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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

———————–

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


From the shelf to the bin: food waste and the culture of rush.

Diana Moreno 18 January 2016
openDemocracy, UK


A third of all food that’s produced in the world is thrown away as ‘waste.’ What’s going on?

From the shelf to the bin: food waste and the culture of rush
Diana Moreno 18 January 2016

A third of all food that’s produced in the world is thrown away as ‘waste.’ What’s going on?

Food ‘waste’ waiting to be thrown away. Credit: Diana Moreno. All rights reserved.

Shortly after signing my contract as a store assistant for a well known low-cost German supermarket company, I came across a nasty reality that seemed not to bother the rest of my colleagues: every day, at a sleepy four o’clock in the morning, a random employee has to do the “waste inventory.”

This consists of scanning all the products that can’t be sold anymore, one by one, and then throwing them out into a blue container. The resulting mountain of food is impressive—around seventy bakery items, a hundred pieces of fruit, and fifteen trays of meat. Over two hundred food items start the morning at the bottom of the garbage container, every single day.

But that’s not the most surprising thing. The real scandal is that very few of these items need to be thrown away at all.

Of course, the expiry dates of food have to scrupulously obeyed, but most of the reasons for throwing things away have nothing to do with protecting our health. Instead, we get rid of items just because they’ve lost their label, or because the package is broken, or because they’ve been left outside the fridge. In the frenzy of a regular work day, employees don’t have time to scrutinize every corner of the store, searching for items that a neglectful customer has left out of place on a shelf, or that they themselves may have forgotten somewhere.

As a rough calculation, I’d say that food that’s unfit for consumption accounts for less than half of what is thrown away. While doing the waste inventory I can see it, but the ‘waste’ is valued at only 300 Pounds or so—less than one per cent of the store’s daily income.

What happens to it? I ask the delivery guy where he takes the food.

“To the incinerator” he replies. “Why, are you hungry?”

If you’re able to imagine one ton of food and then multiply it by a hundred million you get the exorbitant amount that’s wasted in Europe every year, according to a report from the European Parliament. At the global level, the FAO calculates that this comes to 1.3 billion tons per annum, or a third of all food that’s produced. I can see a tiny part of this nonsense, day by day, in my shop.

What’s going on? At the heart of the problem is a basic lack of care, brought on by a culture of rushing, speed, and busyness—lots of people, scanner sounds, the noise of coins and trolleys—everything in a hurry. In shops like mine, everything is meant to be this way. The tills are designed for customers to be there for as little time as possible so that more people can be processed in the same number of minutes.

In some ways the till is the perfect symbol of modern slavery: immersion in this small metal cage implies an average of six hours a day sitting and doing mechanical and monotonous scanning-and-packing work with one 30-minute break. Greetings and goodbyes are identical, mechanical, pronounced a hundred times per day: the same jokes, the same comments.

Customers can pay with a new system called ‘contactless payment’ that works by simply touching a credit card to the machine. “They do that so we can spend quickly… and more,” an elderly customer says to me wisely. No time for conversations. I serve 20 people every ten minutes. That means 60 every half an hour, 120 per hour, and around 500 during a standard shift—giving each customer 30 seconds to chat. It feels kind of disturbing to interact with 500 different people during six hours without ever having a conversation.

Rushing also means that things get dropped. Glasses are broken, yogurt is scattered, or an egg from the box is broken when you’re trying to stack it up in the crammer stand. So that means throwing the whole carton away. And when the day is close to an end, tiredness sinks in. The more tired we are, the less we care.

Interiorizing this culture of rush makes everybody feel annoyed when something doesn´t work—for example when items pile up, plastic bags are difficult to open or barcodes won’t scan. Or when the cashier forgets a code or the customer takes too much time packing everything into their bags, exasperating the rest of the queue. Almost without noticing, I´ve adopted a way of serving that pressurizes costumers to leave over time. When did I and my colleagues start behaving this way? None of us know.

Some mention the ‘pressure’ of the long queue, or the customers’ comments that encourage you to be quicker. Or the manager´s instructions that force you to speed up if there’s a long line or to close the till and do something else if it’s not busy, in order to avoid a single minute of inactivity. Bosses also encourage us to speed up by giving a prize to the fastest cashier every month. As an experiment, I reduce my speed and soon I’m pressured to scan faster in order to ‘hit the store´s target.’ By the end of the shift, rushing has burrowed its way deep into my bones.

Do things have to be this way? Isn’t there an alternative? I want to believe that there is.

Barely two hundred meters along the street from where I work is another smaller shop called hiSbe. It calls itself an “ethical supermarket, independent and community-run,” and it has the aura of something more organic and environmentally-friendly. I go inside to take a look.

The shop looks less busy and less crowded with people and items. There are four employees with smiles that don’t look forced. Prices and quality are not reduced as much as on the crowded low-cost shelves that I’m used to stacking. Its claim to put “workers and suppliers before benefits” may not be a pose after all.

One of hiSbe’s commitments is “refusing to throw away any food that can be eaten.” How do they accomplish that I wonder? Here’s what I find out: they reduce the price of any surplus goods before the delivery of new stock; they minimize packaging and sell stuff by weight; they give items away for free like eggs which are about to expire; and they don’t discriminate against ‘ugly vegetables’ that aren’t the standard size and look.

Above all, things are done well and carefully and without rushing. It’s a small shop without too many customers, so there’s more time for chatting. Less rushing means that things aren’t dropped or broken so frequently or forgotten somewhere out of the fridge. “We barely throw any food away at the end of the day,” one worker confirms to me.

