The Heritage Foundation this week published a paper on “Obama’s Plan to Avoid Senate Review of the Paris Protocol,” by Steven Groves.
In the News
September Was Cruelest Month for Jonathan Chait’s Feature on Climate Change Policy
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 24 September 2015
None Dare Call It Conspiracy: Obama’s Coordinated Climate Campaign
Chris Horner, Investor’s Business Daily, 23 September 2015
An Addition to AP Stylebook Entry on Global Warming
Paul Colford, Associated Press, 22 September 2015
News You Can Use
EPA Spares No Expense on Office Furniture
The Washington Times this week reported that the Environmental Protection Agency over the past decade has spent a whopping $92.4 million to purchase, rent, install and store office furniture, or about $6,000 for every one of the agency’s 15,492 employees
Inside the Beltway
Pope Francis Barely Mentions Climate Change in Speeches at the United Nations, Congress, and the White House
Pope Francis cooled his rhetoric on climate change and the need to de-industrialize the world in order to help the poor in his three speeches to political bodies during his first trip to the United States this past week. Francis and his Vatican entourage arrived direct from Cuba on 22nd September at Andrews Air Force Base, where he was greeted by President and Mrs. Obama.
Appearing the next morning on the White House lawn with the President, the Pope said, “I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”
On Thursday morning, Francis became the first Pope to address a joint meeting of Congress. He didn’t mention climate change once, although he did call on Congress to exert itself to “to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”
In his address to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at UN headquarters in New York City on 24th September, Pope Francis spoke at length on the connection between protecting the environment and “putting an end to exclusion.” Francis uses “the excluded” as a catchall term for various categories of downtrodden people.
His argument is convoluted, but here is perhaps the key passage:
“The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged…. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offense against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing ‘culture of waste’.”
In an indication of his charming naivete, the Pope continued: “The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.”
Hilary Clinton Opposes Keystone XL Pipeline
Campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline. Keystone foes had pressed her for months to declare her opposition, but until this week she took no side in the controversy, explaining that, as former head of the department reviewing the project, she did not want to “second guess” President Obama and Secretary Kerry, and would “wait and see” what they decide. In July, she told a New Hampshire voter who queried her on Keystone, “If it’s still undecided when I become President, I will answer your question.”
Well, officially it’s still undecided, so Clinton’s action confirms what many of us suspected – Obama and Kerry long ago decided to kill the pipeline through a deny-by-delay strategy.
On announcing her opposition, Clinton criticized Keystone as “a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change.” She offered a fuller explanation the next day in a blog post on Medium.com:
“We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities — we should be focused on what it will take to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. For too long, the Keystone XL pipeline has been a distraction from the real challenges facing our energy sector — and the job-creating investments that we should be making to meet them.”
The Keystone project would be funded solely by private investors putting their own capital at risk. “We” – that is, political elites – shouldn’t allow that. “We” should only allow investment in “clean energy.” Sounds like central planning.
Perhaps Clinton also means Keystone has become a political distraction for self-styled progressives. Keystone was useful when it mobilized green activists after the death of cap-and-trade in 2010, but the big game now is the “Clean Power” Plan and Paris climate treaty. Time to move on.
Clinton says she had to speak out on “an issue that matters so much to so many” because “the effects of climate change have grown more acute,” citing recent U.S. forest fires, the California drought, and “more severe storms and heat waves” around the world. Actually, there is no solid evidence carbon dioxide emissions are increasing the frequency or intensity of extreme weather, and fossil-fueled development remains indispensable for making our naturally-dangerous climate system more livable.
“Over the past five years, a 20-fold increase in the amount of oil shipped by rail has led to devastating accidents,” Clinton remarked, proving that irony can be pretty ironic sometimes. The State Department’s environmental review concluded that blocking the Keystone pipeline would dramatically increase shipments of crude-by-rail, leading to more frequent oil spills, accidents, and fatalities.
Around the World
American and Chinese Presidents Agree To Continue To Work Together To Raise U. S. Energy Prices
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a three-and-a-half page joint statement on climate change on 25th September during the Chinese leader’s state visit to Washington, DC. This follows the climate agreement that Presidents Obama and Xi made on 12th November 2014 when Obama visited China.
Both leaders commit “to work together and with others toward an ambitious, successful Paris outcome” that makes progress toward keeping the increase in the global mean temperature below 2 degrees centigrade. “Paris outcome” refers to the new international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that is currently being negotiated and is due to be signed at COP-21 (the seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris in December.
Press reports have focused on the announcement that China will begin an emissions trading (or cap-and-trade) system for greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation and most industries by 2017. But just as with the Obama-Xi deal last year, China does not commit to actual emissions reductions.
Instead, the statement re-affirms “their commitment to reach an ambitious agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.” Translated from UN-speak, this means that, as with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, developed countries will be expected to undertake targets and timetables for reducing emissions, while developing countries will not.
Left unresolved by the joint statement is whether China will continue as a developing country (known as Non-Annex I countries in the UNFCCC) or will move on to the developed country list (Annex I). The Chinese position has consistently been that they will remain a developing country for several more decades.
To me, the most surprising area of agreement is over transparency. The joint statement reads: “Both sides support the inclusion in the Paris outcome of an enhanced transparency system to build mutual trust and confidence and promote effective implementation including through reporting and review of action and support in an appropriate manner. It should provide flexibility to those developing countries that need it in light of their capacities.” The Chinese government has long resisted calls from the European Union and the U. S. to open its internal emissions data to outside inspection and verification. We’ll have to see what “an enhanced transparency system” amounts to.
Presidents Obama and Xi are also committed to achieving full funding for the Green Climate Fund (or GCF), which is $100 billion per year starting in 2020. The U. S. share of the GCF will be roughly $30 billion per year. President Obama’s budget for FY 2016 requests $3 billion over the next four years to help get the GCF off the ground, but the House version of the State Department Appropriations bill prohibits sending any money to the GCF. China announced that it will provide $3.1 billion “to help developing countries combat climate change.” It appears that China will distribute funds directly to favored countries and not through the GCF.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.