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December  2012
Carbon Rangers Newsletter/Ecozoic Times
Vol 5, No. 10
Climate Treaties in Time?

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College
Edmund Rice International at the United Nations
Br. Kevin Cawley



Dear Reader:  
Banner photo above of 100,000 year-old bed of Sea Grass  from Rachel Sussman in Metanexus.  Rachel Sussman's first book will be published by the University of Chicago Press in spring 2014. Visit her website to view more of her work, and check out her TED Talk to learn more about the Oldest Living Things in the World.
This December 2012 edition of Carbon Rangers completes the 5th year of online publication. Thanks for being a loyal audience. I keep you in mind as much as possible when deciding what to send along and how to frame the conversation.  Let me hear from you if you think there are issues that need attention here.  E-mail: kcawley1@mac.com

 You may notice that we have added a name to the original banner:  Ecozoic Times.  This name adjustment relates to our new connections to the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College.   More on this news later in 2013.
I invite you to click over to our  JPIC website  to see further links.  They are listed in categories on the right hand column.  Headings on the site include energy use, climate science, food issues, sustainable living and water issues among the 26 categories.  Links in the newsletter are indicated by text in red.

To Stop Climate Change, US Students Take Aim at University Portfolios
Several organizations have been working on some version of a divestment campaign, initially focusing on coal, for more than a year. But the recent escalation has largely been the handiwork of a grass-roots organization, 350.org, that focuses on climate change, and its leader, Bill McKibben, a writer turned advocate. The group’s name is a reference to what some scientists see as a maximum safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. The level is now about 390, an increase of 41 percent since before the Industrial Revolution.  (Photo:  Stephen Maturen for The New York Times)
 
Mr. McKibben is touring the country by bus, speaking at sold-out halls and urging students to begin local divestment initiatives focusing on 200 energy companies. Many of the students attending said they were inspired to do so by an article he wrote over the summer in Rolling Stone magazine, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.
 
Speaking recently to an audience at the University of Vermont, Mr. McKibben painted the fossil fuel industry as an enemy that must be defeated, arguing that it had used money and political influence to block climate action in Washington. “This is no different than the tobacco industry — for years, they lied about the dangers of their industry,” Mr. McKibben said.   Here is the link to the full story.
Climate Talks and USA Challenges
 US Positions Based On US Congress

The 18th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) just concluded in Doha, Qatar. 

This story below was not reported in the US media generally.  This version is courtesy of IBON International which obtained it from India press.  The US has not been seen as helpful in these negotiations over time.   There continues to be a sense that the US remains unable to move past the fossil fuel industry grip on policy that might lead the country away from fossil fuels toward renewables.  If accurate, this report illustrates the predicament of the US delegation in all of these deliberations.   An intransigent  US Congress is more or less at the table in an already difficult relationship of the US toward our partners in dialogue in the poorer nations.

 The US chief negotiator at COP-18 issued a strong rebuke to NGOs in an off-the-record meeting, which has now been published in Indian media.
 
Jonathan Pershing told NGOs they should recognize that the US makes it possible for them to be present at COP-18. And while many parties and NGOs at COP-18 are calling for agreements based on science, Pershing said that US positions are not based on the reality of what is needed. He went on to rubbish the concept of sharing atmospheric space, underlining that US positions are based on what can be sold to the US Congress.
 
"We are one of the funders to make it possible for you to be at the table, Pershing told NGOs present in the meeting. I hope you recognize that many of you who come to the meetings you do, the US fights for you at every chance to give you a chance to be in this room."  In what could be considered an arrogant aside, Pershing noted that not all Parties agree with the US: "What we also think is the participation of a lot of countries out there includes the ones that disagree with us."   Pershing, who made news in the run-up to COP-18 with the claim that the US should be recognized for its enormous efforts on climate change,  proceeded to dismantle a concept drawn from the UNFCCC foundational principle of equity---  the sharing of atmospheric space.
 