This isn’t an isolated example. There are a growing number of citizen initiatives which are fighting against unjustified waste like the ‘dumpster diving’ movement, or the Real Junk Food Project in Brighton—a food bank that uses items discarded by local supermarkets. In Lisbon, the Frutafeia co-operative campaigns against standardization in foodstuffs, especially vegetables, while Berlin’s ‘social fridges’ offer self-service food for free to people who are homeless.

In the current dominant system of food consumption and the culture of rush, a daily mountain of edible food that’s thrown into a bin is not considered a failure—it’s simply one of the many consequences of doing business as usual.
To reverse that process, we all have to put our shopping into question.

This is a shorter version of a longer piece
please see - www.opendemocracy.net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from: Virginia Yu

Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 2:22 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Solar Resource Assessment for Policy Makers:


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

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

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

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

Lunch Break

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

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

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

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

We thank IRENA for hosting the workshop in their headquarters.

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

please see –   Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Abu Dhabi, Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Future Events, Futurism, Geneva, Germany, Nairobi, Paris, UAE, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A West Virginia Family Leaves Coal for Local Food and Wants to Help Others Do the Same.

Sunday, 27 December 2015 00:00 – By Laura Michele Diener, YES! Magazine | Op-Ed, Re-posted by Truthout.

The sound of a train whistle interrupts conversations every hour, on the hour, in the small town of Kimball, West Virginia. Linda McKinney and her son Joel were showing me the beds in their community garden when the rushing of the train overwhelmed the quiet sounds of crickets, stream, and rain. Linda and Joel were used to it and continued their conversation over the noise, shouting about how they should plant more marigolds, pulling berries off the vine for me to taste, and admiring a second crop of peppers that had sprung up overnight. The train roared along, carrying away some of the last coal processed in McDowell County.

“Coal is dying,” Joel told me. “Coal’s almost dead. Nobody wants to say it. It is what it is. On the international market, it’s dead for this area.”

He used to work for Norfolk Southern, the same railroad company that operates the train that just passed through. He has watched the number of trains loaded with locally mined coal decline, replaced with ones full of goods made elsewhere: cars, chemicals, and goods bound for Target. He grew up in a coal-mining family, the son and grandson of coal miners on both sides, and has watched as the industry’s decline decimated the place where he grew up. “This place is dying. I mean, it is. I’m from here, it’s sad to say it.”

Official numbers back up his words. As in the rest of the region, the total number of coal miners in McDowell County has declined since the heyday of the industry in the first half of the 20th century . That trend has continued in recent years, with the number of miners in the county falling from about 1,700 in 1990 to about 1,100 in 2014. There are many reasons for this: processes such as mountaintop-removal mining require fewer workers than underground mining, and the local coal industry faces competition from cheaper sources such as Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, as well as from natural gas drilling. Many of the county’s remaining jobs are low-paying ones in fast-food restaurants or the prison system.

Unemployment leads to poverty and alarming health trends. According to 2011 data, more than 46 percent of McDowell County residents were obese; the U.S. national average was 34 percent. The average life expectancy is one of the lowest in the nation at 64 for men and 72 for women; the national averages are 76 and 81. The county also leads the state in number of teen pregnancies and people on disability.

Despite these problems, McDowell suffers from a shortage of health care resources such as health professionals and addiction-treatment centers. Even sidewalks can be rare along the busy, winding roads, discouraging walking. Families get trapped in desperate cycles of disease, unemployment, and addiction

So what is left for residents? Many have left in search of employment. Others have succumbed to a sense of despondency. Local politicians blame President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency for mine closures and advocate for a return to a coal-based economy through campaigns such as “Friends of Coal.” Others join the 14 percent of McDowell County citizens who are unemployed, hoping and waiting for the mines to reopen.

But Joel, Linda, and the rest of their family have a different answer. “Agriculture,” Linda responds, without missing a beat. “Everybody—I don’t care if there’s two people left in the county—they’ve got to eat.”

Her family is doing its best to get that transition started. At Five Loaves and Two Fishes, the food bank they run to serve McDowell County residents, the McKinney family maintains a traditional garden as well as five hydroponic towers. The produce they grow not only supplements the food they give out, but acts as an educational model to encourage people to start their own gardens and agribusinesses.

Food and Faith

Five Loaves is located in an old Save-A-Lot store building on the side of the main road running through Kimball. It has been a food bank since 2001, and in the care of the McKinneys since 2009, when they took it over from longtime friend, theReverend Albert “Bubby” Falvo.

Joel and his father Bob have converted the front area into a comfortable porch with rockers, benches, flowerpots, and stacks of pallets. While planning my first visit, I tried to get directions over the phone. Linda reassured me. “Honey, if you come into McDowell county, all roads lead to the food bank.”

“Miss Linda,” as her friends call her, is the heart, soul, and chef of Five Loaves. She works full time there, or rather, volunteers full time, as she works entirely for free. At 59, with flashing black eyes, she possesses a certain glamour, even when dressed in old jeans and surrounded by packing crates. She laughs loudly, with a resounding and joyous “Ha!” and a nudge to bring you into the joke.

Although Linda calls herself a “holler girl”—using the Appalachian slang term for a rural valley—and has always lived in McDowell County, she grew up in an Italian-speaking family. Having lost her mother as a little girl, she was raised by her nonna, or grandmother, who spoke no English but cooked meals for the entire holler. Nonna, who was born Maria Nicola, emigrated with her husband, Philip Pizzato, from the Italian city of Naples in 1913.

