conference

Obama's State of the Union punts on climate change... but what did you expect?

rm iwest mugWell, President Obama certainly did go on at some length tonight in his just-concluded State of the Union address. But he once again failed to elevate the climate issue to urgency. I have to agree with David Roberts over at Grist.org: "Pretty weak tea." (Hat tip to Roberts for posting the transcript of that part of the speech before Obama was even done talking.)

Now, some of our faithful correspondents and even some friends thought it curious that Dateline Earth faulted Obama for falling short on the climate and energy issue in his inaugural address a year ago, after which we held forth thusly:

 That is not the speech of a man who intends to launch a World War II-style domestic campaign -- think Rosie the Riveter and the Manahattan Project. And that's what scientists are saying we'll need.

He did it again tonight. The president -- wisely -- started out talking about jobs or, as we've put it before, "Fighting climate change = ending the recession." He was clearly aware that Americans are saying in polls now that climate is pretty low on their list of concerns. And just a day before the talk, Republican Lindsey Graham caved on Cap'n Trade, provoking Roberts, for one, to accept that we probably won't be going down that road this year, if ever in Obama's presidency.

But the sheer brevity of what Obama had to say tonight portrays a president so pummeled by problems that on climate, he punted.

InvestigateWest Copenhagen climate-treaty coverage points up need for independent journalism

Whew! Fifty-one posts -- all but three in just the last two weeks. Dateline Earth readers got to hear from an Arctic tribal elder, an Indian-turned-American nature photographer, Ethiopian political activists, native-rights campaigners from the Amazon and the grassy plains of Ecuador – as well as the European and American officials who dominate this country’s news diet.
rm iwest mugWe stretched. The InvestigateWest team’s coverage of the global climate treaty negotiations that just wrapped up in Copenhagen was a mammoth undertaking for our small start-up news agency – but one that amply demonstrated the need for independent journalism. It was an effort worth every bleary-eyed late-night hour, every marathon Skype session, every up-before-December’s-dawn morning.

It’s unlikely InvestigateWest will be dashing off to a lot of international meetings. We were fortunate in this case to have the assistance of four able young journalists who raised the funds to get themselves to Denmark. Then they went on to deliver journalism that wasn’t available from many – and in a few cases, any – of the thousands of other journalists who covered the talks.

They did this despite being denied access to the conference center where international delegates were meeting until the last day of the two-week conference.  

[caption id="attachment_7653" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow is arrested for the second time. He was held for 10 hours.

Ethiopian activists: PM Zenawi in Copenhagen to collect cash, not fight climate change

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- In this, the third and shortest of our video interviews with Ethiopians who traveled to Denmark to protest against their prime minister, Meles Zenawi, a demonstrator hints that climatic conditions are a factor in the unrest in his homeland, the Ethiopian region of Ogaden:

Anti-Zenawi Ethiopian protesters: Why is Obama meeting with murderer?

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- This is the second of three parts of our interviews with Ethiopians who traveled 3,600 miles* to Denmark from their home country to denounce Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He is acting as spokesman for the  African Union in talks to reach a global climate treaty.

Two protesters hold forth here, including one who calls Zenawi a "murderer" and questions President Barack Obama's willingness to deal with Zenawi. We continue to await comment from Ethiopia's consulate in Seattle:

* Due to an editing error, this post initially misstated the distance from Ethiopia to Denmark.

Zenawi protesters at Copenhagen climate talks: Ethiopia raping women, environment, and killing

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly
COPENHAGEN -- This is the first of three videos showing the Ogadenian protests against the Ethiopian government and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This protester alleges widespread killing and raping by the Ethiopian military, as well as environmental damage.

We heard earlier that the Ogadenians were seeking to set up an autonomous region, like the Kurds in northern Iraq, but these people appear to be calling for full independence.

See our earlier post for details. Our efforts to contact the Ethiopian consultate in Seattle for comment still have not been successful:

Copenhagen climate talks' backstory: Ethiopia PM accused of genocide is top African negotiator

By Alexander Kelly

COPENHAGEN – Deafening chants rocked the entrance to the conference center where negotiators tried to piece together a global treaty to fight climate change today – chants that shed light on the intricate nature of the talks and the difficulty of concluding a deal.

[caption id="attachment_7630" align="alignright" width="342" caption="Ogaden is the region colored bright yellow."]Ogaden is the region colored bright yellow.[/caption]

As 130 heads of state took their place at the negotiating table, just hours before the talks were scheduled to come to a close, the cries outside came largely  from Ogadenians, people from a southeastern territory in Ethiopia, 3,600 miles from Denmark. They made their way to Copenhagen to tell United Nations leaders not to negotiate a climate deal with an alleged génocidaire.

That would be Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia. Months ago, he was appointed as the African Union’s spokesman for the final days of the UN climate talks. Now, as he appears to be willing to accept less than most Africans want from the industrialized North out of a climate finance deal, many – including the Ogadenians outside – are calling for his removal from power as top-level negotiator.

[caption id="attachment_7532" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ogadenians protest at the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan.

Gregoire says budget cuts won't stop progress on environment

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- Even while dealing with international climate change negotiations here, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire is thinking about the recession back home. She admits it will hold back environmental progress but says she intends to move foward as best Washington can:

Gregoire at Copenhagen climate talks: Green energy the way to rescue economy

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- In this second of three segments in her interview with InvestigateWest, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire argues that the way to revive the economy is through green jobs needed to fight climate change: