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Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York:
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

‹Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe›
Europa, USA: Was ändert sich mit Trump? What Changes With A Trump US Presidency?

Der neue US-Präsident Donald Trump wird eine andere Außenpolitik vertreten als Barack Obama. Es ist zu erwarten, dass die USA ihre bisherige Rolle als „Weltpolizei“ nicht mehr in dem Maße wie bisher ausüben wollen. Das hat Auswirkungen auf die Bündnispartner, nicht nur in der Nato. Was haben die Europäer von Trump zu erwarten?

 www.burgtheater.at/Content.Node2/…

THAT WAS THE GIVEN – THE US WILL STOP BEING LESS THE WORLD COP AS IT WAS BEFIRE TRUMP.

That was the Monthly Meeting at the Venerable Vienna Burgtheater for the Month of March 2017 (March 5th).

It will have a sequel on April 2nd, 2017 WHEN POPULISM IN GENERAL WILL BE DISCUSSED..

IRITH JAWETZ REPORTS FROM VIENNA.

It was interesting, although no major surprises. They all agreed that Trump will represent a different foreign policy that Barack Obama or any US President who preceded him. Is it to be expected that the US will no longer want to exercise their role as world police to the extent they have done in the past? This has an impact on the alliance partners, not only in NATO. Trump’s turn to Russia presents the EU with challenges to which they must respond.

Under the leadership and Moderation of Alexandra Foederl-Schmid, the Speakers were:

Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe; Alison Smale, head of the Berlin New York Times office; Robert Dornhelm, Film Director and Movie Script-Writer; Former US Republican Congressman; and Ivan Krastev, Political Science Professor, Bulgaria and Permanent Fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences (Instituts fuer Wissenschaften vom Menschen – IWM) Vienna.

THAT WAS THE BURGTHEATER PROGRAM FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 2017. EUROPE BEING DISCUSSED (Europa Im Diskurs) -EUROPE-USA: WHAT WILL CHANGE UNDER TRUMP?

ON SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2017 11:00, there will be a sequel –

Burgtheater | Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe
Leben wir im Zeitalter des Populismus?

“DO WE LIVE IN A TIME OF POPULISM?” – this is like seeing if what happened in te USA will
happen in Europe as well.

————————————-

On March 5, 2017 – Most speakers were not Trump supporters (except Irish lady Dempsey who did not really support him but said one must give him a chance). Nevertheless – all of them view him with caution, to say the least.

The two surprising participants for me were Jim Kolbe, Former Republican Congressman from Arizona (1985 till 2007) who is now Board member of IRI (International Republican Institute).

He started by stating that he will definitely not get a phone call from the Trump Administration to join their cabinet. He did not support Trump from the start, and still does not support him. In his closing remarks, Congressman Kolb said that some Republicans are starting to doubt Trump’s ability to be President. He mentioned his fellow Arizonian John McCain and Lindsey Graham in particular. He criticized Trump’s Administration by saying that very often he says one thing and his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense say something different – and who is to believe? Is Steve Bannon running the show?

As for Trump’s relationship with Russia, Europe should worry – said Congressman Kolb.

The second surprise was Robert Dornheim, a Film Director and Screenwriter, who was born in Romania but has dual citizenship Austrian and US and lives now mainly in Los Angeles.

As a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter he is is completely against Trump. Dornheim was also angry at the media, that fell for Trump’s ability at showmanship during the whole campaign and gave him about 10 hours of coverage to 10 minutes of coverage to Sanders. As a result many Sanders supporters voted for Trump and he personally has lost many friends that way. He urged Jim Kolbe to use his influence on his fellow Republicans to do something! He even went as far as to suggest that all debates about a Trump Presidency should not be taken so seriously – since he is not worth it. One should not even discuss him. This brought a mixed reaction from the panel and audience and was not taken too seriously.

The other panel members were Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Foundation, an Irish journalist, who was the most lenient towards Trump and said, among other things that we cannot forget that he was elected with the support of millions of people, and he is now the President and must be given a chance.

Ivan Krastev, Political Scientist analyzed Trump at length, mentioned his obsession with Radical Islam which dates back to many years before, obsessed with the Trade deficit and the idea that deficit is always bad (although it has existed in the US for many years already), and his idea of “Make American great again” is his main goal.
As for Russia, none of the people around Trump are specialists on Russia, and Trump is somewhat obsessed with Putin. Both Trump and Putin have something in common as both dislike the state of the world right now. FYI for you, nobody mentioned Yalta or Malta and the dividing of Europe.Maybe they do not believe it will go that far.

As for Trump’s latest accusation of President Obama wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower, all agreed that this is absurd, there is no evidence to it. Jim Kolbe explained that in the US you need a court order to do that, and it was definitely not asked for or given to President Obama.

Ivan Krastev said that this is Trump’s tactic. He rules by distraction. When an important issues come up (right now Sessions reclusing himself from the Russia investigation) Trump comes up with some sensational Tweet to distract. This is his governing tactics.

All panel members agreed that Europe has to stay united and become stronger together.
Europe cannot rely on the US anymore and must become a powerful counterpart.


They did not touch on the Immigration issue or Climate Change.

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

THE APRIL 2017 EVENT:

Burgtheater | April 2, 2017 – 11.00 o’clock |
Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe
Leben wir im Zeitalter des Populismus?

DO WE LIVE IN TIMES OF POPULISM?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 17th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


UNITED NATIONS, UNICEF AND SMURFS TEAM UP TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS.

Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign inspires support for Sustainable Development Goals.

The UNF, New York, March 18 – Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village today joined officials from the United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation at the world body’s headquarters in New York to celebrate International Day of Happiness with a campaign promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign is designed to encourage young people everywhere to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 to help make the world more peaceful, equitable and healthy.
As part of the celebrations, Team Smurfs recognized three young advocates — Karan Jerath (20), Sarina Divan (17), and Noor Samee (17) — for their actions to promote the Goals.

Jerath, a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, invented a containment device that could prevent offshore oil spills and ensure the protection of marine life. Divan expanded a UN Foundation girl empowerment initiative at her high school and beyond, and Samee is a UNICEF blogger and advocate on social justice issues and raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The movie’s U.S. stars — Demi Lovato, Joe Manganiello and Mandy Patinkin — presented the three young students with a symbolic key to the Smurfs Village in recognition of their work.

“This inspirational campaign highlights the fact that each and every one of us, no matter how young or old, small or big, can make our world a better and happier place,” said Cristina Gallach, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. “We are grateful to creative partners like Sony Pictures Animation and Team Smurfs for their spirit of collaboration in helping the UN reach diverse audiences.”

The Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign culminates on the International Day of Happiness on 20 March, which emphasizes the importance of personal happiness and well-being. The idea is closely linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include decent work for all, access to nutritious food, quality education and health services, and freedom from discrimination.

“Today we have seen how the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign is giving children and young people a platform to speak out about issues they are passionate about. As we celebrate International Day of Happiness, we hope many more young people are empowered to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals and help achieve a world free from poverty, inequality and injustice,” said Caryl M. Stern, UNICEF US Fund President and CEO.

The actors and UN officials addressed some 1,500 students attending an international Model UN conference in the iconic General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, where they encouraged all participants and the public to join “Team Smurfs”.

The campaign invites the general public to visit SmallSmurfsBigGoals.com to find out how to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and share information, ideas and images on social media.

The actors also premiered a new public service announcement video starring cast members of the film that inspires viewers to join the campaign and champion the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We hope the campaign will help us all think about how our actions impact the planet,” said Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the movie. “Every one of us, even a Small Smurf, can accomplish Big Goals!”

The United Nations Postal Administration closed out the blue carpet event by unveiling a special edition stamp sheet featuring the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign. The film cast along with the Belgian Ambassador to the United Nations, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Management, Stephen Cutts, presented the Small Smurfs Big Goals UN stamps to the press.

Along with the event at the United Nations, other celebrations took place in 18 countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Russia and the UK, to name a few, to help raise awareness for the “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign and the Goals.

“Since 1958, the Smurfs have embodied around the world the universal values of camaraderie, helping one another, tolerance, optimism, and respecting Mother Nature,” said Véronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs. “It’s been an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF with this campaign focused on raising awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals.”

On March 20, festivities for the International Day of Happiness will culminate in a special ceremony with the film cast along with United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation officials where they will help turn the Empire State Building blue to commemorate the occasion.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


10th – 11th August 2017: North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management, Montreal, Canada


Climate change is known to impact coastal areas in a variety of ways. According to the 5th Assessment Report produced by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), coastal zones are highly vulnerable to climate change and climate-driven impacts may be further exacerbated by other human-induced pressures.

In North America, multiple pressures – including urbanization and coastal development, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks and natural hazards- affect the coastal ecosystems, hence exacerbating the impacts of climate change in coastal zones. In particular, sea level rise changes the shape of coastlines, contributes to coastal erosion and leads to flooding and salt-water intrusion in aquifers.

Climate change is also associated with other negative impacts to the natural environment and biodiversity, which include damages to important wetlands, and to the habitats that safeguard the overall ecological balance, and consequently the provision of ecosystem services and goods on which the livelihoods of millions of people depend. These impacts are particularly acute in North America, which endeavors to become more resilient to damages caused by hurricanes, floods and other extreme events.

The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change affects coastal areas and communities in North America, and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help the communities in coastal zones to adapt and become more resilient. There is also a perceived need to showcase successful examples of how to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by climate change in coastal regions in North America.

It is against this background that the North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management is being organized by the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) and the Université du Québec à Montréal. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities in North America.

The North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management will focus on “ensuring the resilience of coastal zones” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation in coastal zones and communities, which may be useful or implemented elsewhere.

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


BARD COLLEGE – MBA in Sustainability program


Visiting Lecturer Positions – Fall 2017

Bard College’s low-residency MBA in Sustainability program, based in New York City, has openings for visiting lecturers to teach the following courses in the fall semester of 2017:

· Operations and Supply Chains
· Leading Change in Organizations

Please follow the link www.bard.edu/mba/program/courses/ to learn more about their content. Professors modify the existing syllabi for these courses to reflect their area of expertise.

Bard’s MBA program is one of a select group of programs globally that fully integrates sustainability into a business curriculum. Courses address core MBA material through a mission-driven lens, supporting students to master the business case for sustainability.
Faculty members teach during intensive weekend residencies held once a month in Manhattan. In addition, they teach an online evening session each week between the monthly residencies. The low-residency format allows flexibility in residential location.

MBA faculty members are expected to have earned a Ph.D., J.D., M.B.A., M.P.A., or equivalent degree. Successful candidates will have an established record of excellence in teaching.

For more information about Bard’s MBA program, visit the MBA website www.bard.edu/mba

To apply, send a cover letter, CV, and names and contact information for three references through Interfolio.com at: apply.interfolio.com/40456. Applications will be reviewed as received.

Bard College is an equal opportunity employer, and we welcome applications from those who contribute to our diversity.

Eban Goodstein
Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy &
Director, Bard MBA in Sustainability
 www.bard.edu — www.bard.edu
845-758-7067
 ebangood at bard.edu

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Yesterday, February 27, 2017 there was a podium discussion at the House of the European Union, Vienna, Wipplingerstrasse 35, 1010 Wien. The topic was the question: “MORE OR LESS EU?”

The main speaker was Professor Karl Aiginger, currently Professor at WU, Vienna and Director
of the Policy Crossover Center, Vienna – Europe, that is a Discussion Platform for European Policy.

Karl Aiginger specializes in industrial organization. He also focuses on the analysis of industrial policy, innovation, the competitiveness of companies, international competition, and the European economic and social model.

He is the founder and publisher of the Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade and was the project leader for the analytical principles underpinning the competition reports of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. He evaluated the Finnish system for innovation on behalf of the Government of Finland and was in charge of the evaluating the system of Austrian research subsidies and funding on behalf of the Federal Government of Austria. He was on the supervisory board of the holding company of nationalized Austrian companies.

It is a main message of Aiginger’s work not to equate competitiveness with low costs or to measure it using the external balance, but to measure it by outcomes, specifically defining competitiveness as the “ability to deliver Beyond GDP goals”. Industrialized countries must follow a strategy based on quality. To us it seems that Professor Aiginger is a clear opponent of the approach used by people like Trump – the line that says make a profit always without looking back at the trail you leave behind.

Yesterday’s panel moderated by Hans Buerger from the Austrian Radio Station ORF, and included also Paul Schmidt from the Austrian Society for European Politics, Katharina Gnath from the Bertelsmann Foundation and Jacques Delors Institute of Berlin, and a young lady, Erza Aruqaj, representing the “millennials” and working with the National Bank, whose head, his Excellency Ewald Nowotny, was in the room.

We report on this meeting because to us it included a true first.

This First came from Professor Aiginger in his introduction, though later on it never was picked up again in the conversations.

Professor Aiginger nailed it down – the present three real European problems are –
TWO OUTSIDE PROBLEMS AND ONE HOME MADE PROBLEM.

The outside problems are:

(1) Trump. Trump likes Brexit and will help possibly other exits.

(2) Putin. Putin makes efforts at destabilizing the Ukraine, the Balkans, the Baltics,
Greece, France, and others.

The home made problem is:

(3) Right Populism. That is the internal EU mechanism that will lead to further exits.

What above says to us is that Professor Aiginger sees the danger of a Trump-Putin scissors that are bound to shape Europe, like the Roosevelt-Stalin scissors did in 1995 at Yalta.

But Professor Aiginger does not despair. He thinks of ways the EU can reorganize – as in effect it has to because of the Brexit that by now ought to be recognized as an accomplished fact. Further more, besides my notes I took last night, I found in today’s Wiener Zeitung a full page article by him – “Europe Without Populism.” that presents 4 principles of his thinking. Yes, Europe does not have to go down the Trump drain – it even can prosper if it learns by looking at the US and the UK – their evolution as pushed by their populists.

Last night, I felt lucky to have had the chance to congratulate Prof. Aiginger for his three “DANGERS” and added that all the rest – the positive part of his work – ought to include also a severe warning to Europe – States, individuals, regions, scientists, economists, educators, media, etc. that they do not just continue to plan for what they think is right – but seriously start to warn the public that there is a very real danger in falling back to Yalta.

Europe does not want just the post-WWII Peace of Yalta, but it must strive to a higher level of what was post-Malta Peace (the Marsaxlokk meeting on board of the Maxim Gorky).

For some more about Prof. Aiginger – his 4 points in print of today are:

(1) The Cornerstones for National Tax-Systems.

(2) The Principles for an innovative Climate Policy.

(3) The coordination of a European Business Policy.

(4) The Globalization of European Values.

The answer in short-hand is thus to do the right things as a union while recognizing the differences between States or Regions.

————————————–=======================———————-

ALSO – as we wrote here about events at the EU Haus, Vienna – let us publish the list of presentations in their EUROPA: DIALOG series with Journalits and writers.

We already had the first two meetings

— Jan. 31 — Corinna Milborn from PULS 4

— Feb. 14 — Wolfgang Boehm Die Presse -covering Europe – reported on Brussels

the future meetings:

— March 7 — Margaretha Kopeining “Kurrier” correspondent in Brussels

— Msrch 14 — Ben Segenreich ORF and Der Standard from Israel

— March 28 — Carola Schneider ORF from Moscow

— April 4 — Michael Laczinski “Die Presse” from Brussels

— April 18 — Joerg Winter ORF from Turkey

— May 2 — Tim Cupal ORF from Brussel

— May 16 — Christophe Kohl ORF from Paris

— Nay 23 — Tessa Szyszkowitz “Profil” from London

— June 6 — Thomas Seifert “Wiener Zeitung” covers Europe

— June 20 — Doron Rabinovici Writer

As we see much of this is about Brussels

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017 SHEVAT 27, 5777 6:24 PM IST THE TIMES OF ISRAEL.
ABOUT US ADVERTISE WITH US

INTERVIEW
Defending Trump, ex-envoy to US says nobody blamed Obama for leftist anti-Semitism.

New Jersey-born deputy minister says Jew-hatred is not new in the US; hails PM for being ‘responsible’ in not criticizing US president’s Holocaust statement that didn’t mention Jews BY RAPHAEL AHREN February 23, 2017, 3:18 pm 6

Those who charge US President Donald Trump with fueling right-wing anti-Semitism should recall that no one had accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of spurring anti-Semitism from the left, Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy MK Michael Oren said Thursday.


Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, also defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to speak out about the White House’s statement for International Holocaust Memorial Day, which failed to mention the Jewish people, saying the prime minister was engaging in “responsible” policymaking.

“Too much emphasis is put on what people say, not on what people do. The question is not what’s being said, but what’s being done,” Oren told The Times of Israel. “Yes, there is an uptick in anti-Semitism, but the conversation about it is not going in the right direction.”

In his meetings with bipartisan congressional delegations from the US, Oren said, he is often told that it is less important that hate crimes are condemned and more important that they are stopped. “The question is what is done operatively to combat and prevent them.”

In recent weeks, amid an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks, including dozens of hoax bomb threats to Jewish institutions, various US-Jewish leaders took the new administration to task for ostensibly failing to forcefully denounce rising anti-Semitism there. Trump shouted down an Orthodox Jewish reporter who tried to ask him about the uptick last week, declaring that “I am the least anti-Semitic person.”

On Wednesday, Trump for the first time condemned anti-Semitic hate crimes, such as this week’s desecration of a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis in which 170 gravestones were damaged. Vice President Mike Pence paid a solidarity visit to the vandalized site, and actively aided in the restoration effort.

Netanyahu, speaking at a synagogue in Sydney, praised Trump for taking a “strong stand against anti-Semitism.” At a joint press conference with Trump earlier this month, Netanyahu had proclaimed that there was “no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state” than the president.

Oren, who was a noted historian of US-Israeli history before entering diplomacy and politics, did not deny that Jew-hatred was a growing concern in the US but pointed out that it was by no means a new phenomenon.

“Obviously there is problem with anti-Semitism and we have to take it seriously,” said Oren, a member of the centrist Kulanu party. “But there is anti-Semitism on the left, and nobody blamed Obama for that. During my time in Washington [as Israeli ambassador], I never encountered right-wing anti-Semitism, but I experienced a lot of anti-Semitism, mainly on campuses. Ask Jewish students in America if they fear anti-Semitism. They do — not from the right, but from the left.”

Just as Obama should not be blamed for these incidents, Trump cannot be blamed for the current wave of attacks apparently inspired by right-wing ideologies, he argued.

Anti-Semitism is not new to America, the New Jersey native said, citing incidents from his youth. “It is very precedented. Anti-Semitism was a fact of life when I grew up. I encountered it all the time: our windows were broken, I got into fistfights all the time. There were quotas [for Jews] at Ivy League universities.”

The key to confronting today’s anti-Semitism lies in local law enforcement, he said, arguing for greater efforts to trace people calling in bomb threats to Jewish centers and having the FBI put more manpower into fighting the phenomenon.

“When my synagogue was bombed, the FBI showed up the next day,” he recalled. He was referring to an April 1971 attack on the Jewish Center of West Orange, which took place on the night racist American-Israeli rabble-rouser Rabbi Meir Kahane was scheduled to address the Conservative community.


Oren, who served as ambassador to the US between 2009 and 2013, declined to comment on Netanyahu’s previous silence on the rise of anti-Semitism in America and over the Holocaust Day statement. The prime minister initially refused to comment on the fact that the White House omitted any reference to genocide against the Jews in its statement, and he later denounced the US-Jewish community’s protests over the matter as “misplaced.”


While he himself does not agree with the White House explanation for what it called an “inclusive” statement — that other people suffered as well during the Holocaust — Oren said he would not “go out and criticize” the new administration.

Rather, he urged that Trump and his team should be given time before being taking to task over such issues, quipping that it takes a new administration half a year before staffers even know where the bathrooms are in the White House.

“We [Israelis] have crucial issues that affect the security of each and every one of us,” he said, indicating that discussions over Iran, Syria and the Palestinians should take precedence in Jerusalem’s dealings with the new administration.

Netanyahu’s refusal to comment on the controversial Holocaust Day statement “was “responsible and clear-sighted” policy in that it focuses on the bigger picture, Oren said.

Obama, early in his first term, indicated that Israel was created because of the Holocaust, Oren recalled. “This was a problematic narrative, because it basically denies Jewish history. But we didn’t make a big deal about it. It was a new administration and we had important things to discuss.”

It took Obama several years before publicly setting the record straight, when in a speech to the UN he talked about the millennia-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel, Oren said. “Let’s give Trump that same opportunity [to correct mistakes] and not jump at every little thing he says.”

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


Pence seeks to reassure European allies unnerved by Trump

He tried to reinforce the U.S. commitment to the security of Europe and the historic transatlantic partnership. But though Pence stressed that he was speaking on behalf of the president, it was clear to al that Trump offered very different views an ocean away – the real Trump speaking to his burly followers at Melbourne, Florida.

The Washington Post asks about Pence: “Shadow president or mere shadow?”

The Swedes asked what did Trump smoke? He plainly invented a set of “Pseudo-facts” about Sweden, well beyond his proven fall by “Alternate-Facts” – does Trump hallucinate or is he making up lies. Fox News never said what he contends to have picked up there. This is clearly psychopathic behavior – unsustainable and the talk all over is that while celebrating his first month in power, he has collected enough bad points to see his presidency end before his first year in office at the seat of power.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” and rose to electoral victory on the promise of a more isolationist “America First” set of populist policies. Pence stressed repeatedly that the USA continues to be committed to NATO even though it would like to see higher military expenditures by the Europeans.

In Vienna it is not accepted that Trump represents populism, they rather think he dreams up a new form of dictatorship – very different from Italian fascism and somewhat different from Nazism. He just does not accept any form of Socialism.

Pence’s inner-circle credibility took a dive last week when news emerged that former national security Michael Flynn had misled the vice president about conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States — claims the vice president repeated on the Sunday shows. Although Trump ultimately demanded Flynn’s resignation, Pence was in the dark for two full weeks and only learned he had been lied to from news reports.

An Israeli Former Mossad head said that Flynn was the fall guy to save Trump. The obvious question is if Trump will yet throw up Pence as well?

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


This is a SustainabiliTank.info original and it was inspired by our watching his press conference at the side of his guest – the Prime Minister of Japan – H.E. Shinzo Abe.

————————

Mr. Abe seemingly knew well what happened to even a greater ally of the US – the Prime Minister of Australia, so it was evident he was well prepared for meeting his host whom he met already once before by visiting at the Trump Towers in New York – at a time Trump was not yet sitting President. Mr. Abe seemed worried that the new US President who talks of making “America Great Again” – has no interest in Asia and while nevertheless pulling at China’s toes. Japan does not want to be left to face China alone.

But as we wrote earlier today in “The Taming the Tramp” – Mr. Trump beat retreat from his earlier high talk about China-China. He did this in clear light by promising to the Chinese leader that he will not change the One China policy. Surely we do not know how this phone call went, but it is obvious that Mr. Xi Jinping made his demand for a public statement very clear and Trump had to comply – “do not look at what I say – look at what I do.”

Now with Mr. Abe, Trump was visible only against the Red Sun of the Japanese flag – but remained unseen against his golden backdrop.

Trump allowed only two questions from the media – from correspondents of The New York Post and The Fox Network – both owned by US Australian magnate Rupert Murdoch – a card holding right wing Republican. But something happened, Murdoch’s people, thinking of what Trump did to the Australian Prime Minister, so they insisted to know about the US backing out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). When the first question was not answered, the second reporter insisted even stronger and forced an answer. Trump thought that was it and wanted to end he Press Conference. But Prime Minister Abe, though smaller in stature, but with black hair – quite visible in front of those golden drapes, knew that he has the accepted right to pass two questions to Japanese reporters as well. Actually in friendlier environments the host varies the reporters called upon – but this Golden Room is not a friendly place and accepted manners were dismissed with the entry of the new occupants.

Worthwhile to mention here is the obviously trained diplomatic way Mr. Abe answered the essence of the four questions by not getting involved but rather saying that substantial matter will be taken up at the working lunch. We also assume he will try, like Mr. Xi, get in private agreements that will then be publicized at the appropriate time. China and Japan are not out to make “Deals” but as obvious – they want open guarantees that no shenanigan behavior will lead to an abrupt change in the Status Quo ante.

The issues he is putting on the table are Free Trade between Nations in the Pacific area – with State Governments not being involved in regulations, Rule of Law, the security of navigation in the East China Sea and the recognition of the large investments Japan made in US industry and the fact that Japan technology – like the Maglev fast trains – can yet increase that Japan-US cooperation. He also by the way thanked the US for 115 years ago having learned from the US about democracy. Quite subtle and diplomatic.

Trump said that the US being great again is good for Japan – that jobs will come by tax policyack to the US – like Ford and GM – and an announcement will be make soon about Intel He will achieve this by tax policy and financial incentives.

Following the Press Conference, the TV pundits unanimously showed their astonishment at an issue that was evolving in parallel to the Abe visit that is the involvement of the Trump White House Adviser to the President Michael Flynn who talked with the Russian Ambassador about reducing the US Sanctions against Russia – this while Trump was not yet President –
a clear illegality that was known seemingly also to the man who is now Vice President.

Have we reached already time to clean House? I must thus remind our readers that considering the Russian involvement in the elections we called the home of the Golden Rooms – The Red House in Washington DC. Will finally some ethics Congressional Committee start looking seriously into the backdrop of the Flynn Affair? Will finally someone be indicted.
People start demonstrating with the deadly slogan – “DO YOUR JOB.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2017 – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run


The 4th Humanitarian Congress – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run – takes place on
3 March 2017 in the ceremonial halls of the University of Vienna.
Please note that registration is open until 28 February 2017.

The Humanitarian Congress gives you the chance to benefit from the unique insights of the experts as for example Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR or Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations discussing the following themes:


(Failed) Policy making with Global Consequences

Why are People Forced to Flee?

Refugee Health – Time for Change

The Erosion of International Law – Who Cares?

Civil Society and Refugees: Lessons Learned

Leaving No One Behind – A Mission Impossible?

For more information please visit www.humanitariancongress.at and the attached Newsletter.
We look forward to welcoming you on 3 March 2017.

With kind regards,

Mag.a Annelies Vilim

GLOBALE VERANTWORTUNG –

Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklung und Humanitäre Hilfe

Apollogasse 4/9, 1070 Wien

Tel.: (+43 1) 522 44 22

 office at globaleverantwortung.at

www.globaleverantwortung.at

www.humanitaerer-kongress.at /  info at humanitaerer-kongress.at

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

United Nations, New York City

UN chief decries discriminatory border bans in rebuke to Trump travel decree
António Guterres: ban based on religion or ethnicity violates basic values
Secretary general says such a ban risks fueling terrorist propaganda.

António Guterres denounced border policies ‘based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality’.

Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian, Wednesday 1 February 2017

António Guterres, the new UN secretary general, said on Wednesday, in a clear response to the Trump administration’s refugee ban, that border policies based on religion, ethnicity or race were “against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based”.

US travel ban puts 20,000 refugees in ‘precarious circumstances’, UN says

Guterres did not mention the US or Donald Trump in his written statement but he directly addressed the political, legal and moral debate triggered by the president’s executive order suspending entry for refugees and other visitors from a list of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Guterres, who was formerly the UN high commissioner for refugees, also had implicit criticism for other western countries that have increasingly closed their doors to the vast numbers of refugees seeking safe haven around the world, and compared them unfavourably to poorer countries who host the overwhelming bulk of them.

The statement said Guterres was on his “way back from Ethiopia, the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa that for decades has been keeping its borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbours, many times in dramatic security situations”.


“Countries have the right, even the obligation, to responsibly manage their borders to avoid infiltration by members of terrorist organizations,” the secretary general said, but he added: “This cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality because … that is against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based.”

He added two other practical objections that have been at the core of much criticism of Trump’s executive order, on the grounds that it is poor national security policy. Guterres said such a ban “triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organisations we all want to fight against” and that, furthermore, “blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements”.

