Dim views of what will happen at Paris2015 and a call to India’s participation in what was previously seen as the needed US-China leadership. Great changes, like the loss of Southern Europe, are predicted for the next 100 years.
On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.
The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”
The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”
Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.
The 2015 NGO Conference – August 25-27, 2015 – was the first true Civil Society presence at the UN Headquarters. This came about thanks to an initial group of Six Governments, a handful of NGOs, and several Foundations – that want to see a successful UN.
At its 70th Birthday – the UN was finally pushed to accept a true presence of Civil Society. The 2015 NGO Conference at the United Nations has established finally the idea that People at the UN ought to be as important as the Governments. Up to now this idea was a fiction at the UN, and the UN had never considered this idea seriously.
In our opinion, the 2015 NGO Conference, that thanks to this year’s UN DPI choice not to have their traditional yearly DPI/NGO Conference, constitutes a revolutionary event – that will make from now on the UN more relevant for the post-2015 Era.
Those 51 Nations are: The Driving Force of Five – Republic of China, France, USSR, UK and USA and the other 46 – Argentina, Brazil, Belarus SSR, Chile, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Lebanon, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, The Philippine Commonwealth, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine SSR, Yugoslavia, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Iraq, Liberia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Peru, Union of South Africa, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Three years later, under UN Secretary-General Mr.Trygve Lie of Norway, and under the leadership of Ms. Eleanor Roosevelt, above preamble was fleshed out with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at a meeting in Paris.
The International Bill of Human Rights – the larger document – consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and two Optional Protocols.
In 1966, the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights.
In 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law. This is the first real contribution to make the UN Charter a truly important document to humanity at large.
Next further enlargement in above direction had to wait until 2004 when Mr. Kofi Annan of Ghana was UNSG. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P or RtoP) – a proposed norm that sovereignty is not an absolute right, and that state-governments forfeit aspects of their sovereignty when they fail to protect their populations from mass atrocity crimes and human rights violations (namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the like. In 2004, following the genocidal violence in Rwanda and the Balkans, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Juan Méndez as Special Adviser to fill critical gaps in the international system that allowed those tragedies to go unchecked. In 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Francis M. Deng on a full-time basis at the level of Under-Secretary-General. He also appointed Edward Luck as the Special Adviser who focuses on the responsibility to protect, on a part-time basis at the level of Assistant Secretary-General. Both Special Advisers Francis Deng and Edward Luck ended their assignments with the Office in July 2012.
Above two elaborations to increase the meaning of the UN Charter came about as it was obvious that leaving Sovereignty only to Governments – some of which are in denial of rights of their citizens – cannot be seen as the only guarantor of peace. This brings us to events at the UN that led to the very successful Conference of last week – the subject of this report and our first article of a series we intend to use in order to highlight the change at the UN with this newly found true importance of Civil Society.
The present introductory article may seem to some a bit long – but our intention is to help with this article smooth the way to the true understanding of the nature of the problem with an institution run by Member States of uneven quality – that push for unanimity in decision making so that it by necessity in the best cases aims to a lowest common denominator, and to paralysis in the worst cases – all this without really being serious about the lip service to the non-Governmental Sector – the so called NGOs.
To the question – “What is the UN?” – the conventional answer these days is a collection of 193 Nations and two Observer delegations. But in effect even that is not true because the UN has become its own body and the vested bureaucracy does in effect manage without taking the temperature of a consensus and in cases we observed – even without backing decisions taken by the Secretary-General. It is the country that put the employee on its quota of the staff that makes his decisions while on the job.
In our opinion – PEOPLES refers to Nations – some of whom became Member Nations of the UN in 1945 but many were left outside the UN – either as occupied Nations belonging to those Member Nations, and some completely unrelated to the newly budding UN. We believe that it was the Roosevelt couple that saw the need to address issues like decolonization and other oppressed Nations – and foresaw that eventually all those Nations will have to get their sovereignty and join the UN – this beyond the needed freedom to the individuals whose problems are described by the word PEOPLE with sort of a plural as PEOPLES’.
Now to what has happened in 70 years – the growth from 51 Member States to 193 Member States plus two Observer States (the Vatican and Palestine) for what the UN likes to call the total of 195 Sovereign States – but that is also only part of those that claim Statehood.
Further – there are 6 States with partial recognition ranging from Northern Cyprus recognized by only one State to Kosovo recognized by over 100 States. This list includes also Taiwan, Western Sahara, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Then the Cook Islands and Niue behave as if independent, without claiming independence and breakaway States Nagorno-Karabach, Transnistria, and Somaliland are de-facto independent States bringing the total of independent States to 206.
Three more breakaway States are more controversial as they are in active war zones – The Islamic State, The Lugansk and the Donetsk People’s Republics – the total of States in the news is thus 209 – and this only for starters. What about the Catalans, Basques, Scots, the Flemish people, the Maori, Aboriginals, Hopi, Inuits, Samis, the Massai, etc. etc. All people with distinct cultures and occupying a definite piece of land. It is only a question of time until they claim their independence. Will the UN employees stand in their way not to allow them to claim what they deserve? What is the bottom line for UN Membership?
Some professional organizations have interim numbers. The World Olympic games recognize 209 States that include also Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Aruba; while the soccer or football Federation has 209 members that break up the UK into its 4 constituent countries.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) has 249 country codes that include 49 Inhabited Dependent Territories, 6 Uninhabited Territories and even Antarctica (1).
Having reached now the mountain of UN staff. Naturally they did get the jobs to serve the interests of their home quota State in an understanding that they work for and within the organization. So, the UN Department of Public Information – the UN DPI – as an organization is intended to be a laudatory to the UN rather then a dispenser of true information. On this obviously is then superimposed the layer of service to their home-State – their own Sovereign leader. If the interest of the latter conflicts with the interest of the UNSG – so it is the UNSG who is over-ridden as this happened for years on topics like Climate Change.
DPI made sure that only those media that had not climate change on their mind were allowed to function at the UN as media – the decree was that the topic was a topic for NGOs and not for the UN and the Press – this without attention to changes in policy at the UN Secretariat. That is the background of the UN DPI being ready in 2015 to ditch its responsibility to run the DPI/NGO yearly Conference for 2015 and transfer it out of sight to Korea for 2016. That was seemingly the decision of Mr. Maher Nasser – an interim Head of DPI. But this was a very fortunate mistake of the UN as it allowed an initiative by Civil Society to wrestle the subject away from the UN bureaucracy and develop the conference independently without interference from the UN. NOW THIS IS WHAT WE WILL BE DEALING WITH FROM NOW ON – or at least until the UN wrestles the subject back into their own hands.
Friendship Ambassadors, an NGO active at the UN, undertook the organization of the UN DPI rejected 2015 Conference and easily enlisted the backing of six UN Member State delegations: Canada, Denmark, Korea, Sao Tome and Principe, Suriname, and Ukraine.
