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Reporting from UNFCCC Meetings:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

CLIMATE CHANGE

NEWS FROM SLoCaT MEMBERS

REPORTS

IN OTHER NEWS

UPCOMING EVENTS

ADB Transport Forum, 15-17 September, Manila, Philippines

On Track to Clean and Green Transport: High Level Event on Transport and Climate Change, 22 September 2014, New York, USA

UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit , 23 September 2014, New York, USA

The 1st Ministerial and Policy Conference on Sustainable Transport in Africa, 28 -30 October 2014, Nairobi, Kenya

BAQ 2014 & EST Asia Forum, 19-21 November, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Transport Day 2014, 7 December 2014, Lima, Peru

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

Great Progress in the establishment of the SLoCaT Foundation

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation, with the objective to provide support to the SLoCaT Partnership, will be formally established in the coming weeks. Over the last months the SLoCaT Secretariat, overseen by a special Ad-Hoc Committee, developed the governance structure, consisting of a Constitution and a set of By-Laws.  The members of the SLoCaT Partnership were asked on two opportunities to comment on the proposed governance structure.

The Board of the SLoCaT Foundation is being established in two phases, with the election of four Board members representing members of the SLoCaT Partnership taking place this week and the remaining three Board members representing the Supporters of the SLoCaT Foundation to be elected in Autumn 2014.

The SLoCaT Foundation will be registered in the Netherlands, while the Secretariat will remain to be located in Shanghai, China.  Over the next weeks we will be updating the SLoCaT website to provide more detailed information on the new organizational structure of SLoCaT.

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation will be formally launched in late September at the sidelines of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit on Climate Change.

Growing Support for the SLoCaT Partnership

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

In the run-up to the 2014 June 4th celebration of Earth Day – which is also the UNEP birthday, the UN Information Service Vienna (UNIS) showed last night the documentary film “CHASING ICE” – by Jeff Orlowski who worked with material supplied to him by The National Geographic.

It was in the spring of 2005 when acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed with a team of heroes to capture visual evidence that the Arctic and an assortment of  glaciers are melting as Planet Earth’s Climate is changing – this as the biggest human effect on the physical aspects of the planet.

They did this by setting up cameras to capture on film – on single shots once a month – and on video cameras ongoing calving of the ice.  These are actual scenes of mountains of ice disappearing under our eyes and visual evidence of the receding glaciers. The pictures were shown to country delegates at the Climate Convention in Copenhagen – UNFCCC 15.

At the end of the showing, the best panel Austria could offer – discussed the meaning of what we saw, and from the audience the subject was enlarged with observations that in real life today there are factors within the Arctic Circle Council that view positively the melting of the ice caps, as this allows for access to riches of oil, gas, minerals … and the opening up of important navigation channels. On the other hand, Small Island States in the Pacific might just vanish like the glaciers do. All this as the water that originates from the melting ice swells the seas and changes patterns of rains and storms affecting the whole planet.

The members of the panel chaired by Mr. Martin Nesirky, Acting Director of  the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna – that discussed the movie – included:

Mr. Harald Egerer, UNEP Vienna – Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention ,
Mr. Helmut Hojesky, Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management,
Prof. Helga Kromp-Kolb, University of Natural Resources and  Applied Life Sciences (BOKU).

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 ADVISORYInformation as of 29 May 2014
UN Secretary-General convenes leaders of government, business and civil society to mobilize investment and action for sustainable energy for all.
Forum to advance on-the-ground solutions; launch UN Decade with focus on energy for women and children’s health; contribute to post-2015 development agenda.
—————————
Website:  The latest Forum programme, speakers and other resources will be posted and updated   at www.se4all.org.
—————————-
WHAT:
The first annual SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL FORUM (4-6 June) will assess results thus far from the billions of dollars in commitments made at Rio+20 towards targets on energy access, efficiency and renewables, and mobilize further action. The Forum will launch the UN Decade on Sustainable Energy for All with a two-year focus on energy for women and children’s health, build momentum on solutions ahead of the September Climate Summit and contribute to shaping the direction of energy policy for the crucial decades to come.
WHO:    
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative Kandeh Yumkella will be joined by several Heads of State, over 20 Ministers of energy, development and other relevant portfolios, heads of UN System agencies, development banks and other international organizations, CEOs of private sector partners and leaders from broader civil society, including from the research, innovation and investment communities, as well as women’s and youth groups active on energy issues.WHEN and HOW:4 June – Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Day.  To review progress and advance sustainable energy solutions, in areas ranging from renewable energy – both on and off grid – to modern cooking fuels and cookstoves and energy-efficient buildings, appliances and transportation.
4 June – Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Day.  To review progress and advance sustainable energy solutions, in areas ranging from renewable energy – both on and off grid – to modern cooking fuels and cookstoves and energy-efficient buildings, appliances and transportation. [THIS IS A LATE ADDITION of today]

5 June – Global Leaders Dialogue.  Global launch of the UN Decade on Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024. High-level presentations and dialogues to catalyze action on finance and investment, universal energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.6 June – Ministerial Dialogue on the role of energy in the post-2015 development agenda.WHERE:   
United Nations Headquarters, New York.

BACKGROUND:
The UN Secretary-General launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2011, with three global targets:

a) to ensure universal access to modern energy services,

(b) double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and

(c) double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

 

At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, businesses, investors and others committed billions of dollars towards these objectives. Currently, 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, and 2.6 billion use traditional fuels for cooking and heating, causing the premature deaths of 4.3 million people each year, mostly women and children, from the effects of indoor smoke.

 

Press Briefings

3 June, 11:00 11:30am – Launch of Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, with Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, REN21.  Providing a comprehensive overview of renewable energy markets, industry, investment and policy developments worldwide, the report, produced annually since 2005, has become the most frequently referenced publication on renewable energy business and policy. Produced collaboratively with regional research and UN system partners, and input from over 500 contributors and reviewers.
Contact: Laura Williamson, laura.williamson@ren21.net, tel +33-1-44375099; Jim Sniffen, UNEP, sniffenj@un.org, tel 212-963-8094, www.ren21.net. Press briefing room S-237.

4 June, 11:00 –11:30am – Prospects for energy access & launch of Poor People’s Energy Outlook report.  With Simon Trace, CEO, and Aaron Leopold, Global Energy Advocate, Practical Action; and Susan McDade, Country Team Leader, SE4ALL. Launch of Poor People’s Energy Outlook report and framework for scaling up action to end energy poverty, followed by review of country-level action towards universal access to modern energy services.
Contact:  Nick Milton, nick.milton@practicalaction.org.uk, mob: +44 (0) 7880 622059; Pragati Pascale, p.pascale@se4all.org, mob (917) 744-2114. Press briefing room S-237.

5 June, 12:30 – 1:00pm – Sustainable Energy for All: Achieving Results and Shaping the Future.
With Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO of SE4ALL;
Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility; Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development (tbc).
Contact: Anthony Kamara, a.kamara@se4all.org, Pragati Pascale, p.pascale@se4all.org, tel (917) 744-2114. Press briefing room S-237.

 
5 June, 1:00 1:30pm – Launch of REmap 2030: A Renewable Energy Roadmap. With Adnan Amin, Director-General, Director General of Abu Dhabi based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), others.
How to reach the target of doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030. 
Contact: Tim Hurst, THurst@irena.org, tel +971 2 417 9966, Press briefing room S-237.

 

Other Key Events
The most up-to-date full listing of events and speakers can be found at: www.se4all.org
.

4 June –  Multi-stakeholder Partnerships Day – featuring on-the-ground work.

Over 40 events will showcase and assess innovative work and projects on energy access, efficiency and renewables, and provide a forum for civil society, business and other stakeholders to share their views. This program did not originate with the UN as such and there is no reason to expect the UN to take responsibility over what is said here.
A full programme with details of events, speakers and rooms, and a full list of media contacts, can be found at www.se4all.org. Below are a few highlights.

 
Modern Cooking Appliances and Fuels – Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (kkelleher@cleancookstoves.org, tel 202-864-5158)
Global Gas Flaring Reduction Initiative – Partners include Statoil and the World Bank (Chris Neale, cneal1@worldbank.org, tel 202-473-2049)
Mini-Grids – Partners include UK DFID (Steven Hunt, S-Hunt@dfid.gov.uk)
Sustainable Bio-energy – Partners include Novozymes ( Frederik Bjørndal, tfbh@novozymes.com, mobile +44 (0) 7976 138 265)

Civil society and business events — media contacts:
Practical Action, nick.milton@practicalaction.org.uk, Mob: +44 (0) 7880 622059
World Energy Council, Monique Tsang, tsang@worldenergy.org, tel (+44) 20 314 0616
Student Energy, Sean Collins, scollins@studentenergy.org
Energia, Sheila Oparaocha, s.oparaocha@ETCNL.NL
Energy Access Practitioners Network, Mahalakshmi Mahadevan,              mmahadevan@unfoundation.org, tel (202) 864-5159

5 June – Global Leadership Dialogue on Sustainable Energy for All
(in Trusteeship Council unless otherwise stated)
THIS SEEMS TO BE THE HIGH POWER DAY OF THE MEETINGS!

10:00am — Global Launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024.  Including statements by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; General Assembly President John Ashe; World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (by video); President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.

10:25-10:45 am – Inventing and Investing in a Sustainable Future
Statements by Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development; Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP; Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank; Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

10:45-11:25 am – Sustainable Energy for All: Achieving Results and Shaping the Future
SE4ALL achievements to date: Kandeh Yumkella, SRSG, and Chad Holliday, Bank of America,
Co-chairs of Executive Committee. SE4ALL high-level Advisory Board members outline opportunities and solutions on energy finance, access, efficiency and renewables.

11:35 am – 12:45 pm — Global Leaders Panels
I. Catalyzing Large-Scale Financing and Investment for SE4ALL
(moderator: Rachel Kyte, World Bank).
Lightning round kick starter with Purna Saggurti, Chairman, Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Bank of America. Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives from China, Mozambique, Nicaragua, United States; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Brazil Development Bank; Citigroup; Eni SpA; European Investment Bank; Global Environment Facility; Morgan Stanley; United Nations; World Energy Council; others.

(Trusteeship)

II. Energy Linkages (moderator: Laura Trevelyan, BBC America).
Lightning round kick starter conversation with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women, and Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation.  Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives of Barbados; Burundi; Greenland, Holy See, Madagascar, Sierra Leone; Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves; Itapu Binacional Brasil; Practical Action; We Care Solar; World Energy Council; others. (Conference Room 1)

1:10 – 2:20 pm – World Environment Day special event on Small Island Developing States and clean energy.
With John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly; Lord Ma’fu, Minister, Tonga; Ravinesh Nand, Fiji Department of Energy; Venkat Ramana Putti, World Bank; Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation; others. Contact: sniffenj@un.org, tel 212-963-8094.
(Trusteeship)

2:40 – 3:20 pm – Energy, Women, Children and Health
Global campaign announcement with Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom (by video); Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN; followed by UN Leadership Panel, with senior officials from UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, Norway, others. (Trusteeship)

3:45-4:55 pm – Global Leaders Panels (cont.)
III. Doubling the Share of Renewables in the Global Energy Mix
(moderator: Matthew Bishop, The Economist).
Lightning round kick starter with Jose Manuel Entrecanales, CEO, Acciona, and Francesco Starace, CEO, Enel SpA. Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives from Brazil, China, Ecuador, New Zealand, Tonga, United Kingdom; First Solar; Global Wind Energy Council; International Solar Energy Society; IRENA; Moroccan Solar Power Agency; REN21; SkyPower; others. (Trusteeship)

IV. Ensuring Universal Access to Modern Energy Services
(moderator: Elizabeth Thompson, Senior Advisor, SE4ALL).
Lightning round kick starter with Kandeh Yumkella, SRSG and CEO of SE4ALL; Mohammed Wakil, Minister of State for Power, Nigeria; and James E. Rogers, Retired Chairman, Duke Energy. Dialogue with high-level representatives of Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Myanmar, Norway, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia; African Development Bank; Alliance for Rural Electrification; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Energia; Eskom; EuropeAid, EC; Global Electricity Initiative; Islamic Development Bank; Royal Dutch Shell; Self-Employed Women’s Association; others (Conference Room 1).

