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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!

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


A Department of Management Engineering at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark is a UNEP Collaborating Centre Advisory on Energy, Climate, and Sustainable Development. They work with SE4All, WRI, and ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability – as a global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. They will conduct a webinar September 1, 2015.

An announcement:

Please join us on September 1 as the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator platform hosts a webinar on the opportunities to use building efficiency and district energy in combination to create more sustainable cities.

This webinar of the SE4ALL Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator partnership is jointly hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Additional information on the webinar is included below and in the attached document.

Please feel free to share information about this webinar with your colleagues and partners. The primary audience for the webinar is local governments, but it is open to a general audience.

Combining Building Efficiency and District Energy for More Sustainable Cities: A Sustainable Energy for All webinar

Date: Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Times: 10:00-11:30 CEST

Location: Video conference/webinar

Language: English
Registration: attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3055…

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UN City
Marmorvej 51, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

DTU – Dept. of Management Engineering

Xiao Wang is DTU Coordinator for
Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform

Email:  xwang at dtu.dk
Direct: +45 4533 5314

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Posted in Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Future Events, Futurism, Green is Possible, Nairobi, Obama Styling, Paris, Real World's News, Scandinavia, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/columni…


The UN at 70

Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015

NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.


This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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How to Select the Next UN Secretary-General.

By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University

Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.

Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.

The tools to improve the process are available, and the time is right to ensure their adoption by the UN and other international organizations. A new report by the World Economic Forum and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government lays out a series of best practices – each one of which has already been implemented by at least one international agency – that can guarantee that leaders are drawn from the most qualified candidates, and that the organizations for which they work are vested with the best possible management practices.

For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.

Once a candidate has been chosen, it is important to set clear performance expectations that can be evaluated annually. Groups like the World Health Organization – which came under fierce criticism during the Ebola crisis – can learn from the 80% of American non-profit boards that have a formal process in place for a yearly evaluation of their CEO.

Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.

Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.

A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).

Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.

It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.

Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.

Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.

Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.

One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.

The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.

MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
Valuing the United Nations.

MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.

What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.

No organization in the world embodies as many dreams, yet provides so many frustrations, as the United Nations. For most of its history, the Security Council has been the prisoner of great-power maneuvering; the General Assembly a theater of empty rhetoric; the Economic and Social Council a largely dysfunctional irrelevance; and the Secretariat, for all the dedication and brilliance of a host of individuals, alarmingly inefficient.

My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.

But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.

Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.

What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.

The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.

Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.


The whole family of the UN Secretariat and related entities, together with current peacekeepers, adds up to around 215,000 people worldwide – not a small number, but less than one-eighth of the roughly 1.8 million staff employed by McDonald’s and its franchisees worldwide!

The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night – August 18, 2015 – in New York City – we went to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center to listen to a performance of perfection – Joshua Bell playing Bach – the Chaconne dating from 1720 and the Violin concerto in E major dating to “before 1730.”

I thought this became a subject for our website because of an article by Lars Gustafsson that was part of the printed program brochure that was handed out to us. The title “THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH” – the fact that we might think that it might seem there was no great music before Bach – BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEN SOMETHING THERE BEFORE 1720.

Then I thought = wait the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines – only in 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.

So we can say that the development of the steam engine, that brought about the industrial revolution, went on in parallel with the development of music that started with Bach and if we may say continued with Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Could we say that some form of life did exist before we started to use coal en-masse and invented concepts of economic growth and development? What was the life we replaced? What was the cultural expressions we lost when accepting the progress in music?
The Gustafsson article stimulates our thoughts.

Gustafsson – since the late 1950s has produced poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He gained international recognition as a Swedish writer with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson’s The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.

Gustafsson said once “I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn’t in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp.”

In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament

Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor partita,
but what kind of a world?

A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-Tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.

Isolated churches
where the soprano line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s stillness before Bach.

published in New Directions Paperback NDP656, “The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems” by Lars Gustafsson.

Yes – there was a harmonious world even without the sound of Bach – that is what I took from the above poem.
Surely, I did not transform this into a feeling that this was a better world – simply I picked up that it was still a livable world that could exist with simpler pleasures.

Nevertheless we are thankful to Bach for having shown us the way to perhaps a higher level of civilized pleasures. How does this translate to the Steam-engine thought that we understand today as a step backwards – because of the dependence on fossil fuels?

But this would be a wrong conclusion – it would be more correct to see that we can get all those benefits from higher technologies like we get from Bach’s music, if we only opt to use Renewable Energy and even higher tech methods that allow us similar results without that pesky dependence on oil and coal. Gustafsson was right in in opting for the Pirates in his search for true enlightenment in a corrupt world.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following is very important information that makes for interesting days in New York the end of this September.

But let us mention here also other events in New York those days – events that will turn New York City into the impossible city.

Pope Francis will be here the same days as SE4All – September 24-28 and let us say in common language – the Pope will steal the show.

Also, that Saturday there will be a “humongous” musical festival on the Great Lawn in Central Park, and starting Monday the 28th the UN General Assembly will be opened with President Obama and most major World Leaders present. They will arrive that Weekend – so traffic jams, closed roads, and closed doors – will be everywhere. Many NGOs and Press to the UN will just not be able to get in – passes will be revoked. So, please temper expectations with above in mind – and realize that many experienced people will skip town.

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From SE4All:

The Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy has been set; now it’s time to show how to achieve it by 2030.

A series of high-level Sustainable Energy for All events around the United Nations Summit will discuss how to finance, implement and track progress on SDG7.

Leaders of governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations are invited to join the thousands of SE4All partners who are already geared up to make sure the Energy SDG succeeds in the crucial years to come.

1. Financing and Tracking Progress of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time, Venue (TBC)

2. Role of Partnerships in Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
(co-hosted by the Government of Denmark with SE4All)

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 08:00-09:30

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

3. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy by 2030: Implementation of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11.00-13.00

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

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More information on these events – SEEMINGLY NIT AVAILABLE NOW – and any other engagements related to Sustainable Energy for All – will be available shortly on www.se4all.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


IPCC chair election: 5 candidates, 8 weeks to go

By Megan Darby of ” title=”http://www.rtcc.org” target=”_blank”>www.rtcc.org/2015/08/14/ipcc-chai…

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SustainabiliTank supports Naki (Nebosja Nakicenovic) because of his years long personal involvement in energy matters and his understanding of the importance of energy in the economy, on the environment and in development matters. Further, we think his Vienna base at the former East-West IIASA institution – is a tremendous plus – and as well – practically all UN and international energy active centers are based in Vienna be it UN affiliates like IAEA and OPEC and then the new SE4All which ought to be a major locus for post-Paris-2015.

Also, we think it as a plus, the fact that Naki was not part of the outgoing IPCC management – we found years ago that the influence of oil interests reached into the minds and actions of that outgoing management.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Climate Plans in the Lead-up to Paris: Where Do We Stand?
by Taryn Fransen, Mengpin Ge, Kelly Levin, Eliza Northrop and Heather McGray – August 04, 2015 of the Washington DC “World Resources Institute (WRI).

Halfway through the year in which the world is slated to adopt a new international climate agreement, countries responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions have now released their post-2020 climate action plans. The rest of the world’s nations are expected to submit their own plans, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) between now and December, with many expected before October 1st.

