Thursday, November 16, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: 'Brain Washing' Needed To Tackle Climate Change, California Gov Tells Vatican

Frustration Shows Up As Bonn Climate Summit Is Deadlocked

In this newsletter:

1) 'Brain Washing' Needed To Tackle Climate Change, California Gov Tells Vatican
The National Catholic Register, 12 November 2017

2) Frustration Shows Up As Bonn Climate Summit Is Deadlocked Again
The Indian Express, 14 November 2017

3) La Nina Has Arrived And Moves Into The Winter
USA Today, 9 November 2017

4) Climate Champion China Leads The World ... To Record CO2 Emissions
Financial Times, 13 November 2017

5) Democratic Governors Outsource Climate Campaigns To Activist Groups, Emails Reveal
Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times, 15 November 2017

6) Green Demands On Coal Exit Hamper German Coalition Talks
Eurasia Times, 14 November 2017

Full details:

1) 'Brain Washing' Needed To Tackle Climate Change, California Gov Tells Vatican
The National Catholic Register, 12 November 2017

California Gov. Jerry Brown—a one-time Jesuit seminarian from a one-party state — said the dangers posed by climate change required a radical “transformation” in the world’s response.

“At the highest circles, people still don’t get it,” said Brown, during his 40-minute speech at a climate change conference organized by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences.


“It’s not just a light rinse” that is needed, he added. “We need a total, I might say ‘brain washing.’”

Brown raised the idea of “brainwashing” during a speech that also recalled the ascetic formation he experienced as a Jesuit seminarian. He suggested that a similarly demanding regime was needed today to root out the greed and consumerism that have helped drive climate change.

“The problem … is us. It’s our whole way of life. … It’s the greed. It’s the indulgence. It’s the pattern. And it’s the inertia,” said Brown, according to the Sacramento Bee’s news report on the Vatican conference. It was one of several stops for Brown, who has challenged President Trump’s response to climate change issues.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, also called for Church leaders and the faithful to take action on climate change. The pontiff has grounded his message in an explicitly Christian vision of life that affirms the dignity and the sanctity of human life, the needs of the poor, and the gift of creation.

Francis made clear that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.”

It is “clearly inconsistent” to combat the trafficking of endangered species while remaining indifferent toward the trafficking of persons, to the poor and to the decision of many “to destroy another human being deemed unwanted,” the Pope stated….

During his address at the Vatican conference, Brown sought to clothe his agenda on the environment in the language of faith.

“The power here is prophecy,” said the California governor. “The power here is faith, and that’s what this organization is supposed to be about. So, let’s be about it and combine with the technical and the scientific and the political.”

The governor acknowledged that global transformation would not be easy to achieve, and he reflected on his own failure to adopt the disciplinary practices of his Jesuit seminary.

“I can tell I did not achieve perfection. I was not transformed. In fact some of my bad habits, which I will not reveal, are the same as they were … when I came into Jesuit seminary when Pius XII was pope.”

Full story

2) Frustration Shows Up As Bonn Climate Summit Is Deadlocked Again
The Indian Express, 14 November 2017

Developing countries are demanding money in addition to the $100 billion developed nations have promised to provide every year from 2020.

With more than half the schedule of climate change conference already over, frustration was beginning to show at the lack of progress on any of the key issues under discussion, including the issues of finance, loss and damage, and ‘pre-2020 actions’. Developing country negotiators lamented the fact that the United States, which has decided to pull out the Paris Agreement, was continuing to block any meaningful breakthrough on these issues and that other developed countries were not helping matters either.

“Other developed countries are hiding behind the United States on loss and damage and finance issues. And, I think they need to be called out on this. They need to be asked whether they would side with (US President) Donald Trump or with the vulnerable countries of the world and meet their responsibilities,” Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, echoing what many country negotiators were saying off the record.

A demand from the developing countries, asking for inclusion of ‘pre-2020 actions’ — a reference mainly to the obligations of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that has still three years to run — in the official agenda of the negotiations has still not been decided on, despite the expiry of two deadlines. The matter was to be decided on Saturday and then on Monday, but till evening on Monday consultations with various country groups was still continuing.

“Informal meetings (on ‘pre-2020 actions’) have been happening throughout the day. I am not sure whether there will be an outcome in the form of any decision by the end of the day today. Things are moving slowly, and there is hardly any significant progress on any important issue till now. But this is not the first time this is happening. We have seen such things at previous conferences as well. There are still four days to go and a lot happens on the last days,” an Indian negotiator said.

One major disappointment has been over the lack of any headway on issues related to finance, particularly that meant for loss and damages. Developing countries, especially the smaller island nations which also happen to be the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, have been demanding the setting up of mechanisms through which then can access financial help in the event of destruction caused by extreme weather events. This financial help needs to be in addition to the US$ 100 billion that the developed countries are obligated to provide every year from 2020 to help developing countries deal with climate change.

