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

Pincas –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s lean into that in 2016.

Thanks — and happy New Year,

Barack Obama

————————————-

and from MICHELLE OBAMA:

Friend –

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

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

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

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

Michelle

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

###

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

Election 2016:
Bill Nye: Republicans Could Lose the Presidential Election Simply by Denying Climate Science
“Can a conservative win the national election for president and deny climate change and alienate millennials?” Nye asks.

By David Edwards / Raw Story / Alternet

December 25, 2015
 www.alternet.org/election-2016/bi…

Science advocate Bill Nye explained on Tuesday that many parts of the United States were expected to see record temperatures over the Christmas holiday because of weather patterns associated with climate change and El Niño.

The month of December has already seen about 6,000 record-breaking warm temperatures across the United States, and experts predict that there could be dozens more before the end of the year.

But Nye pointed out during an interview with MSNBC that meteorologists were refusing to utter the words “climate change” to their viewers.

“We have a situation where no one in regular television will say the phrase ‘climate change,’” Nye declared, calling out MSNBC meteorologists by name.

“Nobody will mention this phrase. But the world’s getting warmer so when there’s an El Niño event, which is where the surface of the Pacific Ocean gets a little warmer, yes, you get these two things here in North America. You get more moisture in the atmosphere out west, which generally leads to more snow, which is what we have.”

“And then you get the warm weather back east,” he continued. “Since there’s more heat energy in the atmosphere, these two phenomena are amplified.”

The term climate change was accurate because “the local climates are changing,” Nye said. “So why nobody will say anything about this is what I would call charming and also troubling.”

“I think it’s been discussed extensively,” insisted MSNBC guest anchor Luke Russert.

Considering the political impact, Nye asserted that the eventual Republican presidential nominee may have already lost the election because none of the remaining GOP candidates accept climate science.

“I have a question for you, hard hitting political journalist,” Nye said to Russert. “Yes, a conservative can win the primaries without any millennial votes, right? Nobody in their 20s and early 30s is needed to win the primaries.”

“But can a conservative win the national election for president and deny climate change and alienate millennials?” he continued. “It’s a near-run thing. It’s a very close call.”

###

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


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


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

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

26 December 2015

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

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

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

According to the reporting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

###

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

SOMETIMES IN THE EARLY 80′S – AFTER I TESTIFIED BEFORE A HEARING ON THE ECONOMICS OF ETHANOL WHEN USED TO REPLACE THE LEAD COMPOUND IN GASOLINE, I WAS APPROACHED BY A SCIENTIFIC LEADER FROM EXXON, WITH THE FIRST NAME ATILA – IF I WOULD COME TO SPEAK AT THEIR SCIENCE HEADQUARTER IN FLORAL PARK? I SAID YES – WHY NOT? AFTER ALL I WENT ON THIS KIND OF MISSION ALSO AS A CONSULTANT TO TEXACO IN HOUSTON. THAT TRIP WAS CLEAR TO ME BECAUSE TEXACO HAD MANY SMALL REFINERIES THAT IT WOULD BE EXPENSIVE TO RESTRUCTURE TO PRODUCE THE HIGH OCTANE CONTENTS AT THE REFINERY – BUT EXXON?EEMINGLY THEY KNEW

AFTER A FEW DAYS I GOT INDEED BY MAIL A CONTRACT AS CONSULTANT FOR A DAY AND WHEN I GOT THERE THEY HAD ABOUT 10 PEOPLE IN THE ROOM AND I WAS ASKED MANY DIFFERENT QUESTIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND ALTERNATE FUELS ISSUES. THEY HAD THERE PEOPLE I FELT WERE DOING POLICY WORK AND TECHNICAL ENGINEERS WITH HANDS ON REFINERY EXPERIENCE. OTHERS WERE CLEARLY CHEMIST.
THEY WERE NOT INTERESTED ONLY IN THAT ETHANOL ISSUE ALONE – BUT ALL POSSIBILITY FOR BIOMASS BASED CHEMISTRY AND NOT JUST GREEN TOPICS BUT ALSO ALTERNATE ENERGY STILL FOSSIL-CARBON BASED. THEY KNEW OF MY WORK WITH THE HUDSON INSTITUTE ON OIL SHALES AND MY INTEREST IN NATURAL GAS.