 
5:00 – 6:10pm – Global Leaders Panels (cont.)
V. Doubling the Global Rate of Improvement in Energy Efficiency
(moderator: Chad Holliday, Bank of America). Lightning round kick starter with Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School, Zayed Future Energy Prize 2014 Global High School Finalist. Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives of Japan, Ireland, Peru, Romania, Slovakia; ABB North America; Union for the Mediterranean; AFG Consultores; Business Council for Sustainable Energy; EBRD; IKEA; Industrial Promotion Services; Kenya Assoc. of Manufacturers; Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership; Statoil; UN Foundation; WWF China; others (Trusteeship).

VI. Catalyzing Bottom-Up Financing and Investment for SE4ALL (moderator: Boason Omofaye, Bloomberg TV Africa) Lightning round kick starter with Harish Hande, Managing Director, SELCO India.  Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives of Nepal, Senegal, Tanzania; Arc Finance; Deutsche Bank; Global LPG Partnerships; KITE; Rockefeller Foundation; Self-Employed Women’s Association; UN OHRLLS; WWF USA; others (Conference Room 1).

6 June — High-level Ministerial Dialogue: Energy in the post-2015 Development Agenda

9:00 am – 12:40 pm. Including remarks by Heads of State and Ministers, CEOs and leaders of civil society organizations and international organizations. (ECOSOC Chamber)

12:40 – 1:00 pm. Closing Plenary: Mobilizing All Stakeholders Towards SE4ALL with UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (tbc); Jose Angel Gurria, Secretary-General, OECD (tbc); Fred Krupp, President Environmental Defense Fund; Kandeh Yumkella, SE4ALL. (ECOSOC Chamber)

 

——————————Media Accreditation                    
Media representatives who wish to be accredited to cover the Forum on-site at UN Head-quarters should submit a request and required documentation to the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.  Full guidelines as well as accreditation forms are available at www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/request.shtml. For questions regarding accreditation, e-mail malu@un.org or phone (212) 963-6934.
——————————————–Media Resources
Press conferences.  An updated schedule of press events and briefings will be available the night before in the daily Media Alert at www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/alert.shtmlWebsite. The latest Forum programme, speakers and other resources will be posted and updated at www.se4all.org.Digital and Social Media. The Forum will be live-tweeted using #SE4ALLForum. In addition, +Social Good (plussocialgood.org), a digital platform run by the UN Foundation and UNDP, will feature original interviews and content for digital media, using #socialgood
(contact: jsullivan@unfoundation.org, njanati@unfoundation.org, boaz.paldi@undp.org).IISD Reporting Services will provide daily bulletins and digital coverage as well as a summary report of the Forum, including photographs. Coverage of the Forum will be available online at www.iisd.ca from 4 June 2014 and will be sent out on social media using @IISDRS.Multimedia.  Selected photographs of the Forum will be available from UN Photo online, along with other multimedia materials, at www.unmultimedia.org.  Additional photos and high-resolution files can be obtained by contacting the UN Photo Library at photolibr@un.org.Webcast.  Most of the Forum will be webcast, live and on-demand, at webtv.un.org, including all events in the larger conference rooms and all press briefings.

Broadcast. UNTV will cover the Forum live in HD, 4-6 June, schedule at www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/untv.shtml, information tel. 212 963-7650.
TV packages will be available to broadcasters through unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/ Broadcast quality video files can be requested from video-library@un.org.

Media Contacts
Pragati Pascale, p.pascale@se4all.org, tel +1 917-587-8549
Anthony Kamara, a.kamara@se4all.org, tel (+43-699) 1458-3402
Wynne Boelt, boelt@un.org, tel +1 212-963-8264
Ornesha Reagan, o.reagan@se4all.org, tel +1 347-651-9521
Media contacts for SE4ALL partners can be found at se4all.org

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

FURTHER NOTES FROM www.Sustainabilitank.info – A MEDIA ACCREDITED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD BUT WITH A PAST OF FIGHTING THE UN FOR THE RIGHT TO BE RECOGNIZED AS MEDIA RATHER THEN AS AN NGO (which it never became one) – THIS WITHIN THE WALLED COMPOUND OF THE UN HEADQUARTERS.

 WE THUS WISH TO WARN INTERESTED ENVIRONMENTALLY ORIENTED MEDIA, AND TRUE SUSTAINABILITY ORIENTED MEDIA, THAT EVEN WHEN THE UN IS HOME TO FORCES OF PROGRESS – THERE ARE WITHIN IT MUCH MORE FORCES OF DARKNESS.

THE UN MEDIA OFFICE THAT USED TO BE RUN BY THOSE FORCES OF DARKNESS WOULD SIMPLY NOT ALLOW THOSE INTERESTED IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TO ENTER THE ROOM WHERE PRESS CONFERENCES WERE ORGANIZED FOR THE MEDIA  – SO ONLY THOSE BELONGING TO GENERAL MEDIA AND NOT INTERESTED COULD PARTICIPATE – BUT OBVIOUSLY DID NOT. THAT IS HOW THE UN MANAGED TO KEEP AS TOP SECRET EVERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT MIGHT HAVE HURT THE FORCES OF OIL.

WE SUGGEST THUS – THAT LIKE IN VIENNA, WHERE THE HEAD OFFICE OF  SE4ALL IS LOCATED IN THE ANDROMEDA OFFICE OUTSIDE THE WALLED-IN VIENNA UN COMPOUND, THE NEW YORK MEETING COULD REACH MORE OF THE GLOBAL MEDIA IF IT WERE HELD ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE UN, RATHER THEN INSIDE. IT IS HARD FOR US TO SEE THAT EVEN THOUGH THIS MEETING IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL’S AGENDA, THERE WILL NOT BE INTERFERENCE WITH THE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION BY FACTORS WITHIN THE UN STAFF. WE WOULD HAVE PREFERRED AT LEAST THAT THE SE4ALL ORGANIZATION ALSO ADVERTIZES AT LEAST SOME MEETINGS WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT WITNESSES ON MATTERS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT  ARE MADE AVAILABLE AT THE CHURCH CENTER OR AT ONE OF THE MISSIONS – THE LIKES OF BHUTAN, FINLAND, GERMANY, OR JAPAN WHICH HAPPEN TO BE RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE UN IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT WOULD BE A PITY TO SEE ANOTHER IMPORTANT UN INSTITUTION TO TURN INTO A YEARLY  BOMBASTIC TALK FEST AT THE UN BUT AT THE SAME TIME INSULATED FROM HAVING ANY POSITIVE EFFECT ON PLANET EARTH’S HUMANS’ FUTURE.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages  — Op-Ed Contributors to the New York Times

 

Global Warming Scare Tactics.

 

Photo

Credit Leigh Guldig

Ted Nordhaus is the chairman and Michael Shellenberger is the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research organization.  (?? – our own note – the ST.info editor)

 

OAKLAND, Calif. — IF you were looking for ways to increase public skepticism about global warming, you could hardly do better than the forthcoming nine-part series on climate change and natural disasters, starting this Sunday on Showtime. A trailer for “Years of Living Dangerously” is terrifying, replete with images of melting glaciers, raging wildfires and rampaging floods. “I don’t think scary is the right word,” intones one voice. “Dangerous, definitely.”

Showtime’s producers undoubtedly have the best of intentions. There are serious long-term risks associated with rising greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from ocean acidification to sea-level rise to decreasing agricultural output.

But there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.

For instance, Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” popularized the idea that today’s natural disasters are increasing in severity and frequency because of human-caused global warming. It also contributed to public backlash and division. Since 2006, the number of Americans telling Gallup that the media was exaggerating global warming grew to 42 percent today from about 34 percent. Meanwhile, the gap between Democrats and Republicans on whether global warming is caused by humans rose to 42 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, according to the Pew Research Center.

Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming. And beginning in 2007, as the country was falling into recession, public support for environmental protection declined.

Still, environmental groups have known since 2000 that efforts to link climate change to natural disasters could backfire, after researchers at the Frameworks Institute studied public attitudes for its report “How to Talk About Global Warming.” Messages focused on extreme weather events, they found, made many Americans more likely to view climate change as an act of God — something to be weathered, not prevented.

Some people, the report noted, “are likely to buy a SUV to help them through the erratic weather to come” for example, rather than support fuel-efficiency standards.

Since then, evidence that a fear-based approach backfires has grown stronger. A frequently cited 2009 study in the journal Science Communication summed up the scholarly consensus. “Although shocking, catastrophic, and large-scale representations of the impacts of climate change may well act as an initial hook for people’s attention and concern,” the researchers wrote, “they clearly do not motivate a sense of personal engagement with the issue and indeed may act to trigger barriers to engagement such as denial.”  In a controlled laboratory experiment published in Psychological Science in 2010, researchers were able to use “dire messages” about global warming to increase skepticism about the problem.

Many climate advocates ignore these findings, arguing that they have an obligation to convey the alarming facts.

But claims linking the latest blizzard, drought or hurricane to global warming simply can’t be supported by the science. Our warming world is, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increasing heat waves and intense precipitation in some places, and is likely to bring more extreme weather in the future. But the panel also said there is little evidence that this warming is increasing the loss of life or the economic costs of natural disasters. “Economic growth, including greater concentrations of people and wealth in periled areas and rising insurance penetration,” the climate panel noted, “is the most important driver of increasing losses.”

Claims that current disasters are connected to climate change do seem to motivate many liberals to support action. But they alienate conservatives in roughly equal measure.

What works, say environmental pollsters and researchers, is focusing on popular solutions. Climate advocates often do this, arguing that solar and wind can reduce emissions while strengthening the economy. But when renewable energy technologies are offered as solutions to the exclusion of other low-carbon alternatives, they polarize rather than unite.

 

One recent study, published by Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project, found that conservatives become less skeptical about global warming if they first read articles suggesting nuclear energy or geoengineering as solutions. Another study, in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2012, concluded that “communication should focus on how mitigation efforts can promote a better society” rather than “on the reality of climate change and averting its risks.”

Nonetheless, virtually every major national environmental organization continues to reject nuclear energy, even after four leading climate scientists wrote them an open letter last fall, imploring them to embrace the technology as a key climate solution. Together with catastrophic rhetoric, the rejection of technologies like nuclear and natural gas by environmental groups is most likely feeding the perception among many that climate change is being exaggerated. After all, if climate change is a planetary emergency, why take nuclear and natural gas off the table?

While the urgency that motivates exaggerated claims is understandable, turning down the rhetoric and embracing solutions like nuclear energy will better serve efforts to slow global warming.

Some Comments

Alan Gregory

All the polling and surveying and such described in this op-ed does not change the reality: Humans’ propensity to pollute and foul the…

—-

Elaine Bergstrom

Some ten years back, I had the opportunity to interview a Canadian climatologist while covering a, excellent 3-part series “The Great…

Jan

We are most likely to believe what we are told — which depends on what news programs and which e-mails we attract. It’s hard for mere facts…

————————————–

We are not going to debate this article – it speaks for itself when it comes to reveal the intentions of the two authors that hide in the corridors of a main university and spew their stuff in the public domain that a major newspaper offers them.
Pincas Jawetz

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Is The Latest Climate Report Too Much Of A Downer?

March 31, 2014

According to a new report, unless more is done to combat climate change, extreme weather like the drought now gripping California will only grow more common.

According to a new report, unless more is done to combat climate change, extreme weather like the drought now gripping California will only grow more common.  Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Reading through the from the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it’s hard not to feel despondent about the state of the world.

The report’s colorful charts and tables tell of droughts and fires; depleted fisheries and strained cropland; a world in which heat-related disease is on the rise and freshwater is growing scarce.

“It’s risk, risk, risk, risk, risk,” says , a climate economist at the University of Sussex. “Climate change is dangerous, and we’re all going to die, and we’re all going to starve.”

Tol is a coordinating lead author on about the economic impacts of climate change, but he doesn’t believe climate change will be as destructive as the report might lead some to believe. He took his name off the dire because he felt it didn’t accurately account for human ingenuity.

