4C Newsletter February 2015 - Reasons for hope

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13 february 2015

Dear friend,

First of all, remember that tomorrow is Global Divestment Day, which millions hope will continue the elan of last September's People's Climate March. If you are able to participate but haven't yet signed up to a demonstration near you, you may be able to find one at http://gofossilfree.org/divestment-day//. Treaties between states will be necessary to prevent a climate disaster, but so will the actions of concerned citizens.

Prospects for the planetary future have improved since our last newsletter in September, partly because of the massive turnout for the climate marches held at that time all over the world. The New York march, timed just before Ban Ki-Moon’s climate summit in that city, brought hundreds of thousands into the streets, and many other cities saw climate demonstrations larger than any in their histories. There were a number of other reasons for mild optimism in the past five months, which I will discuss below, but many of us retain the feeling of “too little, too late”. Moreover, one is easily discouraged by the insufficiency of media attention to the necessity of radical and immediate measures to avert a climate catastrophe.

Nonetheless, there is some cause for hope. To understand why it has taken so long for the tide to turn, despite the glimmers of a good ending to this story, we should recall the many obstacles in the way of a necessary transformation.

Four factors have impeded strong public support for governmental programs to mitigate future warming.

One is the omnipresence of the anxiety-arousing news bulletins on other issues. Most recently: the danger of war between Russia and the West over the conflict in the Ukraine; the fighting in the Mid-East and the danger of blowback terrorism in the West, the distinct possibility that the standoff between Greece and its creditors might lead to the break-up of the Eurozone and possibly of the EU; the intra-European quarrel over the austerity programs demanded by the conservatives who dictate economic policy; in the U.S., the perpetual duel between Obama and the Republican-dominated Congress and the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Another is the influence on the media and on a number of centrist and right-wing political parties of the wealthy fossil fuel industry, which stands to lose everything from the indispensable transition to renewable energy.

A third factor is the difficulty of focusing public attention on a problem whose immediacy and extreme importance are only slowly getting the attention it deserves. Although the existence of global warming and climate change is now less and less contested, most people continue to see them either as something for the distant future – perhaps for their great-grandchildren – or as not caused by human activity. Of the quarter to a third of the world’s people who view the climate danger as serious now and anthropogenic, few place it at the top of their priority list.

Finally, there is the “you-first” syndrome: governments are loathe to take measures that might slow growth or cause hardship to some groups if other governments with whom they are economically competing fail to do the same. In particular, the long-standing resistance of China to any limitation on GDP growth – supported by the common-but-differentiated-responsibilities clause in the Kyoto protocol – has long been used to justify U.S. resistance to a global treaty limiting carbon emissions. Fortunately, this standoff seems to be ending, thanks to a US Secretary of State (Kerry) acutely aware of the climate problem and a new Chinese government sensitive to the issues of carbon pollution in Chinese mega-cities.

Despite these obstacles, the tide is slowly turning and may start speeding in our direction. This is happening thanks to a number of developments that we’ve been following in our news rubric, which we will itemize in seven sections in the second part of this newsletter, for the convenience of our signatories.

Before presenting that list, we’d like to offer one comment on the major event scheduled for the end of this year: the Paris climate summit of the UNFCCC. This will probably be a make-or-break moment for the climate movement, at which the lost opportunity of a global agreement to limit emissions to acceptable levels, an opportunity abandoned five years ago in Copenhagen, must be redeemed if future generations are to have a livable planet.

The facts that this summit is to be held (a) after the beginning of Chinese-U.S. cooperation on climate matters, (b) in the wake of an evergrowing wave of global activism, epitomized by this weekend's mobilization for divestment from fossil fuels, and (c) in Paris, under the auspices of the French foreign minister, give reasons for hope. The first two points are obvious. The third has, in our opinion, not been examined seriously until now.

In contrast to (for example) Poland, France has little interest in continuing the reign of fossil energy. It hardly has fossil resources, obtains most of its electric current from nuclear energy (we may disagree with that, but it is not a source of greenhouse gases), and stands to gain immeasurable international prestige if it successfully guides the UN and its member states to a prevention of the oncoming climate catastrophe.

