available in the course room.

Once you are registered, log in to the website to access the course room.

Step 3: Register for the Webinar Sessions

Each Wed., from 31 May to 5 July, we will enrich your learning experience by offering webinars in English, French and Spanish. The webinar format (live or prerecorded) may vary due to speaker availability. Information on each week’s webinar will be posted on the “latest news” page in the courseroom and sent by email. We will use the Go-To-Webinar platform to host the webinars. Therefore, you need to separately enroll in the webinar series.

Here are the steps:

Click the link of the webinar series you are interested in attending (no limit):
French – 8:00 am – 9:30 am EDT/NY
English – 9:45 am – 11:15 am EDT/NY
Spanish – 11:30 am – 1:00 pm EDT/NY
You will be redirected to a registration page and prompted to enter your first name, last name and email.

Go-To-Webinar will send you a personalized link to access the classroom. You must retain this code and use it each week to access the webinar.
Each Wednesday, follow the link to access the webinar. Two hours before each webinar, you will also receive an email reminding you of this information.
If you can’t make a webinar, don’t worry! We will post it in the course room – under that week’s ‘activities’ – by 5:00pm EDT/NY the day it is hosted.

Mark your calendar! The first webinar is on Wednesday 31 May, 2017!

Step 4: Join the NBSAP Forum

The NBSAP Forum is an online community of practice that supports conservation planning practitioners to develop and implement effective National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). UNDP, the Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Environment Programme host the Forum. The NBSAP Forum has a page dedicated to Aichi Biodiversity Target Four: SCP, where we will post webinar recordings, course resource and weekly course summaries. You are also encouraged to share your assignments and join discussions on the Forum. Find updates about the course here.

Steps to Join:
Access the NBSAP Forum.
Create a member profile. Add your first and last name, email address and protect your profile with a password.

After logging into your profile, click on your name in the upper right portion of the screen. This step takes you to your “Member Profile” page. Once there, upload a brief bio, headshot and information on your countries/regions of focus, languages and expertise. For multiple option selection, press the Control (Ctrl) button on your keyboard and select all applicable options. See this member profile sample.

Make sure to visit our SCP page and click “follow this community” to receive updates. We will also post course updates on this here.
We look forward to your participation!

Greening Consumption & Production will begin on
Wednesday, 31 May

Until then, follow us in social media for updates:
NBSAP Forum
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

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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…

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

LATEST PRESS RELEASE
April 19, 2017


PEOPLES CLIMATE MARCH in Washington DC WILL ‘LITERALLY’ SURROUND THE WHITE HOUSE on
SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 2017 With off-shoot events in other cities as well.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2017
Contact: Harrison Beck,  harrison.beck at peoplesclimate.org

Mass Mobilization to Show Broad Resistance to Trump Agenda on April 29th

Washington, DC — The Peoples Climate March announced they will ‘literally’ surround the White House as part of its mass mobilization in Washington, DC on Saturday, April 29th.

Tens of thousands are expected to converge on Washington, DC from virtually every state in the country. In addition, more than 250 sister marches are also planned across the country and around the world.


“At 2 PM on April 29th, tens of thousands of people will encircle the White House in Washington D.C. to directly confront Donald Trump and challenge those who are pursuing a right-wing agenda that destroys our environment while favoring corporations and the 1 percent over workers and communities,” said Paul Getsos, National Coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement. “This administration continues waging attacks on immigrants, Muslims, people of color and LGBTQI people everyday. This moment will be the highlight of a day that will begin with a march leading from the Capital to Washington Monument.”

The Peoples Climate March will begin near the Capitol, travel up Pennsylvania Avenue, and then surround the entire White House Grounds from 15th Street in the East to 17th Street in the West, and Pennsylvania Avenue in the North to Constitution Avenue in the South. The march will close with a post march rally, concert and gathering at the Washington Monument.

“After 100 days of this administration, it’s our time to show our resilience, to show that we’re still here, that we’re only getting stronger, that we’re multiplying and that we’re never giving up on justice, or on the people,” said Angela Adrar, executive director of the Climate Justice Alliance. “The Peoples Climate March is about building and deepening connections and linking the intersectionality we need in this moment. On April 30th, our movement will be stronger and more prepared to rise than on April 29th but we will need everyone to rise together.”

“Around this country, working people understand that we don’t have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment; we can and must have both,” said Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Together we can tackle climate change in a way that will ensure all Americans have the opportunity to prosper and live in neighborhoods where they can breathe their air and drink their water. We will build a clean economy that leaves no one behind.”
The Peoples Climate Movement is a groundbreaking coalition of indigenous, youth, Latino, environmental, racial justice, economic justice, faith-based and immigrant groups and labor unions demanding an economy and a government that works for working people and the planet.

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For more information on the April 29 Peoples Climate Mobilization, visit peoplesclimate.org
Follow us on Twitter @Peoples_Climate and Facebook www.facebook.com/peoplesclimate

Sign Up for Press Credentials here: bit.ly/2oJCObe

OLDER PRESS RELEASES:
March 28, 2017
Trump’s Executive Order Repeals Environmental Protections; Hurts People He Claims He Wants to Help

March 24, 2017
Members of The Peoples Climate Mobilization Condemn Trump Administration Decision to Greenlight KXL

March 15, 2017
People’s Climate Movement Supports Today’s AFGE Rally to Protect EPA

March 13, 2017
Unraveling Clean Power Plan Will Create Havoc on Our Environment, Economy and Families

March 9, 2017
Pruitt’s Latest Environment Claim Illustrates Trump Administration’s Continued War on Our Health, Livelihood and Families

March 3, 2017
To fight back Trump’s EPA assaults, join the People’s Climate Mobilization

January 25, 2017
As Trump Dismantles Obama’s Climate Legacy, People’s Climate Movement Organizes for Mass Mobilization in DC on April 29

PEOPLES CLIMATE MOVEMENT
 peoplesclimate.org/media/

Press Inquiries
Contact Us

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In New York City – the SISTER MARCH is at:

People’s Climate March: NYCHA Takes Action!
April 29, 2017 • 10:00 AM
NYCHA Woodside, HANAC Astoria, NYCHA Ravenswood and Jacob Riis Settlement Center in Queensbridge
50-19 Broadway, Woodside, NY 11377

Queens, NY

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