Saturday, December 19, 2009

Busting Civil Society, Chilling Out the Developing Nations -- Copenhagen Failed

Copenhagen spun by the mainstream press seems oddly successful, or some first step, or something the West tried so hard to work on. That's pure delusion and fabrication. We'll look at the ramifications of the failure of Copenhagen 15 in an upcoming blog. But for now, McKibben and Monbiot, two who have a keen eye on climate change and climate policy, post some remarkable observations.

Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben of voiced his disapproval. Writing for Grist, McKibben summarized what Obama accomplished:

He blew up the United Nations. The idea that there's a world community that means something has disappeared tonight. The clear point is, you poor nations can spout off all you want on questions like human rights or the role of women or fighting polio or handling refugees. But when you get too close to the center of things that count--the fossil fuel that's at the center of our economy--you can forget about it. We're not interested. You're a bother, and when you sink beneath the waves we don't want to hear much about it. The dearest hope of the American right for fifty years was essentially realized because in the end coal is at the center of America's economy. We already did this with war and peace, and now we've done it with global warming. What exactly is the point of the U.N. now?

He formed a league of super-polluters, and would-be super-polluters. China, the U.S., and India don't want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way. It is a coalition of foxes who will together govern the henhouse. It is no accident that the targets are weak to nonexistent. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves with targets, he said. Indeed. And now imagine what this agreement will look like with the next Republican president.

He demonstrated the kind of firmness and resolve that Americans like to see. It will play well politically at home and that will be the worst part of the deal. Having spurned Europe and the poor countries of the world, he will reap domestic political benefit. George Bush couldn't have done this--the reaction would have been too great. Obama has taken the mandate that progressives worked their hearts out to give him, and used it to gut the ideas that progressives have held most dear. The ice caps won't be the only things we lose with this deal.

McKibben's sentiment was echoed by Britain's leading climate writer, George Monbiot, who wrote:

Even before this new farce began it was starting to look as if it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992.

We have now lost 17 precious years; possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, which has been driven and promoted by the energy industries. This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterized, until now, as the good guys: those which have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved to be more urgent concerns than either the natural world or human civilization. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other.

Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest; it was nice knowing you, not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.

The next meeting of parties is scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico City, but it's unclear if a binding agreement will be put in place then. Friday's agreement set a goal of 2015.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inspired New Cities' Design -- Spokane, Yes We Can, No se Puede?

Copenhagen is huge, and the fallout will be bigger. The media failed, that is, the mainstream media. Americans are a bit behind the curve -- like 20 years. Other smart nations are appalled that USA has so many deniers, delayers and baby-step proponents. There are signs of hope in the USA. Portland, Chicago, heck, Los Angeles.

We'll analyze the major issues behind why Copenhagen failed, how the mainstream media spins it, why our Press allows Sarah Palin pen an editorial in the Washington Post demanding Obama boycott Copenhagen. These are troubling times, a bridge falling apart over troubled waters.

But, again, hope. Here's what Spokane (and the worldwide web) gets today in the form of my weekly/monthly piece, in the Inlander. Autocad's E-Squared series inspired me some to follow up on some of the information in several episodes. Thanks to PacifiCAD for allowing me to work this blog, for hosting it, this past year.
A Post-Carbon World
Crawlers, delayers, deniers and baby-steppers need not apply to the future

Paul K. Haeder

Friend of the Earth? Need not Apply at Copenhagen!!

So, now World Wildlife Fund for Nature has been banned from COP15. Friends of the Earth. We wonder how the USA techie world, those involved in businesses and development used to help design a new world that cuts energy use, creates architecture that is possibly carbon net zero, works with innovators looking to Living Buildings and LEED platinum construction, we wonder where they stand on this movement to work toward a global justice movement tied to climate change?