“Everybody thought they were going to get rich in the mines,” Linda says. The Pizzatos didn’t get rich, but Philip, whom the other miners called “Mr. Patches” since they couldn’t pronounce “Pizzato,” earned a steady living for his wife, six sons, and five daughters until he died in a car accident in 1947.

Linda’s entire manner expresses this dual heritage. She pronounces certain words with a melodious accent, slipped between the slow syllables of her southern twang: minestrone, basilico. “When I was little we would grow basil in a washtub, and Daddy would say, ‘Go out and get some basilico’—that’s what we called it.”

Linda learned to cook at her nonna’s side. “We didn’t have recipes. Nothing was measured out, but each day had its own purpose. Monday was bread baking day. Sunday, we made sauce, always red sauce, never white. … On Sundays, food stayed out all the time and we would just eat all day long.”

They made chicken cacciatore, homemade pasta (they hung the noodles on a pole over the bed), egg frittatas, and Italian wedding soup, all of which Linda remembers fondly. But she also snuck out to the neighbors’ place to try pinto beans and biscuits. Her recipes now are a mix of local and foreign, old world and new.

“She just wants to feed people,” her daughter Jina Belcher explained, and that was certainly true for me. Each time I visited, Linda fed me, cooking with fresh ingredients from the garden. Since I’m a vegetarian, she made me some standards: veggie dip with chips and carrots, chocolate mousse, and my favorite, kale salad with strawberries, of which she is especially proud. “When people tell me they don’t like kale, I say, ‘You ain’t tasted my kale.’”

Linda makes and gives out wholesome, healthy food because that’s what she was raised on and what she fed her own children—but also because she wants to reverse the health trends in McDowell County. She understands that obesity and poverty go hand in hand, as half the county is on some kind of public assistance and may not be able to afford fresh produce. But she believes that education and changes in lifestyle can help people get their hands on good food, even when they don’t have much money.

Every Wednesday of this summer, she held community cookouts in the gardens with an emphasis on healthy eating and fresh vegetables. Nearly 400 people attended regularly, Linda estimates. She also offers Zumba classes (she’s a certified instructor), vegetable planting parties, and cooking courses.

In addition to her passion for healthy eating, she finds herself motivated by her Christian faith, which was nurtured in riverbanks, mountain soil, and in the small Methodist church where she worshipped as a child. She is a certified Methodist lay pastor, which means she can preach but not perform communion or weddings. “I could go anywhere in any church and feel comfortable, except where there’s snakes,” she says, referring to a Pentecostal ritual where certain parishioners hold venomous snakes during worship as an expression of faith.

She shuddered and then broke into laughter. “I won’t go to no snake church.”

She finds her faith renewed each time she reaches her fingers into the dirt. “I totally believe that relationships are built at a table and in a garden. When you bring those two together, you have family.”


Betting on Agriculture

Unlike his mother, Joel McKinney does not like dirt, and he hates bugs. What attracts him is the challenge of invention. Full of restless energy, he rarely stands still. As we spoke, he paced around his hydroponic towers, lifting up vines and pulling off dead leaves with gestures alternately rough and tender.

“I’m a science nerd,” he told me more than once. He practices a form of urban agriculture usually pursued indoors, but does it outside so it’s visible to local people. The unusual sight of the five white plastic towers, each one more than eight feet tall and bursting with rainbow-colored vines, attracts curious passers-by. Which is exactly what Joel is hoping for—to get locals excited about the economic possibilities of growing. “Agriculture is the best possible future for McDowell County,” he insists.

This work has consumed all his time for the past year, since he quit his job as a signalman for Norfolk Southern. Soon after that, he received a veteran’s grant from West Virginia State’s agricultural program to start a greenhouse at the armory in Welch, the county seat. He devoted himself full-time to growing—moving into his parents’ basement, enrolling in Penn State’s online program for a degree in agriculture, and building and maintaining hydroponic towers on the armory grounds in Welch, as well as the ones at Five Loaves. To do all this, he has taken out around $30,000 in loans. “So in about two and a half years, if something don’t happen, life’s going to be hard,” he says. “But I’m pretty certain.”

While Linda is propelled by faith, it’s the prospect of a good living that motivates Joel. Although he says he will never charge for food at Five Loaves, he hopes his towers at the Welch armory will eventually turn a profit. He has already approached grocery retailers Wal-Mart and Kroger. Once he begins selling vegetables, he plans to roll the funds back into the community garden at Five Loaves to finance projects there, including a CSA program that will distribute groceries directly to local people, a permanent farmers market, a plant store with seedlings for sale, and most of all, educational programs. His goal is to provide a model for sustainable business that others in the region could learn from.

“This is kind of small-scale,” he acknowledges, “but I want to start here, learn the ropes, and then take it to the county level.”

Feeding the County

It was August 22, the third Saturday of the month. Welfare checks were running low, and the residents of McDowell County descended on Five Loaves for the food giveaway. Cars lined both sides of the road. Old men rested in their pickup trucks, while women with camp chairs chatted in the sun. The lively atmosphere of a town festival pervaded, with children racing around the porch, scrambling over the pallets, and running through the garden. The men smoked down by the river at the back of the garden. One man with a white beard gestured toward the tree tops, preaching to the smokers. “Who do you think created this blue sky?” he asked.

There was only enough food for 150 families, and it was first come, first served. So even though the giveaway began at noon, most of the people had already been there for hours to ensure they were included. Some had brought tents and camped out the night before. One family had waited since 2:30 in the morning.