In the run-up to Paris2015 – Continuing work started in 1997 with the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC – Japan based IGES establishes in Bangkok a Fifth Regional Centre for – the yet missing Asia-Pacific Region in the original Developed vs. Developing ACP context – to Help Speed up Spread of Clean Technologies.
From a [UNFCCC medialist - UNFCCC global list for media mailouts] PRESS RELEASE
(Bonn, 27 August 2015) – Clean technology in developing countries has
Welcoming the establishment of the centre in Bangkok, Thailand, just months
The Centre will be operated in partnership with the Institute for Global
Professor Hironori Hamanaka, Chair of the Board of Directors of IGES,
The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn
This is the fifth CDM RCC established by the UNFCCC in partnership with a
The Asia-Pacific RCC will be hosted in the IGES offices in Bangkok and will
For further information please contact:
Augustine Kwan, Programme Manager, IGES at:
About the CDM
About the UNFCCC
Islamic Leaders in Istambul came up with an “Islamic Climate Declaration” to line up Islam with Pope Francis – but is this something binding for Muslims? Only very few Muslim Countries are among the 50 countries that have answered so far the request to post their official plans ahead of the Paris 2015 meeting – on how to curb climate change.
BBC – Science & Environment
But critics have argued that the Declaration is not truly representative of Islam with some of the biggest Islamic nations not taking an active part in supporting the call.
“Are all Islamic countries represented? I’d say no to that – that’s the honest answer,” said Fazlun Khalid. “There is a huge amount of lethargy – we are not set up like other churches, there is no Islamic pope!
“The Declaration is like a trigger – to say, wake up wherever you are, wake up and take care of the Earth.”
The Declaration comes in the wake of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and climate change, which was seen as a significant call for Catholics to engage on the issue of global warming.
Catholic leaders have praised the Islamic Declaration as a positive step.
“It is with great joy and in a spirit of solidarity that I express to you the promise of the Catholic Church to pray for the success of your initiative and her desire to work with you in the future to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped the Pope draft his encyclical.
The Islamic Climate Declaration says that the world’s 1.6bn Muslims have a religious duty to fight climate change.
It urges politicians to agree a new treaty to limit global warming to 2C, “or preferably 1.5 degrees.”
The Declaration asks Muslims, in the words of the Koran, “not to strut arrogantly on the Earth”.
The Declaration is like a trigger – to say, wake up wherever you are, wake up and take care of the Earth
It also argues for increased financial support for communities vulnerable to climate change.
The main focus though is on “well-off nations and oil-producing states,” who are urged to lead the way in phasing out greenhouse gases, no later than the middle of this century.
The Declaration calls on the rich countries, to recognise their “moral obligation to reduce consumption so that the poor may benefit from what is left of the Earth’s non-renewable resources”.
“People need to be told and politicians need to stop misleading their people, in telling them they can go on increasing their standards of living for ever and ever and ever,” Fazlun Khalid, a long time Islamic environmentalist involved in drawing up the Declaration, told BBC News.
The call has been supported by religious leaders including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon, the president of Indonesia’s major body of religious scholars as well as environmental groups and government officials from Morocco and Turkey.
“Are all Islamic countries represented? I’d say no to that – that’s the honest answer,” said Fazlun Khalid. “There is a huge amount of lethargy – we are not set up like other churches, there is no Islamic pope!
“The Declaration is like a trigger – to say, wake up wherever you are, wake up and take care of the Earth.”
Catholic leaders have praised the Islamic Declaration as a positive step.
“It is with great joy and in a spirit of solidarity that I express to you the promise of the Catholic Church to pray for the success of your initiative and her desire to work with you in the future to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped the Pope draft his encyclical.
The authors of the Declaration say that it will be available in mosques and madrassas around the world.
They hope that it will influence political leaders in Muslim countries to become more fully involved in global attempts to deliver a new treaty on climate change, expected to be signed in Paris in December.
I asked Fazlun Khalid if religious divisions between Muslims were a bigger issue at present than climate change.
“In spite of their differences we want Muslims to wake up and think and realise that this is a problem that affects every inch of this planet, in spite of their differences, under their feet something is happening, a deep plate shift in the Earth’s crust,” he said.
“In spite of our differences we have to take this on, as the major issue affecting the whole of the human world.”
Breaking Latest forecast suggests ‘Godzilla El Niño’ may be coming to California
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that all computer models are now predicting a strong El Niño to peak in the late fall or early winter. A host of observations have led scientists to conclude that “collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic features reflect a significant and strengthening El Niño.”
At the moment, this year’s El Niño is stronger than it was at this time of year in 1997. Areas in red and white represent the warmest sea-surface temperatures above the average. (Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at La Cañada Flintridge – their climatologist Bill Patzert)
To see the graphs – please go to Los Angeles Times or Rolling Stones – our source at:
After the strongest El Niño on record muscled up through the summer of 1997, the following winter gave Southern California double its annual rainfall and dumped double the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, an essential source of precipitation for the state’s water supply, Patzert said.
A strong El Niño can shift a subtropical jet stream that normally pours rain over the jungles of southern Mexico and Central America toward California and the southern United States.
But so much rain all at once has proved devastating to California in the past. In early 1998, storms brought widespread flooding and mudslides, causing 17 deaths and more than half a billion dollars in damage in California. Downtown L.A. got nearly a year’s worth of rain in February 1998.
The effects of this muscular El Niño – nicknamed “Bruce Lee” by one blogger for the National Weather Service – are already being felt worldwide. While a strong El Niño can bring heavy winter rains to California and the southern United States, it can also bring dry weather elsewhere in the world.
Already, El Niño is being blamed for drought conditions in parts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia, as occurred in 1997-98.
Drought is also persistent in Central America. Water levels are now so low in the waterways that make up the Panama Canal that officials recently announced limits on traffic through the passageway that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
El Niño also influenced the heavy rainstorms that effectively ended drought conditions in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma.
There are a couple reasons why scientists say El Niño is gaining strength.
First, ocean temperatures west of Peru are continuing to climb. The temperatures in a benchmark location of the Pacific Ocean were 3.4 degrees above the average as of Aug. 5. That’s slightly higher than it was on Aug. 6, 1997, when it was 3.2 degrees above normal.
The mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is also bigger and deeper than it was at this point in 1997, Patzert said.
Second, the so-called trade winds that normally keep the ocean waters west of Peru cool — by pushing warm water further west toward Indonesia — are weakening.
That’s allowing warm water to flow eastward toward the Americas, giving El Niño more strength.
For this year’s El Niño to truly rival its 1997 counterpart, there still needs to be “a major collapse in trade winds from August to November as we saw in 1997,” Patzert said.
“We’re waiting for the big trade wind collapse,” Patzert said. “If it does, it could be stronger than 1997.”
There is a small chance such a collapse may not happen.
“There’s always a possibility these trade winds could surprise us and come back,” Patzert said.
Overall, the Climate Prediction Center forecast a greater-than-90% chance that El Niño will continue through this winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and about an 85% chance it will last into the early spring.
In California, officials have cautioned the public against imagining that El Niño will suddenly end the state’s chronic water challenges. A forecast is never a sure thing, they say.
