Arctic Council Affirms Need for International Action Against Climate Change
Foreign ministers from Arctic nations meeting this week in Fairbanks, Alaska, concluded their meeting “noting the entry into force of the Paris agreement on climate change and its implementation, and reiterating the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”
Called the Fairbanks Declaration, the document says the leaders signed it “recognizing that activities taking place outside the Arctic region, including activities occurring in Arctic states, are the main contributors to climate change effects and pollution in the Arctic, and underlining the need for action at all levels”
The U.S.’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the document, which affirms the need for international action against climate change. In addition to the U.S. and Sweden, the other council nations are Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. The council also includes six indigenous groups and formal observers from non-Arctic countries.
No part of the world is warming faster than the Arctic.
Summer sea ice regularly shrinks to record lows, coastlines are eroding and wildfires are getting worse. Even the frozen tundra, a critical natural storage tank for carbon emissions, is no longer so frozen. Scientists reported this week that it is warming so rapidly that it now is emitting more carbon than it captures.
Sea ice extent has shrunk to record lows this year and will likely continue to do so, a March 2017 NASA report shows.
Reducing the Current Suicidal Rate of Global Warming and Planning for Adapting to Changing Climates Demands Review of Goals, Principles and Actions by World’s Past Leaders and the Movements and Demonstrations by the People Who Expressed their Demands for Change
Today’s Populations, Businesses and Governments Responsible for Ensuring and Prolonging Earth’s Beauty, Economic Potential, Safety, and Humane Conditions for All It’s People and Animals Ought Not Ignore Leadership, Inspirations, Dreams and Concerted Actions of Millions of People and Leaders Who Lived Before Us, or Are Still Amoung Us, for Help in Music Guidance, Leader
To be continued….
Artist’s Rendering of State of Wisconsin’s Gift to the NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks Owners
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker committed Wisconsin taxpayers to contribute $250 million, or $400 million with interest, over the next 20 years, to pay for the Milwaukee Bucks new arena. That will supposedly cover roughly half the cost of this “investment” of State of Wisconsin funds. The other $250 million will be paid by the Milwaukee Bucks’ wealthy owners.
The NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks convinced the State’s Republican lawmakers and Governor Walker last August that this would be a sound investment for the state for the next 20 years, albeit a condition for keeping the Bucks franchise in Wisconsin.
Global warming and the need to drastically cut the air travel emissions that professional sports teams emit to Earth’s atmosphere, free of charge, will be just one of the many changes required to keep climate extremes and Earth’s rising ocean levels at bay. Big arenas like the Buck’s new arena could become symbols of a day gone bye-bye. Too bad for the investors in this white elephant and all professional sports team owners and big time athletic colleges, too. Only time will tell how big a white elephant the new Milwaukee Bucks and the State of Wisconsin’s new pro basketball sports team arena will turn out to be.
President Obama Should Request U.S. Congress to Issue Declaration of War to Fight Global Warming
On December 8, 1941, the United States Congress declared war on the Empire of Japan in response to its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the U.S. Territory (soon to become state) of Hawaii the morning of December 7, 1941.
The Declaration of War was formulated an hour after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Infamy Speech at 12:30 pm on December 8, 1941. The declaration quickly passed the Senate and then the House at 1:10 p.m the same day. Roosevelt signed the declaration at 4:10 p.m., December 8, 1941. The power to declare war is assigned exclusively to Congress in the United States Constitution; however, the president’s signature was symbolically powerful and resolved any doubts.
Two days later, a similar war declaration against Germany and Italy passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In the Joint Resolutions declaring war against the Imperial Government of Japan, Germany and Italy, the Congress pledged “all the resources of the country of the United States” … “and the president is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the government to carry on war … to bring the conflict to a successful termination.”
The magnitude of the threat of accelerating global warming and a rapidly changing climate that would undeniably accompany the continued and increasing accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as a direct consequence of human actions, mainly from too much fossil fuel burning and continuing and increased deforestation, especially in the tropics, upon the United States of America and the rest of the world, both now and into the future, easily dwarfs the loss of life, injury and misery to humans and animals wrought by all known wars, and therefore justifies a declaration of war by all countries of the world to slow and ultimately halt global warming and climate change, worldwide. Such declarations should be made now, without delay, to ensure an hospitable and safe world for all Earth’s current and future generations.