“This is not the way to best protect the US. or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration,” Guterres told reporters in reference to Trump’s executive order. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later.”

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said on Monday: “Trump’s executive order clearly breaches US international human rights obligations on non-refoulement and non-discrimination. It is unlawful.”

“Apart from being in breach of international law, Trump’s Executive Order carries a risk of inc . reasing rather reducing the risk of terrorism,” Emmerson said on Twitter on Tuesday evening

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

Seemingly the new UN Secretary-General, a former Portuguese Head of State, does indeed have the backbone to stand up to his American host – this even as expected – President Trumps cabinet appointees may present a danger to the continuation of the present UN structure. Though only 10 days old and many members of the cabinet not yet approved by US Congress – this new US Administration has already managed to put in motion many revolutionary activities that clash with laws intended to protect the weak from the interests of the rich.

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

Further, we received also the following from the outgoing US Mission to the UN:

This is to let you know that Ambassador Haley will be spending her first few months learning about the UN and Security Council and its members. She will not be meeting with NGOs for a while.

My last day is February 28. Have really enjoyed working with you.
Peggy

Peggy Kerry
NGO Liaison
U.S. Mission to the UN
799 UN Plaza

We clearly are sorry for losing Ms. Peggy Kerry from her position as NGO liaison to the UN
and we also note that the new US Ambassador for the UN – Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina – will be inactive for several months, and not having the background to function at the UN, and in need of a learning experience before she is ready to enter the fray – she in effect sees no need to ask also for advice in that learning time from the NGOs. This in itself is a major retrogressive step for the US in its international relations – that we will follow and watch attentively.

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

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

Oil production releases more methane than previously thought.

Emissions of methane and ethane from oil production have been substantially higher than previously estimated, particularly before 2005.

Laxenburg, Austria, 1 February 2017: Global methane and ethane emissions from oil production from 1980 to 2012 were far higher than previous estimates show, according to a new study which for the first time takes into account different production management systems and geological conditions around the world.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which scientists rank as the second-most important contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Yet while methane concentrations in the atmosphere can be easily measured, it is difficult to determine the contribution of different sources, whether human or natural. This is necessary information for reducing emissions.

“In an oil reservoir, there is a layer of gas above the oil which has a methane content of 50 to 85 percent. When you pump the oil to the surface this associated gas will also escape,” explains IIASA researcher Lena Höglund-Isaksson, who led the study. In oil production facilities in North America, almost all of this gas is recovered and what is not recovered will for the most part be flared to prevent leakage (and potential explosions), while a very small fraction is simply vented. In other parts of the world, where recovery rates are lower, much larger quantities of this gas are released into the atmosphere.

“Existing global bottom-up emission inventories of methane used rather simplistic approaches for estimating methane from oil production, merely taking the few direct measurements that exist from North American oil fields and scaling them with oil production worldwide,” says Höglund-Isaksson. This approach left a large room for error, so Höglund Isaksson decided to develop a new method that could better account for the many variations in oil production around the world.

In the new paper, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Höglund-Isaksson estimated global methane emissions from oil and gas systems in over 100 countries over a 32-year period, using a variety of country-specific data ranging from reported volumes of associated gas to satellite imagery that can show flaring, as well as atmospheric measurements of ethane, a gas which is released along with methane and easier to link more directly to oil and gas activities.

She found that in particular in the 1980s, global methane emissions were as much as double previous estimates. The study also found that the Russian oil industry contributes a large amount to global methane emissions. A decline in the Russian oil industry in the 1990s contributed to a global decline in methane emissions which continued until the early 2000’s. At the same time, Höglund-Isaksson found, methane recovery systems were becoming more common and helping to reduce emissions. Yet since 2005, emissions from oil and gas systems have remained fairly constant, which Höglund-Isaksson says is likely linked to increasing shale gas production which largely offsets emission reductions from increased gas recovery.

Höglund-Isaksson points out that her estimates are only as good as the data allow and that there is still uncertainty in the numbers. She says, “To improve the data, a close collaboration between the scientific measurement community and the oil and gas industry would be needed to make more direct measurements available from different parts of the world.”

Reference
Höglund-Isaksson L, (2017). Bottom-up simulations of methane and ethane emissions from global oil and gas systems 1980 to 2012. Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa583e.

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

IIASA Policy Brief #15 – January 2017

Resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy.

 www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/resource…

EU bioenergy demand is set to rise sharply. We examine the impacts on land use,
greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity, both inside and outside the region.

Summary
? Increasing demand for bioenergy in the EU means that there is a pressing need to
understand the impacts this might have on land use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,
and biodiversity, both regionally and globally.
? In this brief we examine the results of modeled policy scenarios to explore how
these factors are affected.
? All other factors being equal, a scenario where the EU target of an 80% reduction
in GHG emissions by 2050 is met leads to a rise in: wood pellet imports, the amount
of wood harvested from EU forests, and in the area of land used for short rotation
coppicing (fast-growing tree plantations).
? There are clear synergies between conserving biodiversity; protecting unused forests
and avoiding the conversion of natural land; and reducing global GHG emissions from
the land-use sector.
? Restricting the use of land that has high biodiversity value, or high carbon stocks,
means global emissions savings from the land-use sector.
? The results also highlight the importance of examining the global implications of
EU policy. When biodiversity and carbon storage are protected, for instance, EU
land-use emissions increase, although they fall on a global scale. As well as rising
EU emissions, more EU-grown wood that is of sufficient quality to use for other
wooden products is used directly for bioenergy.
? Capping the amount of high-quality wood that can be used directly for bioenergy,
in addition to biodiversity or carbon storage protection, results in even greater
global emissions savings.

Introduction
In the EU, the use of bioenergy (see box: What is bioenergy?) is on
the rise. This is due to an increased focus on renewable energy,
intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase
energy security. However, the impact of increased bioenergy
use on land use, GHG emissions, and biodiversity is not fully
understood. Nor do we know how a surge in demand for bioenergy
might impact related industries using the same feedstock such as
wood pulp producers, sawmills, or particle board producers. The
aim of the Resource efficiency impacts of future EU bioenergy
demand report, and its follow-up report, is therefore to examine
the consequences of pursuing different bioenergy policy pathways
from 2010-2050 by building a series of possible future scenarios,
using the IIASA Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM)
and Global Forest Model (G4M). © tchara | stock.adobe.com

The differences in GHG emissions between the basic emissions reduction scenario and the
LAND scenario (which restricts use of areas with high biodiversity and carbon storage)
and the CAP scenario (which also includes restrictions on use of high-quality roundwood).
What is bioenergy?

Although there are various types, in this brief we focus on
bioenergy generated by burning biomass, in this case, plant
matter. Many different types of woody biomass can be used
for bioenergy. Firewood is widely used for domestic heating,
for instance. Larger-scale bioenergy production might use
wood pellets, which are dense, compressed pellets. In the
EU these are mostly made from industrial by-products such as
wood chips, sawdust, or shavings. In this brief we also discuss
the likely increasing use of roundwood, defined here as logs
that are of sufficient quality to be used for wooden products
such as plywood or planks, but are used for energy production
instead. Another source of fuel for bioenergy that may become
increasingly important is short rotation coppices—intensively
harvested, fast-growing tree plantations grown on agricultural
land. Increasing demand for these feedstocks can have
important impacts on land use, GHG emissions, and biodiversity.
Furthermore, globalized trade means that demand in the EU can
affect the rest of the world and vice versa, as has already been
seen, for example, with increased EU imports of wood pellets
from the USA.

Possible futures

The Baseline Scenario depicts the target of a 20% reduction of
emissions in the EU28 by 2020, and runs to 2050, providing a point
of comparison for other policy directions.
In this scenario, increased demand for bioenergy will lead to a
considerable increase in EU production of woody biomass by 2030
(as much as 10% more than in 2010). Industrial by-products, such as
sawdust and wood chips, will become increasingly in demand, and
more land will be used for short rotation coppices (see box: What
is bioenergy?). In addition, harvesting in EU forests intensifies, and
roundwood imports increase. From 2030 to 2050, the EU domestic
production of biomass stabilizes.
EU reliance on imported biomass also increases—in particular wood
pellet imports will rise by 90% by 2030 compared to 2010. Since
estimates suggest that outside the EU a large share of wood pellets
are made from roundwood—and therefore require direct forest
harvesting—these imports may have important consequences for
biodiversity loss and land use change outside the EU.
The EU Emission Reduction Scenario (now updated in the
report: Follow-up study on impacts on resource efficiency of future
EU demand for bioenergy) examines the additional policy target
of decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 in the EU.
As the demand for bioenergy in this scenario rises sharply to meet
GHG emissions reduction targets, there is an increasing need for
all forms of feedstock. The reliance on imported pellets increases
seven-fold from 10 million cubic meters in 2010 to 70 million in
2050, with possibly serious implications for global biodiversity
loss. Short rotation coppices are also expanded to cope with the
stark rise in demand. Large quantities of EU-grown roundwood,
which could otherwise have been used to produce wooden goods,
are also burnt for energy.
These demands also affect land use in the EU, and along with
the increase in coppice plantations there is a rise in forest area
of almost 14 million hectares by 2050 compared to 2010. The
land converted to forest and coppice plantations is generally
natural land, such as abandoned cropland or unused grassland.

