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Global Climate Talks: US will join talks despite quitting Paris Accord


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The US Department of State has formally notified the United Nations of America”s intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement … however want to continue participating in international talks ….

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Trump team wants names of those involved in climate talks - The Washington Post 

 Oh, hell no!

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said punishing civil servants for their work under previous administrations “would be tantamount to an illegal modern-day political witch hunt and would have a profoundly chilling impact on our dedicated federal workforce.”

One question zeroed in on the issue of the “social cost of carbon,” a way of calculating the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. The transition team asked for a list of department employees or contractors who attended interagency meetings, the dates of the meetings, and emails and other materials associated with them.

The social cost of carbon is a metric that calculates the cost to society of emitting a ton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The Obama administration has used this tool to try to calculate the benefits of regulations and initiatives that lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The questionnaire also appeared to take aim at the national laboratories, which operate with a high degree of independence but are part of the Energy Department. The questionnaire asked for a list of the top 20 salaried employees of the labs, the labs’ peer-reviewed publications over the past three years, a list of their professional society memberships, affiliations, and the websites they maintain or contribute to “during work hours.” Researchers at national labs focus on a range of issues, including renewable-energy development and climate analysis.

It is indeed a witch hunt.

Solar Power Agency Masen Issues Morocco’s First Green Bond

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has issued Morocco’s first green bond to help to finance the country’s development of solar power, it said on Monday.

The 1.15 billion dirham ($118 million) bond issue will help to fund three schemes that form part of the NOOR PV 1 solar power project. The schemes are to be developed in Laayoune, Boujdour and Ouarzazate with total capacity of at least…

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Solar Power Agency Masen Issues Morocco’s First Green Bond

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has issued Morocco’s first green bond to help to finance the country’s development of solar power, it said on Monday.

The 1.15 billion dirham ($118 million) bond issue will help to fund three schemes that form part of the NOOR PV 1 solar power project. The schemes are to be developed in Laayoune, Boujdour and Ouarzazate with total capacity of at least…

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Looking different to trees…..

Looking different to trees...

I watched this interesting, amazing talk:


……..and I am sure from now on, I walk differently through the woods in La Roche-en-Ardenne in Belgium and into the mountains of Salalah, Dhofar in the Sultanate of Oman, ….. In short everywhere where ‘trees’ are involved….

(click on thumbnail to enlarge pictures )

La Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium

Beausaint (768x1024) onderweg naar Saint Thibaud site (1024x768) onderweg naar het dierenpark La Roche (768x1024)

Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman

DSCN3575 (768x1024) DSCN3570 (1024x768) 20150423_171310 (1024x614)

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On Positive Transformation to Health and Sustainability through Food Sovereignty | Ron Kinley’s TED talk: Guerrilla Gardening in South Central LA | Vandana Shiva Soil not Oil | Dahlia Wasfi MD on Monsanto’s Seed Terrorism in Iraq | Joe Brewer Working for Billionaires

Okay, well, my preceding blog featuring the over-the-top frightening and provocative wake-up call about human actions on the planet, needs to be answered and redirected to subjects spelling out hope, again and again. I have the tendency to veer towards economic issues and casting the blame towards the culprits, the 1% of course. Why do I feel that enough is enough? Because there’s a tendency…

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By Sasha Kramer

“For the first time in the history of international relations, there is a challenge facing all continents and all culture, which requires us to join forces, not on shared ground but a shared concern, and to pool our best resources.”

- Nicolas Hulot (Special Envoy of the French President for the Environment)

The challenge referenced is climate change and through the week of November 30 to December 11, 2015, 196 nation-states came together at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, France. Widely recognized as the Paris Climate Talks, the goal of the Talks was to reach a universal international agreement on climate.

According to the United Nations (UN), the main tenet of the protocol is that it should apply to all countries, meaning that it considers the varying needs and capabilities of each country.

The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has established that a rise in the global temperature of more than two degrees would have irreversible climate consequences. The Climate Talks hold the international community accountable and responsible to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius (according to climate scientists, we’re already at 1 degree) compared to pre-industrial levels.

An article from CNN quotes physicist, founder and CEO of Climate Analytics, Bill Hare, that 1.5 degrees is attainable: “From the point of view of science, technology and economics, the literature and modeling on energy and climate systems shows that it’s feasible to limit warming to below 1.5 degree by 2100,” Hare advised.

According to scientists, the agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century.

However, Mark Jacobson, Stanford University professor of civil and environmental engineering, is wary about whether this goal will be accomplished: “We know how to get to 100% renewable energy by 2050 using even just the technologies we have right in front of us… [But] will anyone do it is another question,” he said.

How will the Climate Talks hold the international community responsible?

First and foremost it is important to understand that the Climate Talks are not a treaty, meaning that only parts of the agreement are legally binding. The UNFCC established that each signing country must set their own emission target. For example, in a U.S. News article, Karl Ritter reports that during the international talks the Obama administration committed to reduce U.S. emissions by 28% by 2025.

President Obama was a strong proponent of making sure certain parts of the agreement were legally binding: “Although the targets themselves may not have the force of treaties, the process, the procedures that ensure transparency and periodic reviews, that needs to be legally binding,” President Obama said in Paris, “and that’s going to be critical.”

Obama’s emission targets would have to be submitted to the GOP-dominated Congress, where it would not be ratified. Since President Obama is aware of the U.S. political environment, he could not be in favor of legally binding emissions targets for the U.S. to sign.

John Vidal, The Guardian’s Environment Editor, delineates the accomplishments and disappointments of the Climate Talks. Vidal states that the climate talks have furnished a glimmer of hope for developing countries. Since countries are now held accountable by law to derail the intensive use of fossil fuels and individualized commitments to do so have been detailed, mass migration and catastrophe may be avoided for hundreds of millions of people.

Vidal reports that the Climate Talks successfully initiated a movement to protect tropical forested regions and that an aspect of the agreement disincentivizes deforestation. National Geographic defines deforestation as the “modern day plague.” The majority of deforestation activity stems from massive logging operations, which provide the globalized world with wood and paper products. As a result of the climate summit, tropical regions will now benefit financially from protecting their forests. The Climate Talks established that these regions could receive payments for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation along with incentives to replant.

Greater investment in renewable technology is promised by elements of the agreement. Far more money and research should now go into solar, wind, and other renewable technologies, thereby initiating a trend away from fossil fuel development.

As for the agreement’s limitations, Vidal argues that it privileges big business over small landholders. Therefore the most vulnerable people are not being helped. The money that will be generated from carbon markets is unlikely to reach the poorest people, because it will be in the hands of governments and governments tend to have different priorities for distributing capital.

In regards to developing countries, the agreement has some shortcomings. Since 2009, rich countries have been jointly raising $100 billion per year to help developing countries “cope” with climate change. The Green Climate Fund finances projects that set out to combat climate change, which are undertaken by accredited national, regional and international entities (public or private sectors are considered for funding). Finally, there is no legal responsibility for rich countries to aid developing countries through their crumbling realities.

Vidal notes that low-lying islands, delta regions and coastal cities still remain vulnerable to rising sea levels. The people who inhabit these regions are called climate refugees. They include Bangladeshi’s coping with floods; Sahel villagers in Africa struggling to produce crops in the face of drought; Pacific Islanders who flee their homes peering over their shoulders to see their villages become swallowed by the waves of the ocean.

The biggest shortcoming of the agreement with regard to climate refugees is that the Climate Talks did not grant rights to these people. The Atlantic’s reporter Julian Spector writes that the legislation that exists to aid migrating people was determined in 1951 at a UN Convention but it does not include environmental factors as a reason for migration. Therefore, “climate migrants” do not have access to beneficial aid from the UN.  

Spector explains that the Global South believes they should be compensated by developed nations for the damages that they have accumulated from the effects of climate change. On the other hand, the Global North believes that the Global South must adapt to the environment that they are living in and the Global North is willing to subsidize the costs for adaptation, however are not willing to compensate for their losses.

India is a major player in this game to combat climate change. India is rapidly industrializing and is the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses. Justin Rowlatt, South Asia correspondent for BBC News, asserts that India has an important point, that they are not responsible for the emissions that are causing the present warming. Economic growth is important to India as hundreds of millions of its inhabitants still live in poverty.