And they also want to remind the public that California has been dry for much of the last 15 years. Even if California gets a wet winter this year, it could be followed by another severe multi-year drought.
“We certainly wouldn’t want people to think that, ‘Gee, because it’s an El Niño this year, it’s going to be wet and therefore we can stop conserving water,” Jeanine Jones, the California Department of Water Resources’ deputy drought manager, said in July.
Another problem is that the Pacific Ocean west of California is substantially warmer than it was in 1997. That could mean that though El Niño-enhanced precipitation fell as snow in early 1998, storms hitting the north could cause warm rain to fall this winter. Such a situation would not be good news “for long-term water storage in the snowpack,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University.
Drought officials prefer snow in the mountains in the winter because it slowly melts during the spring and summer and can trickle at a gentle speed into the state’s largest reservoirs in Northern California. Too much rain all at once in the mountains in the winter can force officials to flush excess water to the ocean to keep dams from overflowing.
Swain said it’s important to keep in mind that all El Niño events are different, and just because the current El Niño has the potential to be the strongest on record “doesn’t necessarily mean that the effects in California will be the same.”
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“A strong El Niño is very likely at this point, namely because we’ve essentially reached the threshold already, but a wet winter is never a guarantee in California,” Swain said in an email.
“I think a good way to think about it is this: There is essentially no other piece of information that is more useful in predicting California winter precipitation several months in advance than the existence of a strong El Niño event,” Swain said. “But it’s still just one piece of the puzzle. So while the likelihood of a wet winter is increasing, we still can’t rule out other outcomes.”
Updated Aug. 13, 8:10 a.m.: In another sign that El Niño is gaining strength, sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have risen to their highest level so far this year.
That temperature increase — 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the average — was recorded Aug. 5 by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center at a benchmark location in the Pacific. That is slightly higher than it was on Aug. 6, 1997, when it was 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
California will soon have toughest shower head requirements in nation
Another El Niño sign: Ocean temps hit highest level of the year
The US Insanity that mandates waste to manicure lawns. Why not nice natural growth at all times. Why does California need the Governor’s intervention to over-rule crazy local mandates for wasteful “Green Lawns”?
By Melanie Mason
July 13, 2015, The Los Angeles Times.
Cities and counties will no longer be able to impose fines on residents for unsightly brown lawns while the state is in a drought, under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday afternoon.
The measure, by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown (D-Rialto) prohibits local governments from issuing fines for violations of “lawn maintenance” ordinances when the governor has declared a state of emergency due to drought conditions.
Cheryl Brown has said she’s aware of a number of cities, including Glendale, Upland and San Bernardino, that have levied fines or issued warnings to residents who allowed their lawns to go brown.
The measure is the most recent effort by the Legislature to encourage homeowners to let their lawns “fade to gold.” Last year, Brown signed a measure that barred homeowners’ associations from punishing their residents for unwatered lawns.
With California now in its fourth year of drought, the governor has called for strict conservation efforts, including requiring urban areas to cut their water use by 25%.
This month, state officials announced that residential water used dropped by 29% in May.
The Sunday, June 14, 2015 program started with Fareed retelling us the content of his last Friday’s Washington Post column - www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/s… /9ce1f4f8-1074-11e5-9726-49d6fa26a8c6_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1
While some hysteria-builders in Washington are worried about a Saudi nuclear race to follow Iran, Fareed Zakaria tells us clearly that besides drilling holes to get out oil from the ground, the Saudis have actually not proven capability of doing anything else. They just do not have the people nor the education system that leads to knowledge. You can actually conclude that they are hardly a State in the normal sense of the word – though with them having a full treasury they will not fail easily – but clearly not amount to much power either. In effect they are a natural target for ISIS – so let them not bluff us.
The Saudi GDP is based 44% on oil and 90% of their revenues are from oil. Their puritanical reactionary conservative education system puts them at 73rd place in global ranking compared to the much poorer Iran that is placed 44th. Two out of three people with a job are foreigners – hardly a recommendation for capability of doing anything.
Then Fareed brought on Professor Michael Porter of Harvard who makes now a career of talking and writing about America’s unconventional energy opportunity that turned the till-2005 dependence on gas import and till 2008 dependence on oil import – to an economy now that produces $430 billion/year of oil-shale fracking gas and oil products – that he says have reduced the energy bill of an average American family by $800/year and is now being enhanced by secondary industries like the petrochemical industry.
Gas prices are now lower by one third then those in US trading-countries and he contends that even though there are environmental problems with “fracking” these problems get smaller with time as there are new technological developments leading to decrease in pollution. Oh well – this at least reduces the US dependence on Saudi good-will.
To point out some more the effect of oil on developing countries that export the stuff, Fareed brought on a New Yorker journalist who works now in Luanda, Angola, and previously worked many years in Russia. Michael Specter was fascinating in his description of the “Bizarro” World of Luanda where for four out of the last five years Luanda was the most expensive City for the “Expatriates.” The Fifth year they were second to Japan.
With a watermelon selling for $105, a Coke for $10 and a cab-ride of 20 miles costing $450 – this while the working locals make $4/day while after Nigeria Angola is now the second largest oil producer in Africa.
For a saner discussion Fareed brought on Richard Haass – a former official of the Bush administration, Advisor to Colin Powell and president of the New York City based Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, and David Rothkopf – who worked for the Clinton Administration, Managed the Kissinger Associates, and now is CEO and Editor of the Foreign Policy Group that publishes Foreign Policy Magazine. Interesting, it was Haass who wore a blue tie and Rothkopf who wore a red tie – and to my surprise, and clearly to their own surprise – there was no difference between their positions on the issues.
The main topic was Iraq and they agreed that sending in some more advisers to keep the ongoing losing policy in place makes no sense and never did. Iraq has passed, or was handed, to Iran while the only functioning part of it are the Kurdish evolving State.
The problem is the Sunni part that will eventually be a State as well – but it depends on a change in US position if this will be the ISIS State or a conventional Sunni State. Trying to hold the three parts of Iraq together does not make sense – period.
Oh well – how we got there – ask the Bush family – now we guess – ask Jeb (John Ellis) Bush. and Fareed also pointed a finger at Senator Rick Santorum who wants to be President and says the Pope should not mix the church and science – leave science to the scientists which for him are the Climate-deniers paid by the oil industry.
Fareed pointed out to Santorum that Pope Franciscus happens to be a scientist. He was trained as chemist and worked as a chemist before reentering the seminarium for clerical studies.
This coming week the world might finally get a boost from the Catholic Church as very well described in the New York Times article by Jim Yardley of June 13, 2015: “Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor.”
On Thursday June 18, 2015, Pope Franciscus will release his most important Encyclical on the theme of the environment and the poor. This follows a meeting May 2014 of the Pope with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accompanied by his Development lieutenants. This could be finally a joined effort for the good of humanity – of faith and true science.