As demand for wood as a material and a source of energy grows,
forests become more intensively harvested in the EU, with the
amount of wood harvested reaching a level 12% higher in 2050 than
in 2010. Such intense use of forests is likely to have serious impacts
on European wildlife, hastening biodiversity decline in the region.

Importing wood, exporting pressure

The reliance on imports in the emissions reduction scenario raises
the difficult question of whether the EU will simply export the
problems of land use and biodiversity decline elsewhere. The
Increased EU Biomass Import Scenario investigates what would
happen if this was taken to the extreme, by decreasing the trade
costs in the model. As expected, EU imports of roundwood and
wood pellets are significantly higher than in both the baseline and
the emissions reductions scenarios. While this takes the pressure
off EU forests, as harvests do not increase as fast as they otherwise
would, it exports biodiversity and land-use issues to the rest of the
world. GHG emissions from the land-use sector in the EU fall, but
global land-use emissions are similar to the baseline scenario.
However, it is likely that other countries will also see an increase
for bioenergy demand as they attempt to switch away from fossil
fuels. In a world where countries outside the EU are using their
own biomass resources, rather than exporting them, net EU
imports of wood pellets are 25% lower than without this effect.
In addition, EU roundwood imports decrease by more than 20% in
2050. This requires the EU to substantially increase the amount of
biomass it produces through domestic short rotation coppicing.

Sustainability for the future

One of the major concerns over bioenergy is the amount of land
needed to provide the fuel, and whether this will encroach onto
natural land that is important for biodiversity or carbon storage.
To investigate this issue, researchers used the LAND Scenario,
which restricts biomass harvests in areas with high biodiversity
value, high carbon stocks, or both (HBVCS areas). Under this
restriction, collection of biomass from HBVCS areas in the EU
was limited and the conversion of HBVCS areas was forbidden
all around the world. Because these restrictions were applied
regardless of whether the use of resources was for bioenergy or
not, they had far-reaching effects beyond bioenergy policy.
The restrictions lead to a global reduction in the availability of wood.
EU pellet imports fall, and the use of domestic biomass resources
rises; the amount of EU roundwood combusted directly for bioenergy
is 23% higher in 2050 than in the emissions reduction scenario. This
scenario leads to a net global emissions saving in the land-use sector
of 10 megatonnes of CO2 (Mt CO2) in 2050, compared to the emissions
reductions scenario.

It is important to bear in mind that the goal of climate mitigation is to
reduce emissions worldwide, not just from the EU. This is highlighted
by this scenario, which shows that while global emissions fall,
emissions from the land-use sector in the EU increase compared to the
emissions reduction scenario (about 4 Mt CO2 higher in 2050). This is
because without protections for biodiversity and carbon storage, the
EU imports large quantities of wood for bioenergy, simply transferring
emissions to other regions.

Another major concern over bioenergy relates to the efficient use
of biomass; burning roundwood that is of high enough quality to
be used for wooden products is a wasted opportunity. After all, if
a tree is used to make a table, at the end of its useful life the table
itself can be burnt and used to produce energy, increasing resource
efficiency. To examine what would happen if a cap was placed on
the amount of roundwood that could be used directly and indirectly
for energy after 2020, a CAP scenario was built.
As a result of the cap, the amount of wood pellets imported into
the EU falls, since a large share of pellets from outside the EU are
made from high-quality roundwood. The resulting gap in fuel for
bioenergy in the EU is filled through use of industrial by-products,
such as sawdust or shavings. The demand for these by-products
increases their market value, meaning that sawmills become more
profitable and their numbers rise. There is also an effect on the
pulp and board industries, which shift towards use of roundwood
as the price of by-products rises.

This roundwood CAP scenario is more effective for climate mitigation
than the LAND Scenario, leading to net global emissions saving
in the land-use sector of around 15 Mt CO2 in 2050 compared
to the emissions reduction scenario; this is, however, more than
compensated by decreased emissions in the rest of the world.

IIASA Policy Briefs present the latest research for policymakers from
IIASA—an international, interdisciplinary research institute with
National Member Organizations (NMOs) in 24 countries in Africa, the
Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The views expressed herein are
those of the researchers and not necessarily those of IIASA or its NMOs.
This brief is based on the work by forest scientists, economists, and
policy analysts at IIASA, Öko-Institut e.V., Institute for European
Environmental Policy, European Forest Institute, and Indufor Oy. The
consortium was led by Nicklas Forsell, research scholar at the IIASA
Ecosystems Services and Management Program. The research received
funding from the European Commission within the contract ENV.F.1/
ETU/2013/0033 and ENV.F.1./ETU/2015/Ares(2015)5117224.
More IIASA publications are available at www.iiasa.ac.at/Publications


Further information

This modeling work stemmed from the EU Reference Scenario
2013, which details the EU energy, transport and GHG emissions
trends to 2050. The assumptions for energy demand for the
Reference Scenario 2013 are estimated using the PRIMES EU-wide
Energy Model. The work described in this policy brief was published
in two waves, the first was published in the Study on impacts on
resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy (ReceBio)
[pure.iiasa.ac.at/14006], and the second in the Follow-up study on
impacts on resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy
(ReceBio follow-up) [pure.iiasa.ac.at/14180].

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


Obama: Clean energy trend ‘irreversible’

BY TIMOTHY CAMA – 01/09/17 01:07 PM EST – THE HILL

 thehill.com/policy/energy-environ…


President Obama laid out his case Monday for why the worldwide movement toward clean energy is “irreversible” and can withstand any policy changes.

The opinion piece in the academic journal Science, complete with references end notes, serves in part as a celebration of Obama’s legacy on clean energy and climate change, and a call to action for future policymakers, including President-elect Donald Trump.

“The United States is showing that GHG [greenhouse gas] mitigation need not conflict with economic growth. Rather, it can boost efficiency, productivity, and innovation,” he wrote.

But the piece is also a reassurance to environmentalists and others that the business community also wants to fight climate change, and will continue to do so after he leaves office in less than two weeks.

“Businesses are coming to the conclusion that reducing emissions is not just good for the environment — it can also boost bottom lines, cut costs for consumers, and deliver returns for shareholders,” Obama wrote.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States.”

The Science piece comes amid growing pessimism among Democrats and environmentalists regarding Trump’s environmental policy.

Trump said on the campaign trail that he plans to quickly start undoing Obama’s climate change legacy, which was largely built on executive actions.

The president-elect has pledged to unleash an energy revolution, centered on fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Nonetheless, Obama prodded Trump in the piece, saying that “the latest science and economics provide a helpful guide for what the future may bring” in terms of energy policy.

This is not the first time Obama has been published in an academic journal. He wrote a piece on criminal justice last week in the Harvard Law Review, and in July, he wrote on healthcare reform in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the first time a sitting president wrote for an academic journal.

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CLIMATE ENVOY HEADS TO HEWLETT FOUNDATION: Jonathan Pershing, Obama’s special envoy for climate change, is heading to the nonprofit world.


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced Monday that Pershing will start next week as director of its environmental program.

“The past few years have brought tremendous gains in the global effort to mitigate climate change, and Jonathan has been a critical part of that,” Larry Kramer, the foundation’s president, said in a statement.

“That’s hardly surprising, as few people working on this all-important problem have his unique combination of experience, expertise, and vision. We are both delighted and fortunate that, in joining the Hewlett Foundation, Jonathan can continue his efforts, now by enhancing the role of civil society and philanthropy in protecting our planet and its inhabitants from the potentially devastating effects of global warming.”

Pershing took over last year as climate envoy and led the United States’ efforts in starting to implement the Paris agreement.

He has previously worked at the Department of Energy and the World Resources Institute, among other positions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Future of US relationship with UN in doubt.

By Stewart Patrick, December 28, 2016
An Op-Ed at CNN

The CNN Editor’s note: Stewart Patrick is the senior fellow and director of the program on International Institutions and Global Governance. The views expressed in this commentary are his. (that is not CNN pronouncement)

(CNN) Among the many foreign policy uncertainties created by Donald Trump’s election, there is one prediction we can take to the bank: The United Nations is going to get hammered.
An unapologetic nationalist is bound for the White House, Republicans are in control of both houses of Congress—and the world body is in their crosshairs.

Last week’s Security Council vote to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank — a resolution on which the Obama administration controversially abstained — has enraged GOP legislators. The President-elect has also lashed out, tweeting, “The United Nations has such great potential. But right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. Sad!” Secretary of State John Kerry tried today to defend US diplomacy at the UN, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to pass legislation condemning the Council.

The US-UN relationship is fraught in the best of times — during the George W. Bush administration when the US imposed a unilateral vision globally, or during the 1990s, when Sen. Jesse Helms bedeviled the United Nations and created a financial crisis at the institution by withholding US dues. Conservative critics, both in and outside government, regularly scapegoat the UN for the failures of its member states. And because it lacks a domestic constituency, it is an irresistible target for nationalist demagogues.

After eight years of the most multilaterally-inclined US administration in history, the United Nations is in for a shock. Donald Trump is the new sheriff in town.

Where President Obama proclaimed himself a “citizen of the world,” Trump is channeling a populist base deeply skeptical of international organizations, where paranoid fantasies about UN “black helicopters” as a threat to American sovereignty run deep.

The international organization is certainly flawed and often exasperating — but it is the best vehicle the United States has for advancing its agenda in the world and sharing the burden with others.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Foreign Policy Editors’ Picks, presented by the Embassy of Germany in Washington, D.C.
: Cambodia wants China as its neighborhood bully; and a U.S. intel chief fires back at Trump in feud over Russian election meddling.