YEARS LATER, AT A CONFERENCE, I MET THAT ATILA AND HE TOLD ME – STILL CONNECTED WITH EXXON BUT HIS RESEARCH TEAM HAS BEEN DISBANDED BY THE COMPANY. LATER – ALL I KNEW ABOUT EXXON IS THEIR SPONSORING THE TRASH THAT WAS BEING PEDDLED BY FRED SINGER AND THEIR BACKING OF HEARTLAND FOUNDATION WERE I WENT TO A NEW YORK MEETING IN ORDER TO INTERVIEW THE NEW CZECH REPUBLIC SECOND PRESIDENT VACLAV CLAUS – AN ARDENT DISBELIEVER IN HUMAN INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE ON HIS OWN – A CLOSE ADMIRER OF THE EXXON SPONSORED VIEWS OF THE TIME. HE CAME TO THE US NOT AS A US GOVERNMENT GUEST – BUT AS A HEARTLAND FOUNDATION GUEST.

NOW, MR. HIGHTOWER OPENED MY EYES ABOUT THAT ATILA, OR ATTILA, WHO PROBABLY WAS DOING HONEST RESEARCH ON BEHALF OF EXXON AT THE TIME THEY WERE NOT YET EXXONMOBIL. ON MOBIL OIL I HAVE ONLY BAD MEMORIES – BUT THIS IS REALLY NOT THE PLACE TO ENLARGE ON THEM BEYOND SAYING THAT IT WAS ABOUT THE MOTUNUI GAS-TO-GAS PTOJECT AND THE WHANGAREI REFINERY THAT UNDER MR. MR. WILLIAM TAVOULAREAS MOBIL OIL DESTROYED THE ENERGY POTENTIAL INDEPENDENCE OF NEW ZEALAND AND THE STUDY OF THAT DEVELOPING TOPIC COST ME SEVERAL MONTH OF WORK AND EVENTUALLY WAS CAUSE TO THE FALL OF THE ROBERT MULDOON “THINK BIG” GOVERNMENT.

—————————-

Environment
Exxon’s Voodoo-Science Campaign to Keep Us Hooked on Fossil Fuels.
In 1988, the elegant space inhabited by principle was suddenly invaded by the indelicate demands of profit.

By Jim Hightower / AlterNet
December 23, 2015

There is a constant flow of headlines these days confirming the mess we’ve made: “Looks Like Rain Again. And Again”; “Alaska Will Keep Melting”; “Climate Change a Worry to Central Bankers, Too”; “Warning on Climate Risk: Worst to Come.”

This is far from a natural phenomenon. A handful of corporate interests are causing these catastrophes. Oil, coal, auto and a few other industrial powers have profited for decades by spewing fossil fuel contaminants into the world’s atmosphere.

Some experts were speaking out about this mess nearly 40 years ago: “There is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” James Black wrote in 1978.

“Over the past several years, a clear scientific consensus has emerged,” Roger Cohen said in September 1982. “There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the Earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.”

The significance of these early calls to action is that they came from Exxon!

Inside Climate News revealed in an investigative series released this fall that the oil superpower (now infamous for its relentless campaign of lies to discredit climate science) was briefly a paragon of scientific integrity. From 1978 through the ’80s the corporation’s research headquarters was a buzzing hive of farsighted inquiry into the “greenhouse effect,” as the process of climate change was then called.

But in 1988, the elegant space inhabited by principle was suddenly invaded by the indelicate demands of profit. James Hansen, NASA’s renowned climate expert, testified to Congress that fossil pollution of Earth’s atmosphere had already surpassed the crisis point. “Global warming has begun,” Hansen concluded.


Then the United Nations’ intergovernmental panel on climate change issued an authoritative study in 1990 concluding that the warming was happening and the cause was emissions from fossil fuels.

With that, Exxon dismantled and defunded its research team. Ever since, it’s been the shameful, self-serving leader of a voodoo-science campaign to keep the world hooked on the fossil fuels that provide its profits.

Its strategy was to create an incessant noise machine, fueled with hundreds of millions of industry dollars, to spread the false narrative that scientists are “uncertain” about climate change. In a confidential 1998 memo, ExxonMobil’s senior environmental lobbyist stated the Orwellian goal of this corporate campaign: “Victory will be achieved when… average citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science,” and when “recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’”

Its many tactics included forming a lobbying combine in 1989 to sow doubt among public officials about the need for government action; placing a costly, decade-long series of essays in newspapers denigrating the very scientists it previously nurtured and the science reports that it published; and trying to get the government’s chief global warming official to decry the uncertainty of climate research (then, when he refused, got the incoming Bush-Cheney regime to fire him).

Exxon also made its CEOs into hucksters of bunkum, with such lines as “the earth is cooler today than it was 20 years ago” and “it is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now” and “what if everything we do, it turns out that our (climate) models are lousy, and we don’t get the (rising temperatures) we predict?”

If these denials of reality sound familiar, that’s because they’re exactly the same ones we’re now hearing from such Einsteins as Donald Trump (who recently tweeted, “I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax”), Ted Cruz (who claimed that climate change is a liberal plot for “massive government control of the economy … and every aspect of our lives”) and Jeb Bush (who said, “It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant”).

The deniers are not only on the wrong side of science and history, but on the wrong side of most voters. A New York Times poll taken last January found that only 13 percent of the American people (and only 24 percent of Repubs) said they would be more likely to vote for 2016 presidential candidates who contend that climate change is a hoax and America should keep burning oil and coal. A September poll by three GOP firms found that 56 percent of Republicans agree that the climate is changing and 72 percent support accelerating the use of renewable fuels.

The real power, and our great hope, is in the people’s rebellion: marches, civil disobedience, trainings, teach-ins and other actions to pressure leaders to put people and the planet over corporate profiteering, while also raising global public awareness about the crucial need to get off of fossil fuels and into renewable energy. As 350.org puts it, “Politicians aren’t the only ones with power.” So the coalition will be in the global streets, on the Internet, in schools, churches and all other available forums, to rally you and me to save ourselves.

——————
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.” (Wiley, March 2008)
He publishes the monthly “Hightower Lowdown,” co-edited by Phillip Frazer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New York Times European Edition – Politics

Hillary Clinton Confidently Embraces Bill Clinton’s Economic Record

By AMY CHOZICK, DEC. 22, 2015

During one of Hillary Clinton’s preparation sessions for the first Democratic debate, held in Las Vegas in October, former President Bill Clinton urged her to remind voters how well the economy has performed under Democratic administrations, including his own.

He recalled one of his favorite refrains as a candidate — “If you want to live like a Republican, vote like a Democrat” — and suggested Mrs. Clinton find a snappy line of her own, according to two people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

She did. “The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House,” Mrs. Clinton said in her opening statement in the Oct. 13 debate.

And that pithy argument has since become the core of her economic message. Leaning heavily on her husband’s record of lifting wages and creating jobs, Mrs. Clinton is at the same time castigating Republicans for embracing policies that she says led to the economic downturns that Mr. Clinton and President Obama inherited.

The Democratic primary had been tough on Mr. Clinton’s legacy until recently: Mrs. Clinton and her primary opponents, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, have variously disavowed or denounced her husband’s policies on crime, same-sex marriage, trade, the deregulation of Wall Street and cutbacks to social programs for the poor.

Mr. Clinton has expressed regret for approving the Defense of Marriage Act, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving in the military, and the 1994 crime bill, which led to an increase in police officers and tougher sentencing for minor drug offenses.

“I signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it,” Mr. Clinton said at an N.A.A.C.P. event in July, shortly after Mrs. Clinton devoted the first major policy speech of her campaign to calling for an end to the “era of mass incarceration.”

Her recent and repeated embrace of her husband’s economic successes — the sort of message she would be likely to take to general election audiences — speaks to Mrs. Clinton’s growing confidence in her position in the Democratic primary.

————————————————————-

The New York Times Fact Check: Hillary Clinton Says Wages Have Stalled Since Her Husband Left Office.

True, but the credit is misplaced.

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

The Opinion Pages | Editorial
Congress Gets Out of the I.M.F.’s Way

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of The New York Times, December 22, 2015

The House went into holiday recess after passing a measure that included ratification of International Monetary Fund reforms.

After five years of Republican foot-dragging, members of Congress last week ratified an agreement that will increase the capital of the International Monetary Fund and give developing countries like China and India a greater say in the organization. This should strengthen the fund at a time when its expertise is needed to help revive a slowing global economy.