Above is not completely new. Already the last two popes started to investigate the moral choices of development. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI already wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Francis went further – and on his January 2015 trip to the Philippines expressed his being convinced that global warming was “most;y” a human-made phenomenon. Now he is expected in the September trip to Cuba and New York, to bring the encyclical to the UN General Assembly and encourage the Heads of States to bring the issue to a positive conclusion at the December Climate Convention meting in Paris. The driving force of this Pope is his experience in Latin America with an agenda of poverty and Unsustainable Consumption that reveals ethical issues. He can be expected to reject the American conservative interests underwritten by oil industry interests that send to his doorsteps folks like Marc Morano and the Heartland Foundation with Republican Skeptics found in the US Senate of James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Fareed also mentioned on his program the fact that coincidentally it was June 15, 1215 that King John released the First Magna Carta that was shortly thereafter declared “Null and Void for all validity for-ever” by Pope Innocent II. A new Magna Carta was instituted later and it is the 2025 version that is the basis for the Constitutions of many States – including the USA. Pope Francis’s Encyclical might be viewed by future generations as the Magna Carta for the Earth – we hope the term SUSTAINABILITY will be brought into full focus – so ought to be “sustainable development.”
One last issue of this State of the World program was about the dwindling population in all European States and in many Asian States as well. It is only the USA that is growing – this thanks to immigration and some might say energy autarky?. The subject needs more linking to the rest of the program ingredients and we expect this will be done eventually.
IISDRS – Summary & Analysis from the 5th Intergovernmental Negotiation on Post2015 Development Agenda
as per Langston James Goree VI
5th Session of the Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations (Follow-Up and Review)
The fifth session of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda took place from 18-22 May 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York.
The session, which focused on follow-up and review of the post-2015 development agenda, was led by the Co-Facilitators for the post-2015 process, David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, and Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya.
This session marked the last of the “scripted” sessions outlined in UN General Assembly decision A/69/L.46, on modalities for the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. During the course of the week, delegates discussed: follow-up and review of the post-2015 development agenda; goals, targets and indicators; themes for the interactive dialogues during the Post-2015 Summit in September; and the way forward. An interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other stakeholders took place on Wednesday, 20 May. Delegates adopted the six themes for the interactive dialogues, which will be transmitted to the President of the General Assembly.
During the week, participants discussed what exactly “follow-up and review” entails at the national, regional and global levels. There was much discussion on the role of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in this regard. There was disagreement on whether there should be technical revisions to the targets, which were approved by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals in July 2014.
At the end of the week, the Co-Facilitators announced that the zero draft of the outcome document would be circulated on or about 1 June 2015, noting this would provide enough time to delegations to organize preliminary informal consultations before the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiations begins on 22 June.
The Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format
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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE MEETINGS
The fifth session of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations marked the last stocktaking session of the process before the focus turns to the textual negotiations on the post-2015 outcome. Since January 2015, participants have discussed elements of the structure of the post-2015 development agenda, including the declaration, the goals and targets, means of implementation and, at the fifth session, follow-up and review. As delegates await the zero draft of the outcome document, which they were informed would be issued by the Co-Facilitators on or about 1 June, it is clear that some “existential questions” remain regarding the post-2015 development agenda. These questions could be the focus of difficult debates before negotiations conclude in July. This brief analysis reflects on some of these questions, within the context of the fifth session’s discussions on follow-up and review, and examines the way forward, in the context of a complex set of interrelated sustainable development negotiations.
“COMING TO TERMS WITH THE TERMS”
While most delegations shared the view that a well-functioning review framework is essential for the implementation of the SDGs, it was clear that there is not yet agreement on the nomenclature. While most developing countries wanted to maintain the terminology “follow-up and review” in the outcome document, some developed countries preferred to use “monitoring, accountability and review” instead. The phrases have different meanings and implications and many developing countries are concerned that “accountability” could imply conditionality.
The EU, for example, said monitoring, accountability and review are all essential for the implementation of the agenda, and clarified that monitoring is about data and information to provide an assessment of progress, while accountability is about taking ownership, responsibility and ensuring follow-up of commitments. By contrast, the G-77/China stressed the importance of follow-up and review, noting that these terms were used in decision A/69/L.46 on the modalities for the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, and stating that accountability and monitoring had “no place in the debate.” India argued that it is better to look at this part of the post-2015 agenda as “review and follow-up,” since review should precede follow-up.
It was clear from this that achieving a common understanding on the terminology is necessary before agreeing on any review framework.
By the end of the week, there was some degree of consensus that, at the global level, the HLPF should be the main platform for follow-up and review. However, the issue of whether the review of the post-2015 agenda should take place under a highly centralized structure under the authority of the HLPF or under a network with the HLPF at its core remained, among other questions. As these discussions took place, Co-Facilitator Kamau cautioned delegates to “be careful what you wish for,” noting that there was a level of complexity built into their proposals and that, once their complexity was unpacked, it would be difficult to develop a proposal that would work, especially given the short negotiating time left before the Post-2015 Summit. The G-77/China said the HLPF should be the key forum, to which other mechanisms created to follow up on outcomes of UN conferences and conventions should report in order to eschew unnecessary duplication.
Japan, however, stressed that it is impossible to build a highly centralized structure whereby one single authority would take charge of following up the wide and interlinked agenda. Therefore, Japan and others suggested that the global review structure should have the HLPF at the center, with the widest possible network of existing review mechanisms supporting it. Existing mechanisms, from the World Trade Organization for trade elements, to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee for reviews related to official development assistance, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation for multi-stakeholder efforts, and existing legally binding agreements for relevant targets were identified as candidates for supporting mechanisms during the discussions, but the nuts and bolts of the reporting relationship with the HLPF and timing for reviews require further examination and discussion.
Another issue that remains to be unpacked is whether the follow-up for the FfD3 and post-2015 processes should take place under an integrated framework or in two separate review mechanisms. The EU and Switzerland, among others, supported developing an overarching monitoring, accountability and review framework for the entire post-2015 agenda, including both the financial and non-financial MOI, and said the FfD3 review process should ultimately feed into the HLPF. The G-77/China, by contrast, argued that the two processes are independent and said, even though they have points in common, they need two different review frameworks. Many agreed that the unpacking of this issue will depend on what is agreed by FfD3 in July.
A key question for the follow-up and review mechanism relates to how the HLPF itself will function. As the Co-Facilitators noted, delegates assigned a multitude of possible tasks to the HLPF during this session, including: keeping track of progress; identifying shortcomings and gaps on the SDGs; making recommendations about what countries should do to stay on track; discussing national and regional reviews; providing a science-policy interface; and addressing emerging issues and challenges. The Co-Facilitators reminded delegations that the HLPF only meets eight days a year, under the auspices of ECOSOC, with three of those days taken up with a ministerial segment. Co-Facilitator Kamau’s suggestion that the HLPF might need to meet twice a year was almost universally rejected, but his idea that some elements could be “offloaded” to other UN bodies that could report back to the Forum generated some interest. Additional proposals related to the HLPF’s functions included calls for the annual HLPF meetings to focus on thematic topics, and for the adoption of a four-year review cycle, where governments could be invited to communicate how they are implementing the SDGs at the national level and what still needs to be done.
In addition to the HLPF, there was also discussion on how other institutions and stakeholders would be involved. On the question of whether regional or global institutions should undertake national reviews, some proposed that country reviews should be done at the regional or sub-regional levels, with the HLPF taking the lead on the global assessment with inputs from the UN Regional Commissions, other relevant stakeholders and international organizations. Others, such as Switzerland and Germany, said the HLPF should review both how countries are doing individually and how the international community is doing globally. Many countries also stressed the importance of stakeholder participation at all levels. The EU, for example, suggested that the UN Global Compact could contribute to the work of the HLPF by preparing assessments of the private sector’s involvement in implementation. Several delegates noted that NGOs, civil society and the private sector also need to be held accountable for implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, especially with regard to MOI. The G-77/China and Egypt said that the follow-up and review process should be determined by national governments and include the participation of all relevant stakeholders in accordance with existing laws and regulations, pointing to another aspect in which further unpacking will be necessary before the follow-up and review framework is adopted.
“WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH GOALS TO IMPLEMENT AND WHICH GOALS NOT TO”
In opening the session, Co-Facilitator Kamau highlighted that, because the SDGs are interrelated, “we will not be able to pick and choose which goals to implement and which goals not to.” This indivisibility of the agenda, due to the integrated nature of the SDGs, implies that one cannot look at a goal without taking into account its relationship with other goals and targets. For example, as a participant noted during the interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other stakeholders, universal health coverage will not be achieved without sanitation, and sanitation will not progress without improvements in education, such as school toilets, which calls for integration and policy coherence. Some participants noted that the same interdependence applies to thematic reviews and proposals to organize the work of the HLPF along thematic lines. If those thematic reviews are to be considered, inter-sectoral linkages as well as horizontal linkages with other multilateral agreements, international organizations, the private sector, governments and other stakeholders will have to be considered to ensure coherence of action.
What will be reviewed does not, however, simply relate to the coherence and inter-linkages between the goals, but also to the targets and indicators under each goal. While the targets were included in the report of the OWG, some said that having undefined numbers?identified by the use of “Xs”?was unacceptable and expressed concern that Heads of State should not adopt a document with “Xs.” However, when the Co-Facilitators distributed a document containing revised targets, there were mixed reactions to the proposal to revise only some of the targets. Some welcomed the revisions so as to ensure that the goals are measurable and aligned with international agreements. Others actually supported leaving the “Xs” in the text since it would allow countries to choose the targets that are best for them. Finally, there were those who expressed concern that this exercise could reopen the SDGs and thus derail the entire post-2015 agreement. The development of indicators by the UNSC will also try to achieve coherence across this indivisible agenda.
“WE CANNOT USE PREVIOUSLY AGREED LANGUAGE IN A DOCUMENT THAT IS LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE”
Based on the discussions during the first five sessions of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, the Co-Facilitators will attempt to put “flesh on the bones” of the document to be adopted in September. However, as several countries noted, the outcome document has to look towards the future, not rely on “stale,” previously agreed UN language. To achieve this objective, delegates will need to unpack previous arrangements and business-as-usual frameworks to understand how 193 countries can individually and jointly pivot to pursue a sustainable development path for the next 15 years. Optimists at the fifth session pointed to the sticking points that emerged from the discussion as evidence that delegates are grappling with the need to change course, although they too wondered how the complexities of interrelated issues and actors could be fully recognized when the process finally puts pen to paper over the next two months.
The zero draft of the outcome document will be the focus of three weeks of negotiations in June and July. The Co-Facilitators have asked delegations to consult within and among their negotiating groups before the sixth session begins on 22 June, and start to build bridges across the chasms on the agenda. Many questions remain about the details of this agenda and the fifth session of the intergovernmental negotiations indicated that there could be a rocky road ahead in reaching agreement on terminology, the follow-up and review process, the role of the HLPF, and any changes to the targets. What is clear, however, is that many want a document that will “connect, inspire and motivate” a global audience, avoid recycling UN language, and look towards the future.
This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © enb at iisd.org, is written and edited by Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ana Maria Lebada, Nathalie Risse, and Christine Søby. The Editor is Lynn Wagner, Ph.D. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <email@example.com>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Union, the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2015 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA.
GENEVA, May 18 – Climate experts will meet in Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria, on 18-20 May 2015 at an Expert Meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to discuss and further develop new socioeconomic scenarios as shared tools for climate research.
Experts from the climate change research community will meet with representatives of the IPCC at the meeting hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.
“We use scenarios much like testing probes to explore future societal developments and their consequences for climate and the environment,” said Keywan Riahi, who leads IIASA’s energy program and is convening the Expert Meeting. He is also a lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on the mitigation of climate change. “The scenarios that were assessed by the IPCC have proven vital for the AR5. This expert meeting will have a detailed look at a new generation of scenarios and framework that the climate change research community has adopted to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation,” said Riahi.
Scenarios, as used in research with integrated assessment models, are stories about potential ways that the future might develop. They feature specific quantitative elements and details about how sectors such as the economy, climate, and the energy sector interact. By looking at scenarios, researchers look for insights into the paths and circumstances that might lead to specific objectives.
“The scenarios from the research community form the backbone of our analysis of potential climate change impacts as well as mitigation and adaptation solutions,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which deals with the mitigation of climate change. The IPCC facilitated the development of the new scenarios in AR5 and assessed their results in the report, but the process is coordinated by the research community.
The Expert Meeting is being convened to continue the dialogue with the research community, to take stock of the achievements of the process during the AR5 cycle, to share available information across scientific disciplines, and to discuss the role of scenarios in future IPCC products.
With the meeting the IPCC intends to bring together scientific groups with diverse expertise and backgrounds to share experiences and expectations related to the scenario community’s activities and to facilitate further development of common scenarios in climate change research. This will allow a more integrated assessment of mitigation, adaptation, and climate change impacts across the entirety of IPCC work in the future.
The development of the new socioeconomic scenarios, called ‘Shared Socioeconomic Pathways’ (SSPs) complements the Representative Concentration Pathways already used in AR5; these are previously developed trajectories for future levels of greenhouse gases that are being explored in experiments by the climate modeling community.
The SSPs enable researchers to conduct related studies across a broad range of topics. Just before the IPCC meeting a new generation of SSP scenarios has been made publicly available for review by the community (see below). The research communities will continue to investigate the implications of various socioeconomic developments on the local, regional, or global scale for the impacts of climate change and the costs, risks, and benefits of a range of possible policies.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
It released the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in four stages over 2013 and 2014, finishing with the AR5 Synthesis Report in November 2014.
The IPCC organizes Expert Meetings and Workshops to facilitate discussions of topics relevant to the assessment process and to receive early input from the scientific community. In order to enhance coordination across the Working Groups in the preparation of the IPCC Assessment and Special Reports, topics of a cross-cutting nature are of particular interest. Proposals for Expert Meetings and Workshops are approved by the IPCC Plenary. The nomination process for the two kinds of events differs, as governments nominate experts for Workshops, while for Expert Meetings, attendees are nominated by the Working Group Co-Chairs.