AMAZING! FOREIGN POLICY – foreignpolicy.com – is a Magazine of global politics, economics and ideas. Published bimonthly in print and daily online by the Slate Group, a division of the Washington Post Company. (See also an attachement at the end of this posting.)

Starting January 2017 we started receiving the daily FP e-mail saying it was sponsored by Germany — Sponsored Content — “SHAPING AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017. The stability of the global economy will be a top issue. The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg. Learn more. (This from the Wednesday, January 4th mailing)


It seems to us, that in view of the expressed lack of interest in an “interconnected world”
on the part of the incoming Trump Administration, this while Germany as incoming leader of the G20 has the opposite opinion, it is logical for German Policy to lend its shoulder to the Foreign Policy Magazine and sponsor the continuation of its very important task.


Now – to the information we found in today’s incoming mail – January 6, 2017:


“Shaping an interconnected world”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency from December 1, 2016, to November 30, 2017.

The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8, 2017, in Hamburg.


Making globalization benefit everybody:

Germany would like to use its G20 Presidency to intensify international cooperation. It is the G20’s job to ensure that globalisation benefits everyone. The aim is to strengthen the benefits of globalisation and worldwide interconnectedness, and to ensure that more people reap benefits. The German government is thus setting a course diametrically opposed to isolationism and any return to nationalism.


Chancellor: Stability of global economy is a “top issue:”

Germany is happy to assume the G20 Presidency as of December 1, 2016, and to host the G20 summit July 7-8, 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a video podcast on the German G20 Presidency. She cited the stability of the global economy as the “top issue.” The G20 finance ministers will be focusing on achieving progress on the stricter regulation of financial markets, especially in the field of shadow banking.

Germany attaches a great deal of importance to continuing with the major issues of its G7 Presidency, Angela Merkel continued. And a number of issues “related to development” will be given a very high profile, in particular fighting pandemics.


Agenda of Germany’s G20 Presidency with three main focuses

The German G20 agenda rests on three main pillars:

Ensuring stability
Improving viability for the future
Accepting responsibility

The G20 is the main forum for international cooperation among the 20 leading industrialized nations and emerging economies in the fields of finance and economics. The G20 nations are together home to almost two thirds of the world’s population, as well as generating more than four fifths of global GDP, and accounting for three quarters of global trade.
Ensuring stable and resilient national economies

The first pillar involves strengthening stable environments for the global economy and the financial system, but also promoting dynamic economic growth. Structural reforms are the lynchpin here.

Over and above this, Germany’s G20 Presidency will continue cooperation on international financial and fiscal issues, employment, and trade and investment. The aim is to strengthen free and fair trade around the globe. The German government will also be working for sustainable global supply chains.


Fit for the future:


During its G20 Presidency, Germany not only aims to ensure the stability of the global economy, but also, and this is the second pillar, to make it more fit for the future. One main concern is to make progress on realising the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.


It is every bit as important to discuss viable energy and climate strategies for the future. And the growing importance of digitalisation for the global economy will play a prominent part in the discussions of the G20. To be fit for the future will also mean improving health care. The worldwide fight against antimicrobial resistance is part of this, as are efforts to put in place the mechanisms to prevent the outbreak of pandemics.

And last but not least, empowering women in the economy, in particular improving the quality of women’s jobs, is on the agenda. Chancellor Merkel will be working to give women in developing countries easier access to information and communication technologies.


Accepting responsibility – especially for Africa:


Germany also intends to strengthen the G20 as a community of responsibility – and that is the third pillar. A priority concern is to achieve sustainable economic progress in Africa.

The German G20 Presidency aims to take concrete steps to improve people’s living conditions in the long term and to put in place a stable environment for investment. And it aims to promote infrastructure development on the African continent. In June a separate conference, entitled “Partnership with Africa,” will be held in Berlin.

But the G20 also aims to accept responsibility in other fields. Migration and refugee movements, the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption will also be addressed during Germany’s G20 Presidency.

Meetings of G20 ministers and dialogue with civil society

In the run up to the G20 summit, numerous line minister meetings will be held, in order to explore individual G20 issues in greater depth. Between January and May 2017, ministers responsible for finance, foreign affairs, labour affairs, health, agriculture and digital policy will be meeting.

As was the case during the G7 Presidency, Chancellor Merkel will again be meeting with representatives of civil society. Between March and June 2017, several dialogues are to take place, including events for the business community (Business20), non-governmental organizations (Civil20), trade unions (Labour20), the science and research community (Science20), think tanks (Think20), women (Women20) and youth (Youth20).

The civil society organizations themselves are responsible for these meetings, which will pick up on relevant G20 issues. With international partners they will be producing recommendations for the German G20 Presidency.

© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government

——————————————————-
Germany will be holding the presidency of the G20 in 2017. The summit of the heads of state and government and representatives of international organisations will be held in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017. A number of G20 ministers’ conferences are scheduled to take place prior to this. The G20 Foreign Ministers will meet in Bonn on 16 and 17 February 2017. The summit and ministers’ meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss current international challenges and to raise awareness of new issues in international affairs.

Further information is available on the following webpages:

Information on this topic provided by the Federal Foreign Office
Official German G20 presidency website

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Foreign Policy was founded in the winter of 1970-71 by Samuel P. Huntington, professor of Harvard University, and his friend Warren Demian Manshel to give a voice to alternative views about American foreign policy at the time of the Vietnam War. Huntington hoped it would be “serious but not scholarly, lively but not glib.” In the Spring of 1978, after six years of close partnership, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace acquired full ownership of Foreign Policy. In 2000, a format change was implemented from a slim quarterly academic journal to a bi-monthly magazine. Also, it launched international editions in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

In September 2008, Foreign Policy was bought by The Washington Post Company (now Graham Holdings Company). In 2012, Foreign Policy grew to become the FP Group – an expansion of Foreign Policy magazine to include ForeignPolicy.com and FP Events.

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

Will António Guterres be the UN’s best ever secretary general? Asks the Guardian.

Cultured and consensual, the Portuguese politician has had the perfect preparation for the United Nations’ top job says the Guardian.

Sunday 1 January 2017 07.00 GMT Last modified on Sunday 1 January 2017 22.00 GMT

When António Guterres resigned halfway through his second term as Portuguese prime minister in 2002 because his minority government was floundering, he did something unusual for a man who had seen the highest reaches of power.

Several times a week, he went to slum neighborhoods on the edge of Lisbon to give free maths tuition to children.

“He never allowed a journalist to go with him or let himself be filmed or photographed, and he never let journalists talk to any of his students,” said Ricardo Costa, editor-in-chief of the Portuguese SIC News, who covered Guterres’s political career. The former prime minister told his surprised students that what he was doing was personal and not for show.

The Portuguese socialist, who becomes the next UN secretary general on Sunday, is an intellectual who grew up under Portugal’s dictatorship and came of age with the 1974 revolution that ended 48 years of authoritarian rule.

Crucial to understanding Guterres, 67, is his Christian faith: his progressive Catholicism always informed his brand of social democratic politics.

In the heady days of Portugal’s revolution, it was rare to be a practising Catholic in a new Socialist party where many members had Marxist backgrounds. But Guterres, a star engineering student who grew a moustache in honour of the Chilean left’s Salvador Allende, would eventually become a modernising leader, arguing that his mission was social justice and equality.

On the Portuguese left, faith was a delicate issue that required discretion. Under Guterres, the country held a referendum in 1998 on a proposal to liberalise the strict abortion laws. Socialist MPs had a free vote and, as prime minister, Guterres chose not to officially campaign. But it was publicly known that he opposed changing the law, which irked many in his party. The no vote against liberalising the abortion law narrowly won, but turnout was so low that the result was not binding. Abortion laws were finally relaxed in 2007 after a second referendum.

Born in Lisbon, Guterres spent stretches of his childhood with relatives in the countryside, where he saw the poverty of rural life under the dictatorship, and later volunteered with Catholic student groups on social projects in the capital.

In 1976, the young engineering lecturer was elected a Socialist MP in Portugal’s first democratic vote since the revolution. In parliament, he was a fearsome orator. Such was his talent for verbally destroying political opponents, he became known as “the talking pickaxe”.

Guterres became prime minister in 1995. His campaign slogan was “heart and reason”, a cry for more humanism and social politics. Three years earlier he had taken over the Socialist party and modernised it, although he remained to the left of contemporaries such as Tony Blair. For years he led the Socialist International international grouping of leftwing parties.

With Portugal’s rapid economic growth and nearly full employment, Guterres was able to set up a guaranteed minimum income and nursery schooling for all. But he had failed to win an absolute majority and was condemned to preside over a tricky minority government. He had to rely on his skill for consensus, always having to negotiate with the opposition parties if he wanted to get anything passed – something he later argued was perfect training for running the UN.

“He was a skillful person – very smart, very quick to understand the other point of view and very focused on having solutions – that’s why it worked,” said António Vitorino, Guterres’s deputy prime minister and defence minister.

Guterres was furiously hardworking. But behind this was a backdrop of family tragedy. His wife, Luísa Guimarães e Melo, a psychiatrist with whom he had two children, had been critically ill for most of his time in government and was undergoing treatment at a London hospital.

“It was one of the hardest moments of his political life,” Vitorino said. “Every Friday morning, he took a plane to London, spent the weekend there in a very desperate situation and then on Monday morning he was back at work. I was his deputy prime minister, I was amazed. I could never have done what he was doing.”