This is what Treehugger has posted on the barring of Friends of the Earth International from the COP 15 meetings that have two days left for complete failure to be declared by all but the politicians who have showed they cannot lead. USA part of the reason for the failure? Canada? Maybe. More on that in a coming blog post:

Civil Society groups are being targeted at COP15 with none being more punished than Friends of the Earth International, which has been banned from the Bella Centre, site of the UN Climate talks. About 50 Friends of the Earth representatives, all with accreditation and secondary badges, have been refused admission to the conference. The group has set up an action alert so you can voice your disapproval to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC.

The letter reads:

I'm writing to express my dismay that you have barred the climate conference passes for Friends of the Earth International delegates without their knowledge and without warning.

Friends of the Earth International, along with other NGOs and civil society groups have an important role to play in these UNFCCC climate negotiations.

This often requires the use of peaceful protests at particular points and places during the conference, to highlight the pushing and shoving done by rich nations to get their way at the expense of the developing nations and those most at risk from the impacts of dangerous climate change.
Please make every effort to reinstate Friends of the Earth International, and other NGO and civil society passes, so that the voices of all can be heard at the climate talks, and so that a fair and just deal can be achieved for all.

The world is watching, Mr de Boer.

FOE has been critical of the weak US climate legislation and has been sounding the alarm about the dangers of REDD offsets in a carbon market. The group represents million from around the world. Please take action now.
This is a call to action made by FOE, not by PacifiCAD, of course.
Other sites?

100 Countries for 350 and "1.5 to Stay Alive"!

16 December, 2009 - 04:59 — Jamie

We're entering the final days of the climate talks here in Copenhagen. And there's no need to sugar-coat it: the outlook doesn't look good. According to our friends at Climate Interactive, the cumulative result of all the proposals currently on the table would take the world not the 350 ppm that scientists say we need for a habitable planet, but all the way to 770 ppm. As Bill McKibben has been saying, "If that's not literally hell, it will have a similar temperature."

Yet, despite the slim chances of an ambitious agreement here in Copenhagen, we're taking hope from the growing number of countries that now support the 350 target and the call for real solutions to the climate crisis. Today, we got confirmation in a speech by Grenadian President H.E. Tilman Thomas that over 100 countries now support the call for 350ppm and a no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

"We must act now, because if we do not, history will not absolve us..." said President Thomas in a powerful speech on behalf of the Association of Small Island States, which has been working to build support for throughout the talks.

President Thomas' remarks were amplified by a speech just moments later by H.E. Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili of Lesotho, speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who explicitly endorsed the 350ppm target on behalf of the LDC's 49 member states.
The so-called "leaked emails" from Climate Change center in England:

A leaked document on climate change is causing furor and driving a wedge between rich and poor countries at the worldwide summit in Copenhagen. Developing nations say that the document asks them to reduce carbon emissions by unfair levels. Former Vice President Al Gore and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon went on the defensive Tuesday, saying that the draft text was only one of many options on the table. We talk with Andrew Revkin, environment reporter for The New York Times and Richie Ahuja, India Program Manager for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Andrew Revkin has done 25 years of environmental reporting, 15 years with the NYT. He's been pushed out, as NYT is cutting a hundred positions.

Climate Talks Are Less Talk, Less Action, More of the Same: Billy Clubs and the Club of the Elite Holding Court?

In a perverse way, climate change has inspired people around the world to make competing claims that they are its first victims. From low-lying Pacific islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu, where people face being literally swallowed by rising seas, to Tibetan farmers in Kashmir's remote Ladakh region, where receding Himalayan glaciers threaten agriculture, people in every corner of the world are coming forward as being on the frontline of global climate change.

Crop failure and drought in Africa, loss of biodiversity in the Amazon and extreme flooding and heat waves in Europe all prove that, if nothing else, climate change is successfully uniting the world in a collective state of imperilment.

Now add to the list Hawaii.