Scenario database of the IPCC AR5:
About IIASA The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at
Mitigation and Adaptation in the UNFCCC Debates
An analysis of the UNFCCC’s discussions provided by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin
for graphs please see the original - weadapt.org/knowledge-base/adapt…
Climate Change Adaptation appears to occupy the center of the climate negotiations. There are claims in the literature on climate diplomacy about an ‘adaptation turn’ in the last years of the negotiation. We challenge those and find adaptation to have been present and highly visible from the very beginning, particularly the specific question of adaptation finance.
In the larger debate on climate change, the notion of ‘adaptation’ is often opposed (or at least contrasted) to that of ‘mitigation’. Such a contrast is not without reason. The two notions refer to vastly different ways to deal with global warming.
‘Mitigation’ refers to the efforts to lessen the impacts of climate change by acting on its causes and therefore reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).
‘Adaptation’, on the contrary, refers to the efforts to prepare our societies to cope with the effects of climate change.
Though the two approaches are not mutually exclusive (there is no contradiction between striving to avoid the dangers and prepare to deal with those that cannot be avoided), they have often been opposed by the actors in the climate change debate. In this narrative we explore the status of mitigation and adaptation in the UNFCCC debate.
This article is part of the Climaps project by EMAPS. If you want to learn more about the project, please read more in this article.
Looking at figure 1 of the text, the difference between mitigation and adaptation is evident. Terms related to the efforts to mitigate climate change organize 7 of the 12 clusters of the networks, grouped in three main semantic arenas, widely scattered across the graph (‘emission reduction’; ‘carbon sinks’; ‘energies, technology transfer and clean development projects’).
Compared to the mitigation clusters, adaptation clusters are fewer and more compact. The 3 clusters dedicated to adaptation (‘environmental and social impacts’, ‘vulnerability and adaptation’ activity and adaptive ‘funding and equity’) are tightly grouped at the centre of the map. This shows the difference in status of adaptation in the UNFCCC negotiations.
Where mitigation is the primary objective of the conference, and thus formulated in numerous ways, adaptation, impacts and vulnerability seem more limited in their articulation, but also more commonly connected to other issues (which accounts for their centrality in the map). The figure also reflects the different types of contextualisation of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Figure 1: from Climaps.eu.The ‘place’ of adaptation. Network of terms co-occurring in the same paragraphs of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Volume 12. Node position is determined by a force vector algorithm (Jacomy et al., forthcoming) bringing together terms directly or indirectly linked, and keeping away terms with fewer co-occurrences. Node size is proportional to their frequency in the corpus. Node color follows the clusters identified by the clustering algorithm. Click to see main Issue map.
Looking at Figure 2, one will immediately notice that there is (with the exception of COP6 in the Hague) a general increase of the overall number of appearances of issues until COP16 in Cancún. This reflects the increase of the total number of participants during the COPs.
Adaptation and mitigation issues are both visible in the UNFCCC negotiations. However mitigation has been from the very beginning a top priority on the negotiations’ agenda. In the first phase of the negotiations little attention was dedicated to the actions of developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change. Except that the most vulnerable members succeeded in putting the issue of financing adaptation activities on the agenda from the first COP (see also figure 4).
Adaptation, however, assumed greater importance in the second phase of the negotiations. With all parties facing difficulties in achieving their mitigation objectives, debates on what shall be done regarding vulnerability, climate change impacts and adaptation, as well as how to finance these actions became more relevant.
Figure 2: from Climpas.eu. Stream graph of the absolute and relative visibility of issues during UNFCCC negotiations, 1995-2013. The size of each flow is proportional to the number of paragraphs in which two terms defining the issue are present. Flows are sorted according to the number of occurrences: for each COP, the highest flow corresponds to the most visible issue while the lowest corresponds to the least visible. Click to see Issue map.
The diagram (Figure 3) shows a remarkable stability. Most countries maintain their relative rank throughout the 19 COPs. The 10 most active countries are represented by a rather stable, small group, which includes the United States, China, Europe, Australia, and Japan. The three leaders of the negotiations – China, the United States, and Europe – are ubiquitous. There are several exceptions. First, the Philippines and Bolivia, two countries from the southern hemisphere, have taken on very active roles, perhaps disproportionate with their size.
Figure 3: from Climaps.eu. Stream graph of the absolute and relative visibility of the countries of the UNFCCC negotiations, 1995-2013. The size of each country flow is proportional to the number of paragraphs in which the name of the country appears. Flows are sorted according to the number of occurrences: for each COP, the highest flow corresponds to the most visible issue while the lowest corresponds to the least visible. Click to see main Issue map.
- Reading the two maps (Figures 1 and 2) together, it is possible to remark that (as expected) mitigation plays a preeminent role in climate diplomacy. Mitigation constitutes the bulk of UNFCCC’s discussions.
- Adaptation appears to occupy the center of the climate negotiations and has been present and highly visible from the very beginning (especially with the topic of adaptation funding). These findings challenge some of the claims in the literature about climate diplomacy about an ‘adaptation turn’ in the past few years of the negotiation.
- What has always been present and visible in the negotiations is not the entire discussion about adaptation, but the specific question of adaptation finance.
- No clear pattern exists to support the hypothesis that certain states or groups of states may be particularly active on adaptation related issues.
The maps were produced by analyzing the reports on the UNFCCC’s discussions provided by Volume 12 of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).
More about this project:
Climate Adaptation in Bangladesh – A case study on tracking adaptation funding.
Figuring benefits of the post-2015 development and climate agendas: 17-21 May, 2015, in New York City, the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SE4All). 18-20 June 2015, the Hofburg Palace,Vienna, Austria, the Vienna Energy Forum 2015.
Invitation to the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum
SE4ALL Forum <email@example.com>
Kindly find attached an invitation from Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, for the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum that will take place on 17-21 May in New York.
Important information on registration, as well as preliminary documents such as agenda and concept note will be made available on the Forum website at www.se4allforum.org.
Vienna Energy Forum 2015
The Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015) will emphasize the multiple benefits of the post-2015 development and climate agendas and showcase the best practices and actions on the ground that can contribute to both agendas. Energy practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders will discuss the interconnections of sustainable energy and inclusive development in the areas of partnerships, finance, policy, technology, capacity building and knowledge management. The event will also explore the consequences of trends such as population growth and urbanization, as well as addressing the resulting increase in energy demand. Other topics will include South-South cooperation, and energy, water, food and health linkages. The event is organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Austrian Foreign Ministry.
The Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015) will take place only a few months before the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York (September 2015) and the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris (November 2015). By emphasizing the multiple benefits of the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda and by showcasing best practices and actions on the ground, the VEF 2015 aims at contributing to both.