In 1998, Guterres’s wife died. The following year, he threw himself into the general elections. He had hoped to win an outright majority but the Socialists ended up one MP short and began a second minority government. This time, a slowdown in the economy made things harder.

Guterres, privately growing disillusioned with internal party politics, turned increasingly to his interest in international diplomacy. He had already won praise for his role in resolving the crisis in Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony, which had erupted into violence in 1999 after a referendum vote in favour of independence from Indonesia. Guterres led diplomatic efforts to convince the UN to intervene to restore peace.

In 2000, when Portugal took the rotating presidency of the European Union, its success was attributed to Guterres’s ability to get big leaders to agree and smaller leaders to be heard.

António Guterres accepts roses from a supporter in Lisbon
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António Guterres is cheered after his party won Portugal’s general elections in October 1999. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP
“He did something very original: he looked at what every country wanted and set up an agenda that could be interesting for everyone,” said Francisco Seixas da Costa, a Portuguese diplomat who served as Guterres’s European affairs secretary. “Small countries disappear in the decision-making process so we tried to listen to their interests.”

Guterres managed to talk down powerful leaders at loggerheads. “At the European council, I remember a conflict between Jacques Chirac and Helmut Kohl over one issue,” Seixas da Costa said. “Guterres asked for the floor. I was sitting next to him, I was afraid it might be naive. But he took the floor and made a proposal that covered both their interests, and it was a success. It worked. He had a fantastic capacity to moderate and create links and bridges.”

In 2002, halfway through his second term as prime minister, Guterres abruptly resigned after the Socialists suffered a drubbing in local elections. He famously said he wanted to avoid the country falling into a “political swamp” and that he had discovered “politics has its limits”.

At the time he was unpopular, criticised for too much compromise and too much dialogue. But over the years since his departure, polls showed he was increasingly liked and seen as fair, serious and honest – a possible contender for Portuguese president, although he never wanted to return to national politics, preferring, he said, to make a difference on the world stage.

His decade serving as UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) from 2005 to 2015 was seen in Portugal as an obvious fit for his personality: socially engaged but seeking common ground.

Guterres – who speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish and is now remarried to Catarina Vaz Pinto, who works at Lisbon city hall – was known in political circles for enthusiastic, cultured conversations on everything from ancient Greece to Middle Eastern culture, opera to geography.

Whenever he had free time during visits to Washington as UNHCR chief, he would get the organisation’s regional representative, Michel Gabaudan, to take him to Politics & Prose or another of the city’s bookshops.

“He’s an avid reader of history, and his pleasure was, if we had an hour, to go to a bookshop, so we would have access to books in English that weren’t easy to get in Geneva,” said Gabaudan, now president of Refugees International. “I’m sure this immense knowledge of past and ancient history did inform his political judgment.”

Guterres also took a broad approach to the UNHCR’s responsibilities. The organisation grew dramatically under his management, and not just because the number of the world’s refugees soared in the 21st century. He broadened the categories of people the UNHCR would seek to protect, including internally displaced people and migrants forced from their homes by natural disasters and climate change. He preferred the all-encompassing phrase “people on the move”.

He managed to persuade donors to fund the expansion by retaining their confidence that the money was well spent, and to do that he cut overheads.

Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.
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Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda in June 2005. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
“Like all UN organisations, as the organisation had grown up, it had become a little bit top-heavy and one of his first actions was really to slim down headquarters fairly substantially. He sent people back to the field and he put some of the services in much cheaper places than Geneva,” Gabaudan said.

“He never thought the details of finance were just for the technicians. I saw him looking at spreadsheets faster than his financial officer, spotting the line or column where we had a problem. So he was really as much hands-on about how the organisation worked as he was the top political figure and spokesman for refugees.”

When Justin Forsyth was chief executive of Save the Children UK, he travelled with Guterres to refugee camps in Lebanon, and recalled Guterres meeting a group of children. “The thing that struck me was him cross-legged on the floor of a tent talking to children. He really listens and he asks questions and he’s very moved by what he hears. He gets his hands dirty,” said Forsyth, the new deputy executive director of Unicef, the UN children’s charity.

Guterres’s tenure as high commissioner has attracted some criticism. Some former officials said he should have spoken out more strongly in defence of refugee rights enshrined in the 1951 refugee convention. “His record is very mixed, particularly on protection. His tenure was a rough time for the protection of refugees,” a former senior UN official said. He pointed to Thailand forcibly repatriating ethnic Uighurs to China despite the risk they would face persecution.

He argued that a tripartite agreement the UNHCR made with Kenya and Somalia on the voluntary return of Somali refugees had paved the way for the reported forced repatriations now under way in Kenya aimed at emptying its biggest camp, at Dadaab.

The former official said the EU’s deal with Turkey to repatriate refugees, also widely seen as a violation of basic principles of refugee protection, was largely negotiated while Guterres was at the helm, even if it was only signed in March this year, three months after he left.

“His style is to make general statements on the issue but not to directly challenge governments on their actions,” the former official said. “It raises concerns on what he would be like as secretary general.”

Jeff Crisp, who was head of UNHCR policy development and evaluation under Guterres and is now a research associate at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, said not all the criticisms could be pointed at the secretary general designate.

He said the UNHCR did push back against infringements of refugee rights by European states and had been strongly critical of the EU-Turkey deal. And he argued the tendency to address abuses by authoritarian states by behind-the-scenes persuasion had historically been the “institutional approach” taken by the UNHCR, before and after Guterres.

“I think you have to understand that UNHCR’s public criticism of states is very carefully calibrated and in general the more liberal a state is, the more publicly the UNHCR will criticise it,” Crisp said.

Adaptable, consensual, affable, intellectual, Guterres is perhaps better qualified than any of his nine predecessors for the world’s most demanding job. But one of his deftest skills he learned not from the hurly burly of Portuguese politics, nor from the harrowing years at the UNHCR, but from his first wife.

At a Guardian event last June in which he debated with rivals for the secretary general job, he said her psychoanalytical insights were highly valuable. “She taught me something that was extremely useful for all my political activities. When two people are together, they are not two but six. What each one is, what each one thinks he or she is and what each one thinks the other is,” he said.


“And what is true for people is also true for countries and organisations. One of the roles of the secretary general when dealing with the different key actors in each scenario is to bring these six into two. That the misunderstandings disappear and the false perceptions disappear. Perceptions are essential in politics.”

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

BREAKING — THE DANGLING FRUIT IN FRONT OF TRUMP: Ford is canceling plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead is investing $700 million in Michigan. The company’s CEO Mark Fields told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to create a pro-business environment. Fields emphasized, however, that he did not negotiate any special deal with Trump. “We didn’t cut a deal with Trump,” he said. “We did it for our business.” bit.ly/2j4UZZ4

U.N.’s Israel vote: The House will vote Thursday on a resolution disapproving of the United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many Democrats could join with Republicans to pass the measure as a means of demonstrating their support for Israel, even if their votes would put them at odds with President Obama. The U.S. refused to veto the Security Council resolution and instead abstained from the vote.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


WE POST THIS AS WE WONDER IN WHICH SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY STUDIED ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU – WHO SITS ALSO IN THE CHAIR OF HIS FOREIGN MINISTER. HE SEEMINGLY DOES SUCH A BAD JOB UNDER BOTH HATS SO THAT HE IS EVEN BEING CRITICIZED IN PUBLIC BY HIS OWN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER. THIS WOULD BE FUNNY IF NOT INVOLVING NUCLEAR POWERS. TO BRING THIS HOME, A STATEMENT BY A FORMER ISRAELI MINISTER LAST WEEK CAUSED THE RATTLE OF NUKES BY PAKISTAN.

FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW -IT BECOMES IRRELEVANT TO TALK OF CLIMATE CHANGE WHEN THE FRY AND THE BIG ONES – i.e. Messrs. Putin and Trump SEEM BENT TO TELL THE WORLD THAT NUKES ARE THE FUNDAMENT OF SECURITY IN A POST-OBAMA ERA.

MIDDLE EAST

Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements

By PETER BAKER – The New York Times DEC. 26, 2016.


Introducing Photo – Housing construction last week on the outskirts of Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish housing development in East Jerusalem. CreditJim Hollander/European Press photo Agency

JERUSALEM — Undeterred by a resounding defeat at the United Nations, Israel’s government said Monday that it would move ahead with thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem and warned nations against further action, declaring that Israel does not “turn the other cheek.”

Just a few days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s municipal government signaled that it would not back down: The city intends to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes.

The defiant posture reflected a bristling anger among Israel’s pro-settlement political leaders, who not only blamed the United States for failing to block the Council resolution, but also claimed to have secret intelligence showing that President Obama’s team had orchestrated it. American officials strongly denied the claim, but the sides seem poised for more weeks of conflict until Mr. Obama hands over the presidency to Donald J. Trump.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at Security Council countries by curbing diplomatic contacts, recalling envoys, cutting off aid and summoning the American ambassador for a scolding. He canceled a planned visit this week by Ukraine’s prime minister even as he expressed concern on Monday that Mr. Obama was planning more action at the United Nations before his term ends next month.


The Times of Israel:

Deputy FM questions PM’s diplomatic embargoes after UN vote. In apparent jab at Netanyahu for canceling meetings with world leaders, Hotovely says ‘part of diplomacy is explaining our position’

BY RAOUL WOOTLIFF December 27, 2016,

Introducing photo – Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely speaking at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem (Elram Mendel)

Raoul Wootliff is The Times of Israel Knesset correspondent.