Moreover, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who will chair the Paris conference, has more than once showed a deep commitment to the prevention of a climate catastrophe. Not only did Fabius appeal strongly for a legally binding treaty at the opening day of New York’s climate week last September; he also gave one of the strongest speeches at the UN’s Doha climate conference of November-December 2012, which he began by saying “If the earth could speak, its message today would be simple: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” [http://www.stopwarming.eu/?news&id=760].

In short, there is reason to hope that our efforts of many years will bear fruit in the Paris Conference at the end of this year.

Coridally,
Arthur Mitzman, coordinator of Concerned Citizens against Climate Change


_______________________________


The 4C signatory’s guide to the climate news since mid-September 2014:

To find the articles we mention from 2015, click here. Articles from last year can be located here.


A. US, China, India, the biggest polluters. The US and China are finally getting on board. China-U.S. emissions-reduction discussions with China actually reducing coal consumption; climate change in US elections. India lagging.

CHINA DECOUPLES COAL CONSUMPTION FROM GDP GROWTH
26 january 2015

OBAMA ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2015 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
21 january 2015

CHINA LOWERING ENERGY INTENSITY AS WELL AS COAL CONSUMPTION -- RATE OF GDP GROWTH ALSO FALLS
20 january 201

CHINA DAILY -- CHINA'S TEMPERATURES MAY RISE 5.C BY 2100, - EXTREME WEATHER COMING NOW
12 january 2015

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SAYS OBAMA WILL REFUSE TO SIGN SENATE BILL FOR KXL PIPELINE
7 january 2915

CHINA COAL CONSUMPTION DECLINING, RENEWABLES RISING
6 january 2015

CHINA CLOSING ABOUT 20 PERCENT OF ITS COAL MINES NEXT YEAR
26 december, 2015

CHINA REDUCING COAL CONSUMPTION WHILE STOPPING SHIFT FROM COAL TO GAS - TOO MUCH CO2
25 december 2014

CHINESE NEGOTIATOR -- US-CHINA CLIMATE AGREEMENT A MODEL FOR GRIDLOCKED NEGOTIATIONS
12 december, 2015

CHINA-US EMISSI0N REDUCTION IMPROVES OUTLOOK FOR 2100 -- SLIGHTLY
8 december, 2015

INDIA EXPECTED TO INCREASE CLIMATE TARGETS BEFORE OBAMA VISIT
2 december, 2014

CHINESE CLIMATE NEGOTIATOR DISCUSSES AGREEMENT WITH U.S
25 november 2014

CHINA DEMONSTRATES ITS COMMITMENT TO CLIMATE ACTION WITH COAL CAP PLEDGE
20 november 2014

KEYSTONE XL SENATE VOTE ONE SHORT OF FILIBUSTERPROOF MAJORITY OF 60
18 november, 2014

INDIA'S COAL PLANS COULD MAKE AGREEMENT ON CLIMATE IMPOSSIBLE
17 november 2014

US-CHINA DEAL ON EMISSIONS PUTS CLIMATE BACK ON THE G20 AGENDA
15 november, 2014

INDIA -- FORMER ENVIRONMENT MINISTER URGES INDIA TO FOLLOW UP ON US-CHINA DEAL
14 november 2014

U.S.-CHINA CLIMATE DEAL GIVES HOPE FOR 2015 PARIS AGREEMENT
12 november 2014

U.S.-CHINA CLIMATE DEAL GIVES HOPE FOR 2015 PARIS AGREEMENT
12 november 2014

U.S. AND CHINA AGREE TO JOINT ACTION AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING
11 november, 2014