"It's a vision [in which] you can say that the atmosphere can take an X quantity of coal emissions and therefore what you do is you divide that number into percentages, he said.  The obligation it states is that you [the US] would have to reduce emissions down to negative 37% [below 1990 levels]. And the obligation of China will be a tiny bit, but India can still grow quite a lot. The politics of that quite frankly really don't work. I can't really sell that to the US Congress."
 
Pershing underscored that for the US the defining principle of agreements it reaches must be whether they can be sold at home.
 
He said: "One way to think about it is what you could deliver. You say what you are going to do and you will be held to that. So how do you marry the reality of what you are doing with the reality of what is needed. To me, it's going to be a hybrid. It's going to be something between those two."
 
He added: "Because if we can't take it home and sell it at home, in whatever political economy we are living in, we won't do it."
 
Pershing's comments will further the perception of US intransigence  in negotiations. Developing country groupings including the G77/Africa, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and BASIC (Brazil, India, South Africa and China) have all stressed that a legally binding second commitment period (CP2) of the Kyoto Protocol which would ensure that industrialized countries and economies in transition commit to further carbon emission reductions is a cornerstone for ambition in COP-18 and combatting climate change.  However, the US, along with Japan, Russia, Canada and New Zealand have pulled out of CP2 in favor of a pledge and review system.  


IBON International
The 18th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) just concluded in Doha, Qatar. 
 
The weeks leading up to the conference have underscored the stark situation faced by the world - in particular the poor and marginalized of the Global South - without immediate and concerted efforts to tackle climate change. The World Bank has warned of a 4C temperature rise by 2100, and projected a 3C rise if current pledges are adhered to; the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warned that without swift action we are on track to exceed by some 32 percent the level of carbon emissions needed to ensure reductions in emissions can take place at a “manageable cost” in 2020; the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to avoid a 2C temperature rise by 2100.
The time for carbon markets and offsets has been and gone. Real solutions to keep fossil fuels in the ground are needed. Legally-binding, drastic emissions cuts on the basis of responsibility, and democratically-owned climate finance governed by a truly multi-stakeholder process must be the outcomes of COP 18. And this is an outcome that must be led by developed countries in line with their responsibility, as stated by the UNFCC (Article 3.1): “The developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.” IBON   link is here.


Out of Time?
We are simply running out of time. We were warned  last year that by 2017 all the infrastructure will have been built to forever close the door on staying below 2°C.  However, they also warned that fossil fuel subsidies continue to rise. And energy agencies confirmed the fundamental problem that around 2/3 of proven fossil fuel reserves must be left ‘in the ground’ in order to have any hope of staying below 2°C.  Bill McKibben has summarized this problem in his "Do the Math" Campaign just launched in the USA.

 
Thanks to the new World Bank report 6 we now also have a good idea what the world is going to look like if we are too slow. ‘Turn Down the Heat’ paints a ‘dire’ picture of a possible 4°C warming scenario by 2020, projecting a whole series of “cataclysmic” changes: inundation of coastal cities; damage to food production systems which could lead to higher malnutrition rates; many regions affected by unprecedented heat waves and substantially exacerbated water scarcity; irreversible loss of biodiversity and a sea level-rise by 0.5 to 1 meter or higher by 2100, leaving many small islands unable to sustain their populations.  World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has left no doubt that a 4°C warmer world can and must be avoided, urging governments to ensure that we hold warming below 2°C, so that our children don’t inherit ‘a completely different world than we are living in today’.
 
Jeremy Grantham, founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful investment funds stated recently in an article in Nature: “  As a former oil analyst, I can easily calculate oil companies enthusiasm to leave 80% of their value in the ground-  absolutely nil."  His insights lay bare the importance of the role of government in getting climate change under control. In a globalized, competitive environment even the ‘enlightened’ companies and investors need government to create the rules, a level playing field and certainty about the future of carbon intense energy. 
Climate Access link is here.http://www.climateaccess.org

Fox News Channel Misleads on Climate Science


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