In 2010, the Obama administration negotiated an agreement with other countries to double the I.M.F.’s capital to about $755 billion, so it could lend more money to troubled countries like Greece and Spain. The changes also gave more voting power in the fund’s management to China, India, Brazil and Russia while slightly reducing the clout of European countries and the United States. China’s voting share would go up to 6 percent, from 3.8 percent, once the reforms began. The American share would be little changed at 16.5 percent.

Most nations quickly ratified the changes, but until recently Republicans in Congress refused to even vote on the reforms, which put the changes on hold. Some of those lawmakers argued that the fund did not need more money, while others said the organization was lending recklessly. Last week, however, the Obama administration and the Republican leaders agreed to include ratification of the I.M.F. reforms in the omnibus spending bill that the president signed on Friday.

The Republicans appear to have realized that their inaction was undermining America’s leadership in the world. For example, China has been so frustrated that its voting share at the I.M.F. and the World Bank are small relative to the size of its growing economy that it has begun building its own international financial organizations. Several American allies, including Britain, Germany and South Korea, have agreed to invest in one of those new Chinese initiatives, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Congress also inserted a condition into the omnibus law that should improve the way the I.M.F. makes loans. The American representative on the fund’s board is required to use his vote and influence with others on the board to get the I.M.F. to repeal a controversial policy that allows it to lend to countries that cannot hope to pay back all their loans when the fund’s board determines that not making a loan would harm the global financial system.

The fund adopted this policy, which it called the “systemic exception,” in 2010 and used it to justify lending money to Greece. Many economists and even the staff of the I.M.F. have called for getting rid of it. The troubled bailout of Greece shows what happens when the fund lends money to countries that can’t repay it. A better approach would be to call for a restructuring of debts.

The United States and European nations still need to devise a process to further increase developing countries’ voting shares as their economies grow. And leaders in the United States and Europe need to end the anachronistic practice of appointing a European to lead the fund and an American at the World Bank. They should pick the best candidates regardless of nationality, including in July when the term of the managing director of the I.M.F., Christine Lagarde, a former French finance minister, ends.

If the fund and the World Bank are to remain relevant and be truly global organizations, they cannot be seen as European and American fiefs.

———————-

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

??
Florida – The Herald Tribune>

March 8, 2015 ==== In Florida, officials ban term ‘climate change.’ Also globsl wamig and Sustainability !!

State environmental officials ordered not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in any government communications, emails, or reports.

Read more here: www.miamiherald.com/news/state/fl…

In 2013, Jim Harper, a nature writer in Miami, had a contract to write a series of educational fact sheets about how to protect the coral reefs north of Miami. ‘We were told not to use the term climate change,’ he said. ‘The employees were so skittish they wouldn’t even talk about it.’ John Van Beekum For the Miami Herald

By Tristram Korten, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.

But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department with about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting. “We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.

This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

Vinyard has since resigned. Neither he nor his successor, Scott Steverson, would comment for this article.

“DEP does not have a policy on this,” the department’s press secretary, Tiffany Cowie, wrote in an email. She declined to respond to three other emails requesting more information.

“There’s no policy on this,” wrote Jeri Bustamante, Scott’s spokeswoman, in an email.

But four former DEP employees from offices around the state say the order was well known and distributed verbally statewide.

One former DEP employee who worked in Tallahassee during Scott’s first term in office, and asked not to be identified because of an ongoing business relationship with the department, said staffers were warned that using the terms in reports would bring unwanted attention to their projects.

“We were dealing with the effects and economic impact of climate change, and yet we can’t reference it,” the former employee said.

Former DEP attorney Byrd said it was clear to him this was more than just semantics.

“It’s an indication that the political leadership in the state of Florida is not willing to address these issues and face the music when it comes to the challenges that climate change present,” Byrd said.
Climate Change Denial

Climate change and global warming refer to the body of scientific evidence showing that the earth’s environment is warming due to human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. It is accepted science all over the world.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations, wrote in a 2014 report for world policy makers: “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.” The report’s authors were scientists from 27 countries.

Still, many conservative U.S. politicians say the science is not conclusive and refuse to work on legislation addressing climate change. This type of legislation, such as a carbon tax or policies to encourage more sustainable energy sources, could be costly to established industry.