Is it fair to ask India to halt their polluting activities when the U.S. and the European Union didn’t have to while they were in the midst of their own stages of industrialization?

Currently, India is heavily dependent on the coal industry, the dirtiest energy source. But, positively, according to Rowlatt, the Climate Talks have influenced India to propose an ambitious plan that invests in renewable energy technologies. Although it’s admittedly unfair to ask India to halt economic growth in the name of climate change, it’s simultaneously imperative that India does adopt some strategy. The Climate Talks are valuable because they enlist the need for countries like India to consider the environment in their endeavors.

China is a key player if a proper balance is to be found between continuing development in the Global South and the need to curtail runaway emissions. China, unlike India, has more of the technology and economic support to make this balance possible, however the uncertainty lies in whether China will commit to those changes.

An article from The Wall Street Journal by Andrew Browne characterizes Xi Jinping, China’s leader, as committed to combatting climate change. At the summit, China committed to reaching peak carbon emissions by no later than 2030. China is more focused on decreasing air quality pollutants like sulfur and nitrogen rather than carbon dioxide, which is a known main contributor to global warming.

Valerie J. Karplus, Director of the China Energy and Climate Project at MIT, says: “Air pollution-controls while essential, will only take China part of the way toward its stated carbon-reduction goals.” Further Chinese emission cuts will require an investment in cleaner energy sources.

The Chinese government has committed to insuring better air-quality only because of the pressure its people have placed on the government through protests. An article by a Guardian reporter, Martin Lukas, highlights the role of the people. Lukas begins with a cynical overview of the Climate Talks but revels in the agency of the people who are bringing about a climate justice movement that is bounding with potential. “It was the movement being built by activists around the globe that shaped the best of the Paris agreement,” Lukas said.

Climate activists around the world have been chanting slogans creatively adapted for the Climate Talks: “One-point-five to stay alive!”

Lukas explains that climate activists are now not solely bent out of shape about the massive pesticide infiltrated monocultures, the increasing occurrence of devastating natural disasters, rising sea levels, deforestation and drought, but they are fighting against the political and economic systems that have perpetuated this reality.

Lukas does not find hope in the Climate Talks, as he proclaims that they were a failure. Instead, he shines some light on the individual actions of climate activists and finds a beacon of hope in the climate justice movement.

If you are concerned about climate change, as a student you can join Divest Portland State, PSU’s campaign to divest Portland State from fossil fuels. In addition, 350PDX is building a grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.  

Climate Compensation: How Loss and Damage Fared in the Paris Agreement

The agreement coming out of the COP-21 negotiations gave breakthrough recognition to the concept of “loss and damage,” sorting through thorny discussions and politically charged negotiating positions. These positions revolved around liability and compensation, which developing countries called for but developed countries were unwilling to have included in the agreement.

Seems to be a big win for industry, a big win for developed nations and a large fuck off to the rest of the planet.

“Janet Redman, Director of the Climate Program at the Institute for Policy Studies, puts the finance required in perspective: ‘We spend $2,000 billion a year on our military and mobilized $14,000 billion to bail out banks. Wealthy nations have to shift money from banks and tanks to clean energy and climate resilience.’“

8 Takeaways From the Paris Climate Change Conference

The nations of the world may have finally solved the thorniest problem in international relations and now we need to figure out practical solutions, said a panel of experts at the Wilson Center December 16.

Here are eight key takeaways from the climate conference in Paris from Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute; Andrew Light, professor of public policy at George Mason University; Paul Bodnar, senior director for energy and climate change at the National Security Council; and Helen Mountford, director of economics at the World Resources Institute.

John Kerry Visits Russia to Prepare for New Round of Talks on Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry pressed ahead on Tuesday in the effort to organize a new round of talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war that could also align the United States and Russia more closely in strategies for fighting the Islamic State. (more…)

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Cool Climate

Everyone’s talking about the Paris climate talks. My reaction? Whoo. Yay. I mean, the fact that we have a tenuous agreement is good, but it’s an agreement to…

So many climate related news in such a short time

Dear all, for my first post in over a month and a half, there is so much I need to write about as a lot happened in this vast world of ours on climate change mitigation. (more…)

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