Building on the findings from the VEFs held in 2009, 2011 and 2013, as well as the overarching goals of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), the VEF 2015 will provide a high-level platform for thought leaders, policy makers and energy practitioners to engage in a multi-stakeholder dialogue on pivotal sustainable energy issues connected to inclusive development, including partnerships, finance, policy, technology, capacity building and knowledge management.
Registration is open now here!
read more: energy-l.iisd.org/events/vienna-e…
Key questions to be addressed at the VEF 2015:
• What are the main benefits of sustainable energy to inclusive development and productive capacities?
• What are the main drivers of the increasing energy demand across sectors and how can these be addressed in an integrated way?
• How can we strengthen the potential of sustainable energy so that it results in concrete actions supporting the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda?
• What are the areas of greatest potential in energy efficiency, and what can be done to accelerate action and investment in energy efficiency, the ‘hidden fuel’ that has some of the most promising prospects to advance the goals of climate security and sustainable growth?
• Which innovative financing mechanisms can we use to promote renewable energy systems? How do we scale up investments in renewable energy technologies to meet the SE4ALL goals?
• How do we energize multi-stakeholder partnerships, private sector involvement and regional cooperation to promote sustainable energy for all?
• How can the nexus perspective be operationalized to support integrated approaches to energy, water, food, ecosystems and human health?
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment – posted by Reader Supported News
08 March 2015
hat is the actual value of the oil, gas and coal fields owned by big energy corporations, which gives them their stock price and allows them to be counted as assets for borrowing purposes?
The real value of those hydrocarbon resources is zero.
Or actually it is much less than zero, since there are likely to be a lot of liability lawsuits and insurance claims for severe environmental and property damage. Coal, oil and gas are now where the cigarette companies were in 1990, on the verge of getting hit with massive penalties. Big Coal and Big Oil are dead men walking.
The only thing that stops the entire world economy, including that of the United States, from collapsing is that investors continue to pretend that what I just said is not true. Because of this pretense, some people will go on making a lot of money with hydrocarbon investments in the short and perhaps even the medium term. Much investment and assignment of value is a matter of confidence.
But the confidence is misplaced. If you are still fairly young and you or your pension fund bought a lot of petroleum or gas or coal stocks in hopes of retiring on them, think again. You will lose your shirt.
Worse, because so many loans and other investments are anchored by the supposed value of coal, oil and gas, the world is walking an economic tightrope and the gentlest of breezes could knock it off into a crisis that would make 2008-2009 look like a minor hiccup.
In particular, if a sizable ice shelf breaks off in the Antarctic, you could see a sudden sea level rise that would panic the public and possibly lead some countries to outlaw things like coal and gas.
The Bank of England is doing a big study of this problem, which economists call that of “stranded assets.” That is a fancy phrase for when you invest in something that suddenly loses its value.
For instance, say you invested in Blockbuster Video Entertainment, Inc., when people used to rent DVD’s of movies from brick and mortar stores. In 2006 it seemed a good stock to buy– it had 9000 stores and 60,000 employees (almost as many as there are coal miners). And then streaming video came along. Stranded asset. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010 and survives only as a streaming service of Dish satellite television, which bought it and was gradually forced to liquidate all the stores.
The same thing will happen to coal, oil and natural gas, for two big, inexorable reasons. First, burning hydrocarbons is fatal to the health of our planet– in terms of the energy it releases, it is like setting off atomic bombs constantly. After a while that would take a toll. Second, other far less destructive ways of generating electricity are every day becoming cheaper and more efficient, especially wind and solar.
That coal as an industry is a bad investment should be obvious. The Obama Environmental Protection Agency has decided finally to start actually enforcing the Clean Air and Water Act, and has also claimed the right to regulate states’ carbon dioxide emissions (in which it has been upheld by the Supreme Court). Most coal plants will likely close over the next five years. Can you say, Blockbuster Video? I’d dump those coal stocks, like yesterday, or call my pension fund and make them drop them.
Of course, there was already a social conscience argument against investing in coal, which is dirty– burning it emits mercury (a nerve poison) and other dangerous pollutants and makes people sick. It also causes acid rain. And it is a major emitter of carbon dioxide, the deadliest poison of all. It is a horrible thing.
Let’s consider what has happened in Iowa just since 2005.
In 2005, wind generated 4% of Iowa’s electricity. Coal was responsible for a whopping 79%, about 4/5s.
In 2013, wind generated 28% of Iowa’s electricity. Coal had fallen to only 59%.
Given those trend lines, in such a short period of time, does coal look like a good investment to you? Or does wind? Especially since we know what the EPA is planning for coal.
Coal isn’t just competing with wind. The conservative Deutsche Bank has just concluded that in 14 states of the US, solar power is now as inexpensive as that from coal and natural gas. Right now. That is, it would be crazy to build a new coal plant today when you could generate electricity just as cheaply with solar.
And get this: by 2016– next year! — Deutsche Bank concludes that solar will be competitive with coal and natural gas in all but three or four states. And that is not an argument based on subsidies for solar. It will be as inexpensive as coal-generated electricity just purely on a market basis (in fact, it will be even cheaper, since there are massive government subsidies for coal, gas and oil).
Critics say that the wind dies down sometimes and the sun doesn’t shine on half the earth at night. This problem is referred to as that of “intermittency.” But it isn’t an insoluble problem. For one thing, the wind often blows more at night, so turbines can take up the slack from solar plants. For another, there are now molten salt solar installations that go on generating electricity for six hours after sunset. As batteries improve in efficiency and fall in price (both things are happening already, big time), the problem of intermittency will fade into insignificance, likely within a decade.
Another drag is that the electricity grid in many states needs to be redone. Wires need to be laid from the Thumb in Michigan where the wind is to the Detroit metropolitan area where most of the electricity is used. But it really is a relatively minor expense, and since the fuel for wind turbines is free, it would pay for itself fairly quickly. That is just a matter of having a state government that is on the ball and sees where the future profits are to be made. Cheap wind- and solar- generated electricity will allow factories to save money on energy and make their products more inexpensively, allowing them to compete on the world market. A solar facility is helping power the Volkswagon plant in Chattanooga. They’re not paying for coal or gas to produce that portion of their power, because the sunlight is free, and that will make their cars more competitive in price. Some buyers may throw their business to Volkswagen because they are greener. All factory owners will quickly move in this direction over the next few years.
So there isn’t any doubt about it. Buying stocks in coal, gas and oil companies is like buying stocks in zeppelins. They are outmoded and prone to crashing and burning, a Hindenburg waiting to happen. (Zeppelins were good investments once, too; they carried tens of thousands of people across the Atlantic and the top of the Empire State Building was designed to anchor them; but they became a stranded asset.)
It is therefore absolutely amazing that institutions of higher education like Harvard often refuse to divest from oil, gas and coal companies. The science and the economics are clear as day– burning hydrocarbons is disastrous for a city like Boston over time, and holding stranded assets is a one way ticket to bankruptcy court. I couldn’t tell you whether this decision is made out of short-sightedness or out of ethical and moral corruption (universities live nowadays on donors’ donations and don’t want to anger generous alumni who make their living purveying coal, gas and oil).