One of the options being discussed is to raise money through taxes on fossil fuel industry. “Countries are looking for money that is additional to the US$ 100 billion, because loss and damage is additional to the mitigation and adaptation needs. The US$ 100 billion was agreed upon long before the issue of loss and damages became part of discussions at these negotiations. The kind of money we are looking at … has to come by levying taxes on fossil fuel industry that has caused climate change in the first place,” Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead at Christian Aid, said.
But the developed countries, mainly the US, have not been quite agreed to look
at this, suggesting instead that insurance might be a good way to deal with the problem. “On loss and damage and finance, they (the US) have been taking a pretty hard line and that has started to cause some real anger,” Meyers said.

Even on the US$ 100 billion commitment, the demand that developed countries spell out the roadmap and enhance the proportion of public finance in their contributions, has largely been stonewalled. “Developed countries have not come prepared to put any new money on the table or make new pledges. So we are not expecting any strong outcome on this. The best we can hope for, we think, is to get some assurance that next year they will demonstrate stronger commitment,” Tracy Carty of Oxfam said.

Full story

3) La Nina Has Arrived And Moves Into The Winter
USA Today, 9 November 2017

La Niña, the cooler sibling of El Niño, is here.


The La Niña climate (sic) pattern — a natural cycle marked by cooler-than-average ocean water in the central Pacific Ocean — is one of the main drivers of weather in the U.S. and around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.

Federal government forecasters announced La Niña’s formation Thursday. The Climate Prediction Center says this year’s La Niña (translated from Spanish as “little girl”)  is on the weak side, but it should still continue through the winter.

This is the second consecutive La Niña winter. Last year’s episode was unusually brief, forming in November and gone by February.

A typical La Niña winter in the U.S. brings cold and snow to the Northwest and unusually dry conditions to most of the southern tier of the U.S., according to the prediction center. The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic also tend to see warmer-than-average temperatures during a La Niña winter.

However, the Upper Midwest into New York and New England tend to see colder-than-average temperatures, the Weather Channel said.

Because La Niña shifts storm tracks, it often brings more snow to the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. “Typically La Niña is not a big snow year in the mid-Atlantic,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “You have a better chance up in New England.”

Full story

4) Climate Champion China Leads The World ... To Record CO2 Emissions
Financial Times, 13 November 2017

Stronger Chinese economic growth will push global greenhouse gas emissions to a record high in 2017 after remaining flat for three years, dashing tentative hopes of a turning point in the world’s efforts to curb climate change.

A new report by the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium, predicts that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry will rise 2 per cent this year. The report was released at the UN climate change meeting in Bonn on Monday.

The increase — which is largely caused by China and developing countries — suggests the world is straying further from the course set at the landmark UN conference in Paris two years ago. Countries agreed at the time to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2ºC from the pre-industrial era. But scientists warn that the emission reduction pledges made by individual governments since then do not go far enough to secure that overarching goal.

“Emissions are following what countries have pledged — but what countries have pledged is nowhere near enough to meet the Paris objective,” said Glen Peters, co-author of the report and research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo.

This year’s rise is especially disappointing as it follows three years of almost no growth in emissions despite a world economy expanding at a steady clip. In 2016, emissions were flat even though the world economy grew 3.2 per cent. One explanation for the uptick is that China’s economic slowdown in the middle part of this decade was more pronounced than official figures suggested.

Emissions are following what countries have pledged — but what countries have pledged is nowhere near enough to meet the Paris objective

Full story

5) Democratic Governors Outsource Climate Campaigns To Activist Groups, Emails Reveal
Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times, 15 November 2017

It may look as if Democratic governors — not climate change activists — are driving the campaign to “fill the void” left by President Trump’s exit from the Paris agreement, but that’s not necessarily the impression left by behind-the-scenes emails.

Shortly after the June 1 launch of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a senior aide to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee warned Climate Nexus Executive Director Jeff Nesbit that some governors were considering withdrawing from the multistate coalition aimed at meeting the targets of the global warming accord.

“Can you call me asap?” Sam Ricketts, director of Mr. Inslee’s Washington, D.C., office, asked in a June 5 email. “Sounds like we states have some particular, and substantively very valid, concerns about how this coalition is messaged. If not met I think states will pull out.”

“OMG, come on. I’ve been dealing with this all weekend,” Mr. Nesbit responded. “We’re not messaging it incorrectly at this point. But yes, I’ll call you.”

It turns out that the governors who descended this week on the Bonn climate summit had plenty of help — not just from state aides, but also from a kind of shadow staff supplied by climate change advocacy groups and funded by liberal foundations in support of the ambitious foreign policy effort.

A cache of emails obtained via open records requests by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner shows state employees relying on activists for organizational and communications work in what he described as “outsourcing government off the books.”

The relationship raises questions about whether the governors have crossed an ethical line by bringing in privately funded advocacy groups to help staff a multistate operation — apparently at no charge — and whether their time and resources constituted a gift that would need to be disclosed to the public.

“It is inarguable. They are being given very expensive staff time and services,” said Mr. Horner. “These governors should immediately release all details about the collusion with these groups, who themselves have a lot to answer for.”