REPUBLICAN SWEEP IN US MIDTERMS A BLOW TO CLIMATE HOPES
5 november 2014

PLUTOCRACY GOVERNS THE 2014 US ELECTIONS - TOM STEYER VS THE KOCH BROTHERS
23 october 2014

CHINA'S COAL COONSUMPTION DROPS - FIRST TIME THIS CENTURY. - WHILE U.S. INCREASES
22 october 2014

PENTAGON ACKNOWLEDGES SECURITY DANGERS OF WARMING -- DEFENSE SEC'Y IN DRAMATIC TURNAROUND
13 october 2014

CHINA CARBON REDUCTION BUTTRESSED BY COAL TARIFF -- AUSTRALIANS FURIOUS
9 october 2014

CHINA CAUTIOUS ABOUT SUMMIT COMMITMENT -- COAL CONSUMPTION TO RISE FOR MANY YEARS
19 september 2014

CHINA URBAN BAN ON LOW QUALITY COAL WON'T APPLY TO POWER PLANTS
19 september 201


B. The carbon front: Demise of the red herring solutions -- CCS (going down in both EU and U.S.), ETS, nuclear (Energiewende), fracking for gas – all less plausible than six months ago.

CCS PILOT PROJECT CLOSURE COULD BE BEGINNING OF END FOR CCS HYPE
6 february, 2015

US CLOSES DOWN BILLION DOLLAR CCS PILOT PROJECT
5 february 2015

COSTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE LEAD TO NUCLEAR SWAN SONG IN THE U.S
31 january 2015

AN ENVIRONMENTALIST ARGUES AGAINST CAP-AND-TRADE, FOR A CARBON TAX
28 january, 2015

OKLAHOMA EARTHQUAKE PLAGUE LINKED TO FRACKING
28 january 2015

CARBON TAX, NOT CAP AND TRADE, PROPOSED BY INDIAN EX-MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT
24 january 2015

EUROPEAN CCS COLLAPSING -- FOUR BIG UTILITIES QUIT COMBINE. CCS TOO EXPENSIVE
19 january 2015

DECLINING PROFITABILITY FORCES THE EU'S LARGEST COAL PRODUCER TO CLOSE MINES, ASK GOV'T AID
8 january 2015

IN 2014, OIL AND GAS DRILLING CAUSED FIVE-FOLD INCREASE IN OKLAHOMA EARTHQUAKES
5 january 2015

TEXAS ELECTRIC POWER MOVING AWAY FROM COAL TO GAS, WIND, SOLAR
24 december 2014

WORLD COAL USE CONTINUES TO RISE, THOUGH AT A SLOWER RATE
15 december, 2014

CARBON UNITED TO UNDERMINE US WEST COAST CLIMATE LAWS
7 december 2014

UK TORIES ABANDON RENEWABLES, INVEST HEAVILY IN OIL, ROADS AND AIRPORTS
6 december, 2014

BANK OF ENGLAND ASSESSING CHANCES OF MARKET CRASH IF CARBON BUBBLE BURSTS
1 december 2014

NEAR DISASTER AS STORM FLOODS FLORIDA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, DISABLING COOLING PUMPS
1 december 2014

GERMAN GOVERNMENT CONSIDERS CLOSURE OF SOME COAL PLANT CAPACITY
30 october 2014

U.N.-WIDE EMISSIONS TRADING SYSTEM BEING PUSHED BY LARGE COMPANIES AND INVESTMENT FIRMS
26 october 2014


C. UN and EU Negotiations front: scientific reports pushing action in Lima and Geneva, preparations for Paris summit of Dec. 2015

FRANCE'S FABIUS KICKS OFF GENEVA CLIMATE TALKS WITH STRONG WARNING ON SURVIVAL AND SECURITY
9 february 2015

UN CLIMATE MEETING IN GENEVA TO PREPARE FOR DECEMBER PARIS AGREEMENT
8 february 2015

UN WANT DRAFT PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT BY FEBRUARY 13
31 january 2015

UN WANTS CLIMATE PLANS FOR EACH COUNTRY BY MARCH 31 AFTER HOTTEST YEAR EVER
22 january 2015

GLASS HALF FULL; GLASS HALF EMPTIY. CONTRASTING OPINIONS ON LIMA RESULT
15 december 2014

CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK PRESS RELEASE ON LIMA CONFERENCE -- LIMITED, DISAPPOINTING PROGRESS
14 december 2014

SIX AREAS OF AGREEMENT AT LIMA CLIMATE TALKS
13 december 2014

CHINESE NEGOTIATOR -- US-CHINA CLIMATE AGREEMENT A MODEL FOR GRIDLOCKED NEGOTIATIONS
12 december 2014

LIMA CLIMATE TALKS IN OVERTIME TO OVERCOME DISCORD BETWEEN RICH AND POOR NATIONS
12 december 2014

VERY LITTLE PROGRESS IN FIRST WEEK OF LIMA CLIMATE TALKS
5 december 2014

NEW REPORT FROM SCIENTISTS IN EARTH LEAGUE WARNS LIMA DELEGATES THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT
4 december 2014

GREEN NGOs MASSIVELY PRESENT IN LIMA A YEAR AFTER WARSAW WALKOUT
3 december 2014

INTERVIEW WITH EU CLIMATE NEGOTIATOR ABOUT EU POSITION IN TALKS
3 december 2014

LIMA CLIMATE SUMMIT -- UN CLIMATE CHIEF VIEWS CARBON INVESTMENT AS HIGH RISK
1 december 2014

UPBEAT START TO LIMA CLIMATE TALKS
29 november 2014

INCREASED CHANCES FOR 2015 CLIMATE DEAL, BUT PROBABLY TOO WEAK TO AVERT MORE THAN 2.C WARMING
23 november 2014

OBAMA AT G20 CALLS CLIMATE AGREEMENT NEXT YEAR VITAL
15 november 2014

UN CONSIDERTING NATIONAL CARBON BUDGETS TO KEEP WARMING BELOW 2.C
12 november 2014

WWF ON RELEASE OF FINAL VOLUME OF UN CLIMATE REPORT
2 november 2014

BILL MCKIBBEN ON THE NEW IPCC REPORT
2 november 2014

IPCC SYNTHESIS REPORT PREDICTS CLIMATE CATASTROPHE IF LOW-LEVEL RESPONSE TO WARMING CONTINUES
31 october 2014

THE BAD NEWS THE IPCC REPORT MISSED
30 october 2014

HANGOVER AFTER UN CLIMATE TALKS IN BONN
27 october 2014

NEW UN REPORT UNDERLINES RISK OF SERIOUS, PERVASIVE AND IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE FROM CLIMATE CHANGE
26 october 2014

UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS ON THE BONN CLIMATE TALKS
25 october 2014

EU AGREES ON 2030 CLIMATE GOALS - 40% EMISSIONS REDUCT, 27% RENEWABLE, 27% ENERGY EFFICIENCY
24 october 2014

EUROPE'S 2030 TARGETS - A BAD PRECEDENT
24 october 2014

ENVIROS TRASH WEAK EU TARGETS - CAN US DO BETTER
24 october 2014

WHY POLAND TRIED TO BLOCK EU CLIMATE TARGETS
23 october 2014

POLAND IS ONLY EU COUNTRY RESISTING 40% 2030 EMISSION CUT TARGET
22 october 2014

NEW PROPOSAL FOR GLOBAL CO2 PRICIING SCHEME MAY EASE 2015 CLIMATE AGREEMENT
10 october 2014

NEW STERN REPORT ON EVE OF CLIMATE SUMMIT - STILL TIME TO AVOID THE WORST
16 september 2014


D. GHG emissions, extreme weather and changes in public opinion; weakening of denialism in Republican-controlled US Congress. Significance of Republican control of Senate at mid-terms less than feared.

FRENCH SURVEY SHOWS LARGE MAJORITY WORRIED ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE - MOST THINK IT'S HUMAN-CAUSED
10 february, 2015

NEW SCIENTIFIC STUDY ON EXTREME WEATHER RELATION TO GLOBAL WARMING
26 january, 2015

ICE DISAPPEARING RAPIDLY FROM NORWEGIAN ISLAND INSIDE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
23 january 201

NOAA - US GOVERNMENT AGENCY - PREDICTS REGULAR FLOODING OF COASTAL CITIES BY 2050
6 january 2015

2014 HOTTEST EVER - IT'S OFFICIAL
5 january 2015

CO2 EMISSIONS FROM COMMERCIAL AVIATION GREATER THAN ALL BUT SIX COUNTRIES, MAY TRIPLE BY 2050
2 january 2015

90 PERCENT OF AMERICANS WANT INCREASE IN RENEWABLE ENERGY
1 january, 2015

A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS - INCLUDING FIFTY PERCENT OF REPUBLICANS - WANT TO CURB CO2 EMISSIONS
12 december 2014

MUNICH RE - 80 PERCENT OF AMERICANS BELIEVE CLIMATE CHANGE OCCURRING
2 december 2014

WARMING HAS MELTED 125 OF 150 GLACIERS IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
22 november 2014

WARMING-WEAKENED JET STREAM COULD BE THE ORIGIN OF THE US COLD WAVE
20 november 2014

EARTH'S HOTTEST OCTOBER SPILLS INTO NOVEMBER FOR G20 SUMMIT IN AUSTRALIA
14 november 2014

COLD WINTERS LINKED TO DISAPPEARING ARCTIC ICE
26 october 2014

MELTING ARCTIC ICE LINKED TO EXTREME WEATHER AND GULF STREAM DISTURBANCE
18 october 2014

ARCTIC SEA ICE LOSS SENDS AUTUMN TEMPERATURES SOARING IN BARROW ALASKA
17 october 2014

METHANE EMISSIONS IN CARBON EXTRACTION MUCH HIGHER THAN SUPPOSED
9 october 2014

SCIENTISTS ACKNOWLEDGE FIRST PHASE OF GLOBAL WARMING CATASTROPHE IS HERE, NOW
28 september 2014


E. Activism and divestment: Success of September demo. Divestment at center of current campaigning; February demos; increasing concern of investors that carbon prices will collapse if agreement reached on emissions reduction for 2.C limit.

GLOBAL DIVESTMENT DAY - AMSTERDAM DEMONSTRATES AGAINST CITY'S COMPLICITY IN HARBOR CARBON TRADE
9 february 2015

UNDER INTENSE SHAREHOLDER PRESSURE, SHELL AGREES ASSESS DANGER OF 2.C WARMING TARGET FOR ITS FUTURE
29 january 2015

ATOMIC SCIENTISTS ADD CLIMATE CHANGE TO NUCLEAR WAR AS POTENTIAL CATASTROPHES THREATENING HUMANITY
19 january 2015

GREENS IN EUROPARLIAMENT PROPOSE SUSTAINABLE EUROPEAN ENERGY UNION
14 january 2015

NEW STUDY DETAILS FOSSIL FUELS THAT MUST BE LEFT IN THE GROUND TO AVERT CLIMATE CATASTROPHE
7 january 2015

TOP UK NATURALIST CALLS ON WORLD LEADERS TO ACCELERATE ACTION AGSINST CLIMATE CHANGE
2 january 2015

NEWS ON CLIMATE CHANGE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER IN 2014
2 january 2015

POPE FRANCIS TO PUBLISH ENCYCLICAL ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND ECOLOGY
27 december 2014

ECUADORIAN INDIGENOUS ANTI-MINING LEADER KILLED JUST BEFORE LIMA CLIMATE SUMMIT
6 december 2014

NEW REPORT FROM SCIENTISTS IN EARTH LEAGUE WARNS LIMA DELEGATES THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT
4 december 2014

GREEN NGOs MASSIVELY PRESENT IN LIMA A YEAR AFTER WARSAW WALKOUT
3 december 2014

LIMA CLIMATE SUMMIT -- UN CLIMATE CHIEF VIEWS CARBON INVESTMENT AS HIGH RISK
1 december 2014

HOW A FEW GREENS PERSUADED A SMALL TEXAS CITY TO VOTE TO BAR FRACKING
7 november 2014

US MIDTERM ELECTIONS SHOWED IMPORTANCE OF SMALL-SCALE LOCAL MILITANCY ON CLIMATE-RELATED ISSUES
6 november 2014

AN UNUSUAL ALLIANCE FIGHTS THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE IN NEBRASKA
30 october 2014

FORMER CHAIR AUSTRALIAN COAL ASS'N WARNS COMPANIES - WARMING PREVENTION WILL SOON MAKE COAL OBSOLETE
23 october 2014

CLIMATE SCIENTIST SAYS 2.C WARMING LIMIT DEMANDS EU 80% EMISSIONS CUT BY 2030, NOT 40
22 october 2014

PACIFIC ISLAND CLIMATE CHANGE PROTESTERS AND 350.ORG BLOCK AUSTRALIAN COAL PORT
17 october 2014

BRUSSELS ACTIVISTS WANT WITHDRAWAL JUNCKER NOMINATION OF SPANISH OIL BARON AS CLIMATE COMMISSIONER
5 october 2014

TOM ENGELHARDT AND TODD GITLIN ON THE PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH
2 october 2014

RADICAL CLIMATE ACTION EMERGING IN SHADOW OF GIANT NYC DEMO
28 september 2014

DESPITE DISAPPOINTMENT AT SUMMIT RESULTS, US CORPORATIONS SWINGING BEHIND CLIMATE POLICY
26 september 2014

CBC ON SUCCESS OF UN CLIMATE SUMMIT IN NEW YORK
25 september 2014

FINE ASSESSMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE OF PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH
24 september 2014

UN CLIMATE SUMMIT - STATEMENT BY CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK AND GLOBAL CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION
24 september 2014

REMARKS BY BARACK OBAMA AT UN CLIMATE SUMMIT IN NEW YORK CITY
23 september 2014

MORE THAN HALF A MILLION MARCH WORLD-WIDE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
22 september 2014

NEW YORK PREPARES FOR BIGGEST CLIMATE MARCH EVER
21 september 2014

ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS
21 september 2014

TWO CLIMATE NGOS PROPOSE FAIR SYSTEM FOR SHARING EMISSIONS REDUCTION BETWEEN RICH AND POOR COUNTRIES
21 september 2014

NEW YORK CITY CLIMATE DEMO EXPECTED TO DRAW MORE THAN 100,000
19 september 2014

IMMIGRANT GROUPS IN NEW YORK CLIMATE MARCH
19 september 2014

CLIMATE MARCH REACHING OUT TO NON-WHITE NEW YORKERS
19 september 2014


F. Growing importance of renewable energy which increasingly out-prices carbon-based energy, investment up 16% in 2014. HVDC grids.]

RENEWABLES INVESTMENT UP 16 PERCENT IN 2014 AFTER TWO YEAR DROP
9 january 2015

WIND POWER SOARING IN SCOTLAND
6 january 201

TEXAS ELECTRIC POWER MOVING AWAY FROM COAL TO GAS, WIND, SOLAR
24 december 2014

EUROPEAN-WIDE SUPERGRID COMING BETWEEN 2018 AND 2020
5 november 2014

RENEWABLES DO MORE TO CUT US EMISSIONS THAN GAS, COAL CONSUMPTION DROPPING
20 october 2014

ONSHORE WIND CHEAPER THAN COAL AND GAS -- NEW EU STUDY
13 october 2014

EU STUDY - COAL MORE EXPENSIVE THAN RENEWABLES WHEN SUBSIDIES AND CLIMATE COSTS FACTORED IN
13 october 2014

HVDC SUPERGRID BEING PLANNED TO BRING WIND POWER FROM CENTRAL U.S. EASTWARD
3 october 2014


G. Ideas worth considering

AN ENVIRONMENTALIST ARGUES AGAINST CAP-AND-TRADE, FOR A CARBON TAX
28 january 2015

TOM ENGELHARDT AND TODD GITLIN ON THE PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH
2 october 2014

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS -- TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING, GET DIRTY MONEY OUT OF WASHINGTON
27 september 2014

NAOMI KLEIN ON CAPITALISM AND THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT
27 september 2014

TWO CLIMATE NGOS PROPOSE FAIR SYSTEM FOR SHARING EMISSIONS REDUCTION BETWEEN RICH AND POOR COUNTRIES
21 september 2014


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