So the big questions are: How do these INDCs stack up, and what impact will they have in reining in climate change?

We’ve been tracking INDCs as they come in, attempting to understand what they mean for the Paris negotiations, and evaluating whether they are transparent enough to allow us to gauge global progress on climate action. Here’s a comprehensive look at progress so far on mitigation, equity and transparency. A separate blog post takes stock of progress on adaptation.

For the full article and the imgraphics – please go to:
 www.wri.org/blog/2015/08/climate-…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Phasing out fossil fuel would show true EU leadership

Front page photo – “Coal plant: Countries like Poland fear additional regulations.”

By Charlotte Flechet
Quebec, 1 August 10, 2015

For about 20 years, the EU has been a constructive leader in climate negotiations: benefitting from a growing economy, and support from public opinion. However, in the last few years, the EU’s leadership has been declining due to a series of internal and external factors.

On the one hand, the Union’s eastern enlargement has increased internal divisions among member states. Countries like Poland, which heavily rely on coal for their energy supply, fear additional regulations, and traditional leaders, such as Germany, are taking a step back in the context of an ongoing economic crisis.

On the other hand, China and the US have become more proactive in negotiations and are also in the lead for wind energy production and investments in renewable energy.

The EU has largely lost its ability to lead by example. The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies agreed last October, was criticised by NGOs for its lack of ambition.

Although the 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 was generally welcomed, the non-binding targets for energy efficiency and the shy 7 percent increase in share of renewables over 10 years was considered too weak.

Simultaneously, concerns about the influence of fossil fuel and other industrial lobbies on EU decision-making processes raise questions about the EU’s willingness to lead.

Among the latest victims are the Fuel Quality Directive whose ambitions were reduced in the context of the ‘CETA/TTIP’ negotiations with North American countries, and the 2030 European renewable energy targets that were weakened following intensive lobbying by oil and gas giant, Shell.

Calendar records show that some European Commissioners have dedicated a considerable amount of their time to business lobbyists.

Around 83 percent of the meetings of climate commissioner Miguel Canete, and 70 Canete of Maros Sefcovic’s, commission vice-president for the Energy Union, were with businesses, mostly representing heavy industry and fossil fuels.

Knowing that, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, the EU is collectively allowing $330 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels annually, one could question the EU’s ability to lead a climate transition.

If it wants to come out of the climate crisis with a prosperous, socially, and ecologically sound society, the EU must speed up the pace of its transition and review its priorities.
Immoral

Defending fossil fuels is immoral and goes against the human rights so dear to Europeans’ hearts. The EU cannot be a genuine leader in climate negotiations while at the same time supporting destructive practices that will affect billions of lives.

This is why the EU needs a new climate narrative.

Europe could win big by reinvesting in its ability to lead by example. Given the austere economic context, it is unlikely that it will be able to lead by using carrots and sticks as it used to do in the past.

Instead, a less costly option would be to reaffirm its role as a normative power. Endorsing fossil fuel divestment and taking measures in that direction could help it achieve this objective.

The demands of the fossil fuel divestment movement are rooted in scientific evidence.

A recent article published in Nature, claims that 80 percent of coal, 50 percent of gas and one third of all oil reserves must remain in the ground if we are to stay within the 2°C maximum temperature rise.

Given the current rate of emissions, this “carbon budget” will be exhausted within 25 years.

Phasing out of fossil fuels is a necessity. By publicly endorsing fossil fuel divestment and reorienting its incentives and subsidies the EU could gain the trust of other nations, particularly the most vulnerable ones. This could ultimately contribute to the enhancement of the Union’s bargaining power in climate negotiations.


This is not just idealism.

In 2013, Connie Hedegaard, then EU climate commissioner, pleaded for the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to lead the way in eliminating public finance support for fossil fuels.

Numerous world leaders and organisations including the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, and French president Francois Hollande have publicly supported divestment.
Economic rationale

There is also a strong economic rationale for this.

Fossil fuel companies are currently overrated as their value on financial markets does not appropriately account for the risks of their assets being stranded.

Future climate regulations are likely to impact on the financial value of these companies, which will in turn affect all those who have invested money in them.

A study by the European Green Party found that European pension funds, insurance companies and banks have invested more than €1 trillion in fossil fuels.

In a low carbon breakthrough scenario, these institutions are likely to lose between €350 billion and €400 billion.

A much higher figure is expected if action is further delayed. In June, Shell’s former chairman said that moving money away from fossil fuel companies is a rational response to slow progress on climate change.

Besides, low-carbon energy products are amongst the most dynamic growth sectors. Reorienting subsidies to support transition towards low carbon technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy is a reasonable option.

Leading by example has worked in the past.


ETS – Emissions Trading System:

The 2005 Emissions Trading System is probably one of the best examples of successful spill over. It has also been argued that the EU’s leading role in climate action was crucial in creating momentum for other countries to act elsewhere.

In the current context of austerity, with an almost unconditional focus on growth and competitiveness, the EU is missing a major opportunity.

The EU should phase out fossil energy. It is of course only part of a solution that requires much broader changes.

This might sound too idealistic, but aren’t youngsters allowed to dream?

Charlotte Flechet is an environment policies worker and an activist for the Global Call for Climate Action campaign

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


Breakthrough FFD3 outcome sets positive tone for global change

UN DESA WRITES AUGUST 3, 2015: The world marked a momentous event in international development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in the Ethiopian capital. It establishes a strong foundation to support the implementation of future development efforts.

The Addis Ababa Conference was the first in a series of landmark events leading up to the adoption of a new development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change by the end of this year.


Turning needs into investment opportunities

“Financing needs for sustainable development are high, but the challenges are surmountable,” said UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Conference. “The Addis Ababa Action agenda will help to turn these needs into investment opportunities.”

Addis_FFD3closing2At FFD3, governments agreed on a package of over 100 concrete measures that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data and that will support the implementation of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a UN Summit in New York in September.

“This framework is a basis both for financing sustainable development and for developing sustainable finance,” said Mr Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General.


Collaborating on the formation of breakthrough commitments

Through plenary meetings, round tables, bilateral meetings and almost 200 side events, the various stakeholders in international development – Governments, financial and trade institutions, civil society and business sector entities – got the opportunity to collaborate on the formation of breakthrough commitments and goals across the development spectrum.

As part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, countries committed to a new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all; a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap; an ‘LDC package’ to support the poorest countries; a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance to the SDGs; enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.

“The more funding we leverage — the more strategically we invest each dollar — means more children we will educate, more patients we will treat, and more vital services we will provide,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.


Measures to lift millions out of poverty

FFD3_outcomeThroughout the week, stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike weighed in on the measures that Member States could and should take to lift millions out of poverty, ensure a sustainable future for our planet and make sure that nobody is left behind.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn acknowledged the relative success that the Millennium Development Goals — that were adopted in 2000 and will expire this year — has had within the African region.

“We are in a very different world to the one by which the MDGs were drawn up,” Desalegn said. “Much has been achieved; now, we need to build on that success. And we will need to make radical breakthroughs, too – because a business as usual approach will not take us anywhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was one of those historical breakthroughs, an agreement by stakeholders across the board setting the world on a renewed pathway to sustainability and prosperity for all.

