Climate, politics & money - headlines
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Dealing in Doubt: Greenpeace Report Exposes Fossil Fuel Funded Climate Denial Machine
Ben Jervey, DeSmogBlog
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepares to release its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) -- the latest installment of its comprehensive assessment of climate science -- early next year, the science is already under attack. As the U.S.…
(10 September 2013)
Link to Dealing in Doubt report
George Monbiot, monbiot.com
His views have changed, but don’t expect Tony Abbott to acknowledge this, let alone apologise to Australians for misleading them. In 2009 he maintained that manmade climate change is “absolute crap”. Now he says “I think that climate change is real, humanity makes a contribution.” But he has merely switched from denying global warming to denying the need to act on it.
Abbott is following a familiar script, the 4 Ds of climate change inaction, promoted by fossil fuel lovers the world over. Deny, then defer, then delay, then despair.
His Direct Action programme for reducing emissions is incapable of delivering the cuts it promises, absurdly underfunded and surrounded by a swarm of unanswered questions. Were it to become big enough to meet its promises, it would be far more expensive than a comparable carbon trading scheme, which Mr Abbott has falsely claimed would incur “almost unimaginable” costs. But it won’t be big enough, because he refuses to set aside the money it requires. Direct Action is a programme designed to create a semblance of policy, in the certain knowledge that it will fail to achieve its objectives.
Why? The answer’s in the name. Coalition policies begin with Coal: getting it out of the ground, moving it through the ports, stripping away the regulations that prevent mining companies from wrecking the natural beauty of Australia – and from trashing the benign climate on which we all depend. The mining boom in the world’s biggest coal exporter has funded a new, harsher politics...
(5 September 2013)
Tony Abbot is the newly elected Prime Minster of Australia.
Naomi Klein: Green groups may be more damaging than climate change deniers
Jason Mark, Salon
Canadian author Naomi Klein is so well known for her blade-sharp commentary that it’s easy to forget that she is, above all, a first-rate reporter. I got a glimpse into her priorities as I was working on this interview. Klein told me she was worried that some of the things she had said would make it hard for her to land an interview with a president of the one of the Big Green groups (read below and you’ll see why). She was more interested in nabbing the story than being the story; her reporting trumped any opinion-making.
Such focus is a hallmark of Klein’s career. She doesn’t do much of the chattering class’s news cycle blathering. She works steadily, carefully, quietly. It can be surprising to remember that Klein’s immense global influence rests on a relatively small body of work; she has published three books, one of which is an anthology of magazine pieces...
It’s interesting because even as some of the Big Green groups have gotten enamored of the ideas of ecosystem services and natural capital, there’s this counter-narrative coming from the Global South and Indigenous communities. It’s almost like a dialectic.
That’s the counternarrative, and those are the alternative worldviews that are emerging at this moment. The other thing that is happening...I don’t know what to call it. It’s maybe a reformation movement, a grassroots rebellion. There’s something going on in the [environmental] movement in the US and Canada, and I think certainly in the UK. What I call the “astronaut’s eye worldview” – which has governed the Big Green environmental movement for so long – and by that I mean just looking down at Earth from above. I think it’s sort of time to let go of the icon of the globe, because it places us above it and I think it has allowed us to see nature in this really abstracted way and sort of move pieces, like pieces on a chessboard, and really loose touch with the Earth. You know, it’s like the planet instead of the Earth.
And I think where that really came to a head was over fracking. The head offices of the Sierra Club and the NRDC and the EDF all decided this was a “bridge fuel.” We’ve done the math and we’re going to come out in favor of this thing. And then they faced big pushbacks from their membership, most of all at the Sierra Club. And they all had to modify their position somewhat. It was the grassroots going, “Wait a minute, what kind of environmentalism is it that isn’t concerned about water, that isn’t concerned about industrialization of rural landscapes – what has environmentalism become?” And so we see this grassroots, place-based resistance in the movements against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline, the huge anti-fracking movement. And they are the ones winning victories, right?
I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis...
(5 September 2013)
VIEWPOINT: Naomi Klein’s Criticism Of Environmental Groups Missed The Mark
Eric Pooley, Climate Progress
Eric Pooley is Senior Vice-President of Environmental Defense Fund and author of The Climate War.