The food had come from a variety of sources. Much of it arrived in trucks that come once a month from Operation Blessing’s Hunger Strike Force, a humanitarian organization founded by the minister and TV personality Pat Robertson. Five Loaves receives donations from the local Wal-Mart as well as from individual donors.

At noon, everyone lined up on the porch for their turn to receive a grocery cart, move through the warehouse grabbing products from the freezers and shelves, then back outside to sort through three big bins of produce. Volunteers, all with relatives waiting in the line, moved the people along and helped push the carts and load up cars.

Linda kept the line in order with an iron will. “You git off my porch with that cigarette!” She shouted, chasing a recalcitrant man. She sat at the head of the line for hours, joking with people and rising to hug them.

One man waited around all day to collect any unused scraps for his pigs. He hovered at Linda’s shoulder, never speaking, his blue eyes like pinpoints lost in a creviced face, a bandana tied on top of his battered fedora. Occasionally he carried a bag of lettuce or such to his truck. “That’s Mr. Chester,” Bob McKinney said, pointing him out to me—he knew almost everybody.

Unlike Linda, Bob stayed in the background, pushing carts and lifting boxes of food. A slim man with round glasses, he spoke in soft, measured tones.

We heard Linda’s voice rising above the crowd. Bob gestured over to her as she chattered away with the woman at the front of the line. “She’s a networker,” he said, smiling fondly. “Me, I’ll take care of the rest.”

The rest included all the maintenance, the electrical work on the building, and keeping the forklifts and freezers in good working order. Bob is an ordained Methodist minister, but had never been completely comfortable speaking in front of people. “I had felt a calling in the ministry,” he explained, “but it’s this kind of ministry.”

A mine-safety teacher, Bob is the only member of the family still actively employed in coal. Like his father before him, he has worked in the industry his whole life, either as a teacher or a safety inspector, but he also acknowledges that mining is no longer economically viable for southern West Virginia.

As a minister and then at the food bank, he has witnessed the toll the changing economy has taken on McDowell County. He pointed out a number of people in the line who had jobs, sometimes commuting outside the county, but still couldn’t make it through the month. Others were disabled from accidents in mines or on construction sites. As I looked at the crowd, I noticed that a good portion were elderly—women with white hair plaited around their heads, men in suspenders lounging against the wall beside their walkers.

Bob looked them over worriedly. “Politicians have the attitude—’Them people just here for a handout.’ ‘Get a job,’ they say. Get a job where? I say, ‘You give ‘em a job, I’ll stop giving ‘em food.’”

A World Beyond Coal

“My dad was a coal miner my entire life. That’s how I was raised. That’s how he fed us, so as far as that’s concerned, my heart is there.” Jina, Bob and Linda’s youngest child, is certainly her mother’s daughter. Her determination bursts through in her voice, even more so than Linda; she speaks quickly and articulately. She works full-time at a local bank in Welch and also takes care of all the finances for Five Loaves, which she sees as far more than a place to pick up food once a month.

Like her parents and brother, she sees the food bank as leading the way in economic alternatives to coal in McDowell County. The daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, she also dated one all through high school and eventually married him. But at Concord University, which she attended on a full scholarship as a recreation and tourism major, she learned about the effects of mountaintop-removal mining on the environment. She is also aware that opportunities for coal mining are waning in southern West Virginia.

“I do think it’s a dying industry, and I think that if we could get the passion of these ex-coal miners involved in a new agricultural business, that it could flourish.”

Some former coal miners have transitioned successfully, and Jina points to her husband, Justin “JD” Belcher, as an example. After 7 1/2 years at the same mine, he found himself laid off. But he took the opportunity to pursue videography, which had always been his passion. Entirely self-taught, he submitted a trial reel to a local car dealer and now works full time for the company as a video editor. He also runs his own wedding videography business, Unscripted Memories.

Justin has taken charge of public relations at Five Loaves and makes films for the food bank’s Facebook page. “When we look at our life two years ago when he was in the mines, yes, of course there was more money,” Jina says. “But now it’s stable and he’s doing what he loves.”

His transition, she believes, could be a model for the community.

All Roads in the County

Linda McKinney was right when she told me all roads in the county lead to the food bank. That might sound depressing, but there’s more to it than dependency. In McDowell County, the Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank is the heart of the community, a place people go for education, fellowship, and vision.

“I love going out there early in the morning, walking into that garden,” Linda says. Her vision acknowledges the coal heritage of McDowell County, which brought her grandparents over on a boat from Italy in the hope of striking it rich, and kept them fed and clothed for generations. But it also looks beyond it to a future of self-sufficiency and small businesses fueled by cultivated fields bursting into bloom in the hollers.

In the future she wants to see, people will flock to the county she loves rather than flee from it. “This county’s been good to me. It’s been good to our family. It’s been good to my husband. Where else would I go? I wouldn’t do well. I’m too loud.” She laughed in her joyful manner, shaking her whole body.

“They can say, poor, poor West Virginia and poor, poor, McDowell County. I don’t do that. I’m gonna be the brightest little star I can in my little corner where God put me.”

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

Pincas –

I’ve got 12 months left to squeeze every ounce of change I can while I’m still in office. And that’s what I intend to do.

We’ve done a lot of remarkable things together this year. On January 12, I’ll be giving my last State of the Union address. I want you to watch, and say you’re ready to keep up the fight in 2016 — because your voice matters just as much as mine does.

When we took office, we were losing nearly 750,000 jobs a month. But over the last 69 months, our businesses have created more than 13.7 million new jobs — the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record — and the unemployment rate is down to 5 percent.

For the first time more than 90 percent of Americans are now covered, and more than 17 million people have gained health insurance under Obamacare. Insurance companies can’t discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, or charge women more just for being women.

And America is now leading by example on climate change. The Clean Power Plan will cut carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent by 2030. We’ve cut our oil imports by more than half, while doubling clean energy production from wind, solar, and geothermal — creating steady sources of good jobs that can’t be outsourced.

Even as our economy is growing, America has cut our carbon pollution overall more than any other advanced nation on Earth. And we just helped secure the most ambitious global climate agreement in history.

These are your accomplishments, and that’s what I want to celebrate with you on January 12. As long as you’re out there organizing, on whatever issue you’re organizing around, America has a bright future ahead.

Let’s lean into that in 2016.

Thanks — and happy New Year,

Barack Obama

————————————-

and from MICHELLE OBAMA:

Friend –

I can’t thank you enough for standing by Barack and Democrats all over the country this year. Millions of supporters have invested time, money, and energy to take true ownership of this party and advance the values and beliefs that make us Democrats.

So I really mean it when I say that I can’t thank you enough: All the progress we’ve made this year, we’ve made because folks like you have never shied away from a challenge, and you’re never afraid of hard work.

There will be more challenges on the road ahead, and more work to be done to protect our progress and keep moving forward. I know you’re ready to face it all head-on — it’s what folks like you have always done. You’re never satisfied to sit idly by and just watch things happen. I’ve always known our supporters to be action takers, and you’re no different. So right now, if you can, pitch in $3 so we can keep facing those challenges head-on and doing the hard work that truly makes a difference in our fellow Americans’ lives.

The future of this country is up to us — and I know it’s in good hands, because I’ve seen the good that we can accomplish when we work together. I’m so excited to see what we’ll do next.

Michelle

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


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


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

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

26 December 2015

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

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

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

According to the reporting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————-
Comment and Replies can be sent to

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

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

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


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

Pincas Jawetz, SustainabiliTank.info Media.

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


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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

Monday, 7th Dec 2015, EUobserver from Brussels


Germany criticizes Saudi Arabia for funding radical mosques.

By Eszter Zalan
BRUSSELS, Today, 09:22

German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel urged Saudi Arabia on Sunday (7 December 2015) to stop supporting religious radicals, amid growing fear it is funding militant mosques across Europe.

“We need Saudi Arabia to solve the regional conflicts,” Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the Social Democrats (SPD), who are part of a coalition with the conservative chancellor Angela Merkel, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

“But we must at the same time make clear that the time to look away is past. Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities,” he said.


Gabriel’s criticism, though not the first, is a rare rebuke from a Western politician directed at Riyadh, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

In a statement, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Berlin said the Kingdom was interested in countering radicalisationzof young people.

“Like Germany, we are part of the anti-Islamic State coalition and fighting side by side against terror,” it said.

Saudis have cracked down on jihadists at home and cut militant finance streams, but have continued to finance imams and mosques, in the EU and in the Western Balkans, which are sympathetic to an ultra-conservative form of Islam – Wahhabism.


Islamic State (IS) and al Qaeda follow the extreme interpretation of the Salafi branch of Islam, of which Wahhabism was the original strain.

For his part, Jamal Saleh Momenah, the Saudi director of the Parc du Cinquantenaire mosque, the largest in Brussels, recently told EUobserver that: “Nobody like this [an IS recuiter] can come here. I wouldn’t allow them to come to this place and they understand my way.”

But in Germany, authorities are worried about growing support for radical Islam in its Muslim community.

German intelligence says the number of Salafists in the country has risen to 7,900, up from 5,500 just two years ago, Reuters reports.

This is not the first time Gabriel publicly voiced criticism of the Saudis.

During a trip in March to Saudi Arabia, he criticized the Gulf country over its sentencing of blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes.

With Germany, last Friday, opting to join the international coalition fighting IS in Syria, there is growing concern about possible jihadi attacks on German soil.
Foreign policy

Last Wednesday, Germany’s foreign intelligence service issued a warning about Saudi Arabia’s destabilizing role, saying the new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, who assumed the throne in January, and his son, who is second in line for the throne, Mohammed bin Salman, and who is also defence minister, want to make their mark among Arab leaders.

It indicated that Saudi foreign policy is becoming more “impulsive”.

Saudi Arabia’s more assertive foreign policy, the German Intelligence Service, the BND said in a public report, was highlighted by a bombing campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, which started in March.

German intelligence also voiced concern on Saudi Arabia’s role in Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iraq.


The Saudis have been irked by the nuclear deal between Iran, another regional heavyweight, and the US and five nations in July, which eases sanctions on Iran, in exchange for limiting its nuclear programme.


Riyadh is worried that a strengthened Iran could undermine Saudi interests in the region.

————————–

The US ought to be worried that most recent terrorist was a Saudi good girl, veiled Ms. Tashfeen Malik – that excelled in Pakistan as a student, and surely Pakistan benefited from Wahhabi largess in content and money.

So did America since that meeting on a boat between President Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud – and do not forget Texas Oil-man President G.W. Bush shipping out a plane load of Bin Ladins when airspace in the US was closed after 9/11-and those people could not be interrogated. It seems to be easier to close the door of the US to European travelers then to the Saudis.

————————-

Related stories:

Germany to send 1,200 military to Middle East

Raif Badawi: Saudi blogger wins Sakharov Prize
EU to mediate in Saudi-Swedish dispute on Human Rights

today – US lawmakers preparing to vote on bill that could see select EU states lose visa waiver perks if they don’t comply with stricter security measures.

today – Germany’s vice chancellor has criticized Saudi Arabia for funding jihadist mosques across Europe in a rare rebuke to the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Today, 09:22
Germany criticizes Saudi Arabia for funding radical mosques
Today, 09:16
EU states could lose US visa waivers

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

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

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

By CORAL DAVENPORTDEC. 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Justin Gillis contributed reporting from Paris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Energy and Environment
This may be the biggest news yet to come out of the Paris climate meeting

By Joby Warrick December 4, 2015, The Washington Post.

When it comes to electric power, Africa is still a continent in the dark. More than half of its 1.1 billion inhabitants lack access to electricity, and Africa’s total generating capacity, from Cairo to Cape Town, is only 160 gigawatts, or about half as much as Japan, a country with one-tenth of its population.

Against that backdrop, the plan unveiled this week by the African Union and African Development Bank is remarkably ambitious. Officials from the two organizations announced a goal of delivering at least 300 gigawatts—300 billion watts—of electricity-generating capacity to the continent by 2030, all from clean or renewable energy.


Put another way, in just 15 years Africa would be producing twice as much electricity from solar panels, wind farms, geothermal plants and hydropower than it currently generates from all sources combined.


“Our sunshine should do more than nourish our crops, it must light up our homes,” African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina said Tuesday at the formal launch of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, which was announced during the international climate talks in Paris. “Our massive water resources should do more than water our farms, they must power our industries.”

Citing the continent’s “massive potentials” for renewable energy, Adesina said the plan would “renew Africa and turn it into a place full of light,” while offering the benefits of electric power to nearly 700 million people who lack it.

For a sense of the project’s ambitious scale, consider that China, the world’s leader in renewables, has a generating capacity of about 380 gigawatts, mostly from wind farms and hydropower. African nations would seek to build nearly as much capacity in less than two decades.

Bank officials said the huge undertaking was possible in part because of commitments from a $100 billion annual fund pledged by wealthy countries to fight climate change.
The World Bank Group has pledged $16 billion to pay for low-carbon energy development for the continent, and France and Germany have promised billions of dollars for clean energy.

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By funding clean-energy projects, the initiative would hasten the delivery of electric power to impoverished areas while allowing many African states to jump directly to advanced clean-energy technology rather than building power plants that burn fossil fuels, backers of the project said. At the same time, the projects will help reduce emissions of greenhouse-gas pollutants blamed for climate change.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Ki, in announcing new funding for African energy projects last week, described sub-Saharan Africa as “highly vulnerable to climate shocks,” with potential impacts ranging from increases in malaria epidemics to famine.

Adesina, in announcing the initiative, suggested that Western countries were morally obligated to help finance the continent’s energy transition, noting that Africa emits less carbon pollution than the rest of the world while also bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change.

“Africa suffers more from the scorching heat from rising temperatures, he said. “Droughts are now more frequent and with greater intensity than ever before.”

Adding 300 gigawatts of clean-energy capacity in 15 years will require martialing resources on an unprecedented scale, but Adesina said he believed the target could be met and even exceeded.

“We must not have low ambitions for Africa,” he said.

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Joby Warrick joined the Post’s national staff in 1996. He has covered national security, intelligence and the Middle East, and currently writes about the environment.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem is that they do not agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


India Unveils Global Solar Alliance of 120 Countries at Paris Climate Summit
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Narendra Modi announces a new alliance of nations and industry on large-scale expansion of solar energy use in the tropics and beyond.

Reported from Paris by Arthur Neslen / The Guardian
December 4, 2015

India’s prime minister has launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries with the French president, François Hollande, at the Paris COP21 climate summit.


Narendra Modi told a press conference that as fossil fuels put the planet in peril, hopes for future prosperity in the developing world now rest on bold initiatives.


“Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving,” he said. “The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”

Modi described the solar alliance as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun”.

Earlier, France’s climate change ambassador, Laurence Tubiana, had called the group “a true game-changer”.

While signatory nations mostly hail from the tropics, several European countries are also on board with the initiative, including France.

Hollande described the project as climate justice in action, mobilizing public finance from richer states to help deliver universal energy access.

“What we are putting in place is an avant garde of countries that believe in renewable energies,” he told a press conference in Paris. “What we are showing here is an illustration of the future Paris accord, as this initiative gives meaning to sharing technology and mobilizing financial resources in an example of what we wish to do in the course of the climate conference.”


The Indian government is investing an initial $30m (£20m) in setting up the alliance’s headquarters in India. The eventual goal is to raise $400m from membership fees, and international agencies.


Companies involved in the project include Areva, Engie, Enel, HSBC France and Tata Steel.

“It is very, very exciting to see India nailing its colours to the mast and providing leadership on this issue,” said James Watson, the director of SolarPower Europe, which represents the continents’ solar photovoltaic industry. “It will mean more opportunities for solar across the world and that can only be positive for combating climate change.”

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, placed the initiative in the context of the body’s sustainable development goals, particularly a related target, set in 2011, of achieving universal access to sustainable energy by 2030.

India has repeatedly said that it wants to use cheap solar to connect citizens who are currently without access to the electricity grid in remote and rural areas.

“The idea is that larger markets and bigger volumes will lead to lower costs, making it possible to spur demand,” said Ajay Mathur, India’s senior negotiator and spokesperson at the Paris summit.

“This bold effort could bring affordable solar power to tropical villages and communities worldwide,” said Jennifer Morgan, the director of the World Research Institute’s climate programme.

India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to draw 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. The country is projected to be the world’s most populous by then, with 1.45 billion people.

Climate Action Tracker described the promise as being “at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution”, and not consistent with meeting a 2C target.

But some see Modi as a clean energy enabler, having rapidly rolled out more than 900MW of solar energy across Gujaratwhen he was chief minister there.

“India has emerged as the natural leader for this alliance, with its ambitious targets to install 175GW of renewable energy by 2022,” said Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive of the Council for Energy, Environment and Water in India.

Modi’s announcement on Monday comes hot on the heels of a pledge by the US and 18 other countries to provide $20bn for clean energy research by 2020, a doubling of current funding commitments.

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A separate Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which will act as an investment platform for clean energy projects, is also being launched on Monday by Bill Gates and the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

On Sunday, Dubai announced a Dh100bn ($27bn) programme to make solar panels mandatory for all rooftop buildings by 2030, part of a plan to make the city a global clean energy centre.

Dubai aims to generate 25% of its energy from clean sources by 2030, rising to 75% by 2050.

The Indian initiative, called the International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications (Iasta), aims to spread cheap solar technology across the globe with pooled policy knowledge.

“We share a collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts aimed at reducing the costs of financing and urgent technological deployment for competitive solar facilities throughout our country,” a membership statement by the alliance says.

It adds that the alliance will “pave the way for production technologies and storage of solar energy, adapted to the specific needs of our country”.

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Arthur Neslen is the Europe environment correspondent at the Guardian. He has previously worked for the BBC, the Economist, Al Jazeera, and EurActiv, where his journalism won environmental awards.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We note the complete daily “DER STANDARD” of Vienna and several serious articles in The Sunday New York Times.

“The negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level.” AND WE SAY – THIS IS JUST FINE – this is the result of completely unrealizable goals the UN-speak fed us for all those years since 1992 Rio Conference on Sustainable Development.

Recommendation from scientists, made several years ago, talked of setting a cap on total greenhouse gases as a way to achieve the goal of limiting Climate Change to what they said was possibly an acceptable level, and then figure out how to allocate the emissions fairly. This simply was impossible as it required in UN fashion work by consensus – and your luck does not hold out an agreement of all UN membership to anything.

Now we have a situation of voluntary pledges that countries are making that in most nations came up as a compromise between the desire to be ambitious and the perceived cost and political difficulty of emissions cutbacks. AND THAT IS THE BEST WE CAN GET – SO THIS IS TREMENDOUS PROGRESS THAT BEATS NOTHING.

In 1992, more than 150 nations agreed at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro to take steps to stabilize greenhouse gases at a level that would “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” — United Nations-speak for global warming.

Innumerable follow-up meetings have been held since, with some 30,000 pe0ple spinning around the globe, with little to show for themselves. Emissions of greenhouse gases have steadily risen, as have atmospheric temperatures, while the consequences of unchecked warming — persistent droughts, melting glaciers and ice caps, dying corals, a slow but inexorable sea level rise — have become ever more pronounced.

On Monday, in Paris, the signatories to the Rio treaty (now 196), will try once again to fashion an international climate change agreement that might actually slow, then reduce, emissions and prevent the world from tipping over into full-scale catastrophe late in this century. As with other climate meetings, notably Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009, Paris is being advertised as a watershed event — “our last hope,” in the words of Fatih Birol, the new director of the International Energy Agency. As President François Hollande of France put it recently, “We are duty-bound to succeed.”

Paris will almost certainly not produce an ironclad, planet-saving agreement. But it could succeed in an important way that earlier meetings have not — by fostering collective responsibility, a strong sense among countries large and small, rich and poor, that all must play a part in finding a global solution to a global problem.

Kyoto failed because it imposed emissions reduction targets only on developed countries, giving developing nations like China, India and Brazil a free pass. Kyoto was actually a fraud imposed on us by Al Gore who got the Nobel prize for his showings. As a former member of the Senate – knew it was doomed in the United States Senate. Copenhagen attracted wider participation, but it broke up in disarray, in part because of continuing frictions with the developing countries.

The organizers of the Paris conference have learned a lot from past mistakes. Instead of pursuing a top-down agreement with mandated targets, they have asked every country to submit a national voluntary plan that lays out how and by how much they plan to reduce emissions in the years ahead. So far, more than 170 countries, accounting for over 90 percent of global greenhouse emissions, have submitted pledges, and more may emerge in Paris.

But UN-speak that confounds wishful thinking with reality – as we observed this last Monday at a debate following the showing of a documentary “Ice & Sky” that was provided by the French Mission to the UN in Vienna – had even an Austrian delegate to the Paris 2015 Conference talk about the upcoming “Paris Agreement.” And when I objected saying that we must learn to accept the fact that there will be no agreed outcome – but rather a collection of country declarations – I felt once more like an intruder to this pie-in-the-sky refusal to project honest thinking by those accustomed to spin the globe on clouds.

The true realists are Bill McKibben and his 350.org folks who, like Patrick Sciarratta’s Civil Society that with some help from UN Member States – show us that what works is the impact of ordinary people on their governments – be this in the US or China – and then those governments are moved to make pledges. It would have been the impact of a demonstration in Paris like the 400.000 people that showed up in New York September 22, 2014, that could have moved some heads of State. This was reduced to the much smaller last minute events held today in many cities of the world. That large event in Paris was cancelled because of the act of terrorism pf Friday the 13th. But let me in this respect throw in here one last remark that surely will get some to say that I am nuts. So what – UN folks are saying this about me for lesser reasons. I want to mention that the bands presenting themselves as Islamic State were in effect funded by Saudi oil money, like the Taliban and the Al Qaeda before them. Why not believe that it was not Satanism that propelled them (Friday the 13th) but rather an effort to help their bosses in Riyadh. After all – Climate Change came about because of excessive use of cheap oil – and oil sellers do not want to lose their market.

Also, today I sat for three hours at a meeting at the Economy University of Vienna with Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz of New York.
He just released two books: “The Great Divide” and “Re-Writing The Rules of the American Economy.” These ought to be assigned reading for anyone assuming he is part of a Think Tank.

The New York Times editorial concludes with “The test of success for this much-anticipated summit meeting is whether it produces not only stronger commitments but also a shared sense of urgency at all levels to meet them.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The night of November 27, 2015 at the venerable Wiener Koncerthaus – the Mecca for Music of the Austrian Empire.
I got home after mid-night from this great celebration of life in Paris – the city that lives best at night.

Valerie Sajdik was born in Vienna April 2, 1978 to the family of a great Austrian diplomat. Her birth was not an April joke but she started her early education in Moscow in the Soviet days – then Ambassadorships to China, Mongolia, North Korea, Paris, and New York – and the education created a multi lingual – multi cultural – young woman who eventually fell for Paris.

In 2008 young Valerie opened her Valerie’s Salon at the Fledermaus Cabaret in Vienna. In November 2013 she produces “Les Nuits Blanche” about her memories of Russia and since she resides in Paris. She takes her large world by storm.

Ambassador Martin Sajdik since beginning of 2012 becomes Austria’s Representative to the UN – a job he held till June 2015, and upon retirement does not choose to stay in New York in some position UN related. He prefers to return to Vienna and becomes the OSZE Special Representative for the Ukraine. I remember him since I met him when he just arrived to New York. He seemed not to have illusions about his new post.

Ambassador Sajdik just missed Austria’s membership of the UN Security Council 2009-2010, but was there at the time of the preparation of the SDGs and the UN material for Paris2015 and COP 21 of the UNFCCC, though he will not be next week at the actual deliberations in Paris. The family is thus very aware of the process, and Valerie was now thrown into the hopper of consequences.
Her celebration of Paris was prepared well in advance – but reality picked up on her and last night measured up with this reality very well. Without changing a thing in the long prepared program, she harvested a few more French artists that became available because of the events – without their names appearing in the originally printed program – she just wove them into that program – be this a Jaques Brel kind of singer or a tap dancing lady that is also a great hand clapper – them and their pianist. They did fit magically in with her two accompanying ladies, the lady accordionist and the lady violinist, who together with her band are now her music group. It all sounded like a bunch of Parisian friends celebrating life – in that city that never sleeps.

So why did those acts of terror happen in Paris that prepared itself for the great event that was billed as the last chance to save the future of the Planet? Yes – we have opinions on that – but here is not the place to put them before you. Tonight is the time just to celebrate the city that will not be put down. Vive Paris – Vive la Liberte and to hell with those that tried to harm this city in order to get to those that try to save the planet.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The French have extended the State of Emergency till Monday November 30 – the day the Climate Conference COP 21 is opening, but
an added statement has been issued on the official French Presidency’s COP 21 website – that says:

The COP21 conference should enable a global mobilization for climate and civil society is expected to play its full role.

Civil Society will therefore be present on-site at the venue Le Bourget, where the “Espaces Générations Climat” will host, for the whole duration of the Conference, from November 30 to December 12, more than 300 events, debates and conferences. A major mobilization, with many events, is planned throughout France. All these events will continue, except for school trips to the venue in Le Bourget.

However, the situation created by the heinous attacks on 13 November and the investigations carried out since then require that security measures be improved. In this context, all events taking place in closed spaces that can easily be made secure will be maintained. On the other hand, in order to avoid any additional risk, the Government has decided to not allow the climate marches planned in the streets of Paris and other cities throughout France on 29 November and 12 December.

The Statement continues with – “This is a difficult decision to make that will probably disappoint some of those who had planned to take part, but in the current context, safety requirements prevail.”

The leadership of the UNFCCC has seized on this to warn those it does not like – activists and media not sanctioned by them – to stay away. They also continue to argue that the Conference will conclude with a global agreement – something that is factually not in the cards.

The French decision does not, in any way, put into question the need for COP21 to widely welcome civil society and its organizations, who will play a major role at the conference.

The Conference will conclude with individual countries voluntary commitments – by now over 150 such Statements – and it is the role of Civil Society alone – to catalyze the governments forthcoming with substantial commitments. The UNFCCC – working by UN rules of consensus – hardly has a part in this. A decrease in the size of country delegations or in the number of UN officials will not harm the outcome, and Civil Society hopefully will realize the importance of orderly meetings.

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Comment:

Jan Lundberg
 jan at sailtransportnetwork.org

Submitted on 2015/11/25 at 8:03 am

Hi Pincas, thank you for that clear rundown on what’s up.
See you in Paris, old Kyoto roomie?
We have a flyer and a poster for promoting sail power as legitimate renewable energy, for which poor countries can gain aid from the UN and the EU. And we have an alternative, more flexible, more carbon-reducing wording for the shipping emissions Option in the Draft Agreement.
Please contact me through www.sailtransportnetwork.org or via email.
Thanks, and be well,
Jan

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