TZIPI HOTOVELY – Deputy Foreign Minister

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU – Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Minister of many other things.


The prime minister defended his retaliation. “Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek,” he said. “This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us.”

The Security Council resolution that passed Friday condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation under international law” and an obstacle to peace. The Council approved it 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining instead of using its veto, as it has in the past.

Mr. Trump publicly pressed for a veto of the resolution and has chosen a settlement advocate as his administration’s ambassador to Israel. He turned to Twitter on Monday night to air complaints that the United Nations “is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

Palestinian leaders made clear that they would use the resolution in international bodies to press their case against Israel. With the imprimatur of a United Nations finding of illegality, they said they would campaign to require that other countries not just label products made in the settlements, but ban them.

“Now we can talk about the boycott of all settlements, the companies that work with them, et cetera, and actually take legal action against them if they continue to work with them,” Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Palestinian news media.

He outlined other steps the Palestinians could now take, using the resolution to press the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli leaders, file lawsuits on behalf of specific Palestinians displaced by settlements and urge the international authorities to determine whether Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions.

“We are looking to devise a comprehensive vision, and hopefully 2017 will be the year when the Israeli occupation ends,” Mr. Malki said.

Israeli officials said such pronouncements showed that the resolution actually undermined chances for a negotiated settlement because the Palestinians now have less incentive to come to the table. By declaring Israeli settlements illegal, they said, the United Nations essentially took away the one chip that Israel had to trade, meaning land.

“The Palestinians are waging a diplomatic and legal war against Israel. That’s the strategy,” Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said in a phone interview. “Their strategy is not to negotiate an agreement with Israel because a deal is give and take. They want take and take.”

Israel’s settlement project, once a scattering of houses across the so-called Green Line marking the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, has grown substantially over the years. In 2009, the year Mr. Obama took office, 297,000 people lived in West Bank settlements and 193,737 in East Jerusalem. That increased to 386,000 in the West Bank by the end of last year and 208,000 in East Jerusalem by the end of 2014, according to Peace Now, a group that opposes settlements.

Israeli officials note that when Mr. Netanyahu acquiesced to a 10-month settlement freeze sought by Mr. Obama in 2009, the Palestinians still did not agree to negotiate until just before time ran out. But the addition of more than 100,000 settlers during Mr. Obama’s tenure convinced him that it was time to change approach at the United Nations, aides said.

The 618 housing units to be granted building permits in East Jerusalem on Wednesday have been in the works for a while, and the planning committee meeting agenda was set before the United Nations acted. But the committee chairman said he was determined to go forward with units totaling 5,600.

“I won’t get worked up over the U.N. or any other organization that might try to dictate to us what to do in Jerusalem,” Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, the planning committee chairman, told the newspaper Israel Hayom. “I hope that the government and the new administration in the United States will give us momentum to continue.”

Although he did not specify which projects he had in mind, Ir Amim, a private group tracking settlements in East Jerusalem, said he was probably referring to projects in Gilo and Givat Hamatos. Betty Herschman, the group’s director of international relations and advocacy, said it was “defiance demonstrated after Trump’s election, now reinforced by the U.N. resolution.”

Anat Ben Nun, the director of development and external relations for Peace Now, said such construction was problematic. “Netanyahu’s attempt to avenge the U.N.S.C. resolution through approval of plans beyond the Green Line will only harm Israelis and Palestinians by making it more difficult to arrive at a two-state solution,” she said.

Israeli leaders said they had no reason to stop building. The Security Council resolution “was absurd and totally removed from reality,” said Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy for the Yesha Council, which represents West Bank settlers. “Israeli building policies are set in Jerusalem, not New York.”

For the fourth day, Israeli officials accused Mr. Obama’s team of ambushing them at the United Nations. While the White House denied it, Israeli officials pointed to a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his New Zealand counterpart a month before the Council vote discussing a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New Zealand was a sponsor of Friday’s measure.

Mr. Dermer, the ambassador, said Israel had other, nonpublic information proving the Obama administration’s involvement but provided no evidence and would not elaborate beyond saying it would be provided to Mr. Trump’s team when he takes office.

“They not only did not get up and stop it, they were behind it from the beginning,” Mr. Dermer said. “This is why the prime minister is so angry. We’re going to stand up against it.”

Israeli officials worried that Mr. Kerry would use a coming speech or a conference in France to outline an American peace plan that would be hostile to Israel’s interests. Mr. Kerry’s office had no comment.

The fury of Mr. Netanyahu’s response has generated debate at home. Mitchell Barak, a political consultant, said the political left considered the resolution “an epic foreign policy and diplomatic debacle” by Mr. Netanyahu.

But to his base, the Security Council action confirmed what they believed all along, that Mr. Obama is inherently anti-Israel, and so the prime minister comes across as a champion beset by enemies. “For them,” Mr. Barak said, “Netanyahu emerges from this unscathed, as the lone wolf in a lion’s den of hatred.”

Since the measure was passed, Israel has taken a number of retaliatory steps against the countries that supported its passage, including an official dressing-down of the Security Council members’ ambassadors to Israel on Sunday, Christmas Day.

Netanyahu on Saturday disinvited Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman after Kiev voted in favor of the resolution.

Groysman, who became his country’s first-ever Jewish prime minister earlier this year, was scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday for a two-day visit that would have included meetings with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other senior officials.

Netanyahu’s office has denied reports that he nixed a meeting with Theresa May next month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying that no meeting had been set. But the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Tony Kay, told The Times of Israel on Monday there had been plans for a sit-down, though Jerusalem had not told London it planned to cancel the meeting.

Netanyahu has also reportedly ordered the Foreign Ministry to minmize all working ties with the 12 of countries that voted in favor of the decision with which Israel has diplomatic relations. Foreign ministers from the countries will reportedly no longer be able to meet with Netanyahu or Foreign Ministry officials.

In addition, travel by Israeli ministers to the countries will be kept to a minimum, an official said.

Of the 15 countries on the UN Security Council, 14 voted in favor of Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all Israeli settlement activity — including in East Jerusalem — with one abstention, that of the US, whose veto would have nixed the measure.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


this is an old posting of ours. I just thought to put it up again as it seemed to us to be a reminder that news have a history. it shows that the UN has a history as well. evil is not a surprise.

‘Incomprehensible’: UN Committee Elects Assad Regime to Leadership Post

By Patrick Goodenough

 CNSNews.com) – A group of United Nations’ member-states on Thursday elected the Assad regime to a leadership post of a special committee dealing with decolonization, sparking protests from a human rights group that had earlier urged U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to intervene.

At a meeting in New York, the committee’s newly-elected chairman, Venezuelan ambassador Rafael Ramirez, asked the member-states whether there were any objections to putting forward Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari as its “rapporteur” for the coming year.

Hearing no objectives, Ramirez declared Ja’afari – as well as three nominated vice chairmen, the representatives of Cuba, Sierra Leone and Indonesia – “elected by acclamation.”

The Venezuelan then led “a round a applause for our friends,” told them he looked forward to working with them “in taking forward the noble work of the special committee,” and invited Ja’afari to take his seat on the podium.

Before the Syrian sat down, Ramirez – a former foreign minister in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet – gave him a hug.

According to U.N. estimates well over 250,000 people have been killed and 12 million displaced in the civil war in Syria.

U.S. taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget.

The committee – full name, the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – has 24 members.

Ten of them are free democracies, according to Washington-based Freedom House. They are Antigua & Barbuda, Chile, Dominica, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tunisia.

None of those 10, nor any other member of the committee, raised objections to Syria’s “election” as rapporteur.

Ahead of the election, the non-governmental organization U.N. Watch urged two of the democracies in particular, Chile and India, to oppose Syria’s election.

U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said after Thursday’s session the two governments should be “ashamed” for joining the consensus vote.

He also criticized Ban for not intervening ahead of the vote.

“It is incomprehensible for the U.N. on one day to lament the regime’s killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Syrians – to declare the regime guilty of ‘extermination’ of its own people – and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” Neuer said.

“Today’s U.N. vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself a U.N. human rights arbiter. That’s indefensible, and an insult to Syria’s victims,” he said. “Morally, Mr. Ban should do the right thing and at least condemn the decision.”

Neuer also called on U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and European Union ambassadors to condemn what he called the “absurd and morally obscene” election outcome.

He said the elections of the Syrian and Venezuelan ambassadors to their respective posts would be “trumpeted by both the Assad and Maduro regimes” as a propaganda victory.

He recalled that the regime after a previous election of Ja’afari called it “yet another recognition by members of the committee of the Syrian important and key role.”

The decolonization committee, established in 1961, advocates independence for 17 specific territories around the world, including American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

Neuer called the 55 year-old body “anachronistic,” noting that it has often been “criticized as a costly irrelevance.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Climate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged.

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

BBC Science & Environment
19 November 2016

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the conference that climate change was not a hoax
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.

He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.

Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.

But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.
“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.”


He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.
“We in the Pacific, in common with the whole world, look to America for the leadership and engagement and assistance on climate change just as we looked to America in the dark days of World War Two.
“I say to the American people, you came to save us then, and it is time for you to help save us now.”
After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.

This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.
CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.


UK joins the club

The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.
“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22,” said Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute.

“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline.”

US secretary of state John Kerry gave an impassioned speech in Marrakech, his last climate conference while in office

The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.

Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.

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