  • Climate Change Talks Do Show a Divide Between Rich and Poor Nations
  • Censorship Abounds
  • Transparency is Lacking
  • Police Use Gestapo Tactics to Round Up Scientists, Activists, People in the Know
  • Mainstream US Media Miss the Mark on Climate Change Talks COP15
  • NPR Barely Contextualizes Anything about Climate Change Action
  • Those in the Southern Hemisphere Are Reaping the Immediate Effects of Climate Change -- Droughts, Weird Deluges, Flooding, Crop Failure, Livestock Deaths, No Wheat
  • If Bush was in Kindergarten, Obama is in First Grade [on climate policy] -- Environmental change experts proclaims
  • Epic Fight Over Words -- 17 percent, 30 percent, 90 percent
  • Geo-engineering not the solution to climate change
  • Systemic change, not recycling cans and turning off lights
  • 1,500 people arrested in Copenhagen
  • UN suspended mainstream environmental groups from participating -- Friends of the Earth
  • “Politicians talk, leaders act,” read the sign outside the Bella Center in Copenhagen on the opening day of the United Nations climate summit.
  • Dr. Charles Fletcher, chair of the UH Geology and Geophysics Department said, "Scientists are not doing a good job of communicating the facts of global warming to policy makers and the public." He was referring to what he called "climate change deniers," particularly in the United States. "You don't see that in other countries," Fletcher said.

Copenhagen 15, the 15th UN Conference on Climate Change, has been a disaster.

And the divide between rich and poor, Northern climes and Southern climes; those with real scientific solutions and those who are deniers, delayers and economic hit men; paradigm shift seekers and ameliorating backpeddlers, elegant solution creators and business as usual types; those who are on the front lines of climate disaster and disruptions of people and economies versus those who seem to think they are insulated from dramatic climate change shifts, this great divide is a chasm widening, metaphorically the huge fissure in an ice field splitting as raging warming arctic waters divide and melt away entire ice sheets while little is done to work as a collective force of 192-plus nations on climate change mitigation.

The groups that see 350 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 and who see 1.5 C- average global warming as the limit, they are backed by not just science but myriad of people on the ground. From health care workers, to experts in husbandry. Agronomists and hydrologists. People planning the cities of the future. Transportation experts. Engaged youth and educational experts. The Five E's in sustainability -- Equity, Environment, Education, Energy and Economy -- all have been harmonized by the leaders in this movement to stop global catastrophe. The leaders of countries and corporations seem to be disrupting what the people want -- real, serious, committed change to move into a carbon-free society.

Here's another piece from Truthout. More blogs to come on Climate Countdown.

Paul Haeder
Copenhagen - ‘’Those who run the decision-making on climate change are the same who have caused it,’’ said Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the world’s first international climate hearing on Tuesday, pithily identifying the reason why justice has been elusive at the ongoing climate change summit in the Danish capital.

Climate victims from all over the world were practically trying to scream into the ears of the negotiators at the COP15 that everybody’s lives were at stake unless a fair deal was reached.

Over the past year, more than one and a half million people from 36 countries around the world have participated in national climate hearings, testifying on how climate change has wreaked havoc in their lives and asking for justice.

"This is a case of deep injustice,’’ said the Archbishop who led the hearings on Tuesday along with former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The timing of the international hearings could not have been better. Across the corridors in the Bella Centre, negotiators were trying to regroup after Monday’s suspension of negotiations as African countries, backed up by the entire G77 group of 130 developing states, protested against the conduct of the negotiations.Rather than going along a two-track approach preferred by the poorest countries, the negotiations seemed to be following the interests of the developed states.

"We are holding this international climate hearing at a critical moment in the negotiations," said Jeremy Hobbs, the executive director of Oxfam International, which hosted the hearings."

The stories of the climate witnesses should provide the moral imperative for a fair deal in Copenhagen,’’ said Hobbs, with just four days left for governments to reach an agreement.

The reality of the crisis in negotiations loomed large over the hearings as the conflict between the industrialised and the developing world surfaced. And the messages from the climate change witnesses stood out the louder for it.Speaking in the name of his indigenous brothers from Latin America, Caetano Juanca, a farmer from Cuzco, Peru, told the international audience in Copenhagen that his people were suffering without being guilty, and called for an agreement that "respects Pachamama (Mother Earth)."

Pelonesi Alofa from Trinidad and Tobago said that the CoP15 negotiators are "buying and selling’’ the lives of people. "Don’t we understand that climate change is not negotiable?" she asked. "I have now understood that CoP15 is beyond climate change, beyond Tobago."

Constance Okolet from Uganda explained that her people do not know any more when to plant and when to harvest, that they are eating only once a day, and that seasons have disappeared.

"I am here to tell the world leaders that we want our seasons back!" she told the audience.Shorbanu Khatun from Bangladesh, the last to testify, recounted how, as traditional crops failed in her village, her husband was reduced to foraging for food, only to be killed by a wild animal. Later on, her home was destroyed by a cyclone. "At first I thought god was punishing us," she said, "but I have come to understand that it is man-made."

Robinson concluded the hearings by stating that not only were the effects of climate change brought about by the actions of industrialised countries but they were being felt disproportionately by people who cannot be blamed for climate change.

"The failure of industrialised countries to act with urgency is leading us all to social and international disorder," she warned.The people’s fundamental right to "international and social order" (a basic principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is denied through the manner in which decisions about how to tackle climate change are being made, she said.

Robinson asked for industrialised countries to commit immediately to 40 percent emissions reductions by 2020 based on 1990 levels and to offer long-term - and additional - funding worth 200 billion US dollars annually until 2020 - half for adaptation and half for mitigation.

"I do not trust the governments of industrialised countries because they are only interested in money and they do not care about Pachamama," Caetano Juanca told TerraViva. "But I trust the people, the work done through churches and communities - there are people who care.’’

Asked what will happen if a fair deal is not signed in Copenhagen, Juanca responded: ‘’We will continue to fight until they listen to us. Our struggle does not stop here."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Copenhagen Facts from WRI

From December 7-18, 2009, the world will convene in Copenhagen, Denmark to create a new global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-15). WRI's experts have been actively involved in the negotiations leading up to COP-15 and are analyzing various dimensions of a new agreement. Here are our most recent thoughts:

Obama's Copenhagen Visit, Emission-Reduction Target are Good News for Climate

South Africa: An Experiment in Climate Change Adaptation Planning. As South Africa moves forward with its own preparations for climate change, other countries are taking note.

Dispelling Myths About India and Climate Change - Leaders must overcome the mistrust that has characterized recent U.S.-India relations on climate change and energy.

China's State Council Unveils 40-45% Carbon Intensity Target - China's announcement signals its commitment both to the climate conference in Copenhagen, and its intent to achieve significant domestic emissions reductions. Jonathan Lash on China's new carbon intensity target.

Reflections from Barcelona - The Barcelona talks brought into relief the complex mix of politics and policies that countries are grappling with as they attempt to identify clear choices for their leaders.

Online Resources for COP-15

Foundation for a Low Carbon Future: Essential Elements of a Copenhagen Agreement. This brief paper, rooted in WRI's long-running analysis of the complex and interconnected issues under negotiation, identifies key elements for a successful and possible outcome in Copenhagen.

COP-15: Countdown to Copenhagen. Collection of resources for those following the international climate negotiations, including staff contacts and expertise, recent COP-15 stories, publications, charts and maps, and related links.

ChinaFAQs, a project facilitated by WRI, provides insight into critical questions about Chinese policy and action on energy and climate change. ChinaFAQs is a portal to policy-relevant data and analysis informed by a network of leading U.S. research institutions, business groups, and civil society.

@WorldResources on Twitter - follow @worldresources for regular news and information updates about the COP-15 negotiations. You can also subscribe to the @worldresources twitter list of UNFCCC-IPCC-COP tweeple.

Today's environmental challenges are complex and global in nature. They call for visionary and ambitious action grounded in sound science and objective analysis -- the kind of action that has distinguished WRI's record of effectiveness for over 25 years.

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