Saturday, November 15, 2014

Taking It To the World

The Maldive islands off India as seen from space. They are among the world's most endangered from climate crisis sea level rise.
Update early Sunday: Reuters reports that the G20 summit voted in favor of addressing the climate crisis, as President Obama advocated. 

 Reuters: "The United States and other nations overrode host Australia's attempts to keep climate change off the formal agenda. Australia is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters per capita. The final communique called for strong and effective action to address climate change with the aim of adopting a protocol, with legal force, at a U.N. climate conference in Paris in 2015."

"The most difficult discussion was on climate change," an EU official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "This was really trench warfare, this was really step by step by step. In the end we have references to most of the things we wanted."

Following up the US agreement with China on reducing global heating emissions, President Obama challenged the G20 meetings in Australia to make an international climate agreement next year.  And he backed it up with a new contribution to a UN fund that helps poorer nations confront the climate crisis.

The Guardian story begins: Barack Obama has stared down both Republican hostility at home and the reluctance of his Australian G20 hosts to insist that the world can clinch a new climate change deal next year.

The story quotes his speech in Australia, referring to the pledges that China has made in the new agreement: “So them setting up a target sends a powerful message to the world that all countries, whether you are a developed country, a developing country or somewhere in between, you’ve got to be able to overcome old divides, look squarely at the science and reach a strong global climate agreement next year.  And if China and the US can agree on this then the world can agree on this, we can get this done and it is necessary for us to get it done.”

The LA Times reports that President Obama is pledging a US contribution of $3 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund, which funnels funds from the world's largest economies and biggest greenhouse gases polluters to nations most endangered by the climate crisis.

The story notes that "The fund is essential to getting developing nations to sign on to a climate pact international negotiators will present in Paris in December 2015."  Though other countries have pledged, US pledge is the largest to date.

The story quotes “A $3-billion U.S. pledge to the Green Climate Fund would be an important show of American leadership to help the most vulnerable people in the world protect themselves from dangerous climate impacts and to ensure a coordinated global response to climate change,” said Heather Coleman, climate program manager for Oxfam America, who noted that the pledge is similar to American commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Obama Traded To Canada

The Republican majority in Congress has wasted no time, not even waiting to be officially sworn in.  GOP congressional leaders have announced that they've made a deal with the country's chief trading partner, Canada.  They've traded President Barack Obama.

"It was their idea," Senate Majority Leader Ted "Tailgunner" Cruz claimed, pointing to a letter to the editor published in a Canadian newspaper.

"Many of us Canadians are confused by the U.S. midterm elections," wrote Richard Brunt of Victoria, British Columbia. "Consider, right now in America, corporate profits are at record highs, the country's adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there's no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money."

America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden. So, Americans vote for the party that got you into the mess that Obama just dug you out of? This defies reason."

"All that leftist socialist Kenyan uppity Nazi stuff was pretty disgusting," Cruz claimed.  "But he had one good idea that he ended his letter with."

Brunt's final sentence was this: "When you are done with Obama, could you send him our way?"

Cruz could hardly control himself when he saw that, he intimated loudly.  So he got his GOP colleagues together, they contacted Canadians they knew (mostly in the oil industry) and quickly made a deal.

In a post-midnight session they traded President Obama for Doug Ford, Jr. who they described as Canada's Prime Minister, and a bagman to be named later.

Douglas Ford is a Toronto city councillor, the brother of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford and part owner of Deco Labels and Tags. He was recently defeated in his electoral bid to become mayor of Toronto.

When a US reporter informed the GOP officials that Ford is not the Prime Minister of Canada,  GOP senator-elect Joni Ernst of Iowa said, "That's your opinion."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Step Towards Saving the World

The New York Times:

"China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.

The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.

Administration officials said the agreement, which was worked out quietly between the United States and China over nine months and included a letter from Mr. Obama to Mr. Xi proposing a joint approach, could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015."

"It was the signature achievement of an unexpectedly productive two days of meetings between the leaders
," the Times story continues. "A climate deal between China and the United States, the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, is viewed as essential to concluding a new global accord."

"Unexpectedly productive" is an understatement.  The conventional wisdom has been that the US and China were global antagonists with few common goals.  Now apparently they have one--the biggest one, the one that counts more for the future than any other.

The Times story is long and informative, and worth the hit it might make on your month's free views.  The Guardian continually updates their story, and it includes supportive words from Secretary of State John Kerry, and Al Gore--but also promises of Republican congressional opposition. "Our economy can’t take the president’s ideological war on coal," said Mitch McConnell, bowing down to his fossil fuel overlords and their millions in dark campaign money.

The Guardian also quotes President Obama from his statement in China: "He said the US emissions reductions goal was “ambitious but achievable” and would double the pace at which it is reducing carbon emissions." The new US goal is reducing emissions by 26 to 28% by 2025, compared to 2025 levels.  Greenpeace calls this a floor, not a ceiling for reductions.  

The Guardian continues: Obama added: “This is a major milestone in US-China relations and shows what is possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”

He added that they hoped “to encourage all major economies to be ambitious and all developed and developing countries to work across divides” so that an agreement could be reached at the climate change talks in Paris in December next year."

According to the New York Daily News: "China’s pledge to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, is even more remarkable. To reach that goal, Mr. Xi pledged that so-called clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030."

The News also reports that the final agreement was produced during a recent trip to China by Obama adviser on climate John Podesta.

These meetings, characterized as a breakthrough in US-China relations, also resulted in a a technology agreement favorable to US businesses.  The San Francisco Chronicle estimates that this deal could add a trillion dollars a year to the "global trade in information technology."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Corruption By Any Other Name

If you missed this in the Sunday it is.  Read it and laugh/weep.
It's Doonesbury by Gary Trudeau for Nov. 9, 2014. I saw it online here.