Among the politicians who refuse to acknowledge climate change is Gov. Scott. During his first campaign for governor in 2010, Scott told reporters who asked about his views on climate change that he had “not been convinced,” and that he would need “something more convincing than what I’ve read.”

In 2014, Scott said he “was not a scientist” when asked about his views on climate change.

In response, a group of Florida scientists requested to meet with Scott and explain the science behind the phenomenon. Scott agreed. The scientists were given 30 minutes.

“He actually, as we were warned, spent 10 minutes doing silly things like prolonged introductions,” geologist and University of Miami professor Harold Wanless recalled. “But we had our 20 to 21 minutes, and he said thank you and went on to his more urgent matters, such as answering his telephone calls and so on. There were no questions of substance.”

Read more here: www.miamiherald.com/news/state/fl…

Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, had been proactive on climate change, forming a statewide task force and convening a national summit in Miami in 2007. But evidence the issue has fallen out of favor during the Scott administration is apparent.

One example is the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council’s Annual Research Plan, put together by DEP and other state agencies. The 2009-2010 report, published the year before Scott was elected, contains 15 references to climate change, including a section titled “Research Priorities — Climate Change.”

In the 2014-15 edition of the report, climate change is only mentioned if it is in the title of a past report or conference. There is one standalone reference to the issue at the end of a sentence that sources say must have slipped by the censors. “It’s a distinct possibility,” said one former DEP employee.

Instead, terms like “climate drivers” and “climate-driven changes” are used.

Christopher Byrd said that he was warned not to use “climate change” and related terms during a 2011 staff meeting shortly after Scott appointed Vinyard as DEP director.

“Deputy General Counsel Larry Morgan was giving us a briefing on what to expect with the new secretary,” Byrd recalled. Morgan gave them “a warning to beware of the words global warming, climate change and sea-level rise, and advised us not to use those words in particular.”

Added Byrd: “I did infer from this meeting that this was a new policy, that these words were to be prohibited for use from official DEP policy-making with our clients.”

Morgan did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2011, Scott tapped Vinyard, a onetime law partner of powerful ex-Sen. John Thrasher, to lead the DEP in spite of a lack of experience with an environmental regulatory agency.

Under Vinyard, the DEP was repeatedly embroiled in controversies, from the suspension of its top wetlands expert after she refused to approve a permit to a failed effort to sell off surplus park land. Longtime employees, including Everglades scientists, were laid off or fired, while top jobs went to people who had been consultants for developers and polluters. Meanwhile the emphasis in regulation shifted from prosecuting violations to helping industry avoid fines.

DEP dismissed Byrd in 2013. His termination letter states: “We thank you for your service to the State of Florida; however, we believe the objectives of the office will be accomplished more effectively by removing you from your position.” Byrd, now in private practice as an environmental lawyer in Orlando, said he was fired because he repeatedly complained the DEP was not enforcing laws to protect the environment.

Although he disagreed with the policy, Byrd said he nonetheless passed the warning down to the various offices he worked with, including the Coral Reef Conservation Program at the Biscayne Bay Environmental Center in Miami.

“As you can imagine with the state of coral reef protection,” Byrd said, “sustainability, sea-level rise, and climate change itself were words we used quite often.”

The Coral Reef Conservation Program is where Jim Harper, a nature writer in Miami, was working as a consultant in 2013. He had a contract to write a series of educational fact sheets about how to protect the coral reefs north of Miami. Climate change was one of the issues Harper and his partner on the project, Annie Reisewitz, wanted to address.

“We were told not to use the term climate change,” Harper said. “The employees were so skittish they wouldn’t even talk about it.”

Reisewitz confirmed Harper’s story. “When we put climate change into the document, they told us they weren’t using the term climate change,” she said.

Harper and Reisewitz completed the assignment as instructed.

A year later, in November 2014, the Coral Reef Conservation Program held a meeting to train volunteers to use a PowerPoint presentation about the threats coral reefs faced. Harper attended the meeting, held at DEP’s Biscayne Bay office in Miami. Doug Young, president of the South Florida Audubon Society and a member of the Broward County Climate Change Task Force, also attended.

Two DEP employees, Ana Zangroniz and Kristina Trotta, showed the presentation to the volunteers and then asked if anyone had a question.

“I told them the biggest problem I have was that there was absolutely no mention of climate change and the affect of climate change on coral reefs,” Young said.