Making Addis a turning point for development

“The target date for the realization of the SDGs may seem far and yet close, depending the perspective,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in her address during the plenary meeting. ”What is certain is that the world has the resources and capacity to achieve every goal, We have an opportunity to make Addis Ababa a turning point in the scope and character of global framework for development cooperation. Indeed many of the measures incorporated […] are long sought after goals.”

Addis_Ethiopian_village – The weeklong gathering was attended by 24 Heads of State and Government and Deputies, and more than one hundred Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation and Deputies, as well as other high ranking Government officials from 174 countries.

Many heads of UN agencies and senior representatives of international organizations attended as well. In addition, more than 600 civil society organizations and networks and more than 400 business representatives took part in the Conference.

“This has been a historic Conference and a historic success – held on African soil, and delivering an outcome document that meets the high expectations of people around the world,” said Mr. Wu.

As the world sets sail onward to the two other events that will shape 2015 into a year of global change – the adoption of the Post 2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the United Nations Conference on climate change in Paris, in December – the international community can look back on the FFD3 Conference and the signing of the outcome document, as a first milestone to realize a sustainable future for all.


For more information:
Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Storify on FFD3
World population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050

The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision”, launched on 29 July. “Understanding the demographic changes […], as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General.

Most of the projected increase in the world’s population can be attributed to a short list of high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, or countries with already large populations.

During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.
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“India expected to become the largest country in population size, surpassing China around 2022, while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050?


World Population Prospects 2015

Shifts in the current population rankings

China and India remain the two largest countries in the world, each with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 % of the world’s population, respectively. But by 2022, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.

Currently, among the largest countries in the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria), five are in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), two are in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), one is in Northern America (USA), and one is in Europe (Russian Federation).

Of these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States by about 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. By 2050, six countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA.

Growing population in Africa

With the highest rate of population growth, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050.

During this period, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, ten African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division.

We believe says UN DESA – While there is always some degree of uncertainty surrounding any projection, the large number of young people in Africa, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and start having children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.

“Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda”

Wu Hongbo
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General


Slower world population growth due to lower fertility rates

Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in fertility behaviour, when projected over decades, can generate large differences in total population.

In recent years, fertility has declined in virtually all areas of the world, even in Africa where fertility levels remain the highest of any major area.


Ageing population growing rapidly

The slowdown in population growth, due to the overall reduction in fertility, causes the proportion of older persons to increase over time. Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.

A significant ageing of the population in the next several decades is projected for most regions of the world, starting with Europe where 34 % of the population is projected to be over 60 years old by 2050.
In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia, the population will be transformed from having 11% to 12% of people over 60 years old today to more than 25% by 2050.

Africa has the youngest age distribution of any major area, but it is also projected to age rapidly, with the population aged 60 years or over rising from 5% today to 9% by 2050.

Higher life expectancy and the contribution of the MDGs

Life expectancy at birth has increased significantly in the least developed countries in recent years. The six-year average gain in life expectancy among the poorest countries, from 56 years in 2000-2005 to 62 years in 2010-2015, is roughly double the increase recorded for the rest of the world.

While significant differences in life expectancy across major areas and income groups are projected to continue, they are expected to diminish significantly by 2045-2050.

Reducing under-five mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years.

Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30% in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50%. In the same time period, the rate decreased by more than 20% in 156 countries.

Young population creates opportunity to capture demographic dividend

Populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under age 15 account for 41% of the population in 2015 and young persons aged 15 to 24 account for a further 19%.

Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, which have seen greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (26 and 24 %, respectively) and similar percentages of youth (17 and 16%, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.7 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2015.

These children and young people are future workers and parents, who can help to build a brighter future for their countries. Providing them with health care, education and employment opportunities, particularly in the poorest countries and groups, will be a critical focus of the new sustainable development agenda.

The 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 24th round of official UN population estimates and projections that have been prepared by UN DESA’s Population Division. For more information: World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision


Youth day puts civic engagement front and center

Feature2_highres_web

Youth civic engagement, a main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive participation at all levels in society. There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on this issue by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. This is also why the International Youth Day (IYD) celebrations will put this theme center stage this year.

Since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, young people have been progressively vocal and demonstrative of their demand and need for change. Youth-led protests and demonstrations have been largely driven by young people demanding a greater say in governance structures, employment and economic life, and societies more generally.


At the same time, with staggering youth unemployment figures, young people are being faced with the reality of leading a life with few job opportunities, increased vulnerability to poverty, and an education that does not adequately equip them for the ever changing demands of today’s labour market. Studies also show that youth participation remains limited in formal political processes and public institutions, with lower voter turnout among 18-25-year-olds.


“They [youth] are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change”

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General

Youth participation critical for achieving new development agenda

By 2030, the target date for the new proposed sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by about 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.

“The world now has the largest generation of young people in history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event on the demographic dividend and youth employment earlier this summer.

“I place great hopes in their power to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” he said, also underscoring the necessity for the active involvement of youth in the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.


YouthDay campaign

UN DESA, through the Focal Point on Youth, and the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges young people face to have a full and effective participation in their social life and in decision-making while promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.

useyourcameraThe Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs UN DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August. With the overarching aim of promoting youth participation at the political and public levels, leading to young people being able to fulfill their aspirations in life and contribute to society, the campaign provides a space for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities.

Throughout the campaign, young people have been asked to submit photos and/or messages illustrating how they can get involved in their societies. Selected entries will be participating in the #YouthDay competition on the UN4Youth Facebook account. The winning photo will be the entry with the most Facebook “likes” and it will be showcased at the International Youth Day event at UN headquarters. It may also be used for the World Youth Report 2015 on Youth Civic Engagement.


Celebrating International Youth Day at UN Headquarters

Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event is being organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic. It will bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement in particular looking at new and emerging issues and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world.

Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event will highlight both traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement in the form of panel discussions. The first panel will bring new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and in the second panel, panelists will discuss the power of youth as global citizens.

The event will also highlight the upcoming 2015 World Youth Report, which will be focusing on the issue of economic, political and social participation of youth, responding to the increased concern and policy focus placed on the issue in recent years. In providing such an analysis, a strong link to youth engagement in the shaping and future implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) at both the national and global levels will be highlighted.


If you do not hold a UN grounds pass and wish to join the event, please RSVP to UN DESA.


Call for worldwide commemoration

Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign is still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.

The IYD toolkit gives some ideas on what to do to commemorate the Day. Young people and UN entities are also encouraged to send their plans to  youth at un.org, so they can be mapped on the IYD Map of Events. Efforts are needed to raise awareness about the benefits of youth civic engagement to the individual as well as to society.

For more information:

International Youth Day 2015 Send inquiries to  youth at un.org

System-Wide Action Plan on Youth Engage in the #YouthDay campaign via social media:

 www.twitter.com/UN4Youth
 www.twitter.com/UNDP4Youth
 www.facebook.com/UN4Youth

 www.Instagram.com/UN4Youth

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Saturday Aug. 1′st 2015

EUOBSERVER Analysis

Google has own idea of what ‘right to be forgotten’ means

By Peter Teffer The EUObserver, Brussels.

Since a landmark ruling on the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google has received requests to remove over a million website links from its search results in Europe.

Of those 1,057,561 uniform resource locators (URLs), it deleted 370,112, or 41.3 percent, Google says.

The court had ruled in May 2014 that if an internet search into an EU citizen’s name yielded results which were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, that citizen may request the search engine to have those removed from the list of results.

For example, Google complied with a request from a Belgian whose conviction of a crime was quashed on appeal to remove an article about them. It also removed an article about a rape victim in Germany.

However, it did so only for the European versions of its search engine. That means the articles can still be found by those using google.com. This has come to the attention of the French data protection authority.

It sent Google a formal notice in June, saying “delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine”.

On Thursday, the US company asked the French data watchdog to withdraw the notice. It interprets the court ruling as obliging Google only to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ on its European versions of Google Search.

“While the ‘right to be forgotten’ may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally”, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post.

However, in its ruling the EU court did not differentiate between the worldwide and national versions of the search engine.

Google, in its blogpost, also noted that the French order “is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google”.

But this statement is misleading at best. Many people don’t use a national variant of Google instead of the global one, but in addition to it.

Google.fr is indeed the most visited web domain in France, according to internet traffic pollster Alexa. But Google.com is ranked third, between Facebook.com and Youtube.com.

According estimates, Facebook has about 26 million users, and Youtube around 22 million, in France.

While calculation methods may vary, this means that Google.com is used by, roughly, between 22 and 26 million French internet users – or along the lines of between 40 and 47 percent.

The picture is similar all over Europe, where the national version of Google is the most popular website, and the international version ranks as high as number two in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, number three in Poland.

Google did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Free speech

Fleischer also argued that if the French data protection authority CNIL had its way, this would affect internet users in the rest of the world.

“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” he wrote.

Google warned of a risk of “serious chilling effects on the web”, noting examples of content that is illegal in one country but which is legal in others.

“Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalises some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda.””, he wrote.

But Fleischer is overstating the effect a national – or in the EU case regional – court order has on the wider development of the Internet.

In 2002, there were similar fears after a ruling in an Australian libel case against American company Dow Jones over the publication of an online article from its business magazine Barron’s. The highest Australian court decided that because the article was available in Australia, the subject could sue for defamation there.

Following the decision, the New York Times wrote in an editorial the case “could strike a devastating blow to free speech online”.

But the conclusion of authors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu in their 2006 book “Who controls the Internet?, Illusions of a Borderless World”, that the predicted devastation has been held off, is still valid today.

Moreover, they criticised the US-centrism that is present among Internet freedom activists as much as in the rhetoric of American companies like Google.

Goldsmith and Wu wrote that “the First Amendment does not reflect universal values … and they are certainly not written into the Internet’s architecture”.

However, some of the most used websites worldwide are American, and they inherently carry some of those American values, which slightly differ from European values, where privacy is generally regarded as much more important.

Google said it disagreed with the French data protection authority “as a matter of principle”.
Principle or also profit?

But it could well be that part of the company’s motivation comes from the costs that would be involved with extending the right to be forgotten to its other domain names.

Technically, it is not impossible for Google to do it. But it may reduce the public company’s profit margin.

As Goldberg and Wu noted, “national Internet laws are no more burdensome than the scores of conflicting national laws that multinational firms typically face”. In return, companies gain access to an enormous market.

Having to adhere to different laws when providing services around the world, is part of the deal for running a global company. Even online.

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

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Arctic Icy hotspots in focus at climate talks?

Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle
July 8, 2015

With western Europe sweltering in a record-breaking heat wave, climate scientists are meeting in Paris this week for what is regarded as the last major climate science conference before the key COP 21 in Paris at the end of this year.

“Our Common Future under Climate Change” wants to be “solutions-focused,” but starts off with a resumé of the state of science as a basis.

Related:
Permafrost ‘carbon bomb’ unlikely, but worries over northern thaw persist
Outlook for September Arctic sea ice tilts toward small reduction from last year


One of the topics on the wide agenda is, of course, the cryosphere, with scientists reporting on rapid changes in the Arctic ice and permafrost, and worrying developments in the Antarctic.

As conference after conference works to prepare a new World Climate Agreement, to take effect in 2020, the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) is concerned that the INDCSs, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, i.e. the climate action countries propose to take are not in line with keeping global warming to the internationally set target of a maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists tell us this itself would already have major impacts on the world’s ice and snow.
Climate pledges way too low

Pam Pearson, the founder and director of ICCI, told journalists during a recent visit to Bonn her indication of INDCS so far was that they are ”somewhere between 3.8 and 4.2 degrees” Celsius.

Pearson and her colleagues are working hard to make the scientific evidence on climate changes in our ice and snow regions accessible and “must-reads” for the politicians and others who are preparing to negotiate the new agreement at the Paris talks at the end of the year, to replace the Kyoto protocol. She was here in Bonn at the last round of UN preparatory climate talks last month, holding a side event and briefing media and negotiators.

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Pearson was part of the original Kyoto Protocol negotiating team. She is a former U.S. diplomat with 20 years’ experience of working on global issues, including climate change. She says she resigned in 2006 in protest over changes to U.S. development policies, especially related to environmental and global issues programs. From 2007 to2009, she worked from Sweden with a variety of organizations and Arctic governments to bring attention to the potential benefit of reductions in short-lived climate forcers to the Arctic climate, culminating in Arctic Council ministerial-level action in the Tromsø Declaration of 2009.

Pearson founded ICCI immediately after COP 15 to bring greater attention and policy focus to the “rapid and markedly similar changes occurring to cryosphere regions throughout the globe” and their importance for the global climate system.

IPCC reports already out of date! At the briefing in Bonn a couple of weeks ago, she said:

“Certainly through AR5, (the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC) the science is available to feed into the negotiations. But I think what we see as a cryosphere organization, participating as civil society in the negotiations – and I think also, very importantly, what the IPCC scientists see — is a lack of understanding of the urgency of slowing down these processes and the fact that they are irreversible. This is not like air or water pollution, where if you clean it up it will go back to the way it was before. It cannot go back to the way it was before and I think that is the most important aspect that still has not made its way into the negotiations”.

Scientists taking part in the event organized by the ICCI in Bonn stressed that a lot of major developments relating especially to Antarctica and to permafrost in the northern hemisphere was not available in time for that IPCC report. This means the scientific basis of AR5 is already way out of date, and that it does not include very recent important occurrences.

Sea ice in decline

Dirk Notz from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg heads a research group focusing on sea ice and rapid changes in the Arctic and Antarctic.

He told journalists in Bonn: “Over the last 10 years or so we’ve roughly seen a fifty percent loss of Arctic sea ice area, so this ice is currently retreating very, very rapidly. In the Antarctic, some people are talking about the increase of sea ice. Just to put things into perspective: there is a slight increase, but it’s nothing compared to the very rapid loss that we’ve seen in the Arctic.“

The slight increase in sea ice in the Antarctic is certainly not an indicator that could disprove climate warming, as some of a skeptical persuasion would like to have us believe.

“In the Antarctic, the changes in sea ice are locally very different. We have an increase in some areas and a decrease in other areas. This increase in one area of the southern ocean is largely driven by changes in the surface pressure field. So the winds are blowing stronger off shore in the Antarctic, pushing the ice out onto the ocean, and this is why we have more sea ice now than we used to have in the past. Our understanding currently says that these changes in the wind field are currently driven by anthropogenic changes of the climate system,“ said Notz.