But those hydrocarbon stocks, and loans made on the basis of those worthless assets, are endangering the economic health of us all. Buying and holding them is the equivalent of refusing to vaccinate your children against measles. It is an individual decision that imperils the rest of the public. You and I may not be able to do much about the Koch brothers’ hold on state legislatures, or about the mysterious insidiousness of the Harvard regents. But most of us have some say in what stocks are in our pension funds or 401ks. There shouldn’t be any coal, gas or oil securities in there. Unless you like the idea of working backbreaking minimum wage jobs into your 80s.
ONE OPPOSING COMMENT:
0 # brycenuc 2015-03-08 18:03
Incidentally, the huge volume of emissions shown in the photograph accompanying Cole’s message is not from gas, oil, or coal; it is from steam.
February 17, 2015
Tesla’s Disruptive New Plan to Power Your Home
From a surprising source – Dr. Kent Moors’ Oil & Energy Investor’s site we picked up the following:
February 17, 2015 – but we picked this up only February 25th because Google deemed the posting a “Promotion rather then “Primar
TESLA’s DISRUPTIVE NEW PLAN TO POWER YOUR HOME.
Dear Oil & Energy Investor,
The first is a major test of a joint project between Tesla Motors Inc. (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp. (NasdaqGS: SCTY) involving 500 California homes.
Sources have told me they expect this test to be the final “proof of concept,” followed by wider applications in both residential and commercial uses.
The lynchpin between the two is a family connection.
Tesla’s CEO is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, while his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO of SolarCity. Musk is also SolarCity’s biggest shareholder.
Now the two are coming together in hopes of solving the industry’s biggest roadblock…
This was followed by:
Solar Power Comes of Age
Tesla, of course, needs very little introduction. The California-based company has a very visible position in cutting-edge electric cars.
SolarCity, on the other hand, is the market leader in residential solar power installations. In the third quarter of 2014, SolarCity led the pack in this portion of the business by grabbing 39% of the market. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s next-closest competitor came in at 16%.
The two market leaders are now combining some of their operations in a very serious attempt to bring solar power into more consumer areas. In short, SolarCity is working with Tesla to make rooftop panels that are fitted with Tesla batteries.
Now a major test is underway in California that may usher in a new age of residential solar battery use.
The California test will utilize a solar battery with the ability to power a home for two days in the event of a blackout. In everyday use, the unit is expected to allow homeowners to store solar-generated power for use during high-cost periods, giving them the flexibility to use the conventional grid for cheaper, off-peak electricity.
Storing generated power for use at other times – in short, perfecting a new line of cost-effective batteries – has been the industry’s single biggest hurdle.
So the California residential test may well usher in a whole new ballgame. Considering the batteries from the Tesla-SolarCity venture (involving more than the California test) utilize a new generation of silicon batteries, rather than relying on rare earth metals or lithium, is also a plus. This type of approach is already well advanced, and is based on considerable familiarity and history.
It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla is building the biggest battery factory on the planet right now. Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the plant is expected to have a dramatic effect on the energy storage market, helping to bring battery costs down by as much as half by 2020.
So while the initial price of these installations may come in high, as with any generation-changing new technology, the cost will eventually come down. What’s more, there may be some credits and other inducements provided by the companies to stimulate usage.
This development, combined with the recent decisions by Apple Inc. (NasdaqGS: AAPL) to power its new Pentagon-like headquarters via solar and Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG) opting for wind power for its San Francisco Bay Area base, show that renewables are now moving into all aspects of electricity end use here in the States.
and the SECOND BIG NEWS OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECE:
India Breaks Ground on the World’s Largest Solar Plant
The second major development for renewables is unfolding halfway around the world.
India has announced a major push to provide 15% of its electricity needs from renewables with an initial push into solar power, which is unfolding right now. It’s the first high-profile effort to provide concrete plans for a major Asian advance into solar power distribution.
The Times of India reported yesterday that the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant has begun in the central Indian Rewa district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant, a joint venture between state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam and the Solar Energy Corp. of India, will provide 750 megawatt of electricity. Once online, the plant will be 36% bigger than the largest plant currently in operation.
The current world leader is the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which just opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Situated on 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park, the plant produces enough energy to power 160,000 homes.
But the Indian push into solar power hardly ends there. The government has plans for two dozen solar farms strategically placed throughout the country.
In all, the State Bank of India has committed resources for the development of 15 gigawatt of solar power by 2020. The objective is to provide a full 15% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources within five years.
To be sure, there are some doubts that New Delhi can pull this off. For one thing, the price tag is very debatable. For another, the national electricity distribution grid is in a sorry state, and would require significant, pricey, and (at the moment) an unspecified amount of investment to be able to shoulder the anticipated new power load.
Still, with the Chinese committed to a similar 15 gigawatt goal from solar by 2020, Germany’s decision to end its reliance on nuclear power, and the continued growth pattern in the U.S., one conclusion is already abundantly clear.
The future of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewables is longer dependent on the price of crude.
The World Bioenergy Association sees dangers for this industry from the decrease in the price of oil. We say that if this industry fails – the price of oil will go up. Government intervention is needed at this time.
From: Bharadwaj V Kummamuru bharadwaj.v.kummamuru at worldbioenergy….
World Bioenergy Association (WBA) would like to thank everyone for their voluntary participation in the survey on the oil price drop effect on the bioenergy industry.
We have received answers from 25 countries. The number of employees in the companies surveyed varied from 10 to more than 1 000. Respondents included pellet producers, biogas producer, and bioenergy equipment manufacturers etc.
In summary, the decline in oil prices from June 2014 to January 2015 has had a moderate to severe effect on 75% of the respondents while the rest were unaffected. The current situation benefits countries highly dependent on oil imports. However, bioenergy producers are struggling with lower investments, lower profit margins and less financial resources available for bioenergy development.
The complete summary is attached. For any comments on the survey, please email us at info at worldbioenergy.org
Most of Public and About Half in GOP Back Climate Action
By Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly, The New York Times, 30 January 2015
In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.
READ MORE AT: www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/pol…
+3 # Dust 2015-01-30 16:44
The parallels to the “creation science / intelligent design” paradigm are fairly clear. Nobody wants to outright dismiss science, so they define the only valid sources of scientific research in increasingly limited and constrained ways. CS/ID people produce NO science of their own; the only thing they do is use their modified version of science to produce what appear to be legitimate questions or holes in the field of evolutionary biology. (FWIW – they also confuse the fields of evolutionary biology and physics). They then assert that ANY lack of perfect understanding in evolutionary theory is clearly grounds to dismiss the entire thing.
A similar parallel can be found in the field of encryption and cryptanalysis. Folks read a standard reference like Applied Cryptography in C and set out to write their own encryption algorithm. Now – THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS!! But when their lack of understanding comes to the fore and their work is not taken seriously by cryptanalysts, the intelligent thing to do is learn more about the field, not scream that there is a conspiracy against you.
+2 # Ken Halt 2015-01-30 16:45
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