Take crop yields, for example. The report says climate change will cause them to fall by a few percent per decade. But Tol says technological innovation will likely raise crop yields by 10 percent or more each decade.

“So it’s not that crop yields are going to fall, but they’re going to rise more slowly because of climate change,” he says. “And then of course it doesn’t sound as alarming.”

Tol adds, “Sea-level rise may be quite dramatic, if it weren’t for the fact that somebody in China invented the dike 3,000 years ago.” The Netherlands has been able to hold off the sea for more than a century, and others could do the same with proven technology.

Now to be clear: Tol still believes in climate change, and he still thinks it’s a serious problem. In fact, that’s why he’s speaking out — he thinks this report will split believers and deniers at just the time there needs to be a consensus on how to keep the world from getting even warmer.

“I think there is a real risk of this draft further polarizing the climate debate,” he says. And if people don’t work together to lower carbon emissions, he says, things will get even worse in the long term.

The report’s other authors say its gloomy tone is entirely justified. “Richard’s a great guy; I love him. But he’s not in the center of the scientific community,” says , who co-chaired the full report. He says Tol is one of more than 300 lead authors.

Field thinks the report appropriately warns of some difficult times ahead. The world’s poorest will be especially vulnerable, he says.

But Field acknowledges that predicting exactly what will happen is difficult, because people aren’t like melting glaciers. They don’t just sit there; they adapt.

“People have a tendency of changing what they do when they realize they have a problem; that’s the core essence of adaptation,” he says.

The new report does say adaptation could make climate change much less damaging to society. For instance, most projections point to a rise in global temperature of at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. But Field thinks improved transportation infrastructure, better disaster response and health care could all help lessen the rise’s impact.

And adapting won’t necessarily cost a lot, adds , director of based in Bangladesh.

Preparing for extreme weather like floods and cyclones doesn’t always mean building huge barriers against the ocean. “In most cases, it’s just societal preparedness,” Huq says. “It’s people having shelters to go to.”

“The rich don’t have any particular advantage here. It’s not technology that makes a difference,” Huq adds.

Tol, Huq and Field all agree: Climate change is happening. Humans aren’t helpless; they can adapt. But society will also need to make changes to avoid further warming.

Otherwise, things will get even more depressing.

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

U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

“The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans,” and the world is mostly “ill-prepared” for the risks that the sweeping changes present, .

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report.

The report also wastes no time in pointing a finger toward who is responsible: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring,” reads the first sentence .

As NPR’s tells our Newscast Desk, the panel “includes hundreds of scientists from around the world. Its past reports have made gloomy predictions about the impact of climate on humans. This time around, they’re also trying to prepare us. Chris Field, the co-chair of the new report, says improving health systems, making transportation more efficient, and beefing up disaster response can make a difference.”

“Things we should be doing to build a better world are also things we should be doing to protect against climate change,” Field says.

In the summary of its findings and recommendations, for instance, the panel suggests that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, switch to cleaner energy sources, make cities “greener” and reduce water consumption will make life better today and could help reduce mankind’s effect on climate change in the future. While all people will continue to feel the effects of climate change, the report concludes that the world’s poorest populations will suffer the most from rising temperatures and rising seas unless action is taken.

Still, the report concludes that climate change is “already having effects in real time — melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.”

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The BBC calls the Report:
“the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.”

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

UN Climate Change Secretariat to Showcase Worldwide Climate

Action: Momentum for Change Call for Applications Now Open

Read the release on our website:
unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/pr20143103_momentum_callforapps.pdf

(Bonn, 31 March 2014) – Starting today, communities, cities, businesses and
governments that are taking the lead on tackling climate change can apply
to have their game-changing initiatives recognized by the UN Climate Change
secretariat.

The secretariat officially opened the call for applications for its 2014
Lighthouse Activities today as part of wider efforts to mobilize action and
ambition as national governments work toward a new universal climate
agreement in 2015.

“This year, we are looking to do things a little differently,” said UNFCCC
Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “We will still shine a light on
small, entrepreneurial solutions that are changing communities, as well as
large initiatives that are transforming cities, businesses and governments.
But we’re also looking to highlight initiatives with a bigger impact than
ever before. Effectively addressing climate change requires action from all
levels of society and from every sector, with efforts that are both small
and large.”

The 2014 Lighthouse Activities will be selected by an 18-member,
international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for
Change initiative. Launched in 2011, Momentum for Change shines a light on
the groundswell of activities underway across the globe to address climate
change. This provides a positive context for international climate
negotiations, showing that action on climate change is not only possible
but that it is already happening – in the hopes of inspiring others to do
the same.

Winning activities will be announced in November 2014 and officially
recognized and celebrated during a series of special events in December at
the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

The high visibility of the annual UN climate change negotiations creates a
prominent platform on which the Lighthouse Activities are showcased and
publicized – resulting in spin-off benefits that help the activities expand
even further. For example, 2013 Lighthouse Activity winner Bernice Dapaah,
whose organization builds bamboo bicycles in Ghana, was recently named a
2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Demand for her bamboo
bicycles has spiked so dramatically she can barely keep up with orders
pouring in from across the globe.

“Seeing these activities scale up and replicate is the really exciting
part,” said Ms. Figueres. “It shows that climate action is increasing and
picking up momentum as it goes.”

Applications for the 2014 Lighthouse Activities are being accepted until 23
May 2014 at www.momentum4change.org

Please note that UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres will host a
Google Hangout today (31 March) from 15:00 to 15:30 (CEST) to talk about
the call for applications with previous Lighthouse Activity winners. Watch
live at www.momentum4change.org

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Marchildon, Communications Officer, United Nations Climate Change
Secretariat, at:     smarchildon@unfccc.int | +49 228 815 1065

Learn more:  unfccc.int    momentum4change.org
Momentum for Change on Facebook: facebook.com/ unfcccmomentum
Momentum for Change on Twitter: @Momentum_UNFCCC
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres

Digital assets:
High-resolution images of the 2013 Lighthouse Activities are available at:
www.dropbox.com/sh/md77sbijzm5f3jz/metZ3E8kvO

Short videos of the 2013 Lighthouse Activities are available at:   vimeo.com/user14800810

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Environment

 

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come.

 

 

Photo

Greenland’­s immense ice sheet is melting as a result of climate change. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said.

Photo

Rajendra K. Pachauri, center, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Credit Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press

 

And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty. In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday.

The report was among the most sobering yet issued by the intergovernmental panel. The group, along with Al Gore, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to clarify the risks of climate change. The report released on Monday in Yokohama is the final work of several hundred authors; details from the drafts of this and of the last report in the series, which will be released next month, leaked in the last few months.

The report attempts to project how the effects will alter human society in coming decades. While the impact of global warming may actually be outweighed by factors like economic or technological change, the report found, the disruptions are nonetheless likely to be profound.

It cited the risk of death or injury on a widespread scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.

“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger,” the report declared.

The report also cites the possibility of violent conflict over land or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just some problem of the distant future, but is happening now. For instance, in much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region, the scientists reported. And the snow that does fall is melting earlier in the year, which means there is less meltwater to ease the parched summers.

In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate.

“Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization.

The experts did find a bright spot, however. Since the group issued its report in 2007, it has found growing evidence that governments and businesses around the world are starting extensive plans to adapt to climate disruptions, even as some conservatives in the United States and a small number of scientists continue to deny that a problem exists.

“I think that dealing effectively with climate change is just going to be something that great nations do,” said Christopher B. Field, co-chairman of the working group that wrote the report, and an earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif.

Talk of adaptation to global warming was once avoided in some quarters, on the grounds that it would distract from the need to cut emissions. But the past few years have seen a shift in thinking, including research from scientists and economists who argue that both strategies must be pursued at once.

Photo

Tracks were flooded at Grand Central Station in Oct. 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

 

A striking example of the change occurred recently in the state of New York, where the Public Service Commission ordered Consolidated Edison, the electric utility serving New York City and some suburbs, to spend about $1 billion upgrading its system to prevent future damage from flooding and other weather disruptions.

The plan is a reaction to the blackouts caused by Hurricane Sandy. Con Ed will raise flood walls, bury some vital equipment and launch a study of whether emerging climate risks require even more changes. Other utilities in the state face similar requirements, and utility regulators across the United States are discussing whether to follow New York’s lead.

But with a global failure to limit greenhouse gases, the risk is rising that climatic changes in coming decades could overwhelm such efforts to adapt, the panel found. It cited a particular risk that in a hotter climate, farmers will not be able to keep up with the fast-rising demand for food.

“When supply falls below demand, somebody doesn’t have enough food,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist who helped write the new report. “When some people don’t have food, you get starvation. Yes, I’m worried.”

The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.

The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during a dayslong editing session in Yokohama.

The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations are private.

The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption.

Two decades of international efforts to limit emissions have yielded little result, and it is not clear whether the negotiations in New York this fall will be any different. While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many wealthy countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from rising economic powers like China and India.

For the world’s poorer countries, food is not the only issue, but it may be the most acute. Several times in recent years, climatic disruptions in major growing regions have helped to throw supply and demand out of balance, contributing to price increases that have reversed decades of gains against global hunger, at least temporarily.

The warning about the food supply in the new report is much sharper in tone than any previously issued by the panel. That reflects a growing body of research about how sensitive many crops are to heat waves and water stress.

David B. Lobell, a Stanford University scientist who has published much of that research and helped write the new report, said in an interview that as yet, too little work was being done to understand the risk, much less counter it with improved crop varieties and farming techniques. “It is a surprisingly small amount of effort for the stakes,” he said.

Timothy Gore, an analyst for Oxfam, the anti-hunger charity that sent observers to the proceedings, praised the new report for painting a clear picture. But he warned that without greater efforts to limit global warming and to adapt to the changes that have become inevitable, “the goal we have in Oxfam of ensuring that every person has enough food to eat could be lost forever.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Timmons Roberts and I would like to share with you our new policy paper published by Brookings Institution on Chinese-Latin American relations in a carbon constrained world.

The paper can be downloaded here: www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/03/carbon-partnership-china-latin-america-edwards-roberts

 

Best wishes,
Guy Edwards
Below we include the executive summary: 
China’s rapidly increasing investment, trade and loans in Latin America may be entrenching high-carbon development pathways in the region, a trend scarcely mentioned in policy circles. High-carbon activities include the extraction of fossil fuels and other natural resources, expansion of large-scale agriculture and the energy-intensive stages of processing natural resources into intermediate goods. 

 

This paper addresses three examples, including Chinese investments in Venezuela’s oil sector and a Costa Rican oil refinery, and Chinese investment in and purchases of Brazilian soybeans. We pose the question of whether there is a tie between China’s role in opening up vast resources in Latin America and the way those nations make national climate policy and how they behave at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. 

 

China and Latin America have a critical role to play to ensure progress is made before the 2015 deadline, since they together account for approximately 40 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Several Latin American nations are world leaders in having reached high levels of human development while emitting very low levels of greenhouse gases. Several have publicly committed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Staying on or moving to low-carbon pathways is critical for these countries, but substantial Chinese investments in natural resources and commodities—when combined with those of other nations and firms—run the risk of taking the region in an unsustainable direction.

 

Chinese investments and imports of Latin American commodities may be strengthening the relative power of political and commercial domestic constituencies and of “dirty” ministries (e.g. ministries of mining, agriculture or energy) vis-à-vis environmental and climate change ministries and departments. These “cleaner” ministries are traditionally weak and marginalized actors in the region. China may thus be inadvertently undermining Latin American countries’ attempts to promote climate change policies by reinforcing and strengthening actors within those countries and governments that do not prioritize climate change and who have often seen environmental efforts as an impediment to economic growth.

 

China has stated that it is interested in cooperating with Latin America on combating climate change, but official bilateral or multilateral exchanges on the issue outside of the UNFCCC negotiations have been limited. Both China and Latin America could benefit substantially by refocusing on opportunities for low-carbon growth such as renewable energy. China’s growing influence in global renewable energy markets presents excellent opportunities to invest in clean energy in Latin America.

 

China and Latin American countries could launch a climate change initiative through the newly created China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum, focused on financing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry, energy and transport, as well as sharing technology and strategies for adapting to climate impacts. Chinese-Latin American relations should also mainstream environmental protection and low-carbon sustainable growth into their partnership, to avoid pushing countries in the region towards high-carbon pathways.


Research FellowCenter for Environmental Studies
Co-Director of the Climate and Development Lab

Brown University
Box 1943
135 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02912

climatedevlab.org/
www.intercambioclimatico.com/en/author/guy/

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Obama, EU to stand together on climate change draft.

Date: 14-Mar-14

by Barbara Lewis, Reuters, Brussels

U.S. President Barack Obama and EU leaders meeting in Brussels this month will throw their combined weight behind tackling climate change, a document seen by Reuters says, in a show of developed world solidarity on the need for a new global deal.

But the guarded, diplomatic language is likely to disappoint environmentalists calling for urgent, ambitious pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“Sustainable economic growth will only be possible if we tackle climate change,” a draft communique ahead of the EU-US summit on March 26 says. The text is subject to further negotiation between the European Union and the United States.

Both the European Union and the United States are preparing new pledges on cutting emissions for the first quarter of 2015, ahead of a U.N. summit in Paris that is meant to agree a new worldwide deal.

Its aim must be to limit any global average temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels “and should therefore include ambitious mitigation contributions, notably from the world’s major economies and other significant emitters,” the document said.

The European Union has sought to lead efforts to curb global warming with more ambitious carbon-cutting goals than any other bloc, but some of its member states, notably Poland, say there is no point in Europe taking the lead when it is responsible for only just over 10 percent of global emissions.

The United States, the world’s second biggest emitter, together with China, the top emitter, account for about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month, the U.N.’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said closer cooperation between China and the United States could boost prospects for a U.N. deal in 2015.

European environmental campaigners say such a partnership could also marginalize Europe in the debate and in the race to keep up with technological advances to decarbonise energy.

PREPARATION:

To prepare its negotiating stance ahead of the 2015 U.N. talks, the Commission, the EU executive, in January outlined 2030 climate and energy policy, including a suggested 40 percent carbon cutting target. That compares with a 2020 goal to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, which the European Union has almost achieved already.

The United States by contrast has said it will reduce carbon by 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005, which equates to a fall of 3.5 percent below 1990 levels.

Just before Obama’s visit to Brussels, a summit of EU leaders on March 20-21, will debate 2030 climate and energy policy, but is not expected to reach a firm agreement. Poland, which relies on coal for most of its energy, would block a deal at this point.

But Britain says Europe should not only make an early commitment to a cut of at least 40 percent, it should be willing to increase the aim to 50 percent if the rest of the world signs up to a deal.

A draft document this week said only that the European Union will submit its contribution at the latest by the first quarter of 2015, raising the possibility the European Union does not need to reach a political agreement until late this year.

Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said only that next week’s summit should send a strong signal.

“The sooner we have an overall signal, a political signal of what kind of ambition level we are heading for, the easier it will be to elaborate on the details,” she said on Thursday.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Leadership 3,422 views

Meet The First Carbon-Neutral Hotel Group In The World, And Why Your Business Should Take Notice.

In an interview with Kirsten Brøchner of the Arthur Hotel Group in Copenhagen, Denmark, we discussed their journey to become the first carbon-neutral hotel group in the world, and how their 5-point climate action plan is not only good for the planet, but good for business.

 

Rahim Kanani: Tell me a little bit about the founding of Brøchner Hotels and the resulting Arthur Hotels group. Also, where did the desire to put sustainability at the core of the organization come from?

 

Kirsten Brøchner: Brøchner Hotels has been a family owned and family run business from day one in 1982. First by my parents, with my assistance, and later with the help of my brother. Until June 2013, Brøchner Hotels consisted of four hotels, but due to a generational change and different visions in management, my brother and I separated the company into two independent companies, and I thereby formed the Arthur Hotel group consisting of Hotel Kong Arthur and Ibsens Hotel.

 

Being climate-friendly was and is my mission, and this is why we continue our efforts for a greener planet with Arthur Hotels. I have been asked the question about why I have this desire to put sustainability at the core of the organization many times, and I have come to the conclusion that the reason must be found in the story of my upbringing. My family consists mainly of entrepreneurs and healthcare personnel—hospital professors, doctors and nurses—so I have always been inspired by both the desire to see new projects blossom and the desire to care for others. Quite a good combination when running a hotel group, when thinking about it. My philosophy has always been that if you value ethics highly in your business, the money will follow automatically.

 

When the climate debate began to rise, this immediately caught my attention. I found it important to take action, and this is why I decided that despite the hotel group being a very small player in the market, I believed we could make a difference and hopefully encourage others to make a difference as well. I am aware that we in my company cannot make a big change alone, but hopefully we could set an example, which we have done.

 

Hotel Group

 

Kanani: What did it take to become the first carbon-neutral hotel group in the world, and what challenges did you have to overcome to achieve such a feat?

 

Brøchner: I felt that we as a corporation had a co-responsibility for climate change and that we therefore had to take action. We investigated and discussed what to do, and I discovered that with the Kyoto Protocol, all parties committed were allotted the right to emit a certain amount of carbon. If emissions were not utilized, because an energy producer had converted their energy production into a more climate-friendly solution, these emissions could be sold via the European Union Emissions Trading System. I figured that if we bought some of these surplus energy offsets and destroyed them, and took them off the market, these emissions would not be utilized. Further, by buying these offsets we would also financially support these energy producers that had invested in alternative production methods. Finally, if buying and destroying offsets corresponding to the amount of carbon that our hotels emit, we would be able to neutralize our total energy consumption.

 

We then took the investigation one step further and researched what other businesses and hotels had done, and we discovered that we, by doing this, would become the first carbon neutral hotel group, which was confirmed by the international hotel organization IH&RA. However, it was nearly impossible to find out how to buy these offsets, as they were only available for energy companies. I talked to a lot of people, ministries, government boards and others, spending a lot of time to investigate this. Suddenly, I came in contact with the small, Danish, independent, climate-friendly energy company Modstrøm, who offered to sell energy offsets via them. Ever since, we have bought energy offsets equalling our annual carbon emission at the hotels based on electricity, heat and linen consumption. This was how we were able to call ourselves the first carbon neutral hotel in the world.

 

Besides buying offsets, we have changed our whole mindset in the company, investigating all details on how we can be climate-friendly in every corner of the company. And we have done this by creating a 5 step climate plan that we have followed since 2008. As the offsets market have lost value, we are thinking about what we can do next. But due to the recent creation of Arthur Hotels, we must be realistic and I must admit that this will take time if we want to present a new thought-through initiative and thereby make an even bigger impact. Nevertheless, our 5-step climate plan is still ruling.

 

The challenges with the offset system were not the only challenges we faced. I had a lot of ideas that were not realized, unfortunately. For instance, I wanted to set up a climate school for companies with training courses for employees, teaching them how to choose the green option at work and at home. One example is when boiling water for tea—only boiling the water needed, so energy is not wasted on boiling extra. Or eating more light than dark meat, as the production of beef is more harmful to the environment than the production of poultry. Unfortunately, none of the many government agencies I asked for help were interested in supporting the idea.

 

Through the years, I have met the Minister of Climate several times and have discussed my ideas. I have asked for more public information on how to choose green in the supermarket. How are we supposed to know, from a green perspective, what is best to buy: tomatoes grown in Danish greenhouses, or organic tomatoes transported from Spain? In my opinion, the government should create a system with which the average consumer will be able to understand how to shop with a carbon-minimizing mindset in the supermarket. I have also suggested the Minister carry out a governmental plan to help both citizens and companies finance the building of houses or renovation projects carried through by using alternative energy sources—giving people access to “cheap money”. Unfortunately, these are challenges I have yet to overcome.

 

Kanani: What are some of the details to your 5-step climate plan?

 

Brøchner: As of 2008, our plan is as follows:

 

1. CO2 neutralization now and in the future.
2. Create energy savings.
3. Involve guests.
4. Establish a CO2 neutral hotel network.
5. Collaborate with climate networks/alliances including climate friendly suppliers.

 

We have made many small adjustments such as changing to more energy-friendly sources when it comes to light bulbs, heating centrals, guest amenities, groceries and other items and always choose as green as possible when introducing new products. We bought electric cars for our guests to rent, and we have charging stations at Hotel Kong Arthur for guests arriving by electric car.

Electric Cars

 

The biggest change must be the reduction of our linen consumption by 22 per cent. Reducing our linen consumption means, from a green perspective, that less laundry detergent, which is harmful to the environment, is used, energy consumption from the washing machines is reduced, the transport of linen to and from the hotel is reduced, which reduces carbon emission from the transport and so on. And all of this is due to a simple idea put forth by one of our maids: instead of leaving all towels visible in the bathrooms, we leave some of the towels in the cupboard with a cute hand-written post-it message on the bathroom mirror inviting the guest to help us protect the environment by only using the towels needed – and if needed, more towels are available in the cupboard.

 

Of other ways we are enacting out a climate-friendly agenda is by collaborating with suppliers supporting the green initiative. A green chain collaboration so to speak. We buy primarily organic food products and bread, and actually our organic bread supplier, the bakery “Det Rene Brød”, even bought electric cars to deliver the bread to us after having seen our own. We have reduced transportation by, for instance, having milk delivered every other day instead of every day. And all of these great initiatives are based on ideas from employees in the company. Whenever someone gets a new climate-friendly idea, we discuss it and see if we can implement it.

 

Kanani: The city of Copenhagen intends to become carbon neutral by 2025—the first goal of its kind in the world. Were you inspired by the city’s ambition, or was the city inspired by yours?

 

Brøchner: This is a difficult question. When the Municipality of Copenhagen launched their Climate+ campaign, which has now resulted in the goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral city, we were appointed Climate+ Frontrunner, and I gave a speech at the opening ceremony. But I will say that the city’s ambition and our ambition were two parallel stories or processes. And I am very happy that the city and we share the same ambition, because it is only by working together towards the same goal that we can make a difference.

 

Kanani: Is pursuing a sustainable and climate-friendly agenda good for business?

 

Brøchner: Definitely. And in several ways. First, in relation to the market, being sustainable has always been good for us as a small player, as we have achieved great attention. Not only do we receive great media coverage, but it has also meant that we have expanded our client portfolio. Before becoming carbon neutral, it was difficult for us to attract the attention of big companies. However, a few years ago, the Danish government passed a law demanding that all medium-sized and large corporations in their annual accounts report their CSR accounting. These companies are welcome to report that they do not do anything at all, but who wants to write that? So when this law was passed, this definitely put pressure on, for instance, these companies’ green chain collaborations which meant that suddenly international companies like Novo Nordisk wanted us as their hotel partner.

 

Second, there is no doubt that being sustainable has an economical advantage for all types of businesses. Saving energy for instance also means saving money.

 

Third, thinking and acting green also has an impact on the company internally. When making an effort for good causes such as protecting our planet, companies will automatically attract the passionate fireballs who want to be part of that company, contributing to the good cause. In this way, sustainability is sustainable; it becomes a positive impact causal loop.

 

Fourth, being sustainable has had a great impact on me personally. These efforts have expanded my network. Suddenly, I was having dinner with Nobel Pease Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. I have met so many inspiring and creative people throughout this process, and continue to do so—people who have helped me develop my business in many creative ways. I believe that inviting innovation inside is always good for business.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

THE FOLLOWING SHOWS THAT UNDER UK LEADERSHIP, AND US BACKING, THE UN TURNS TO ITS MEMBER STATES’ LEGISLATORS IN ORDER TO FIND A WAY TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE.  IT SEEMS THAT FINALLY THE UN HAS LANDED ON SOMETHING – AND WE GIVE A LOT OF CREDIT FOR THIS TO  Dr. ROBERT ORR – a US citizen -  UN Assistant Secretary General in the UN Secretary-General’s office.

We are told that In 2013 there was substantive legislative progress in 8 countries (passage of “flagship legislation”) and positive advances in a further 19 countries:

– Americas: Bolivia passed its Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development to Live Well; El Salvador adopted its National Climate Change Strategy; In Ecuador, Decree 1815 established the Intersectoral National Strategy for Climate Change; and in Costa Rica a draft General Law on Climate Change has been introduced and is expected to pass in 2014.

– Asia-Pacific: China published its National Adaptation Plan and made progress in drafting its national climate change law; Indonesia extended its forest moratorium; Kazakhstan introduced a pilot emissions trading scheme; Micronesia passed its Climate Change Act in late 2013.

– Europe: Poland adopted its National Strategy for Adaptation and Switzerland overhauled its CO2 Act to increase ambition.
– Middle East and North Africa: Jordan passed its National Climate Change Policy; and the United Arab Emirates launched a mandatory Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling Scheme.
– Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya adopted 2013-2017 Climate Change Action Plan; Mozambique adopted 2013-2025 National Strategy for Climate Change;Tanzania passed its National Strategy on REDD+; Nigeria’s Legislative Council
approved the adoption of a National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy.

 

BUT WHEN THINGS MOVE UP THEY MAY ALSO COME DOWN – SO -
* Two countries began processes to reverse legislation:
– Following an election, the new Australian government has proposed to repeal aspects of the Clean Energy Act in 2014.
– Japan announced a lowering of its ambition on climate change in response to its reduced reliance on nuclear energy after the tsunami and resulting accident at Fukushima.
        Key information on the GLOBE Partnership for Climate Legislation (supported by the UN and the World Bank Group):

* The Partnership For Climate Legislation will support national legislators in 66 countries to share best practice and to develop and oversee the implementation of legislation on climate change, natural capital accounting and forests/REDD+.   The Partnership directly responds to the demand from legislators for technical, policy and analytical capacity.

* Specific aims:
i. To share best legislative practice through the annual GLOBE Climate
Legislation Study, national case studies and the convening of GLOBE Climate
Legislation Summits.
ii. To provide a dedicated international process that supports legislators
– on a demand-led basis – to develop and implement climate change
legislation.
iii. To explore how commitments made in national legislation can be
recognised within the architecture of an international climate change
agreement.
iv. To develop a Climate Legislation Resolution to be agreed at the World
Summit of Legislators and to be taken by legislators to their respective
national parliaments.
v. To support legislators to obtain, use and exchange relevant climate data.
* Climate-related legislation and policies (including mitigation, adaptation and forests/REDD), once implemented, carry the potential to bring additional benefits including disaster risk reduction and resilience, new sources of income/livelihoods, sustainable energy access and positive effects on public health.

* Recognizing that developing and passing laws is not sufficient in itself, the Partnership will support legislators to ensure they are equipped to effectively oversee the implementation of the law by national governments, including ensuring national budgets are consistent with climate goals, as well as assessing the impact of climate-related laws on the national
economy and key sectors of society.

           About the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE):
* GLOBE was established in 1989 by cross party legislators from the EU, Japan, Russia and the USA.  Today GLOBE International is the world’s largest organisation of legislators dedicated to advancing laws on climate
change, forests/REDD+ and natural capital accounting .
* Legislators from 86 countries have participated in GLOBE’s dedicated policy initiatives and legislators from 40 countries work through formal national and regional chapters of the organization.
* With headquarters in Great Britain, offices in 8 countries and over 25 locally-recruited policy advisors across a global network, GLOBE is uniquely placed to support national legislators to develop and implement laws.

—————————————

 

FURTHER – A PRESS RELEASE – THAT WAS EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 UK/GMT 27 FEBRUARY 2014

STUDY REVEALS RAPID ADVANCE OF NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE LAWS CREATING BASIS FOR NEW INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AGREEMENT

UN and World Bank support partnership with the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) to encourage development of national climate change laws.
********

Thursday 27th February, US Senate, Washington DC, 115 senior national legislators from 50 countries along with the heads of key United Nations Institutions, United Nations Climate Negotiations and the World Bank Group receive the results of the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of national climate changes laws in 66 of the world’s countries.  The Summit will be hosted in the US Senate Kennedy Caucus Room by Senator Edward Markey.

The Study covering countries responsible for 88% of global carbon emissions was co-authored by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE).  The Study sets out a series of politically significant findings that will have a direct bearing on success of the international negotiations. Legislators will also consider how national laws can be recognised within a 2015 international climate change agreement.

Responding to the Study, the Global Legislators Organisation is launching a major new international initiative, The Partnership for Climate Legislation, supported by the United Nations and the World Bank Group.  The Partnership will help national legislators to develop and implement climate change laws. It will work across the 66 nations covered by the Study by sharing best legislative practice, provide detailed policy, analytical and legal capacity to cross party groups of legislators as they develop their own laws.

The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study findings show:
* Almost 500 national climate laws have been passed in the 66 countries
covered by the Study.  The 66 countries account for 88% of global
emissions.
* 64 of 66 countries have progressed or are progressing significant climate
and/or energy-related legislation.
* Much of the substantive progress on legislative activity on climate
change in 2013 took place in emerging economies, including China and
Mexico, which will provide the motor of global economic growth in coming
decades.
* Whilst the legislative approach often differs (whether directly inspired
by climate change, energy efficiency, energy security or competitiveness),
national legislation is achieving similar results — improved energy
security, greater resource-efficiency and cleaner, lower carbon economic
growth.
* While current national legislation does not yet add up to what needs to
be done to avoid dangerous climate change, it is putting in place the
mechanisms to measure, report and verify emissions, a pre-requisite for a
credible global climate treaty.
* There is an urgent need for those countries that have not yet passed
climate legislation to do so

US Senator Edward Markey, said: “Climate action is happening in legislatures around the globe because climate change is harming countries and their people around the globe.  We need an international movement to pass climate legislation, and nowhere is that movement needed more than here in the United States.  The GLOBE study show legislators around the
world are taking actives steps to develop significant national legislation and I urge colleagues here in the United States to acknowledge the movement and take action”.

President of the Global Legislators Organisation, Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, said: “The message from the 4th GLOBE Climate Legislation Study is clear – more countries than ever before are passing credible and significant national
climate change laws. This is changing the dynamics of the international response to climate change and poses a serious question to the international community about how we can recognise credible commitments made by governments within their national legislature.  It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.”

“Understanding this message from the Study and embracing it in how major international processes and institutions work between now and Paris 2015 will be critical.  We must see more countries develop their own national climate change laws so that when governments sit down in 2015 they will do so in very different political conditions to when they did in Copenhagen. The Partnership for Climate Legislation will support legislators across party political lines to advance climate change-related legislation. The Partnership will provide a combination of political, analytical and administrative capacity.  It will also serve as a platform where legislators from across the world can meet, discuss common barriers, issues and successes and share information about best legislative practice”.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres said: “It is no exaggeration to say that theclean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement. At the national level, it is clear
that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition”.

World Bank Group Vice-President and Special Envoy Rachel Kyte said: “2014 is the year we need to step up climate action.  Legislators have a critical role to play in raising political ambition and ensuring that effective laws and regulations support low carbon and resilient development.  For this reason, we’re pleased to support the new Partnership for Climate
Legislation”.

The President of the Mexican Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes said: “With the support of GLOBE, Mexico has passed ambitious climate legislation. We are here today in the US Senate to share our experience, to build a global coalition of parliamentarians against the damaging effects of climate change and to challenge inaction.”

UK Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon William Hague said: “A global and legally binding deal on emissions reductions in the UNFCC in 2015 is imperative. As we work towards that agreement, it is clear that domestic legislation has a key role to play in building consensus and cementing ambition, which is why GLOBE’s work is so important.  The launch of GLOBE’s Partnership forClimate Legislation, with the backing of the UN and World Bank, is an  important step towards sustaining this work for long term, which the UK Government wholeheartedly supports”.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers included:

Representing the United Nations Secretary General’s Office:
* UN Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Robert Orr Representing the World Bank:
* World Bank Group President, Dr Jim Yong Kim
* World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte

Representing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
* UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres

Representing the United Nations Environment Programmes:
* UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner

Representing the Congress of Mexico:
* President of Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes

 

—————————————————
For further information, please contact:

Study results and policy:
Terry Townshend, Study Author and Policy Director, Mobile: +86 15011 289613
and +44 7900 912808. E-mail: Terry.Townshend@globeinternational.org

Washington Summit:
Andrew Hammond, GLOBE Media Relations, Mobile: +44 7792926576. E-mail:
Andrew.Hammond@globeinternational.org
Office of Senator Markey:
Eben Burnham-Snyder, Telephone +1 202 224 2742, Email
eben_bs@markey.senate.gov
www.globeinternational.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

“Storms of My Grandchildren”, by James Hansen

On the webpage “Updating the Climate Science: What Path is the Real World Following?”, Drs. Makiko Sato and James Hansen update figures in the book Storms of My Grandchildren (see LA Times review) and present updated graphs and discussion of key quantities that help provide understanding of how climate change is developing and how effective or ineffective global actions are in affecting climate forcings and future climate change. A few errata in Storms are also provided.

Near Future Presentations

Recent Communications

Dr. Hansen periodically posts commentary on his recent papers and presentations and on other topics of interest to an e-mail list. To receive announcements of new postings, please click here.

? Go to older postings

Recent Scholarly Publications

Hansen, J., P. Kharecha, M. Sato, V. Masson-Delmotte, et al., Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. PLOS ONE, 8, e81468.

 

Hansen, J., M. Sato, G. Russell, and P. Kharecha, 2013: Climate sensitivity, sea level, and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 371, 20120294, doi:10.1098/rsta.2012.0294.

? Go to older publications

Other Recent Publications

Apr. 4, 2013: Keystone XL: The pipeline to disaster. Op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

? Go to older publications

Recent Presentations

February 2014: Symposium on a New Type of Major Power Relationship: Presentation given at Counsellors Office of the State Council, Beijin, China on Feb. 24.
+ Download PDF (3.5 MB)

December 2013: Minimizing Irreversible Impacts of Human-Made Climate Change: Presentation given at AGU Fall Meeting on Dec. 12.
+ Download PDF (4.3 MB)

September 2012: A New Age of Risk: Presentation given at Columbia University on Sep. 22.
+ Download PDF (2.1 MB)
+ Download PPT (2.5 MB)

? Go to older presentations

Recent TV Appearance

in Recent News

Recent Video

December 2012: Discussion at Climate One about Superstorm Sandy and Carbon Pricing.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages|Contributing Op-Ed Writer

Days of Desiccation

The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir in San Jose, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The bathtub rings in the reservoirs that hold California’s liquid life have never been more exposed. Shorelines are bare, brown and bony. Much of the Sierra Nevada is naked of snow. And fields in the Central Valley may soon take to the sky. A Dust Bowl? Not yet. Though this drought will surely go down as the worst in the state’s recorded history. Until next year.

But something else is evident in this cloudless winter: when you build a society with a population larger than Canada’s, and do it with one of the world’s most elaborate plumbing systems, it’s a fragile pact. California is an oasis state, a hydraulic construct. Extreme stress brings out the folly of nature-defiance.

The whole fantasy of modern California has long been dependent on an audacious feat of engineering. You could drain the Owens Valley to allow Los Angeles to metastasize. (See “Chinatown.”) You could grab water from Yosemite to keep San Francisco alive. And you could move all that snowmelt up north to the south, and feed the world.

When it works, it’s a marvel. Golden Gate Park is green. Los Angeles has a river (sort of). The fragrance of fruit trees fills Fresno. But what if there is no snow, no rain, and nothing left in the aquifers underground? To date, going back to the start of its water year last July, Los Angeles has received 1.2 inches of rain. Yes, for the year. San Diego will soon notch its driest winter ever. And 80 percent of the state is in extreme drought.

California will get through it, though not without significant pain. And while there will be some reordering of power, nothing will put to lie the old line about the arid West: Water flows uphill to money.

But at the least, these days of desiccation call for some honesty — to look at this state and see, in all its dimensions, the fragility of this kind of pact. And beyond that, to see in California a precursor of what could happen elsewhere if we think we can out-engineer a fevered planet. The drought itself may not be a result of climate change, but it is made worse by all the meteorological complications.

Media myopia tends to feed a one-sided narrative: There’s no global warming because, after all, much of the United States is cold and snowy. The West is the exception, but it’s a long way from Al Roker’s studio at 30 Rock. Even farther is Australia, where the warmest winter on record has been followed by a summer of wildfires and heat waves pushing 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The Millennial Drought, which lasted from 1995 to 2012, now looks like the new normal down under.

No surprise, some of the worst deniers of the obvious come from places where it pays to look the other way. Let me introduce Representative Devin Nunes, Republican from Fresno. Like most elected members of his party, Nunes apparently skipped out of science class.

“Global warming is nonsense,” he said last week, when President Obama visited the Central Valley. “We want water, not welfare.”

They’ve certainly got plenty of welfare. The Central Valley Project is a tangle of aqueducts, pumps, canals and dams, the largest water development project in the United States. Yes, we taxpayers built it, and still subsidize it. Its 20 reservoirs hold enough water to irrigate three million acres.

But Nunes prefers the myth, firmly planting himself with the fact-denial majority of Republican lawmakers. He took to the floor of Congress a few days ago to explain. “Our ancestors in California built an amazing irrigation system that can deliver a reliable water supply even during severe droughts,” he said.

Our ancestors! You know, those long-dead wise ones, the socialists from the New Deal and the bureaucrats of the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Better not to name them.

Then, more explanation: You see, he said, holding up a large sign with a picture of the sun, snow and a droplet of water, “Government doesn’t create water.” Oh, of course not. Then let’s just take government out of the picture and watch what happens to farms in the congressman’s district.

The enemy, he concluded, is nature. Fish in particular — “stupid little fish,” he said. Some pretty smart big fish, Pacific salmon, are in trouble as well. He didn’t mention them. Nunes was referring to the delta smelt, a key link in keeping the hydraulic heart of California healthy, but small and imperiled by the switcheroo of the smelt’s habitat to Nunes’s home. As for stupid, the fish yields its time to the congressman from California.

Following his lead, the Republican House has passed a bill moving precious water from the north to big farmers in the Republican-rich lower Central Valley. Government may not create water, but Congress can dole it out. The bill is dead in the Senate.

California’s big urban areas, after years of smart conservation measures, will get by. But in a state where agriculture consumes 75 percent of the water, farms will go fallow. This drought for the ages should prompt some imaginative thinking on what foods grow best in an arid land.

The congressman from Fresno could take his cue from another ancestor, William Randolph Hearst. Up high on a dry perch overlooking the Pacific, Hearst built his Mediterranean castle. Last month, the keepers of the compound started draining the big Neptune Pool and many of its fountains, a concession to the drought. Fantasy has its limits.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for papers, The legal issues associated with the development and use of Arctic energy resources, Tromsø, September 2014.

from:  Nigel Bankes ndbankes@ucalgary.ca

 February 7, 2014

ENERGY LAW CONFERENCE

25-26 September 2014

Call for Papers

 

The legal issues associated with the development and use of Arctic energy resources

 

 

The Faculty of Law, at the University of Tromsø in conjunction with the K.G. Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea is pleased to announce the call for papers for the energy law conference on “The legal issues associated with the development and use of energy resources in the Arctic”.

 

You are invited to submit proposals to present a paper addressing the conference theme, broadly construed.

Without intending to be prescriptive, examples of topics that would fall within the scope of the conference include legal issues (domestic and international law) related to any of the following in an Arctic context:

the role of strategic and project-specific environmental assessments;

energy markets;

energy security in an Arctic context;

energy relations between the EU and Russia;

the energy relations of Nordic States;

energy relations between the EU and Arctic states;

the role of renewables in the Arctic including wind, geothermal, tidal; non-conventional energy resources such as gas hydrates;

the oil and gas leasing regimes of Arctic states; infrastructure issues (transmission lines and pipelines);

navigation and other law of the sea issues associated with getting Arctic resources to market; liability issues and liability regimes for energy projects; insurance issues; project financing issues;

delimitation of maritime zones and the management of transboundary hydrocarbon resources;

extended continental shelf claims;

energy resource projects on indigenous lands; social licence to operate;

climate change issues (e.g. regulation of black carbon); Arctic energy resources and endangered species;

energy as a human right;

energy efficiency;

regional governance issues (e.g. the role of the Arctic Council, OSPAR etc).

 

Proposals will be considered by the conference convenors on the basis of academic merit and policy significance and fit with the conference theme. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted to the convenors by April 30, 2014. Abstracts should be sent to maria.m.neves@uit.no.

 

We anticipate (depending on numbers) being able to cover the costs of hotel accommodation and meals for those selected to present papers.

 

For more information on the conference please visit our website www.uit.no/lawofthesea or contact christin.skjervold@uit.no.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

United Nations, Nations Unies
UAE to Host High-Level Meeting in May Leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate SummitLeaders to meet in Abu Dhabi 4-5 May on Climate Action

New York, 3 February—A special two-day high- level meeting will be held from 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to encourage announcements of greater action and ambition by world leaders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced today.

The Climate Summit will take place on 23 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its General Debate.  The Secretary-General has invited leaders of government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change. The Summit will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

The “Abu Dhabi Ascent,” as the May meeting will be called, will bring Ministers as well as business, finance, and civil society leaders together to develop a range of proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations may become more involved in various initiatives so that partnerships can be broadened and deepened to deliver concrete action at the Summit.

The Secretary-General welcomed the UAE’s offer to host this meeting.  “The UAE initiative to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent is an important concrete contribution to the Summit. This meeting is a critical milepost on the way that will help build the momentum we need for a successful Climate Summit.  I look forward to working with all leaders to ensure that the Summit catalyzes major steps on the ground and towards an ambitious global climate agreement.”

“The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of international efforts to mitigate climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. “As a key mitigation strategy, the UAE has made significant investments to develop and deploy clean energy technologies globally.”

“The high level meeting in Abu Dhabi will be integral in encouraging and enhancing commitments from the public-private sectors and ensuring the Summit in New York is a success.”

By spurring action on climate change, the Abu Dhabi Ascent leading up to the Climate Summit will complement and boost momentum toward a climate change agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

More  information on the Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/

For more information, please contact: Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495, shepard@un.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit.

Posted:   |  Updated: 01/30/2014

{WE ARE HONORED – FOLKS IN WASHINGTON THOUGHT THAT THE COPENHAGEN 2009 MEETING OF THE UNFCCC – the COP 15 – THE LAST ONE WE ATTENDED – WAS ACTUALLY OF IMPORTANCE. Now we believe that the 2015 meeting in Paris will also be important.}

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

 

The document, with portions marked “top secret,” indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that “analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries’ preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies.”

 

“Second Party partners” refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship.

“While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event,” the document says.

 

The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.

 

The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact. The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions limits, while the United States — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when the protocol went into effect in 2004 — had famously declined to join. The two-week meeting was supposed to produce a successor agreement that would include the U.S., as well as China, India and other countries with rapidly increasing emissions.

 

The document indicates that the NSA planned to gather information as the leaders and negotiating teams of other countries held private discussions throughout the Copenhagen meeting. “Leaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding sidebar discussions with their counterparts — details of which are of great interest to our policymakers,” the document states. The information likely would be used to brief U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, among others, according to the document.

 

The document does not detail how the agency planned to continue gathering information during the summit, other than noting that it would be capturing signals intelligence such as calls and emails. Previous disclosures have indicated that the NSA has the ability to monitor the mobile phones of heads of state. Other documents that Snowden has released indicate that the U.K.’s intelligence service tapped into delegates’ email and telephone communications at the 2009 G-20 meetings in London. Other previous Snowden disclosures documented the surveillance of the G-8 and G-20 summits in Canada in 2010, and the U.N. climate change conference in Bali in 2007.

The document also refers to some intelligence gathered ahead of the meeting, including a report that “detailed China’s efforts to coordinate its position with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same outcome.” It refers to another report that “provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch a ‘rescue plan’ to save COP-15.”

 

The Danish proposal was a draft agreement that the country’s negotiators had drawn up in the months ahead of the summit in consultation with a small number key of countries. The text was leaked to The Guardian early in the conference, causing some disarray as countries that were not consulted balked that it promoted the interests of developed nations and undermined principles laid out in previous climate negotiations. As Information reports, Danish officials wanted to keep U.S. negotiators from seeing the text in the weeks ahead of the conference, worried that it may dim their ambitions in the negotiations for proposed cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The Danes did share the text with the U.S. and other key nations ahead of the meeting. But the NSA document noting this as “advance details” indicates that the U.S. may have already intercepted it. The paragraph referring to the Danish text is marked “SI” in the Snowden document — which most likely means “signals intelligence,” indicating that it came from electronic information intercepted by the NSA, rather than being provided to the U.S. negotiators.

 

That could be why U.S. negotiators took the positions they did going into the conference, a Danish official told Information. “They simply sat back, just as we had feared they would if they knew about our document,” the official said. “They made no constructive statements. Obviously, if they had known about our plans since the fall of 2009, it was in their interest to simply wait for our draft proposal to be brought to the table at the summit.”

 

Members of the Danish delegation indicated in interviews with Information that they thought the American and Chinese negotiators seemed “peculiarly well-informed” about discussions that had taken place behind closed doors. “Particularly the Americans,” said one official. “I was often completely taken aback by what they knew.”

 

Despite high hopes for an agreement at Copenhagen, the negotiations started slowly and there were few signs of progress. Obama and heads of state from more than 100 nations arrived late in the second week in hopes of achieving a breakthrough, but the final day wore on without an outcome. There were few promising signals until late Friday night, when Obama made a surprise announcement that he — along with leaders from China, India, Brazil and South Africa — had come up with the “Copenhagen Accord.”

 

The three-page document set a goal of keeping the average rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius, but allowed countries to write their own plans for cutting emissions — leaving out any legally binding targets or even a path to a formal treaty. Obama called the accord “an unprecedented breakthrough” in a press conference, then took off for home on Air Force One. But other countries balked, pointing out that the accord was merely a political agreement, drafted outside the U.N. process and of uncertain influence for future negotiations.

 

The climate summits since then have advanced at a glacial pace; a legally binding treaty isn’t currently expected until 2015. And the U.S. Congress, despite assurances made in Copenhagen, never passed new laws cutting planet-warming emissions. (The Environmental Protection Agency is, however, moving forward with regulations on emissions from power plants, but a new law to addressing the issue had been widely considered as preferable.)

 

The revelation that the NSA was surveilling the communications of leaders during the Copenhagen talks is unlikely to help build the trust of negotiators from other nations in the future.

 

“It can’t help in the sense that if people think you’re trying to get an unfair advantage or manipulate the process, they’re not going to have much trust in you,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a seasoned veteran of the U.N. climate negotiations. Meyer said he worried that the disclosure might cause the parties to “start becoming more cautious, more secretive, and less forthcoming” in the negotiations. “That’s not a good dynamic in a process where you’re trying to encourage collaboration, compromise, and working together, as opposed to trying to get a comparative advantage,” he said.

 

Obama has defended the NSA’s work as important in fighting terrorism at home and abroad. But the latest Snowden document indicates that the agency plays a broader role in protecting U.S. interests internationally.

 

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment directly on the Snowden document in an email to the Huffington Post, but did say that “the U.S. Government has made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.” She noted that Obama’s Jan. 17 speech on the NSA “laid out a series of concrete and substantial reforms the Administration will adopt or seek to codify with Congress” regarding surveillance.

 

“In particular, he issued a new Presidential Directive that lays out new principles that govern how we conduct signals intelligence collection, and strengthen how we provide executive branch oversight of our signals intelligence activities,” Hayden said. “It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances; our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies; and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis, so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by the President’s senior national security team.”

 

Read the full document here.

IT READS:

(U) UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — Will the Developed and Developing
World Agree on Climate Change?

FROM:
Deputy SINIO for Economics and Global Issues (S17)
Run Date: 12/07/2009
(U) Delegates from around the world will convene in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December for the
UN Climate Change Conference (COP-15). The event is intended to be the culmination of two
years of negotiations by the international community to reach consensus on legally binding
commitments to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would enter into force in 2012, when
the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change expires. Over 90 world leaders, including
the U.S. President, are expected to participate. In Copenhagen, these leaders will attempt to reach
an agreement that both launches immediate action and ensures long-term commitments. However,
it remains to be seen if an agreement will be reached or whether negotiations will break down
entirely. Success or failure will have far-reaching effects in the areas of foreign policy,
environmental issues, and energy security.
(U) Reaching a global climate-change agreement will not be easy for the delegates. The greatest
challenge to the talks remains the North-South divide. The leaders from the North — i.e., developed
countries — see climate change as a problem with irreversible consequences that cannot be solved
without the full participation of developing countries, especially emerging market economies. The
leaders from the South — or developing countries, led by China and India — see the climate change
problem as not of their making and believe they are being asked to fix it in ways which will hamper
their ability to raise their standards of living.
(U) These divisions are deep, with both sides showing few signs of compromise. During the
opening session of preliminary negotiations in Barcelona last month, the 50-member Africa Group,
in a show of unity, walked out, announcing that they would boycott the Kyoto Protocol talks until
developed countries got serious about their climate change commitments. They ended their boycott
of the talks after winning promises for more in-depth talks on how much developed countries need
to reduce GHG emissions.
(U) To move the process forward, it will be necessary to bridge this divide. There are efforts
underway to do this, including the Franco-Brazilian common position, which aims to reduce GHG
emissions globally by at least 50 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. In a mid-November statement
to the press, Presidents Sarkozy and Lula emphasized that they hoped to demonstrate that two
countries with different national and regional situations can successfully adopt a joint position on
climate change. Meanwhile, the Danes, as host of the event, are tirelessly engaging world leaders to
garner support for their draft political agreement – which was created when it became clear that the
process had run out of time to reach agreement on a legally binding treaty. Supporters of this
approach hope the political agreement will subsequently be transformed into a legally binding
climate treaty sometime next year.
(TS//SI//REL) Analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide
policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries’ preparations and goals
for the conference, as well as deliberations within countries on climate change policies and
negotiating strategies. A late November report detailed China’s efforts to coordinate its position
with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same
outcome. Another report provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch
a “rescue plan” to save COP-15.

ITS//SI//REL) Given such large participation (with all 192 UN member states invited to attend),
leaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute
policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding frequent sidebar discussions with
their counterparts — details of which are of great interest to our policymakers.

While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will

undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible
thouout the 2-week event.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Kumi Naidoo | Don’t Bet on Coal and Oil Growth
Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News
Naidoo writes: “A mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. … The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.”
READ MORE

 

How the Coal Industry Impoverishes West Virginia
Omar Ghabra, The Nation
Ghabra writes: “There’s a joke circulating among Syrians who fled the brutal conflict devastating their country to the quiet mountains of West Virginia: ‘We escaped the lethal chemicals in Syria only for them to follow us here.’ Of course, what’s happening in West Virginia right now is no laughing matter.”
READ MORE

———-

By Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News

 

25 January 14

 

mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That’s roughly 10 percent of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.

 

By keeping their money in coal and oil companies, investors are betting a vast amount of wealth, including the pensions and savings of millions of people, on high future demand for dirty fuels. The investment has enabled fossil fuel companies to massively raise their spending on expanding extractable reserves, with oil and gas companies alone (state-owned ones included) spending the combined GDP of Netherlands and Belgium a year, in belief that there will be demand for ever more dirty fuel.

 

This assumption is being challenged by recent developments, which is good news for climate but bad news for anyone who thought investing in fossil fuel industries was a safe bet. Frantic growth in coal consumption seems to be coming to an end much sooner than predicted just a few years ago, with China’s aggressive clean air policies, rapidly dropping coal consumption in the U.S. and upcoming closures of many coal plants in Europe. At the same time the oil industry is also facing slowing demand growth and the financial and share performance of oil majors is disappointing for shareholders.

 

Nevertheless, even faced with weakening demand prospects, outdated investment patterns are driving fossil fuel companies to waste trillions of dollars in developing reserves and infrastructure that will be stranded as the world moves beyond 20th century energy.

 

A good example is coal export developments. The large recent investment in coal export capacity in all key exporter countries was based on the assumption of unlimited growth of Chinese demand. When public outrage over air pollution reached a new level in 2012-2013, the Chinese leadership moved swiftly to mandate absolute reductions in coal consumption, and banned new coal-fired power plants in key economic regions. A growing chorus of financial analysts is now projecting a peak in Chinese coal demand in the near future, which seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago. This new reality has already reduced market capitalization of export focused coal companies. Even in China itself, investment in coal-fired power plants has now outpaced demand growth, leading to drops in capacity utilization.

 

Another example of potentially stranded assets is found in Europe, where large utilities ignored the writing on the wall about EU moves to price carbon and boost renewable energy. Betting on old business models and the fossil-fuel generation, they built a massive 80 gigawatts of new fossil power generation capacity in the last 10 years, much of which is already generating losses and now risk becoming stranded assets.

 

Arctic oil drilling is possibly the ultimate example of fossil companies’ unfounded confidence in high future demand. Any significant production and revenue is unlikely until 2030, and in the meanwhile Arctic drilling faces high and uncertain costs, extremely demanding and risky operations, as well as the prospect of heavy regulation and liabilities when (not if) the first major blowout happens in the region. No wonder the International Energy Agency is skeptical about Arctic oil, assuming hardly any production in the next 20 years. Regardless, Shell has already burnt $5 billion of shareholders’ money on their Arctic gamble.

 

Those investing in coal and oil have perhaps felt secure seeing the global climate negotiations proceed at a disappointing pace. However, the initial carbon crunch is being delivered by increasingly market-driven renewable energy development, and by national level clean energy and energy efficiency policies — such as renewable energy support schemes and emission regulation in Europe, or clean air policies in the U.S. and in China. Global coal demand, and possibly even oil demand, could peak even before a strong climate treaty is agreed.

 

Investors often underestimate their exposure to fossil fuels, particularly indirect exposure through e.g. passively managed pension funds and sovereign debt of strongly fossil fuel dependent states. Assessing exposure, requiring fossil energy companies to disclose and reduce carbon risks, and reducing investments in sunset energy technologies will lead to profitable investment in a world that moves to cleaner and smarter energy systems.

 

Improving competitiveness of renewable energy, growing opposition to destructive fossil fuel projects, concerns on water shortage and the imperative of cutting global CO2 emissions all point in the same direction: Governments, companies and investors should all be planning for a world with declining fossil fuel consumption — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. It is the direction the world will be moving to — faster than many yet anticipate.

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Following our original posting, we watched today the Fareed Zakaria show at CNN/GPS and reporting from Davos – from the World Economy dialogues, he pointed out that 85 people own as much wealth as the lowest 3.5 billion people of the World.

Then he also mentioned that the 5 members of the family that owns Walmart own a disproportionate part of the wealth of the US – to be exact – just as much as 42% of all Americans.

He also said that there were no problem if everybody would improve their economic standing and the few at the top just grow more – but the reality is that the Middle class is receding and the explanation is that we moved from the human based Manufacturing Age to a machine based Manufacturing Age that does not need humans in the production line. This is endemic and this spiral is bound to drive us further down.
Now a big company like Apple employs only 50,000 Americans – so he has a true argument.

Because he mentioned Walmart this triggered my Sustainable Development thinking as I know that the Walmart company is in partnership with Mr. Jigar Shah in order to decrease their expenditure on electricity by allowing him the use of the roofs covering their stores to produce with photovoltaics the electricity they need. In effect they just did what the US government ought to campaign for. If they are so smart they indeed deserve being so rich – and they put the rest of us to shame because we do not have the initiative to improve our lives by ourselves.

In the context of this posting – why do we not rebel against those in Washington that insist the government sends dollars overseas to buy oil when there is no compelling reason to continue this man-made dependency on unneeded resources? Just think what array of industries could spring up from alliances like that of Jigar and Walmart? The whole Davos exercise ought to be reorganized – the apple of the economy is rotten not because of high-tech apples but because of the intentional subsidization of the old low-tech industries and the move to a globalized market that does not allow for globalized sustainability. You can bet safely that the Koch Brothers will push the US deeper in the hole of retardiness – this because it benefits their old ways of making money.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Colder Winters Caused by a Warmer Planet

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

08 January 14

 

“Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

et’s play a game – it’s called “How long can CNN talk about a freak wave of arctic weather across more than half the country without saying the words ‘climate change?’” I watched for 30 minutes today without hearing one mention of it, but I’m not sure if that means I win or the rest of the world loses as we continue to neglect the one thing that may do us in before anything else.

Not Just a Fluke

As I write this, it’s warmer in Siberia than it is in Chicago. It’s warmer in Anchorage, Alaska, than in Atlanta, Georgia. Sixty-eight percent of the continental US is covered by a wave of arctic temperatures that normally don’t travel below Northern Canada. The official explanation for this is a bizarre “polar vortex” that’s causing arctic temperatures to be pushed south.

The polar vortex is always present in the Arctic, but strengthens in the winter and grows weaker in the summer. The vortex itself is a natural occurrence, but occasionally the jet stream pushes it further south than normal. And as the arctic grows warmer at a rapid rate, cold snaps like the one sweeping half the country will become more frequent. The jet stream pushing the polar vortex south in the winter may be more than just a fluke if rapid climate change continues.

Rapid Arctic Ice Melts

Odd patterns from the jet stream were also responsible for the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan during its already wet monsoon season in 2010, displacing millions of people and requiring a massive global relief effort. That same year, the jet stream was also responsible for the unusually dry conditions in Russia that caused a swath of wildfires to erupt across the country prompting them to temporarily ban grain exports.

In this graphic, the left side shows wind patterns in the Russia/Pakistan area under normal jetstream conditions. From 1968 to 1996, these conditions remained largely the same. There’s a polar jetstream on the northern side, and a tropical jetstream on the southern side. But in the 2010 graph, a very oddly strong polar wind blew north of Russia around Moscow, going directly south into Pakistan. So how did those jetstreams affect weather patterns?

The northern polar jetstream usually brings extratropical lows and cyclones that make up the bulk of the precipitation in that geographical region of the world, and serves as the boundary between cold northern air and hot southern air. When it went suddenly northward as in July of 2010, it left those exposed areas unusally hot and dry and prevented necessary rain, making the area ripe for conditions like the wildfires that ravaged the forests near Moscow. The right side of the graphic showing the 2010 jet stream illustrates what happened to the precipitation that missed Russia. After blowing far northward, the rains suddenly headed southward toward Pakistan, causing heavy rainfall and widespread flooding.

The extreme cold snap covering 68 percent of the country is a direct result of the rapid melting of arctic ice, making the jet stream more unpredictable. In 2012 alone, ice sheets larger than Canada and Texas combined melted, setting an all-time record for the fastest-melting polar ice in recorded history. Just in August of 2012, arctic ice melted at a rate of 35,400 miles per day. If this pattern continues, sea levels are expected to rise by 23 feet by 2020. And such a rapid change in sea levels will not only cause cities built at sea level, like Miami, to be completely uninhabitable, but will cause an exodus of millions of climate refugees from coastal cities all over the world. And freak weather events like Hurricane Sandy rocking New York City will happen even more frequently. If you think this current cold snap is bad, wait until it takes hold for an entire winter and happens every year.

The Wrong Way

Acknowledging climate change is real and threatening isn’t a controversial issue. Even scientists funded by the Koch Brothers to refute the climate science making the case for man-made climate change admit that climate change is real, and that it has been accelerating since the industrial age. The science that showed carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere and channels heat has been around for centuries. The only people who disagree with the scientists studying the climate and telling us that we need to pay attention to climate change are the shills paid by the oil industry to spout nonsense on cable news channels (that depend on ad revenue from ExxonMobil). And 75 percent of Americans agree that climate change is real.

Unfortunately, our government seems to be heading in the opposite direction when it comes to climate policy. Like a true capitalist country, the US government is seeking to help corporations enrich short-term profits rather than thinking about the long-term future of the next generations of citizens. Oil has already begun to flow through the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, the construction of which President Obama fast-tracked.

As investigative journalist Steve Horn has reported, tar sands oil continues to get dredged from Alberta, and trains carrying the toxic substance have been on an alarming path of derailment and explosion, harming the communities surrounding the rail lines. And the recent tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, was a sobering premonition of what would happen if the Keystone XL pipeline were built and ruptured near a crucial water source like the Ogallala Aquifer.

Economic Benefits of Tackling Climate Change

We of course need to be mindful of our economy in this era of high unemployment and record numbers of people living under or on the cusp of the federal poverty line. But the minor economic impact from a few hundred new pipeline construction jobs would be exponentially negated by all the economic damage from climate change-influenced weather events. Hurricane Sandy cost the NYC metro area $50 billion. The impacts from the cold snap enveloping half the continental US are likely to be staggering, given all of the roads, schools, and businesses that have had to be shut down due to the blistering cold temperatures and wind chills.

But we can help our economy while also preserving our planet for future generations. By making massive investments in building a new sustainable energy grid across the country, we could create millions of new jobs in the construction, installation, transportation and maintenance of wind turbines, solar panels, and infrastructure to enable geothermal and biomass-based energy resources. The argument that we don’t have the money is silly – we’ve already spent $392 billion on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program that’s still malfunctioning today. Discontinuing that project and investing in clean energy infrastructure could be the fix to unemployment and climate change that would benefit not just America, but the rest of the world as well. Wall Street is already betting big on renewables, projecting that 69 to 74 percent of new energy development through 2030 will be in green energy.

We need to get serious about addressing what we’re doing to our climate in our reckless consumption of fossil fuels, or we’ll have many more cold winters, hot summers, and climate-related weather disasters in our future. This cold snap is a harsh, constant lesson taught to us by our planet, and if we fail this test, the next one will be even harder.


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Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

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Ecocentric

Climate Change Might Just Be Driving the Historic Cold Snap

Climate change skeptics are pointing to the record cold weather as evidence that the globe isn’t warming. But it could be that melting Arctic ice is making sudden cold snaps more likely—not less

550 Comments
It’s polar bear weather today for much of the Midwest. Temperatures are in the -20sº F (-28º C) and -30sº F (-35º C) in eastern Montana, North Dakota, northeast South Dakota, Minnesota and northern Iowa. With the stiff wind, it’s even worse—wind chills in the -40sº F (-40º C) and -50sº F (-45º C) are common across Minnesota and North Dakota, cold enough for exposed skin to suffer frostbite in just five minutes. By tonight, the freeze will reach the East Coast, where temperatures from Florida to Maine are expected to be 30º F to 40º F (16º C to 22º C) degrees below normal, extremes that haven’t been seen in decades. The National Weather Service isn’t kidding when it calls the cold “life-threatening.”

Unsurprisingly, the extreme cold has brought out the climate change skeptics, who point to the freeze and the recent snowstorms and say, essentially, “nyah-nyah.” Now this is where I would usually point to the fact that the occasional cold snap—even one as extreme as much of the U.S. is experiencing now—doesn’t change the overall trajectory of a warming planet. Weather is what happens in the atmosphere day to day; climate is how the atmosphere behaves over long periods of time. Winters in the U.S. have been warming steadily over the past century, and even faster in recent decades, so it would take more than a few sub-zero days to cancel that out.

 

(MORE: Arctic Blast: The Northern Air Mass Bringing Record-Breaking Cold to the U.S.)

But not only does the cold spell not disprove climate change, it may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles. Usually the fast winds in the vortex—which can top 100 mph (161 k/h)—keep that cold air locked up in the Arctic. But when the winds weaken, the vortex can begin to wobble like a drunk on his fourth martini, and the Arctic air can escape and spill southward, bringing Arctic weather with it. In this case, nearly the entire polar vortex has tumbled southward, leading to record-breaking cold, as you can see in this weatherbell.com graphic:

Graphic showing a simulation of the polar vortex over the Great Lakes on Monday night (weatherbell.com]

That disruption to the polar vortex may have been triggered by a sudden stratospheric warming event, a phenomenon Rick Grow explained at the Washington Post a few days ago:

Large atmospheric waves move upward from the troposphere — where most weather occurs — into the stratosphere, which is the layer of air above the troposphere. These waves, which are called Rossby waves, transport energy and momentum from the troposphere to the stratosphere. This energy and momentum transfer generates a circulation in the stratosphere, which features sinking air in the polar latitudes and rising air in the lowest latitudes. As air sinks, it warms. If the stratospheric air warms rapidly in the Arctic, it will throw the circulation off balance. This can cause a major disruption to the polar vortex, stretching it and — sometimes — splitting it apart.

(MORE: November Was Cold, But the Climate Keeps Warming)

What does that have to do with climate change? Sea ice is vanishing from the Arctic thanks to climate change, which leaves behind dark open ocean water, which absorbs more of the heat from the sun than reflective ice. That in turn is helping to cause the Arctic to warm faster than the rest of the planet, almost twice the global average. The jet stream—the belt of fast-flowing, westerly winds that essentially serves as the boundary between cold northern air and warmer southern air—is driven by temperature difference between the northerly latitudes and the tropical ones. Some scientists theorize that as that temperature difference narrows, it may weaken the jet stream, which in turns makes it more likely that cold Arctic air will escape the polar vortex and flow southward. Right now, an unusually large kink in the jet stream has that Arctic air flowing much further south than it usually would.

Still, this research is fairly preliminary, in part because extreme Arctic sea ice loss is a fairly recent phenomenon, so scientists don’t have the long data sets they need to draw more robust conclusions about the interaction between Arctic warming and cold snaps. In fact, the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that it was likely that the jet stream would shift towards the north as the climate warmed, and that the polar vortex would actually contract, even as a 2009 study found that sudden stratospheric warming events are becoming more frequent, which in turn seems to be driven by the rapid loss in Arctic sea ice.

And while a muddle like that would seem to make the science less rather than more reliable, it’s actually one more bit of proof that climate change is real. Global warming is sometimes thought of more as “global weirding,” with all manner of complex disruptions occurring over time. This week’s events show that climate change is almost certainly screwing with weather patterns ways that go beyond mere increases in temperature—meaning that you’d be smart to hold onto those winter coats for a while longer.

(MORE: November Was Cold, But the Climate Keeps Warming)

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BUT THEN READ THE FOLLOWING RUBBISH – THE STUFF THAT PURE RIGHT WING AMERICA WANTS TO BELIEVE — READ THIS AND BE SHOCKED!!!

THIS IS A COMMENT BY “

The global warming/climate change grift is a scam by the LEFTISTS to justify and exact massive new controls and taxes over our energy economy in order to put this sector of GIGANTIC economic activity under their control.

The dream of the LEFTISTS (DEMOCRATS) is to gain more and more control, extending to all aspects of society. Witness the Obama Care fiasco, which was designed not so much to better our medical system, than it was to control our medical system. Remember, when the government gains control of  a sector of the economy, or gains regulatory authority over our lives in any way, it gives government and the political left ( it is the leftists who are generally manning the bureaucracy of government agencies) new powers to control money and jobs, all of which are plums for them to pass out to their constituents.

The climate change / global warming scam is intended for government to control all aspects of energy production and distribution. Already we have seen massive amounts of money  WASTED on so called green energy companies which failed. They were given hundreds of millions of dollars of American taxpayer money, and these people who ran these green companies were sympathizers with the leftist democrats, and made big pay outs to the democrats and stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the public. 

The LEFTISTS (DEMOCRATS) don’t like the coal industry, so they shut it down, destroying thousands upon thousands of jobs of hard working people in coal areas. They don’t care about these working Americans, because they want alternative energy, regardless of how much more it costs to produce. Justification for increasing our energy costs AND throwing people out of good paying jobs?…the “threat” of global warming.

The LEFT (DEMOCRATS) are always marching “forward”. The meaning of their battle cry of “forward” simply means that they intend to take more and more control over all of society, economics and all Americans lives. They never stop moving “forward”. There is always more control for them to get over our country.

For those of you Americans who still vote for democrats out of tradition and belief that the democrats are for the little guy, understand that the LEFTISTS so called elites who run that party lock stock and barrel regard you as little bugs, just to be pushed and moved in whatever direction they want. The republicans are meanwhile vilified by the democrats allies, the media, Hollywood, the education establishment, etc. They vilify the republicans as being the party of old white men, who (deservedly) will soon die off, leaving democrats in complete control, as the new immigrants from Latin America, as well as the Blacks, women, gays, etc, all support democrats overwhelmingly. Leftist bloggers all crow about these demographic “facts”, writing with glee about the looming extinction of old white men of the current generation.

However, it is possible that more and more people will wake up to true nature of the democrat party, that they are simply professional leftists, the same type of people that took over Russia in 1917. The true fact that the communist take over of Russia and later, after WWII, of all of Eastern Europe, ended in dismal failure of these economies means nothing to these leftists who run the democrat party. Don’t bother them with the facts that communism has failed everywhere, yet capitalism (free enterprise) and the rule of law, which was developed to it’s greatest degree in the American nation over a span of time which is now approaching 400 years (starting with the Pilgrims), has been the most spectacular success in mankind’s history. The democrats simply ignore this, and cry “forward!”. But they mean forward to a communist type of society, the antithesis of the proven successful, traditional American society.

So, Americans, whether they be Black, Brown, White, etc., still do have the opportunity to join together under the republican banner, and turn the republican party into the BIG TENT party to restore America to it’s vaunted traditions. The republican party is not perfect. However, it DOES respond to the initiatives of sincere Americans who want to turn our nation away from the brink of destruction, and back to the traditional values we have had for centuries (witness the Tea Party wing which works within the republican party to restore America). We Americans of whatever background do not have to be destined to live under a new, leftist democrat totalitarian state where we are TOLD what to do, with little remaining freedom for each of us.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Catalyzing Climate Action

The Case for Global Action

The benefits of taking action to address climate change have become ever more compelling. Many countries and businesses have already realized the economic opportunities and reduced risks related to decreasing greenhouse emissions and strengthening resilience. They are reaping the benefits of sustainable low carbon economic growth, resilient infrastructure, new markets, decent jobs, energy independence, women’s empowerment, cleaner air, and improved public health.

Currently, the twin post-2015 development and climate processes present an unprecedented opportunity to advance sustainable development. Eradicating poverty and restructuring the global economy to hold global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius are goals that – acted on together – can provide prosperity and security for this and future generations.

To meet the full scale of the global climate challenge and seize the opportunities at hand, domestic efforts must be scaled up and simultaneously leveraged through an international framework that provides incentives. Combined, accelerated action and increased ambition will foster a ‘race to the top’ that can help avert the worst effects of climate change.

2014 Climate Summit

The Secretary-General will host a Climate Summit in September 2014 as an integral part of his strategy to engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition, drawing on his global convening power and harnessing the full strength of the UN system, working in partnership with all sectors of society.

The Summit will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – all UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors – to:

Catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience and;
Mobilize political will for an ambitious global legal agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than

2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.
Leaders are invited to bring bold announcements and actions to the 2014 Climate Summit.

Implementation

The Secretary-General will engage a range of key stakeholders to seize opportunities for concrete action and build the necessary political will afforded by a gathering of global leaders. Work will build on existing processes and initiatives to foster action in areas that go far to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience – such as energy; short-lived climate pollutants; cities and transportation; land-use (e.g. related to sustainable agriculture and forestry); adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and climate finance and the economic drivers that cut across these and other climate-related sectors. Implementation of this strategy will be led by the Secretary-General, supported by the Climate Change Support Team (CCST) working closely with the UN System. Other relevant stakeholders will be engaged as appropriate.

The Summit is intended to be a solutions-focused Summit that is separate from, but complementary to, the UNFCCC negotiating process. It aims to provide evidence that leaders across sectors and at all levels are taking action, thus expanding the reach of what is possible today, in 2015, and beyond.

 

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