The alliance of 14 states and Puerto Rico is led by Mr. Inslee, California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Their offices did not respond immediately Tuesday to requests for comment.

“In all three of those states, a gift is anything of value,” Mr. Horner said in an email. “The gifts here include a report, and PR services yielding, for example, a New York Times story promoting their ‘leadership.’ We see they met to discuss private offers to hire staffers to be at politicians’ disposal.”

Who’s in charge? Who’s paying?

It’s not uncommon for governors to seek out the expertise of think tanks, universities, corporations and advocacy groups when preparing policy initiatives on matters such as energy, education and the economy.

But the email traffic from Mr. Inslee’s office indicates that activists play an outsize role in not merely advising but also running the day-to-day operations of the “bipartisan coalition of states,” which includes one Republican: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

The U.S. Climate Alliance website is operated by climate activists, not state staff, judging from another email exchange between Mr. Ricketts and Mr. Nesbit.

“How come governors aren’t even listed on the website?” Mr. Ricketts asked in a June 5 email.

Mr. Nesbit replied: “They will be! I promise. It’s controlled by WWF [apparently referring to the World Wildlife Fund]. They’re melting down over there. I’ll make sure the 9 governors are listed ASAP.”

Mr. Nesbit also wore the hat of press secretary, saying he needed to send a joint statement from Mr. Inslee, Mr. Brown and Mr. Cuomo to The New York Times.

“Do you have it? Is it approved? Is Inslee available to talk to the NYT and others today before Trump does his Rose Garden ceremony at the WH?” Mr. Nesbit asked in the June 1 email.

According to Mr. Nesbit, Climate Nexus, a sponsored project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, provided its services free of charge and without a contract.

“We worked with them at no cost just as we work with a wide range of groups,” Mr. Nesbit said in an email to The Washington Times.

In September, the alliance issued a 12-page report that included extensive data from the Rhodium Group on the economic output and net greenhouse gas emissions of the 14 member states compared with the rest of the states.

Who compiled and paid for the report? Not Rhodium, according to a spokeswoman, although The New York Times described it at the time as “a new study by the research firm Rhodium Group.”

“U.S. Climate Alliance state staff put together the report using data that the Rhodium Group produced as part of previous projects which were funded by private philanthropy,” Rhodium spokeswoman Hannah Hess said in an email to The Washington Times.

The Rhodium Group is headed by former Hillary Clinton campaign climate and energy adviser Trevor Houser, who also co-directs the Climate Impact Lab.

‘A tsunami of Pulitzers’

Even before Mr. Trump announced his intention in June to exit the 2015 Paris climate accord, state employees in California, New York and Washington had discussed enlisting the help of outside advocacy groups.

Aimee Barnes, senior adviser to Mr. Brown, proposed reaching out to the Georgetown Climate Center, Under2 Coalition and others, saying that “it can’t always be us staff running around trying to corral each other for sign on.”

“We are fortunate that at the moment there are many resources keen to be at our disposal to support us further, but in order to make the best use of them, we need to tell them what we need,” Ms. Barnes said in a May 5 email.

Mr. Ricketts responded in a May 9 email by noting, “Theres of course a plethora of advocate and funder interest,” adding, “we can approach the different groups (G-town, Rhodium, UNF, whomever) about which of them will play a roll.”

A week later, Georgetown Climate Center Deputy Director Kathryn Zyla provided an update in an email sent to state staffers and climate change advocates.

“We also wanted to let you know that we are working with the Georgetown IT department to develop a platform that can assist this group with communications and shared resources, and will keep you posted. (Please let us know if you have any thoughts on key features for that platform.),” Ms. Zyla said in a May 16 email.

Full story

6) Green Demands On Coal Exit Hamper German Coalition Talks
Eurasia Times, 14 November 2017

Environmental policy has dominated talks on forming a German coalition, as the Green Party demanded curbs on coal power.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is looking for a deal with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens but the unlikely partners have little in common.

Investment means renewable power, including wind and solar energy, provide a third of Germany’s electricity, more than double the US share. Berlin’s goal to cut carbon-dioxide emissions 40 per cent by 2020 is significantly more ambitious than the European average or the US.

Merkel called on party leaders to show more flexibility and find a compromise after three weeks of talks also failed to bridge divides on transport, immigration and eurozone policy.

Germany still gets 40 per cent of its energy from coal, a bigger share than that of any other European country, and much of it comes from lignite or brown coal: the dirtiest kind of coal.

The attempts to form a “Jamaica” coalition, named after the three party colours that coincide with the black, green and gold of the Jamaican flag, have made little progress towards completing an outline deal.

“What’s lying on the table isn’t enough for us,” said the Greens’ leader Simone Peter after a suggestion that 10 coal-fired power stations could be closed down.

The Greens want carbon dioxide emissions cuts that require the closure of 20 coal plants and an 8-10 gigawatt production cut by 2020. The other parties were looking for a 3-5 gigawatt cut.

The dependence on coal is partly a consequence of Germany’s reluctance to adopt nuclear power.

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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