He continued: “The two young women, really good people, said, ‘We are not allowed to show the words, or show any slides that depicted anything related to climate change.’”

Young and Harper said they could not participate if climate change was not mentioned. “The women kept saying, ‘Work with us; we know you are frustrated,’” Harper said.

On Nov. 19, 2014, the DEP’s Zangroniz wrote Harper and Young an email stating she had talked to her manager about their concerns.

“Unfortunately at this time,” she wrote, “we can’t make any alterations or additions to the presentation. … If you do choose to continue as a volunteer, we would have to request that you present the information as is. If you choose to add in an additional presentation or speaker that addresses climate change and coral reefs, there would have to be a very clear split between the two.”

Trotta left her position as a field and administrative assistant in January. She told FCIR that when it came to scrubbing the term “climate change” from projects, she was following orders. Those orders came from Regional Administrator Joanna Walczak during a staff meeting in the summer of 2014.

“We were instructed by our regional administrator that we were no longer allowed to use the terms ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ or even ‘sea-level rise,’ ” said Trotta. “Sea-level rise was to be referred to as ‘nuisance flooding.’”

When staff protested, Trotta said, “the regional administrator told us that we are the governor’s agency and this is the message from the governor’s office. And that is the message we will portray.”

The order pained her, said Trotta, who has a master’s degree in marine biology, because she believes climate change is an imminent threat to Florida.

Walczak declined to comment citing DEP policy.

While state officials are still not using the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming,’ any prohibition of the term “sea-level rise” seems to have ended. In a February press conference, Scott unveiled $106 million in his proposed budget to deal with the effects of rising oceans. But $50 million of that is for a sewage plant in the Keys, and $25 million is for beach restoration, which critics say is hardly a comprehensive plan to protect homes, roads and infrastructure.

Wanless, the University of Miami professor, said the state government needs to acknowledge climate change as settled science and as a threat to people and property in Florida.

“You have to start real planning, and I’ve seen absolutely none of that from the current governor,” he said.

In Florida it will be hard to plan for climate change, he said, if officials can’t talk about climate change.

“It’s beyond ludicrous to deny using the term climate change,” Wanless said. “It’s criminal at this point.”

Read more here: www.miamiherald.com/news/state/fl…

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit news organization supported by foundations and individual contributions. For more information, visit fcir.org.

Read more here: www.miamiherald.com/news/state/fl…

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


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

Pincas Jawetz, SustainabiliTank.info Media.

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


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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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


Climate Denial in the GOP May Be Rampant, but Some Leading Republicans That Are Breaking Ranks
With some GOP leaders joining the scientific majority, could bipartisan climate action become a reality?

By Michael Sainato / AlterNet December 16, 2015

A recent survey conducted by three Republican pollsters — Echelon Insights, North Star Opinion Research and Public Opinion Strategies — found that only 54 percent of Republicans believe climate change is real and that mankind plays a role in it. A study from July conducted by the Pew Research Center put those numbers much lower: only 27 percent of Republicans believe climate change is real and man made, compared to 71 percent of Democrats, and 87 percent of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Illinois, believes these numbers are a reflection of the Republican Party and its propensity to remain stagnant on important issues that call for legislative action.

“There’s plenty of information, scientific information, that human beings are causing climate change, that’s it’s an issue we must address, that Mother Earth needs our attention,” Rep. Gutierrez said in a phone interview. “The Pope knows it when he came to see us. He said ‘The planet belongs to all of us and we should be good caretakers.’ What do the Republicans say? ‘It’s a hoax, we’re not going to do anything.’”

Some GOP leaders have begun to speak up in favor of taking action on climate change. North Carolina businessman Jay Faison, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican, has spent $165 million on ClearPath, a non-profit foundation aimed at promoting climate change initiatives that would appeal to Republicans. He has plans to donate another $10 million to lobby for these policies.

Former New York Governor George Pataki and senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are among a few notable GOP leaders who have broken from the status quo of Republican climate denial (we must remark here that both – Pataki and Graham were only on the lower tier in the GOP Candidate’s debate and the moderators did not deem even them with a climate question – Pincas Jawetz).

Though the scientific evidence for climate change and the link with human uses of fossil fuels is widely accepted by the scientific community, the political parties remain starkly polarized on the issue.

Talking about how Climate Change is seen in America – Conservative Voters’ Climate Denial Could Ruin GOP Presidential Bid.

“I think that in the House setting itself, the contrast of how our Democratic caucus approaches these issues compared to the Republican majority caucus, is our approach is about an all-of-the-above strategy, diversity in the fuel mix, accepting not only the reality of climate change, but working to impact human-inspired climate change outcomes,” Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), who serves on the Energy and Commerce and the Science, Space and Technology committees, said in a phone interview. “We contrast that with a ‘drill baby drill’ mentality of the Republican majority caucus. Drill more, wherever you can offer the opportunity and a heavy reliance on fossil based fuels, on oil and the continuation of coal.”

The agreement made at the Paris Climate Conference, which took place from November 30 to December 11, 2015, provides a great opportunity for the U.S. to affirm its status as a climate leader. Making climate change a more bipartisan issue at this historic time could serve as a catalyst to help move the international community to a climate solution, but a lot of ground needs to be covered in order to depoliticize the issue.

RELATED: The New McCarthyism: How the Fear of Socialism Fuels America’s Climate Denial.

Tonko emphasizes the need for dialogue between parties. “I think we need to hear about ways we can transition or transform energy outcomes, and equating that to a smarter, perhaps more cost saving outcome,” he said. “We can do this by relating to one another that sound stewardship of the environment and creating jobs aren’t diametrically opposed, but that they are often addressed in tandem.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership also provides an opportunity for the U.S. to assert its leadership in global action on climate change. Negotiations between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations recently came to a conclusion after eight years, but President Obama faces a tough fight to secure ratification from Congress due to the shortfalls of the pact asserted by both parties. Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, and Friends of Earth have criticized the agreement for its potential threats to the environment.

“I’m concerned that without across-the-board equal standards for environmental outcomes, it can set back the international effort,” said Tonko. “We need to make environmental stewardship and environmental standards part of the overall agreements so that we’re working on a level playing field and actually using trade opportunities to grow the carbon emission reduction agenda as significantly as we can.”

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

Monday, 7th Dec 2015, EUobserver from Brussels


Germany criticizes Saudi Arabia for funding radical mosques.

By Eszter Zalan
BRUSSELS, Today, 09:22

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

————————-

Related stories:

Germany to send 1,200 military to Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

By CORAL DAVENPORTDEC. 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Justin Gillis contributed reporting from Paris.

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

Energy & Environment
A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS and DIANE CARDWELL NOV. 8, 2015 , The New York Times

Photo: Sherri Burks in Dallas loaded her dishwasher in preparation for the 9 p.m. start of free hours of electricity from TXU Energy.

DALLAS — In Texas, wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away.

Briana Lamb, an elementary school teacher, waits until her watch strikes 9 p.m. to run her washing machine and dishwasher. It costs her nothing until 6 a.m. Kayleen Willard, a cosmetologist, unplugs appliances when she goes to work in the morning. By 9 p.m., she has them plugged back in.

And Sherri Burks, business manager of a local law firm, keeps a yellow sticker on her townhouse’s thermostat, a note to guests that says: “After 9 p.m. I don’t care what you do. You can party after 9.”

The women are just three of the thousands of TXU Energy customers who are at the vanguard of a bold attempt by the utility to change how people consume energy. TXU’s free overnight plan, which is coupled with slightly higher daytime rates, is one of dozens that have been offered by more than 50 retail electricity companies in Texas over the last three years with a simple goal: for customers to turn down the dials when wholesale prices are highest and turn them back up when prices are lowest.
Photo
A TXU Energy billboard in Dallas promotes the utility’s free nights plan. Such plans help utilities manage abundant wind energy. Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

It is possible because Texas has more wind power than any other state, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the state’s generation. Alone among the 48 contiguous states, Texas runs its own electricity grid that barely connects to the rest of the country, so the abundance of nightly wind power generated here must be consumed here.

Wind blows most strongly at night and the power it produces is inexpensive because of its abundance and federal tax breaks. A shift of power use away from the peak daytime periods means lower wholesale prices, and the possibility of avoiding the costly option of building more power plants.

“That is a proverbial win-win for the utility and the customer,” said Omar Siddiqui, director of energy efficiency at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit industry group.

For utilities, the giveaway is hardly altruistic. Deregulation in Texas has spurred intense competition for customers. By encouraging energy use at night, utilities reduce some of the burdens, and costs, that the oversupply of wind energy places on the power grid.

Similar experiments are underway elsewhere.

In Italy, customers of Enel, a leading utility, can receive incentives for keeping their electricity use below a predetermined level at times of highest demand.

In Maryland, Baltimore Gas & Electric allows customers to earn rebate credits on their bills for every kilowatt-hour less that they use during certain high-demand times. The program is run by Opower, which manages similar programs for several utilities.

And in Worcester, Mass., National Grid has installed a home energy management system from Ceiva Energy in about 11,000 homes, connecting a range of devices like smart plugs, high-tech thermostats and digital picture frames that display the home’s energy use along with the photos.

But no major market has gone as far as Texas, which is conducting a huge energy experiment made possible by the nearly universal distribution in recent years of residential smart meters that can receive and transmit data on electricity.

“Texas is head and shoulders above everybody else with really unique packages for the consumer,” said Soner Kanlier, a retail energy markets expert at DNV GL, a consulting firm based in Oslo, Norway.

Texas is a unique power market, one that makes it better suited for innovation than most others. It is by far the largest deregulated electricity market in the country, spawning scores of retail power competitors hungry to make new customers and keep old ones.

“You can be green and make green,” said Scott Burns, senior director for innovation at Reliant Energy, which has plans to offer incentives to increase night and weekend electricity use.

Energy experts say smart meters have not yet reached their potential and have made little difference in total power use. In many cases, utilities have monopolies and fixed rates, and they do not want to see customers bled away by renewable energy sources, so they have little incentive to use the new data source in creative ways, experts say. Texas is trying to be the exception, though experts say it will still take more time to assess the impact.

“The American consumer wants choice,” said Jim Burke, TXU’s chief executive. “Consumer choice, with its impacts and benefits, will drive the future of the power industry.” But he quickly added a note of caution: “I think the pace at which it evolves is the unknown.”

Executives freely acknowledge that the range of residential electricity plans they offer is overwhelmingly a marketing tool.

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Some Comments:

Anetliner Netliner
Fascinating story. So much for beliefs that renewable energy is too expensive.

RM
The dispatching costs on electric grids can actually result in slightly negative marginal costs of electricity per kwhr when supply is high…

Matt
The obvious thing to do is invest in an inverter and some batteries (Tesla powerwall?), draw massive amounts of power at night, and use it…

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“We’re all trying to grow, and it’s a very competitive market,” said Manu Asthana, president of the residential division of Direct Energy, which offers various plans.

Commercials on television and radio, billboards on highways, and aggressive social media campaigns promise joyful, or at least free, cooking, cooling and gadget-playing at certain hours.

“Every morning, every evening, ain’t we got fun?” goes one TXU jingle, mimicking the jaunty song that became popular in the 1920s. When customers ask for information or complain on the phone or by Twitter post or Facebook comment, company agents go over their electricity needs and habits to find the right plan for them. Otherwise, power executives say, the customer can easily be lost.

“Time of use” plans are growing in popularity in Texas, according to figures compiled by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot, the operator of the power grid and the manager of the deregulated market for 75 percent of the state.

In June 2013, 135,320 households had enrolled in “time of use” plans in the Ercot region. That number climbed to 290,328 — out of more than six million residences — in September 2014. And although nearly 63,000 residences dropped out of the program over that time — in part because rates are typically higher under the plans at peak hours — Ercot officials believe that the number of households enrolled continues to grow.

Consumers estimated that the plans were saving them as much as $40 or $50 a month during the peak summer season.

“We are still in the formative stages of this,” said Paul Wattles, an Ercot senior analyst for market design and development. “If we can reach critical mass — and 290,000 is already a pretty good number — but if that number started to double or triple, you could start seeing a significant shifting of load, and that is the whole point.”

Ms. Burks, the law firm business manager, is part of that shift — and she is not motivated by environmental concerns.

“I never thought about it,” she said. In fact, she leaves lights on and even the television on when she leaves the room.

“I’m really wasteful now,” she said. “The first thing I tell my guests is my electricity is free after 9.”

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Clifford Krauss reported from Dallas and Diane Cardwell from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on November 9, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Texas, Night Winds Blow In Free Electricity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem is that they do not agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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