It is morally essential that Government, businesses, individuals and families begin to meet this challenge of increasing global warming and climate change that has already begun to cause loss of human lives, other species living in the world, and brought pain and misery to so many. To ignore and campaign against actions that reduce this growing threat, which will unquestionably hurt the people of the world’s poorer countries and Earth’s millions and millions of species, is utterly and morally reprehensible and is a practice that ought stop immediately because it needlessly delays progress in attacking this major problem of untold negative consequences for centuries to come.
Climate Change Summit Delegates Better Not Blow It!
More than 40,000 delegates from 195 countries are attending COP21, the United Nation International Framework on Climate Change (IPCC) annual meeting, which is being held this year in Paris, France, November 30 to December 10. The attendees this year have the daunting responsibility of achieving a legally binding agreement to keep global warming below what scientists worldwide say is a critical threshold of 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] of global average temperature warming above the average global temperature prior to the Industrial Revolution .
The delegates in Paris the next two weeks represent countries that presently emit 95% of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere from human-related sources; they have, literally, the fate of our planet -EARTH – INCLUDING QUITE POSSIBLY ALL ITS CURRENT AND FUTURE PEOPLE AND ANIMALS – within their hands the next ten days at this historic conference.
Representatives of the 195 nations taking part in this meeting – the 21st annual “Conference of the Parties” to the IPCC (thus COP21), the first of which took place in Berlin in 1995 – are charged what has been called “an urgent last chance to save the planet”.
Clearly, this will not be an easy goal to reach, since the planet already has been warmed by 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2014, and many scientists say the gases we have already emitted into the atmosphere will “lock us in” to around 2 degrees Celsius of warming. Therefore, it will take significant reductions in emissions in the near future, especially from the largest emitters such as the United States and China, as well as commitments to sustainable development from all countries.
World Bank Concludes Global Warming Will Hurt Poor Countries the Most
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim
More than 100 million people could be pushed back into poverty within 15 years due to rising temperatures and extreme weather, the World Bank has warned.
In a new report released Sunday, November 22, 2015, the World Bank said climate change was already preventing people escaping poverty but the situation could get much worse.
“This report sends a clear message that ending poverty will not be possible unless we take strong action to reduce the threat of climate change on poor people and dramatically reduce harmful emissions,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
Crop failures due to drought, big rises in food prices after “extreme weather events,” and a higher incidence of disease following heat waves and floods would hurt the poorest the hardest, the World Bank said in a statement.
The report found people in Africa and South Asia were especially vulnerable.
Stephane Hallegate, an economist who led the team preparing report, said that the future for these 100 million people was not set in stone.
“We have a window of opportunity to achieve our poverty objectives in the face of climate change, provided we make wise policy choices now,” he said.
That would mean tackling the cause of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as taking steps to reduce the impact on the poor such as improved social safety nets and healthcare, building better flood defenses and developing climate-resistant crops, the report said.
The report comes roughly a month before top officials from around the world will attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Previously, Nature Climate Change published studies indicating climate change could make parts of the Middle East too hot for human beings to survive.
White House Announces Commitments to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge
The White House Monday announced new commitments from companies from across the American economy. With this announcement, 81 companies will have signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge to demonstrate their support for action on climate change and the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future. The release says the 81 companies who signed the pledge have operations in all 50 states, employ over 9 million people, represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over $5 trillion.
From the White House release: By signing the American Business Act on Climate pledge, these companies are:
Voicing support for a strong Paris outcome. The pledge recognizes those countries that have already put forward climate targets, and voices support for a strong outcome in the Paris climate negotiations.
Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to climate action. As part of this initiative, each company is announcing significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy, and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.
These pledges include ambitious, company-specific goals such as:
Reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent,
Reducing water usage by as much as 80 percent,
Achieving zero waste-to-landfill,
Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy, and
Pursuing zero net deforestation in supply chains.
Setting an example for their peers. Today’s announcements builds on the launch of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge in July. This fall, the Obama Administration will release a third round of pledges, with a goal of mobilizing many more companies to join the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt worldwide. Nineteen of the 20 hottest years on record occurred in the past two decades. Countries and communities around the world are already being affected by deeper, more persistent droughts, pounded by more severe weather, inundated by bigger storm surges, and imperiled by more frequent and dangerous wildfires. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries, all of which imperil public health, particularly for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color. No corner of the planet and no sector of the global economy will remain unaffected by climate change in the years ahead.
Climate change is a global challenge that demands a global response, and President Obama is committed to leading the fight. The President’s Climate Action Plan, when fully implemented, will cut nearly 6 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2030, an amount equivalent to taking all the cars in the United States off the road for more than 4 years. The Clean Power Plan, the most significant domestic step any President has ever taken to combat climate change, will reduce emissions from the energy sector by 32% by 2030. And while the United States is leading on the international stage and the federal government is doing its part to combat climate change, hundreds of private companies, local governments, and foundations have stepped up to increase energy efficiency, boost low-carbon investing, and make solar energy more accessible to low-income Americans.
The measures taken by the public and private sectors enabled President Obama to set an ambitious but achievable goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 26-28% by 2025 last November. And in the eleven months since, we’ve seen unprecedented global momentum in the fight against climate change.
To date, 150 countries representing more than 85% of global carbon emissions have reported post-2020 climate policies to the United Nations. This includes the major economies like the U.S., China, the European Union and India and it includes a large number of smaller economies, developing nations, island states and tropical countries – some of whom are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
But these submissions are only the beginning of achieving a successful outcome in Paris this December that puts in place a transparent global framework for increasing ambition over time and continuing to drive down emissions over the course of this century. As the world looks toward Paris, President Obama is committed to building on this momentum, with American leadership at all levels – the federal government, state and local governments and the private sector.
Additionally, leading up to the White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015, an independent consortium of long-term investors (“LTIs”), including sovereign development funds, pension funds, endowments, family offices, and foundations, committed to building a new investment intermediary that will identify, screen, and assess high-potential companies and projects for commercial investment that could also produce impactful and profitable solutions to climate change.
The consortium announced its founding CEO, interim board of directors, sponsors, and confirms the intention of the LTIs to deploy at least $1.2 billion of investment capital through an ‘aligned intermediary’, which they anticipate will be formally launched and branded in mid-2016.
The initial group of LTIs announcing financial commitments to work with the ‘aligned intermediary’ includes:
$500 million from University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer;
350 million from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund;
$200 million from the Alaska Permanent Fund;
$100 million from TIAA-CREF; and
$10 million from Tamarisc.
The effort launches with research support from the Hewlett Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, and Planet Heritage Foundation, and a commitment of further operational support, pending final approval, from the MacArthur Foundation.
As President Obama said at the U.N. Climate Summit last September, “There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” The American Business Act on Climate Pledge shows that the U.S. private sector, with its history of innovation and ingenuity, is committed to stepping up and doing its part in taking on this global challenge.
We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.
We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.
The following companies have joined the pledge and their detailed commitments can be viewed at:
Report: 150 Countries Emitting 90% of the World’s Carbon Emissions Have Pledged to Reduce Them
TheGuardian.org has reported that some 150 countries representing around 90% of the world’s carbon emissions have now filed pledges to curb them, dramatically increasing the chances of a deal at the Paris climate summit in December.
The promises made so far would still put the world on track for dangerous global warming rise of 3C (around 9F). But they could be adjusted in the future to meet the 2C target recommended by international scientists, the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Cañete, told a UN conference in Rabat, Morocco.
“The gap is not as big as expected if the INDCs (intended nationally determined contributions) are transformed and fully implemented,” said Cañete. “Their scope and scale is an achievement in itself.”
The French development minister, Annick Girardin, said that many of the pledges came from developing countries, and had brightened prospects for a climate treaty in December.
“We’ve now got a global positive dynamic telling us that the world is moving on climate change,” said Girardin. “It was unexpected to receive all these contributions and it sends a very strong signal from Rabat that we can reach a global agreement in Paris.”
Privately, EU officials admit that many national pledges have been conservative, reflecting caution about an untried INDC process. Ambitions were also dented by the onus on countries to make pledges in advance of a final deal or, often, knowledge of other countries’ offers.
But there is growing certainty among diplomats that a deal will be signed in Paris, succeeding the 1992 Kyoto protocol. By the time the US withdrew from it in 2005, Kyoto only covered 35 countries, and 14% of the world’s emissions.
Unlike that treaty, the Paris agreement will have no ‘stick’ of legal sanctions or formal enforcement to use against countries which renege on their commitments. “It is a bottom up approach as there are no compulsory targets and sanctions,” said Cañete.