Author Naomi Klein is promoting her forthcoming book with the time-honored tactic of saying something so outrageous that media can’t help but report it — and those who come under attack feel pressed to respond. As Salon describes it, Klein’s best pitch is this: Green groups are more damaging than climate change deniers. It’s tempting to just let an assertion like that fall apart under its own weight, but Klein is high profile enough that it’s necessary to correct some of her more egregious inaccuracies.
This is not to say that Klein gets everything wrong. For instance, she says that the groundswell of grassroots environmental activity is a source of great hope for the movement. That’s absolutely right, and the reason my organization, Environmental Defense Fund, has spent decades educating, advocating, and organizing.
But while environmental activists will be the central force for any meaningful response to climate change, we can’t change the world on our own. Finding a solution to climate change will require a broad circle of allies calling for action, and that most certainly must include businesses small and large.
Here’s where we part ways with Naomi Klein, who rejects the strategy of building coalitions with business — and is opposed to all market-based environmental solutions — because she sees climate action as a way to reform or replace capitalism itself. EDF is about environmental results. When faced with the choice of making real progress in our fight against climate change or waging ideological warfare, we will always choose the former.
We were the first environmental group to hire economists because we understand the surest way to get most people to do the right thing for the planet is to realign economic incentives so they are rewarded for doing the right thing. We partner with corporations when we see opportunities (but we don’t take their donations because that would undermine our independence and integrity). The results of our corporate partnerships speak for themselves. In 1991, we helped McDonald’s phase out foam “clamshell” sandwich containers. In 2004, EDF and FedEx launched the first “street-ready” hybrid trucks ever built. Today, hybrids are in hundreds of corporate fleets, from UPS to Coca-Cola to the U.S. Postal Service. And since 2008, EDF’s Climate Corps program has placed hundreds of MBAs at some of the biggest corporations in the world to both increase energy efficiency today and train them as business leaders of tomorrow. To date, our Climate Corps fellows have identified $1.2 billion in potential energy savings, with greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.
People who disagree with this approach say, basically, how can you work with corporations when they are the very entities that pollute our air, land and water? To which we say: We work with them because they are the very entities that pollute our air, land and water. In other words, that’s one of the places where there’s progress to be made...
(11 September 2013)
The Fossil Fuels War
John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review
This is a revised and updated version of an afterword written in May 2013 for the German translation of The Ecological Revolution (Hamburg: Laika Verla, 2013). The original English edition of the book was published by Monthly Review Press in 2009.
Only a few years ago governments, corporations, and energy analysts were fixated on the problem of “the end of cheap oil” or “peak oil,” pointing to growing shortages of conventional crude oil due to the depletion of known reserves. The International Energy Agency’s 2010 report devoted a whole section to peak oil.1 Some climate scientists saw the peaking of conventional crude oil as a silver-lining opportunity to stabilize the climate—provided that countries did not turn to dirtier forms of energy such as coal and “unconventional fossil fuels.”2.
Today all of this has changed radically with the advent of what some are calling a new energy revolution based on the production of unconventional fossil fuels.3...
The Revolution Against the System
A realistic historical assessment tells us that there is no purely technological path to a sustainable society. Although a rapid shift to renewables is a crucial component of any conceivable path to a carbon-free, ecological world, the technical obstacles to such a transition are much greater than is usually assumed. The biggest barrier is the up-front cost of building an entirely new energy infrastructure geared to renewables rather than relying on the existing fossil-fuel infrastructure. Construction of a new energy infrastructure requires vast amounts of energy consumption, and would lead—if current consumption and economic growth were not to be reduced—to further demands on existing fossil-fuel resources. This would mean, as ecological economist Eric Zencey has explained, “an aggressive expansion of the economy’s footprint in paradoxical service to the goal of achieving sustainability.” Assuming the average EROEI of fossil fuels keeps falling, the difficulty only becomes worse. Ecological economists and peak-oil theorists have dubbed this the “energy trap.” In Zencey’s words, “The problem is rooted in the sunken energy costs of the petroleum infrastructure (which makes the continued use of petroleum energetically cheap)” even when the EROEI of such fossil fuels in the case of unconventionals is lower than wind and solar.41 It follows that building an alternative energy infrastructure—without breaking the carbon budget—would require a tectonic shift in the direction of energy conservation and energy efficiency.... (9 September 2013)
Act now placard image via benmabbet/flickr
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