He stresses that as far as the Arctic is concerned, the loss of sea ice is very clearly linked to the increase in CO2. The more CO2 we have in the atmosphere, the less sea ice we have in the Arctic.
Changing the face of the planet

Notz stresses the speed with which humankind is currently changing the face of the earth:


“Currently in the Arctic, a complete landscape is disappearing. It’s a landscape that has been around for thousands of years, and it’s a landscape our generation is currently removing from the planet, possibly for a very long time. I think culturally, that’s a very big change we are seeing.”

At the same time, he says the decline in the Arctic sea ice could be seen as a very clear warning sign:

“Temperature evolution of the planet for the past 50 thousand years or so shows that for the past 10 thousand years or so, climate on the planet has been extremely stable. And the loss of sea ice in the Arctic might be an indication that we are ending this period of a very stable climate in the Arctic just now. This might be the very first, very clear sign of a very clear change in the climatic conditions, like nothing we’ve seen in the past 10,000 years since we’ve had our cultures as humans.”


Simulations indicate that Arctic summer sea ice might be gone by the middle of this century. But Notz stresses that we can still influence this:

“The future sea ice loss both in the Arctic and the Antarctic depends on future CO2 emissions. A rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice in this decade is possible but unlikely. Only a very rapid reduction of CO2 might allow for the survival of Arctic summer sea ice beyond this century.”
Antarctic ice not eternal

Whereas until very recently the Antarctic ice was regarded as safe from climate warming, research in the last few years has indicated that even in that area, some possibly irreversible processes are underway. This relates to land ice rather than sea ice.

Ricarda Winckelmann is a scientist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research (PIK). She told journalists and climate negotiators at the Bonn talks that Antarctica could be regarded as the “sea level giant.. The global sea level would rise by 5 meters (16.4 feet) if West Antarctica’s ice sheet melted completely, 50 meters (164 feet) for the East Antarctic ice sheet.

“Over the past years, a couple of regions in Antarctica have really caught our attention. There are four hotspots. They have all changed rapidly. There have been a number of dynamic changes in these regions, but they all have something in common, and that is that they bear the possibility of a dynamic instability. Some of them have actually crossed that threshold, some of them might cross it in the near future. But they all underlie the same mechanism. That is called the marine ice sheet instability. It’s based on the fact that the bottom topography has a certain shape, and it’s a purely mechanical, self-enforcing mechanism. So it’s sort of driving itself. If you have a retreat of a certain region that undergoes this mechanism, it means you cannot stop it. “

The hotspots she refers to are the Amundsen Basin in West Antarctica, comprising the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, which are the fastest glaciers in Antarctica:

“It has been shown in a number of studies last year that it actually has tipped. Meaning it has crossed that threshold, and is now undergoing irreversible change. So all of these glaciers will drain into the ocean and we will lose a volume that is equivalent to about a meter (3.3 feet) of global sea level. The question is how fast this is going to happen.”

Next comes the Antarctic peninsula, where very recent research has indicated that warm water is reaching the ice shelves, leading to melting and dynamic thinning.

Even in East Antarctica, which was long considered virtually immune to climate change, Winckelmann and her colleagues have found signs that this same mechanism might be at work, for instance with Totten Glacier:

“There is a very recent publication from this year, showing that (…) this could possibly undergo the same instability mechanism. Totten Glacier currently has the largest thinning rate in East Antarctica. And it contains as much volume as the entire West Antarctic ice sheet put together. So it’s 3.5 meters’ (11.5 feet) worth of global sea level rise, if this region tips,” says the Potsdam expert.
Pulling the plug?

The other problematic area is the Wilkes Basin.

“We found that there is something called an ice plug, and if you pull it, you trigger this instability mechanism, and lose the entire drainage basin. What’s really striking is that this ice plug is comparably small, with a sea-level equivalent of less than 80 millimeters (3.15 inches). But if you lose that ice plug, you will get self-sustained sea level rise over a long period of time, of three to four meters,” or 9.8 feet to 13 feet.

This research is all so new that it was not included in the last IPCC assessment:

“We’ve known that this dynamic mechanism exists for a long time, it was first proposed in the 1970s. But the observation that something like this is actually happening right now is new,” Winckelmann stresses.

Clearly, this is key information when it comes to bringing home the urgent need for rapid climate action.

Pam Pearson stresses that these changes in themselves have a feedback effect, and have an impact on the climate:

“The cryosphere is changing a lot more quickly than other parts of the world. The main focus for Paris is that these regions are moving from showing climate change, being indicators of climate change, to beginning to drive climate change, and the risks of those dynamics beginning to overwhelm anthropogenic impacts on these particular areas is growing as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up, as the temperature rises.”
Climate factor: permafrost

This applies in particular to the effect of thawing permafrost. Susan Natali from the Woods Hole Research Center is co-author of a landmark study published in Nature in April. She also joined the ICCI event in Bonn:

“Carbon has been accumulating in permafrost for tens of thousands of years. The amount of carbon currently stored in permafrost is about twice as much as in the atmosphere. So our current estimate is 1,500 billion tons of carbon permanently frozen and locked away in permafrost. So you can imagine, as that permafrost thaws and even a portion of that gets released into the atmosphere, that this may lead to a significant increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The study was conducted by an international permafrost network. “The goal is to put our current understanding of the processes in permafrost regions into global climate models. The current IPCC reports don’t include greenhouse gas emissions as a result of permafrost thaw,” says Natali.

Permafrost regions make up some 25 percent of the northern hemisphere land area. The scientists say between 30 percent and 70 percent of it could be lost by 2100, depending on the amount of temperature rise. There is still a lot of uncertainty over how much carbon could be released, but Winckelmann and her colleagues think thawing permafrost could release as much carbon into the atmosphere by 2100 as the US, the world’s second biggest emitter, is currently emitting.
The time for action is now

“The thing to keep in mind is that the action we take now in terms of our fossil fuel emissions is going to have a significant impact on how much permafrost is lost and in turn how much carbon is released from permafrost. There is some uncertainty, but we know permafrost carbon losses will be substantial, they will be irreversible on a human-relevant time frame, and these emissions of GHGs from permafrost need to be accounted for if we want to meet our global emissions targets,” says Winckelmann.

The challenge is to convince politicians today to act now, in the interests of the future. Pearson and her colleagues are working to have a synthesis of what scientists have found to date accessible to and understandable for the negotiators who will be at COP21 in Paris in December.

In terms of an outcome, she says first of all we need higher ambition now, in the pledges being made by different countries. The lower the temperature rise, the less the risk of further dynamic change processes being set off in the cryosphere. The other key factor is to make sure there is flexibility to up the targets on a regular basis, without being tied to a long negotiating process. The current agreement draft envisages five year reviews.

“There are a number of cryosphere scientists who actually expect these kinds of signals from cryosphere to multiply, and that there may be some dramatic developments just over the next three to five years, that may finally spur some action,” Pearson says.

Here’s hoping the UN negotiators will not wait for further catastrophic evidence before committing to an effective new climate treaty at the end of this year.

——————–
This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna
July 12. 2015

On Friday, July 10, 2015 – a very timely – at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.
Since the Iran talks are being held in Vienna, the panel discussion was very appropriate and although many people have left the City for the Summer, or at least for the weekend, this round table – and the room were full.
I will try to give a somewhat concise reporting of that event.

The event was called: Iran und der Westen nach den Verhandlungen (Iran and the West after the talks).

The participants were:

Dr. Christian Prosl, Austrian Ambassador to Washingtion 2009-2011

Dr. Walter Posch, Institut für Friedenssicherung und Konfliktforschung an der Landesverteidigungsakademie Wien
( Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Vienna).

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist, APA (the Austrian Press Agency) and Wiener Zeitung

The excellent moderator was Dr. Werner Fasslabend, President of the Politische Akademie und des AIES, former Austrian Minister for Defense.

—————————–

Dr. Fasselabend opened the discussion stating that only 99.9% of the talks are completed.

He continued by by displaying historic and current maps of the Region, giving us a broad historic overview of Iran and its influence on the region. He stressed that because of Iran’s geographical location it was and still is a very large regional power and stability in the Middle East without Iran’s cooperation is impossible.

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist for APA (Austrian Press Agentur) and Wiener Zeitung gave us an inside look from the perspective of the journalists covering the talks.

He recalled that after 17 days, 12-16 hours of work, 600 journalists and at a cost of about $1 million for the stay in Vienna by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his delegation at the famous Imperial Hotel, there is still no deal. There have been many improvements since the beginning of the talks, but still no deal. Mr. Kerry has prolonged his stay yet again and said a deadline will not be a factor as long as an agreement can be achieved. The new deadline to be breached is Monday July 13th.

The three major problems that stand in the way of an agreement are:

1) The sanctions on Iran – the Iranian delegation insists those have to be lifted right away;

2) The UN Arms Embargo that includes conventional weapons;

3) Political readiness by President Obama and Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. Both have to agree to a deal which will be accepted at home.

Dr. Faal said he is an optimist by nature and is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached.

Ambassador Dr. Christian Prosl addressed the matter from the US point of view. He said that for the US the stability of the region and the security of the State of Israel are the main factors and the two problems which the US faces are with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries, though for different reasons, are against any deal with Iran since they do not trust the Iranian regime.

As for the supply of oil, this is not anymore a factor for the US because of the fracking industry. However, the strained relationship between President Obama and the Republican party may be a factor. The Republicans have tried for a long time now to see that President Obama fails, and they may try to fail him also in this endeavor. Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in Congress against the Iran deal, which was prompted by the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boemer, did not help. However Ambassador Prosl said that he cannot imagine that the Republicans will fail the agreement if it is iron clad and the treaty will be safe for the US.

Dr. Posch addressed the matter from the Iranian point of view and concluded that although the problems are being viewed from different perspective, i.e. US, the EU and Iran, the will is there. Regional security, oil supply and human rights in Iran all play a part in the talks. He also was hopeful that a deal will be signed

At the end of the panel presentations, Dr. Fasselabend invited to the podium Dr. Massud Mossaheb, General Secretary of the Austro-Iranian Society in Vienna.

Mr. Mossaheb said that there is mutual mistrust between the West and the Iranian Government.

In spite of the fact that the Iranian nuclear position has not changed in the last 40 years, there is still mistrust. The people of Iran hope for the lifting of the sanctions so they can have a better quality of life. They suffer from high inflation and lack of supplies, especially in medications. Dr. Mossaheb also hopes for a deal to be reached.

As the end, the consensus was that the talks will go on, of course not for ever, but without the threat of an immediate deadline, and an agreement, which will be safe and beneficial for all participants will be reached.

——————–

From the US MEDIA – I will add to the above
that the personal insistence of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, the opinion is that the White House investment in these talks is so high that a failure to obtain an agreement is unthinkable.

The fact that the Iranians see this deep involvement of the Americans has in itself weakened the position of the United States in these negotiations. But then, the Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei – whose position is still strong as he is still blindly followed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who are in charge of the Nuclear Program – may be using tough talk now just to make sure that his agreeing to an agreement is not viewed as weakness. The Iranian people want an end to the sanctions provided it is not seen as a cave in (the CNN/GPS program of Fareed Zakaria).

The current round, now in its 16-th day, was supposed to conclude on June 30, but was extended until July 7, then July 10 and now July 13. The sides had hoped to seal a deal before the end of Thursday in Washington to avoid delays in implementing their promises.

By missing that target, the U.S. and Iran now have to wait for a 60-day congressional review period during which President Barack Obama can’t waive sanctions on Iran. Had they reached a deal by Thursday, the review would have been only 30 days.

En route to Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday.

Kerry noted that “a few tough things” remain in the way of agreement but added: “We’re getting to some real decisions.”

A senior State Department official also said Sunday that the department will not speculate about the timing of anything during the talks and that key issues remain unresolved.

Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It reported that Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”

His comments suggest Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist whether a deal gets done or not. Khamenei’s comments also have appeared thus to be a blow to U.S. hopes than agreement will lead to improved relations with the country and possible cooperation against Islamic rebels.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, like Kerry, indicated talks could go either way. “We behaved so skillfully that if talks won’t succeed, the world would accept that Iran is for logic and dialogue and never left the negotiating table … and if we succeed by the grace of God, the world will know that the Iranian nation can resolve its problems through logic,” his website quoted him as saying.

The supreme leader’s comments also come after it was learned Saturday that the Islamic Republic’s spies have been seeking atomic and missile technology in neighboring Germany as recently as last month.

Iran’s illegal activities have continued since talks between Iran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as rotating member Germany – began with a Joint Plan of Action in 2013, according to German intelligence sources. The JPOA was intended to stop Iran’s work on a nuclear weapon until a comprehensive agreement is reached.

“You would think that with the negotiations, [Iranian] activities would drop,” a German intelligence source said. “Despite the talks to end Iran’s program, Iran did not make an about-turn.”

With a final agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program set for Monday, the intelligence data from Germany raises disturbing questions about the success of the deal.

Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program over the last two years, according to German intelligence sources. Germany is required to report Iran’s illegal procurement activities to the UN.

Iran is unlikely to begin a substantial rollback of its nuclear program until it gets sanctions relief in return.

But then the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers said they will come to Vienna for the signing of the agreement – and the news are that Mr. Sergei Lavrov has said he will be there on Monday.

An Iranian diplomat said that they have a 100 pages document to study and that logistically it cannot be done by Sunday night with parallel meetings going on.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Sunday, June 14, 2015 program started with Fareed retelling us the content of his last Friday’s Washington Post column - www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/s… /9ce1f4f8-1074-11e5-9726-49d6fa26a8c6_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

While some hysteria-builders in Washington are worried about a Saudi nuclear race to follow Iran, Fareed Zakaria tells us clearly that besides drilling holes to get out oil from the ground, the Saudis have actually not proven capability of doing anything else. They just do not have the people nor the education system that leads to knowledge. You can actually conclude that they are hardly a State in the normal sense of the word – though with them having a full treasury they will not fail easily – but clearly not amount to much power either. In effect they are a natural target for ISIS – so let them not bluff us.

The Saudi GDP is based 44% on oil and 90% of their revenues are from oil. Their puritanical reactionary conservative education system puts them at 73rd place in global ranking compared to the much poorer Iran that is placed 44th. Two out of three people with a job are foreigners – hardly a recommendation for capability of doing anything.

Then Fareed brought on Professor Michael Porter of Harvard who makes now a career of talking and writing about America’s unconventional energy opportunity that turned the till-2005 dependence on gas import and till 2008 dependence on oil import – to an economy now that produces $430 billion/year of oil-shale fracking gas and oil products – that he says have reduced the energy bill of an average American family by $800/year and is now being enhanced by secondary industries like the petrochemical industry.

Gas prices are now lower by one third then those in US trading-countries and he contends that even though there are environmental problems with “fracking” these problems get smaller with time as there are new technological developments leading to decrease in pollution. Oh well – this at least reduces the US dependence on Saudi good-will.

To point out some more the effect of oil on developing countries that export the stuff, Fareed brought on a New Yorker journalist who works now in Luanda, Angola, and previously worked many years in Russia. Michael Specter was fascinating in his description of the “Bizarro” World of Luanda where for four out of the last five years Luanda was the most expensive City for the “Expatriates.” The Fifth year they were second to Japan.

With a watermelon selling for $105, a Coke for $10 and a cab-ride of 20 miles costing $450 – this while the working locals make $4/day while after Nigeria Angola is now the second largest oil producer in Africa.

For a saner discussion Fareed brought on Richard Haass – a former official of the Bush administration, Advisor to Colin Powell and president of the New York City based Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, and David Rothkopf – who worked for the Clinton Administration, Managed the Kissinger Associates, and now is CEO and Editor of the Foreign Policy Group that publishes Foreign Policy Magazine. Interesting, it was Haass who wore a blue tie and Rothkopf who wore a red tie – and to my surprise, and clearly to their own surprise – there was no difference between their positions on the issues.

The main topic was Iraq and they agreed that sending in some more advisers to keep the ongoing losing policy in place makes no sense and never did. Iraq has passed, or was handed, to Iran while the only functioning part of it are the Kurdish evolving State.

The problem is the Sunni part that will eventually be a State as well – but it depends on a change in US position if this will be the ISIS State or a conventional Sunni State. Trying to hold the three parts of Iraq together does not make sense – period.

Oh well – how we got there – ask the Bush family – now we guess – ask Jeb (John Ellis) Bush. and Fareed also pointed a finger at Senator Rick Santorum who wants to be President and says the Pope should not mix the church and science – leave science to the scientists which for him are the Climate-deniers paid by the oil industry.

Fareed pointed out to Santorum that Pope Franciscus happens to be a scientist. He was trained as chemist and worked as a chemist before reentering the seminarium for clerical studies.

This coming week the world might finally get a boost from the Catholic Church as very well described in the New York Times article by Jim Yardley of June 13, 2015: “Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor.”

On Thursday June 18, 2015, Pope Franciscus will release his most important Encyclical on the theme of the environment and the poor. This follows a meeting May 2014 of the Pope with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accompanied by his Development lieutenants. This could be finally a joined effort for the good of humanity – of faith and true science.

Above is not completely new. Already the last two popes started to investigate the moral choices of development. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI already wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Francis went further – and on his January 2015 trip to the Philippines expressed his being convinced that global warming was “most;y” a human-made phenomenon. Now he is expected in the September trip to Cuba and New York, to bring the encyclical to the UN General Assembly and encourage the Heads of States to bring the issue to a positive conclusion at the December Climate Convention meting in Paris. The driving force of this Pope is his experience in Latin America with an agenda of poverty and Unsustainable Consumption that reveals ethical issues. He can be expected to reject the American conservative interests underwritten by oil industry interests that send to his doorsteps folks like Marc Morano and the Heartland Foundation with Republican Skeptics found in the US Senate of James Inhofe of Oklahoma.

Fareed also mentioned on his program the fact that coincidentally it was June 15, 1215 that King John released the First Magna Carta that was shortly thereafter declared “Null and Void for all validity for-ever” by Pope Innocent II. A new Magna Carta was instituted later and it is the 2025 version that is the basis for the Constitutions of many States – including the USA. Pope Francis’s Encyclical might be viewed by future generations as the Magna Carta for the Earth – we hope the term SUSTAINABILITY will be brought into full focus – so ought to be “sustainable development.”

One last issue of this State of the World program was about the dwindling population in all European States and in many Asian States as well. It is only the USA that is growing – this thanks to immigration and some might say energy autarky?. The subject needs more linking to the rest of the program ingredients and we expect this will be done eventually.

###

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

from Elzen, den Michel —  Michel.denElzen at pbl.nl


PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, NewClimate Institute, Ecofys and IIASA have published a report entitled “Enhanced policy scenarios for major emitting countries: Analysis of current and planned climate policies, and selected enhanced mitigation measures”.

This study provides an overview of projected greenhouse gas emissions of 13 major emitting countries up to 2030, taking into account the emission trajectories based on current and planned policies, and selected enhanced mitigation measures that are in line with national priorities.

Some countries are likely to achieve their 2020 pledges through current policies, while others require the effective implementation of planned policies or additional measures.


The policy brief can be downloaded at:

 www.pbl.nl/en/publications/enhanc…

The full report can be downloaded at:
 www.pbl.nl/en/publications/enhanc…

 www.pbl.nl/sites/default/files/cm…

This study, as well as an assessment of the INDCs, will be presented at SB 42:

Preparation and assessment of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs)

Friday, 5 June
18:30—20:00
Bonn III (72)

————————————————-

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

 Michel.denelzen at pbl.nl

###

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

Mittwoch, 29. April 2015, 12:00 Uhr

12:00
The Earth System and climate debate ( link … )

Event political / legal and environmental / energy

Event as part of the “International Club”. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Reinhard F. Hüttl, Scientific Executive Chairman of the GFZ German Research Centre (GFZ).

Organizer: Austrian Society for Foreign Policy and the United Nations (ÖGAVN)
Location: Hofburg / Stallburg
Reitschulgasse 2/2. OG
1010 Wien

Referent:

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Reinhard F. HÜTTL

Vorstandsvorsitzender des Deutschen Geoforschungszentrums (GFZ)

zum Thema (in deutscher Sprache ohne Übersetzung):

“Das System Erde und die Klimadebatte”

Veranstaltungsort:

Hofburg/Stallburg

A-1010 Wien, Reitschulgasse 2/2. OG

Reinhard Hüttl, Scientific Director, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), presented a conceptual framework that incorporates three core functions of all soils, production, habitat and regulation. Noting the challenge of building on this understanding to develop adequate legislation for soil rehabilitation and protection, he underscored the role of the Global Soil Partnership and Global Soil Week in raising awareness and achieving scale at the implementation level.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


IPCC Expert Meeting: Climate research community looks into future scenarios.
IPCC Press Release

GENEVA, May 18 – Climate experts will meet in Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria, on 18-20 May 2015 at an Expert Meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to discuss and further develop new socioeconomic scenarios as shared tools for climate research.

Experts from the climate change research community will meet with representatives of the IPCC at the meeting hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.

“We use scenarios much like testing probes to explore future societal developments and their consequences for climate and the environment,” said Keywan Riahi, who leads IIASA’s energy program and is convening the Expert Meeting. He is also a lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on the mitigation of climate change. “The scenarios that were assessed by the IPCC have proven vital for the AR5. This expert meeting will have a detailed look at a new generation of scenarios and framework that the climate change research community has adopted to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation,” said Riahi.

Scenarios, as used in research with integrated assessment models, are stories about potential ways that the future might develop. They feature specific quantitative elements and details about how sectors such as the economy, climate, and the energy sector interact. By looking at scenarios, researchers look for insights into the paths and circumstances that might lead to specific objectives.

“The scenarios from the research community form the backbone of our analysis of potential climate change impacts as well as mitigation and adaptation solutions,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which deals with the mitigation of climate change. The IPCC facilitated the development of the new scenarios in AR5 and assessed their results in the report, but the process is coordinated by the research community.

The Expert Meeting is being convened to continue the dialogue with the research community, to take stock of the achievements of the process during the AR5 cycle, to share available information across scientific disciplines, and to discuss the role of scenarios in future IPCC products.

With the meeting the IPCC intends to bring together scientific groups with diverse expertise and backgrounds to share experiences and expectations related to the scenario community’s activities and to facilitate further development of common scenarios in climate change research. This will allow a more integrated assessment of mitigation, adaptation, and climate change impacts across the entirety of IPCC work in the future.

The development of the new socioeconomic scenarios, called ‘Shared Socioeconomic Pathways’ (SSPs) complements the Representative Concentration Pathways already used in AR5; these are previously developed trajectories for future levels of greenhouse gases that are being explored in experiments by the climate modeling community.

The SSPs enable researchers to conduct related studies across a broad range of topics. Just before the IPCC meeting a new generation of SSP scenarios has been made publicly available for review by the community (see below). The research communities will continue to investigate the implications of various socioeconomic developments on the local, regional, or global scale for the impacts of climate change and the costs, risks, and benefits of a range of possible policies.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

It released the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in four stages over 2013 and 2014, finishing with the AR5 Synthesis Report in November 2014.

The IPCC organizes Expert Meetings and Workshops to facilitate discussions of topics relevant to the assessment process and to receive early input from the scientific community. In order to enhance coordination across the Working Groups in the preparation of the IPCC Assessment and Special Reports, topics of a cross-cutting nature are of particular interest. Proposals for Expert Meetings and Workshops are approved by the IPCC Plenary. The nomination process for the two kinds of events differs, as governments nominate experts for Workshops, while for Expert Meetings, attendees are nominated by the Working Group Co-Chairs.

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Database for the SSPs:
 secure.iiasa.ac.at/web-apps/ene/…

Scenario database of the IPCC AR5:
 secure.iiasa.ac.at/web-apps/ene/…

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About IIASA The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at

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

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany; Biovision Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland; and Millennium Institute in Washington DC, USA organize, a few days before the May session of the Post?2015 Intergovernmental negotiations on follow?up and review, titled “Follow?up and Review Mechanisms for Natural Resource Management and Governance to Achieve the SDGs.”

They will address some key issues associated with this topic. The event’s main focus is on the management and governance of natural resources, but the options presented could be further developed and applied to other thematic and cross-cutting areas.
It examines options on how to address the conflicting uses and the need for protection of natural resources across and among different goals and targets.

“A High?Level Event on Follow?Up and Review Mechanisms for Natural Resource Management and Governance to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

12 – 13 May 2015

at the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York, 145 West 44th Street, New York.

This High?Level Event aims at providing a platform for UN Member States, UN organizations, ministries, non-governmental organisations, academia, civil society, and the private sector – to discuss options for follow?up and review mechanisms connecting national, regional and global levels.

It is an invitation only event – and for more information, please visit the event’s website:  globalsoilweek.org/thematic-areas…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The THIRD ANNUAL ARCTIC CIRCLE ASSEMBLY
OCTOBER 16 – 18, 2015
REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE – WILL ATTEND THE ASSEMBLY and Deliver an Opening Speech linked to the Climate Negotiations at COP 21.

At a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on April 17th, the President of France, François Hollande, accepted an invitation from President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to deliver an opening speech at the October Assembly. The attendance by President Hollande is linked to the upcoming climate negotiations COP21 in Paris in December and the relevance of the Arctic to those negotiations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING – And Offered to host a special CHINA SESSION at the Assembly.

President of China XI Jinping has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson endorsed China’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly and declared his decision that China will host a special Plenary Session at the October Assembly in Reykjavík.


CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL – suggested a special plenary GERMANY and the ARCTIC SESSION at the Assembly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced her support for the Arctic Circle and its importance as a venue to present the involvement of Germany in the future of the Arctic. Consequently, the program of the October Assembly in Reykjavík will include a special Plenary Session on Germany and the Arctic.

More Assembly news in the coming weeks.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Invitation to the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum

SE4ALL Forum

Kindly find attached an invitation from Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, for the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum that will take place on 17-21 May in New York.

Important information on registration, as well as preliminary documents such as agenda and concept note will be made available on the Forum website at www.se4allforum.org.

Very best,
Sustainable Energy for All Forum Team

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Vienna Energy Forum 2015

The Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015) will emphasize the multiple benefits of the post-2015 development and climate agendas and showcase the best practices and actions on the ground that can contribute to both agendas. Energy practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders will discuss the interconnections of sustainable energy and inclusive development in the areas of partnerships, finance, policy, technology, capacity building and knowledge management. The event will also explore the consequences of trends such as population growth and urbanization, as well as addressing the resulting increase in energy demand. Other topics will include South-South cooperation, and energy, water, food and health linkages. The event is organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Austrian Foreign Ministry.

The Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015) will take place only a few months before the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York (September 2015) and the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris (November 2015). By emphasizing the multiple benefits of the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda and by showcasing best practices and actions on the ground, the VEF 2015 aims at contributing to both.

Building on the findings from the VEFs held in 2009, 2011 and 2013, as well as the overarching goals of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), the VEF 2015 will provide a high-level platform for thought leaders, policy makers and energy practitioners to engage in a multi-stakeholder dialogue on pivotal sustainable energy issues connected to inclusive development, including partnerships, finance, policy, technology, capacity building and knowledge management.

dates:
18-20 June 2015
venue:
Hofburg Palace, Michaelerkuppel, 1010
location:
Wien, Austria
contact:
UNIDO
phone:
+43 (1) 26026-0
fax:
+43 (1) 2692669
e-mail:
 vef2015 at unido.org

www:  www.viennaenergyforum.org

Registration is open now here!
 www.unido.org/en/news-centre/eve…

read more: energy-l.iisd.org/events/vienna-e…

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Key questions to be addressed at the VEF 2015:

• What are the main benefits of sustainable energy to inclusive development and productive capacities?

• What are the main drivers of the increasing energy demand across sectors and how can these be addressed in an integrated way?

• How can we strengthen the potential of sustainable energy so that it results in concrete actions supporting the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda?

• What are the areas of greatest potential in energy efficiency, and what can be done to accelerate action and investment in energy efficiency, the ‘hidden fuel’ that has some of the most promising prospects to advance the goals of climate security and sustainable growth?

• Which innovative financing mechanisms can we use to promote renewable energy systems? How do we scale up investments in renewable energy technologies to meet the SE4ALL goals?

• How do we energize multi-stakeholder partnerships, private sector involvement and regional cooperation to promote sustainable energy for all?

• How can the nexus perspective be operationalized to support integrated approaches to energy, water, food, ecosystems and human health?

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