Copenhagen

Obama's people make the case that fighting climate change = jobs

Our good friends at grist.org commissioned this story today. Hope you like it:

By Robert McClure

SEATTLE—You could tell by the way Obama administration officials pep-talked a roomful of clean-energy businesspeople today that the White House realizes it hasn’t convinced Americans that “tackling climate change = ending the recession.”

rm iwest mugAgain and again EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Undersecretary Kristina Johnson pounded on the jobs issue at a pre-Copenhagen climate talks event designed to showcase how energy efficiency, the smart grid and renewable energy can boost employment rates.

“We’re hearing a whole host of reasons today to support American clean energy. There are national security reasons. There are environmental reasons, and there are public-health reasons,” Jackson said. “But perhaps the most compelling reason at this moment and in this place is the economy.”

The very setting of the clean energy forum fairly screamed “JOBS!” It was a nearly-finished “innovation center” that is leasing space for startups, built by McKinstry Co. beside the firm’s south Seattle offices. McKinstry is all about energy efficiency in buildings (which is where something like a third to two-fifths of our energy use occurs, depending on how you’re counting).

And, get this: Even as the recession roared ahead into high gear earlier this year, McKinstry announced plans to hire 500 people.

That can happen more, Jackson said.

Scientist whose e-mails were stolen in 'climategate' calls for new view of science, public

rm iwest mugA leading climate scientist whose pirated e-mails were bared for world scrutiny in the so-called "climategate" incident is making some points about the climate-change debate, and scientists' relationship with the public, that have needed saying for some time.

Hat tip to Matt Preusch of The Oregonian for spotting one piece in The Wall Street Journal by Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia in England. Hulme also held forth in a longer and more involved column, written in conjunction with science critic-questioner Jerome Ravetz, for the BBC. (It's also worth noting that Hulme is the author of a book I intend to find, Why We Disagree About Climate Change.)

Now, I have to say that I was taken aback by the way scientists involved in the email exchanges seem to have been trying to squelch the dissemination of data, and even schemed to block publication of science they found ... sorry, can't help myself... inconvenient.

The e-mail exchanges between prominent American and British climate researchers revealed some disturbing points about how some of the scientists involved in this field have conducted themselves.

But as I read Hulme's piece, it came to me that he is on point about this: We are all arguing about the science of climate change, when what we ought to be arguing about is our value systems and our political inclinations.

Hulme's WSJ article, which is fairly short, is worth a read.

David Suzuki: Space aliens would think humans insane for imperiling life-support systems

  
 

[caption id="attachment_6631" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Alexander Kelly and David Suzuki/Photo by Paul Israel"]Alexander Kelly and David Suzuki/Photo by Paul Israel[/caption]

 By Alexander Kelly 

Editor’s note: InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly will be covering the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is an edited transcript of an interview he conducted earlier this year with Canadian environmental leader and scientist David Suzuki. More information on Suzuki is available at the website of his Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation. 

InvestigateWest: You are a scientist serving the public interest by stepping outside of academia in order to address the public directly. There are those who are losing hope in the face of findings from such scientists as James Lovelock, James Hansen and yourself. What is it that you really want the public to do?

David Suzuki: In Canada, we’re still left with an administration that is very much in the Bush mode. They are trying to suppress information from the scientific community, manipulate the scientific knowledge, have opposed any admission that climate change is real and we have to act on it, and I think for Canadians, it’s been very frustrating, because for the last two years, climate change has been at the top of the agenda for Canadian concern, and yet politicians aren’t doing anything. So what I say is that people have to inform themselves, and they have to begin to demand change on a large scale. That’s a big thing to ask, but I’ve seen it in the past. I’ve seen it in the civil rights movement.

10 years after WTO, InvestigateWest to tell a story of “Seattle grown up” – in Copenhagen

As the orderly column of peaceful protest marchers rounded a corner in downtown Seattle, the scene changed suddenly. And dramatically. People were running every which way. Smoke billowed from dumpsters set afire. A young man ran past me clutching the silver “N” he had just snatched from above the entrance to the Niketown store. A voice behind me boomed into a megaphone: 

Everybody go down this alley – we think we’ve found a back way into the hotel!

I turned around to see that the guy with the megaphone was Michael Moore – the filmmaker, not the guy by the same name in charge of the World Trade Organization. It was the WTO’s presence in Seattle that sparked this scene 10 years ago today, as 40,000 or more protesters descended on the city.

robert Iwest mugI’m not big on anniversary journalism, but that protest known as N30  remains the largest anti-globalization protest in North American history. And, 10 years on, this week marks the start of what will no doubt be another series of globally significant protests.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected a week from today in Copenhagen, where negotiators from around the globe are traveling to supposedly try to reach a global accord limiting green-house gas emissions. Will the negotiators succeed?

InvestigateWest will be covering climate talks in Copenhagen; WTO-style street protests expected

 By Alexander Kelly

Ten years after Seattle witnessed the largest anti-corporate globalization action the United States has seen, protesters will take to the streets of Copenhagen in a week to oppose the global capitalization of the struggle against climate change.

The delegates attending the upcoming high-stakes negotiations are expected to entertain mostly market-based solutions to climate change, which critics say improperly treat carbon as a commodity to be traded among the world’s largest polluters.

Plenty of activists aren’t buying it, and like their predecessors at the WTO rallies in ‘99, they’re ready to let world leaders know.

Nor are they buying the rhetoric spouted at Singapore’s recent international economic summit, where the official goal of the Copenhagen meetings was reduced from the development of a “legally binding treaty” to a “political” one. The announcement has activist groups like Bill McKibben’s 350.org and members of the Climate Justice Action network in an uproar, with street-side frustrations on the rise as the will to tackle climate change seemingly takes a political nosedive.

As tens of thousands of protesters from the world over converge on December’s climate talks, so will InvestigateWest.

U.S.-China climate pact: Why so late? We try to ask Al Gore (with a little help from KUOW)

The news today on the climate front is a pretty big honkin' deal: President Obama, on a visit to China, signed an agreement with China calling for the United States to offer a proposal for near-term cuts in greenhouse gases. In return, China will say what it plans to do about not frying the planet to kingdom come.

(I know: It doesn't sound earth-shattering. But it's a big enough deal that it's currently topping Google News. You have to realize that China and America are No. 1 and No. 2 in the list of the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.)

If you want more on today's developments, I recommend Jake Schmidt's piece over at grist.org.

But here at Dateline Earth, I can't help but ask: Why didn't the Clinton-Gore administration convince China to show such good faith? At the time of the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, even some members of the U.S. delegation to the climate talks knew that selling the deal to the U.S. Senate meant convincing senators it would spawn expanding alternative-energy industry that would make money for Americans.  (At least in part by selling the stuff to China.)

Yes, the global political and economic scene was different then. But it seems the idea that Americans might benefit to some degree had to be sold. And then an R&D rampup had to happen. But it wasn't. And it didn't.

In fact, I may actually get to ask Al Gore about this, courtesy of the good folks at KUOW, the public radio news-and-information station. Gore, the leader of the American delegation to the 1997 Kyoto talks, is appearing from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday on The Conversation with Ross Reynolds. (It's at 94.9* FM if you're here in Rain City.

Europeans not taking no for an answer on Copenhagen climate talks

The big climate news over the last few days was the revelation that there will be no deal on curbing global warming next month in Copenhagen.

As faithful Dateline Earth readers know, that doesn't really qualify as news. The confirmation came as President Obama attended an Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore.

But today brings news that the Europeans aren't necessarily willing to take no for an answer. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, fresh off appealing to the U.S. Congress to get with the program, will attend the Copenhagen talks.

And it seems that at least the Swiss will continue pushing for a legally binding deal at the COP15 talks. 

Of course, the real sticking point here is the United States -- the U.S. Senate, as David Roberts points out at grist.org:

This absurdly protracted process is playing out as dozens of countries hang out, tapping their feet, looking at their watches, flipping idly through waiting-room magazines. Concerted international action can’t get started without the U.S., and the U.S. can’t get started without the Senate—the Obama administration won’t promise anything to which the Senate hasn’t committed. So the world waits for the Senate, observing its legislative process with a mix of bewilderment, anxiety, and disdain.

Well put. We might need to get used to those old magazines. It's starting to look like a meeting next December in Mexico will be the new target date for a legally binding treaty, rather than a mid-year confab in Germany. One reason for that is that the Senate is pretty much giving up hope for climate legislation until the spring.

Industry lobbyists torpedoed Copenhagen climate pact, eight-nation investigation by journalists shows

Following yesterday's news that there will be no global climate pact when international negotiators meet next month in Copenhagen, the Europeans today are saying it's all President Obama's fault.

But from where we sit -- and let's recall that Dateline Earth was a little grouchy at Obama early in his term about his less-than-laser focus on climate -- there's plenty of blame to go around.

Exhibit No. 1: The excellent report out today from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists outlining how industry lobbyists in eight pivotal countries torpedoed hopes for a climate treaty.

We heard about this from our friends at the Center for Public Integrity, which ran the effort to investigate the lobbying blitz.