Instead, officials hope that performance reviews will take place at regular five-yearly intervals to “facilitate” emissions-cutting reforms. “If you are serious about this message, the INDCs need to be revised before they start in 2021,” said Wendel Trio, the director of Climate Action Network Europe. “Unfortunately, there is no agreement on that and I wouldn’t expect any.”
Cañete suggested that the EU would consider progress towards meeting carbon-cutting promises, when assessing future climate funding payouts. “We have to assess globally how the INDCs have been implemented,” he said. “If there is additional financial support available, those who have made conditional pledges, we will have to look at them and see how we target financial support.”
The EU is the world’s biggest donor of funds for climate aid and disaster relief, and the UK, France and Germany say they will double their climate spending by 2020. France has promised revenues for an early warning system that can be installed in developing countries, while Germany has pledged €400m (£298m) of funds for an insurance scheme to help people in poor southern countries that are vulnerable to natural disasters.
Globally, countries have signed off on the creation of a $100bn-a-year green climate fund, which should disburse climate aid by 2020. Only a tenth of that has been ring-fenced so far, but the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says that£40bn was channelled to developing world climate projects by their richer neighbours last year.
Oxfam is unhappy that much of this money may be double counted from overseas development aid budgets. But after fears at the highest level this summer that slow progress could doom an agreement in Paris, a sense of relief, if not optimism, was tangible in Rabat.
“We are making history,” the Moroccan environment minister, Hakima el-Haité told the UN meeting. “The fight against climate change is not going to end in Paris. It is not going to end with our generation. It is a long term struggle and our efforts so far are not sufficient. But in terms of progress, we have made a revolution in just one year.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Now Finalized, but You Can’t Read It Quite Yet
October 5, 2015
The final version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was just agreed upon at a big, multinational meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, attended by trade negotiators from the 12 Pacific Rim countries involved in the deal. The TPP, which is supported by President Barack Obama, and whose biggest players are the United States and Japan, has been in the works for about eight years. But its text has not been made available for public consumption, and still has to be put to a strictly yes-or-no vote in Congress before it can take effect.
No specific timeline for that vote exists, although according to The Washington Post, Obama legally he has to wait at least 90 days to sign the agreement now that he has notified Congress, and the text must be public for 60 of those days. That means the full text of the TPP might be shown to the public in early November.
As we’ve mentioned before, the TPP, like most international trade deals, is meant to enable free trade between member countries. With this particular agreement, Obama hopes to further the United States’ ability to set global standards for trade, rather than allow the agenda to be set by that other economic juggernaut of the Pacific, namely China.
The centerpiece of today’s announcement is the fact that the deal will knock out 18,000 tariffs, which is probably good news if you’re a consumer, and definitely good news if you’re a shipping magnate.
But a few provisions in leaked versions of the TPP have sparked outrage among the public. One such example is the concept of “investor-state dispute settlements,” which allow international companies to bring their grievances to legally-binding tribunals, which could potentially override laws in member countries. The TPP has also raised concerns about a possible overhaul of intellectual property law, as some fear an expansion of US laws restricting companies from manufacturing cheaper generic drugs will keep drug costs up worldwide.
While the newly agreed-upon draft remains shrouded in secrecy, the official summary released by the Obama administration this week does address the previous controversy about those two issues, albeit sort of vaguely.
In the case of intellectual property, the summary’s section on pharmaceuticals doesn’t exactly make it clear what will happen to drug profiteers like most-hated-man-in-America Martin Shkreli. The summary simply states that the agreement “contains pharmaceutical-related provisions that facilitate both the development of innovative, life-saving medicines and the availability of generic medicines.”
Presumably this availability of generics will be helped along by the elimination of “patent linkages,” a provision that scared Politico’s Michael Grunwald when it appeared in a previous leaked version of the TPP. Today, Grunwald tweeted that it sounds like these linkages were “stripped out” of the new version of the deal.
The US Trade Representative has also put up a page offering alternative talking points about investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS). In response to critics who claim the ISDS provision would allow international companies to undermine environmental and consumer safety laws in the US, the Trade Representative says the administration has been “upgrading” the agreement, presumably to avoid any such nightmare scenarios. The site also offers a few factoids for context: 51 trade agreements already have investor-state dispute settlements in place; “only” 13 ISDS cases have been brought against the US in the past; and so far, the US has always won.
The summary itself is light on details about ISDS, however. But there is a very specific line saying that the tribunals will need to go out the window if the dispute involves “a claim challenging a tobacco control measure of the Party.” In other words, a built-in exemption to TPP means that tobacco companies won’t be among the entities with the power to challenge laws in signatory countries.
For what it’s worth, North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis is pretty upset about this provision aimed at the tobacco industry, writing in a statement Monday that, “the Obama Administration has decided to use the TPP as a laboratory for partisan politics by discriminating against specific agricultural commodities.”
In the wake of the TPP announcement, an anti-globalization group called “Flush the TPP” has issued a call to action, scheduling a protest to run from November 14-18 in Washington, DC. The group says protesters will be urging the government to stop making deals like these, and to come up with “alternative international agreements that put people and the planet first.”
By Mike Pearl, Staff Writer for VICE
Arena Deal Is A “Pig in a Poke” for Milwaukee, Others Too
The National Basketball Association (NBA) said the Milwaukee Bucks must have a new arena by 2017 or the city risks losing the team to another state. Enter Governor Scott Walker.
Gov. Scott Walker negotiated the deal in July with the current Bucks owners – billionaire hedge funds managers Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, who jointly purchased a majority interest in the team from former senator Herbert Kohl – and senator Kohl.
The team is currently valued at $600 million. In a bipartisan vote last month, the Wisconsin Legislature approved a bill authorizing $250 million in state and local public financing for the Milwaukee Bucks arena. Governor Walker signed the bill into law on Wednesday, August 12, setting up a vote on the $500 million public/private project at a City of Milwaukee Common Council meeting on the proposal in September.
Walker’s signing of the bill commits the State of Wisconsin’s taxpayers to paying at least half of the dollar cost of the massive new arena over the next 20 years, discouraging the NBA from moving the team out of Milwaukee.
Opponents have said the public’s money would benefit the team’s already wealthy owners and is not a good use of public funds. The state’s financial commitment to keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee comes on the heels of controversial state cuts to spending on transportation infrastructure along with a $250 million cut of the University of Wisconsin System’s budget and historic earlier cuts to the state’s public K-12 education system. The state’s commitment to fund the arena was perceived by many Wisconsinites as a slap in the face to Wisconsin’s dwindling number of middle class families and its increasing number of low income families. The governor has not been shy in showing his disdain for those who advocate for a higher minimum wage in Wisconsin – presently $7.25/hour, or the same as the federal minimum wage – and his budget approval of cuts to other social programs in Wisconsin which help the state’s disabled and low income populations.
Walker claimed Wisconsin needed to keep the team and its stream of income taxes in the state. “It’s cheaper to keep them,” he said repeatedly to reporters on Wednesday..
The Bucks deal includes $250 million in contributions from the state, city and county of Milwaukee, and a special arena and entertainment district. The other half of the arena is being paid by Edens, Lasry and Kohl.
State, city and county residents will ultimately pay $400 million on the arena when accounting for $174 million in interest over 20 years, with any construction cost overruns and maintenance expenses being the responsibility of the team.
Of the principal coming from taxpayers for the arena, $47 million would come from the City of Milwaukee, which must agree to provide for a parking structure and tax incremental financing.
The rest — $203 million — would come from: bonds issued by an arena and entertainment district and paid off by state taxpayers; a $4 million decrease in Milwaukee County’s state aid over the next 20 years; and the increase of a ticket surcharge and the extension of existing local hotel room, rental car, and food and beverage taxes being collected by the Wisconsin Center District.
Walker included $220 million in state borrowing for the arena in the budget he proposed in February.
But his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature took the measure out of the budget and reworked the deal with some input from Democrats.
Not factored into this analysis is the total number of tons of carbon dioxide (C02) and other greenhouse gases that will be emitted to the atmosphere by jet travel by other NBA teams traveling to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, nor the tons of C02 and other greenhouse gases emitted by the jets carrying the Bucks to distant locations over the next 20 years to play basketball. Nor does the agreement factor in the costs to the environment of paving roads and Wisconsin’s landscape to accommodate more travelers to the arena for games and other events and their emissions. Presently, travelers and the airlines and associated companies are getting a “free lunch” from everyone who might be affected by those emissions, to say nothing about the cost to the public of funding the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic controllers, who mainly benefit people who can afford to fly commercially or privately.
Part of this post are taken from a 8/12/15 story of by Mary Spicuzza, Jason Stein and Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel.