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A High-Speed Fail Update from California



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California’s judicial branch coming through for California taxpayers. Via the Los Angeles Daily News:

A judge’s decision this week to block the state’s access to billions of dollars in bonds it needs to build a bullet train also threatens the only other pot of money California has to finance the project — $3.3 billion from Uncle Sam.

Just a few days ago, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority believed it had $8.6 billion in state bond proceeds and $3.3 billion in federal money to begin construction this spring on the rail line’s first stretch of track in the Central Valley.

But now the authority’s ability to spend any of those crucial funds to push the controversial bullet train project forward is highly uncertain.

“The rulings raise so many questions about whether this project still makes financial sense,” said Joe Nation, a public finance professor at Stanford University who called it a “moment of truth” for California.

“This could turn into a real nightmare,” he added.

Even before Monday’s stunning rulings by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny, the project had been mocked as a “train to nowhere” because the state had only enough funding to build about 120 miles of track, from the Fresno-Madera area to the northern outskirts of Bakersfield.

The $8.6 billion in voter-approved state bonds and the $3.3 billion in federal funds represent less than one-fifth of the money needed for the $68.4 billion project. But because of Monday’s rulings and the possibility that federal funding could be pulled back, the money “in hand” could ultimately become pocket change.

The state has already spent more than $700 million on engineering and planning costs from bonds approved by California voters in 2008. But according to an agreement the state signed with the Federal Railroad Administration, the federal government can yank the $3.3 billion it has committed to the project and even force the state to repay $397 million in federal money spent on planning, engineering and administrative costs.

What exactly did they get for $700 million? At the very least, $700 million should buy you a a snazzy website that works 80 percent of the time. . .

AEI’s James Pethokoukis wrote on the above news, “Obama’s bullet train dream just derailed in California.” Let’s hope so. 

But even with funding in doubt, this hasn’t stopped California from shopping for new trains. The shopping trip is complicated, however, because there are certain buy-American and buy-Californian provisions attached to the funding and none of the manufacturers, as of yet, are in California, let alone America. Via the Fresno Bee:

California has yet to break ground on its controversial high-speed train system, and legal challenges remain in the path of construction.

But that’s not stopping the California High-Speed Rail Authority, in conjunction with Amtrak, from shopping around for the best deal on multimillion-dollar trains to roll on their proposed high-speed lines — in California between San Francisco and Los Angeles through the San Joaquin Valley, and Amtrak’s Acela service between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Together, the two agencies are preparing to ask for bids in coming weeks from manufacturers to build between 50 and 60 train sets capable of carrying passengers at speeds up to 220 mph.

From a 34-acre plant in southeast Sacramento, Siemens Industry is one of a handful of multinational companies with an eye on the prize — a contract for “rolling stock” potentially worth $2 billion or more.

Siemens, headquartered in Germany, is one of the key players in the worldwide high-speed rail market. Others include France’s Alstom, Canada’s Bombardier, Spain’s Talgo, Italy’s AnsaldoBreda, Japan’s Hitachi and Nippon Sharyo and Korea’s Hyundai Rotem.

But none of those companies — and no U.S. firms — are building that kind of train in America.

That’s because there are no “high-speed” rail systems, typically defined as 155 mph or faster, operating in the U.S. The closest thing to it, Amtrak’s Acela, runs at a maximum speed of 150 mph for short distances but has an average speed that is closer to 75 mph.

“There are no North American manufacturers of high-speed rail equipment,” said Frank Vacca, chief program manager for the California High-Speed Rail Authority and former chief engineer for Amtrak. “The market for these train sets is in the European and Asian markets” where high-speed trains have been running for decades. Consequently, that is where they are built.

[. . .]

“Buy America” rules on the project will require that whatever company wins the train contract to build them in the U.S., and mostly with American-made parts.

For California’s share of the order, “Buy California” guidelines are also expected to come into play, Vacca said. That could potentially give Siemens a big leg up on its competitors because it already has a manufacturing plant in the state.

Vacca said some companies have plants in the U.S. where they build commuter-rail cars, including sites in Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin and New York. “Others don’t have any plants.”

“Our Buy California rule is going to be strongly encouraged so these trains are, at a bare minimum, going to have to be assembled here in California,” Vacca said. “Those that don’t have plants here, we’re going to very strongly suggest that they build a manufacturing plant here in California.”

To sum things up: California has spent $700 million so far and doesn’t have the a) the money to move forward or b) anyone to buy trains from even if it did have the money to move forward. 

 

Wind not at the sails for UK wind-farm project



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Today’s WSJ takes a look at yet another example of the realities of renewables, as the plug has been pulled on what would’ve been the world’s largest offshore wind farm:

LONDON—A major European utility said Tuesday it would scrap a wind farm that was due to become the largest offshore wind project ever built, a sign of the struggles the industry is having in attracting investment.

The Atlantic Array, in the Bristol Channel off the west coast of England, could have generated up to 1,200 megawatts of electricity, almost twice as much as the largest farm operating in U.K. waters. But RWE said that continuing with the project faced problems that were “prohibitive in current market conditions.”

RWE’s decision highlights the central difficulty in achieving Europe’s wind targets. Huge projects are planned, but few investors are willing to stake the billions needed to build them in an environment where government subsidies are essential but uncertain and costs can skyrocket.

Catch that? Government handouts “are essential” to the viability of this project, as they are for the wind industry as a whole.

The U.K. has pioneered offshore wind power, maximizing its island status with more turbines than any other country, but some investors have balked at the relatively new technology and the cash outlay needed for the next phase of development.

“You worry at the moment, when [offshore] is very expensive, and relies on a long-term government contract at a very high price. And you also don’t know how it’s going to be to operate in very harsh conditions” out at sea, said Emma Tinker of private-equity firm HgCapital, a long-established investor in renewable energy.

Again, offshore wind depends on “a long-term government contract.” 

HgCapital, which has £5.6 billion under management, is putting its money into onshore wind and solar, technologies that could be competitive with fossil-fuel power and “shouldn’t need cash subsidies” within five years, according to Ms. Tinker. The high cost of building offshore wind generation, by contrast, means that government support is required to make the price competitive.

“You have to spend a huge amount of money before the first turbine starts to turn…You could have a couple of years where you have hundreds of millions of pounds out and no return,” said Richard Nourse, managing partner at Greencoat UK Wind, UKW.LN -0.24% an infrastructure fund that invests solely in British wind farms but won’t risk money on building offshore installations.

Unlike governments, businesses generally need to be mindful of whether they are spending money wisely.

To make matters worse, the bounty of cheap oil and gas from U.S. shale has made renewable energy even less competitive.

Advocates of green energy say sticking with fossil fuels is a short-term plan. But the market preference for cheaper alternatives means only government can force through plans for new, expensive technologies.

The market for conventional energies is so successful that “only government can force through plans for new, expensive technologies” like wind and solar.

Of these, offshore wind is arguably the priciest, and uncertainty over how subsidies will work is another reason for investors hanging back.New energy legislation, due to pass in the U.K. before year’s end, might provide some clarity. But utilities remain concerned.

None of this is a surprise. None of this is new. Markets get it. Pie-in-the-sky politicians and regulators don’t.

 

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Al Gore Goes Vegan



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What a coward. If Al Gore really believes in cataclysmic climate-change, rather than simply investing in a vegan food company and going vegan, he should start eating insects. It’s the only way to save the planet, or so I hear. 

‘Sixth-Least-Active’ Hurricane Season Since 1950 Ends November 30



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NOAA has issued a release explaining this year’s quiet hurricane season. Note how they describe the conditions that prevented-life endangering hurricanes as “unfavorable”:

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean. This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes.

“A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster atNOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. “As a result, we did not see the large numbers of hurricanes that typically accompany these climate patterns.”

Thirteen named storms formed in the Atlantic basin this year. Two, Ingrid and Humberto, became hurricanes, but neither became major hurricanes. Although the number of named storms was above the average of 12, the numbers of hurricanes and major hurricanes were well below their averages of six and three, respectively. Major hurricanes are categories 3 and above.

The whole thing here.

And, FWIW, the 2013 hurricane season was such a dud that the NWS started maintenance repairs on the Doppler radar site that covers Miami before the season even ended.

UN Talks in Warsaw End with a Whimper



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From the enviro-mag, Grist:

The latest round of U.N. climate talks extended the worldwide drought on climate-fighting leadership. Things were going so badly on Thursday that many of the world’s biggest environmental groups stormed out in frustration.

But late during the two weeks of negotiations in Warsaw, Poland, known as COP19, which ended Saturday, a few drops of refreshing news splashed down. Here’s a full rundown.

The big news

In 2015, each of the planet’s nations will offer a proposal for contributing to a reduction in worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement didn’t come until Saturday night, a day after the talks were supposed to have ended. The AP reported that the “modest deal” averted “a last-minute breakdown.”

The U.S. and other countries plan to publish their commitments to reduce emissions in early 2015 — ahead of what’s supposed to be a final round of negotiations for a new climate treaty in Paris in late 2015. But India, China, and other developing countries have argued that they shouldn’t be forced to spend their own money fighting climate change. As such, they refused to agree to make such commitments. (This despite the fact that nearly half the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were put there by the developing world, and that China and India are respectively the world’s worst and fourth-worst climate polluters.)

At the last minute, a compromise emerged: Instead of publishing “commitments” in early 2015, countries have agreed to announce their planned “intended … contributions” to fight climate change “well in advance” of the Paris meetings. India and China choreographed the semantic gymnastics because they don’t want to hear “legal” this and “contract” that if they fail to follow through.

The rest here.

The next one of these things — COP20 — will be held December 1-12, 2014, in Lima, Peru. Note that it will be the middle of summer in Peru and the perfect warm-weather holiday for all the European-based climate alarmists. Have fun and bring me back a T-shirt!

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UN Global Warming Summit Reaches ‘Consensus’ as Obama Brings U.S. Aboard



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After a marathon after-hours session, the UN climate summit has reached consensus. Details are beginning to emerge.

“Consensus,” there’s that word again — one of the most abused terms in the global-warming lexicon.

Russia blocked the last UNFCCC subsidiary meeting in Bonn over the UN’s using consensus decision making in place of actual voting. Although Russia sent a strongly worded letter to the Secretariat in October, things have been moving along on uncounted voice votes and rulings of the chair as a matter of course. It will be interesting to see what Russia received this time around in exchange for not pressing its objections. Could it have been billions in carbon credits?

The public face of the climate talks in Warsaw was drama, conflict, and greed.

Yeb Sano of the Philippines kicked off the drama by announcing a hunger strike over the tragic Haiyan/Yolanda typhoon. Although the storm was a natural disaster, and not the result of global warming, the typhoon remained the rallying cry for global-warming redistribution for the remainder of the conference.

(In case you were wondering, yesterday Sano announced that he is eating again and will work his way up from vegetable soup to full meals within three days.)

China kicked off the conflict by leading a walkout of 132 poor nations, after developing nations balked at immediately adopting and funding a “loss and damage” mechanism which would essentially accept legal liability and compensate poor nations for natural disasters.

Warming-left pressure groups staged a walkout of their own. As many as 800 representatives of radical NGOs walked out, demanding immediate funding for global-warming redistribution and in protest of business representatives exercising the same rights of participation that they enjoy.

COP 19’s Polish hosts were the focus of considerable drama throughout the summit. CFACT rallied over 50,000 Poles against a global-warming treaty on Polish Independence Day. Poland ran a coal summit in parallel with the warming summit and fired the president of the COP with only two days left to go.

While all this was going on, however, the bureaucrats kept working behind the scenes to keep things moving towards the goal they’ve set — signing a full global warming treaty in Paris in 2015 — a treaty which for the first time includes the United States.

Just as the conference was collapsing, the Obama administration came to the rescue and committed the United States to the treaty timetable and agreed to have American emissions-reduction targets in place in time for Paris. This brought the parties back to the table and permitted the bureaucrats to cobble together a consensus. 

The details are just emerging, but it appears that developing nations and the warming pressure groups got their loss-and-damage mechanism. They are still complaining that they would have preferred immediate funding and less wiggle room in the language – but consider the concession they’ve been given. By acknowledging loss and damage as legitimate, the developed world has abandoned science, accepted a present-day link between global warming and natural disasters that no data shows, and exposed their taxpayers to potentially unlimited future liability.

The UN has also reached consensus on a framework and funding for its REDD program, a dream come true for would-be carbon profiteers seeking to make fortunes the way Al Gore did. The REDD program enables developers to rack up huge profits from the sale of carbon offsets for forestry programs in poor countries. Almost all the financial gain is exported to investors, while the pain remains with the poor. The age of eco-imperialism is upon us.

With all nations back at the table, the global-warming elite were able to announce progress on their main goal: advancing towards a Paris treaty in 2015 under which both the U.S. and developing nations agree to limit their CO2 emissions.  The U.S. did not join the first global-warming treaty which was signed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997. The “Kyoto Protocol” gave the developing world a pass.

This consensus was reached only after the word “contributions” was exchanged for “commitment” to provide the weasel word that would permit Brazil, India, China, and other developing nations to expect that the U.S. and other industrialized nations will suicidally contract their own economies while the BRICs continue to expand.

The outcome of the Warsaw climate summit is too tepid to satisfy the radical enviro-left. Their complaints will be shrill and many.

Realists who disagree with the UN’s take on global-warming science and policy will take comfort from the outcome’s lack of firm commitments, weasel words, and delays. If they let down their guard, they will demonstrate the true meaning of global-warming denial.

While the UN’s global-warming mandarins and profiteers may have liked more, they jet out of Warsaw still in control of the game. They leave Poland with the U.S. finally inside the global-warming tent, no nettlesome procedural reforms, and their road to a Paris global-warming treaty difficult but still in sight. They will immediately resume their endless series of backroom deals at quiet subsidiary meetings. Bureaucracy may be inefficient, but it is persistent. When UN global-warming bureaucrats are persistent, you pay.

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After a marathon after-hours session, the UN climate summit has reached consensus. Details are beginning to emerge.

“Consensus,” there’s that word again. Consensus has become one of the most abused terms in the global warming lexicon.

Russia blocked the last UNFCCC subsidiary meeting in Bonn over the UN using consensus decision marking in place of actual voting. Although Russia sent a strongly worded letter to the Secretariat in October, keeping things moving along on uncounted voice votes and rulings of the chair continues to be the order of the day. It will be interesting to see what Russia received in exchange for not pressing its objections. Could it have been billions in carbon credits?

The public face of the climate talks in Warsaw was drama, conflict and strife .

Yeb Sano of the Philippines kicked off the drama by announcing a hunger strike over tragic Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Although the typhoon was a natural disaster, and not the result of global warming, the typhoon remained the rallying cry for global warming redistribution for the remainder of the conference. In case you are concerned, yesterday Sano announced that he is eating again and will work his way up from vegetable soup to full meals within three days.

China kicked off the conflict by leading a walkout of 132 poor nations, after developing nations balked at immediately adopting and funding a “loss and damage” mechanism which would essentially accept legal liability and compensate poor nations for natural disasters.

Warming-left pressure groups added to the conflict and staged a walkout of their own. Up to 800 representatives of radical NGOs walked out, demanding immediate funding for global warming redistribution measures and in protest of business representatives exercising the same rights of participation that they enjoy.

COP 19′s Polish hosts were the focus of drama, conflict and strife throughout the summit. CFACT rallied over

CFACT President David Rothbard rallies over 50,000 Polies against the UN treaty

CFACT President David Rothbard rallies over 50,000 Polies against the UN treaty

50,000 Poles against the global warming treaty on Polish Independence Day. Poland ran a coal summit in parallel with the warming summit and fired the president of the COP with only two days left to go.

While all this was going on, however, the bureaucrats kept working behind the scenes to keep things moving towards the goal they’ve set – signing a full global warming treaty in Paris in 2015 – a treaty which for the first time includes the United States.

Just as the conference was collapsing, the Obama administration came to the rescue and committed the United States to the treaty timetable and agreed to have American emissions reduction targets in place in time for Paris. This brought the parties back to the table and permitted the bureaucrats to cobble up a consensus.

The details are just emerging, but it appears that developing nations and the warming pressure groups got their loss and damage mechanism. They are still complaining that they would have preferred immediate funding and less wiggle room in the language, but think about what they have achieved. By acknowledging loss and damage as legitimate, the developed world has abandoned science, accepted a present-day link between global warming and natural disasters that no data shows, and exposed their taxpayers to potentially unlimited future liability.

The UN has also reached consensus on a framework and funding for its REDD program, a dream come true for would-be carbon profiteers seeking to make their future the way Al Gore did. The REDD program enables developers to rack up huge profits from the sale of carbon offsets for forestry programs in poor countries. Almost all the financial gain is exported to investors, while the pain remains with the poor. The age of eco-imperialism is upon us.

With all nations back at the table, the global warming elite were able to announce progress on their main goal: advancing towards a Paris treaty in 2015 under which both the U.S. and developing nations agree for the first time to join the Kyoto Protocol annex one nations in limiting their CO2 emissions.

This consensus was reached only after the word “contributions” was exchanged for “commitment” to provide the weasel word which would permit China, India, Brazil and other developing nations to preserve their concept that the U.S. and other industrialized nations should contract their economies while theirs continue to expand.

The outcome to the Warsaw climate summit is too tepid to satisfy the radical enviro-left. Their complaints will be shrill and many.

Those who disagree with the UN’s take on global warming science and policy will take comfort from the outcome’s lack of firm commitments, weasel words and delays. If they let down their guard, they will demonstrate the true meaning of global warming denial.

While the UN’s global warming mandarins and profiteers may have liked more, they jet out of Warsaw still in control of the game. They leave Warsaw with the U.S. finally inside the global warming tent, no nettlesome procedural reforms, and their road to a Paris global warming treaty difficult, but still in sight. They will immediately resume their endless series of backroom deals at quiet subsidiary meetings. Bureaucracy may be inefficient, but it is persistent. When UN global warming bureaucrats are persistent, you pay.

- See more at: http://www.cfact.org/2013/11/24/cop-19-un-consensus-at-global-warming-su...
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After a marathon after-hours session, the UN climate summit has reached consensus. Details are beginning to emerge.

“Consensus,” there’s that word again. Consensus has become one of the most abused terms in the global warming lexicon.

Russia blocked the last UNFCCC subsidiary meeting in Bonn over the UN using consensus decision marking in place of actual voting. Although Russia sent a strongly worded letter to the Secretariat in October, keeping things moving along on uncounted voice votes and rulings of the chair continues to be the order of the day. It will be interesting to see what Russia received in exchange for not pressing its objections. Could it have been billions in carbon credits?

The public face of the climate talks in Warsaw was drama, conflict and strife .

Yeb Sano of the Philippines kicked off the drama by announcing a hunger strike over tragic Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Although the typhoon was a natural disaster, and not the result of global warming, the typhoon remained the rallying cry for global warming redistribution for the remainder of the conference. In case you are concerned, yesterday Sano announced that he is eating again and will work his way up from vegetable soup to full meals within three days.

China kicked off the conflict by leading a walkout of 132 poor nations, after developing nations balked at immediately adopting and funding a “loss and damage” mechanism which would essentially accept legal liability and compensate poor nations for natural disasters.

Warming-left pressure groups added to the conflict and staged a walkout of their own. Up to 800 representatives of radical NGOs walked out, demanding immediate funding for global warming redistribution measures and in protest of business representatives exercising the same rights of participation that they enjoy.

COP 19′s Polish hosts were the focus of drama, conflict and strife throughout the summit. CFACT rallied over

CFACT President David Rothbard rallies over 50,000 Polies against the UN treaty

CFACT President David Rothbard rallies over 50,000 Polies against the UN treaty

50,000 Poles against the global warming treaty on Polish Independence Day. Poland ran a coal summit in parallel with the warming summit and fired the president of the COP with only two days left to go.

While all this was going on, however, the bureaucrats kept working behind the scenes to keep things moving towards the goal they’ve set – signing a full global warming treaty in Paris in 2015 – a treaty which for the first time includes the United States.

Just as the conference was collapsing, the Obama administration came to the rescue and committed the United States to the treaty timetable and agreed to have American emissions reduction targets in place in time for Paris. This brought the parties back to the table and permitted the bureaucrats to cobble up a consensus.

The details are just emerging, but it appears that developing nations and the warming pressure groups got their loss and damage mechanism. They are still complaining that they would have preferred immediate funding and less wiggle room in the language, but think about what they have achieved. By acknowledging loss and damage as legitimate, the developed world has abandoned science, accepted a present-day link between global warming and natural disasters that no data shows, and exposed their taxpayers to potentially unlimited future liability.

The UN has also reached consensus on a framework and funding for its REDD program, a dream come true for would-be carbon profiteers seeking to make their future the way Al Gore did. The REDD program enables developers to rack up huge profits from the sale of carbon offsets for forestry programs in poor countries. Almost all the financial gain is exported to investors, while the pain remains with the poor. The age of eco-imperialism is upon us.

With all nations back at the table, the global warming elite were able to announce progress on their main goal: advancing towards a Paris treaty in 2015 under which both the U.S. and developing nations agree for the first time to join the Kyoto Protocol annex one nations in limiting their CO2 emissions.

This consensus was reached only after the word “contributions” was exchanged for “commitment” to provide the weasel word which would permit China, India, Brazil and other developing nations to preserve their concept that the U.S. and other industrialized nations should contract their economies while theirs continue to expand.

The outcome to the Warsaw climate summit is too tepid to satisfy the radical enviro-left. Their complaints will be shrill and many.

Those who disagree with the UN’s take on global warming science and policy will take comfort from the outcome’s lack of firm commitments, weasel words and delays. If they let down their guard, they will demonstrate the true meaning of global warming denial.

While the UN’s global warming mandarins and profiteers may have liked more, they jet out of Warsaw still in control of the game. They leave Warsaw with the U.S. finally inside the global warming tent, no nettlesome procedural reforms, and their road to a Paris global warming treaty difficult, but still in sight. They will immediately resume their endless series of backroom deals at quiet subsidiary meetings. Bureaucracy may be inefficient, but it is persistent. When UN global warming bureaucrats are persistent, you pay.

- See more at: http://www.cfact.org/2013/11/24/cop-19-un-consensus-at-global-warming-su...

Tags: COP 19 , CFACT , Global Warming , climate , UN , UNFCCC , Warsaw

UN Climate Summit Goes into Overtime as Obama Rides to the Rescue



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As has become the usual practice at the UN climate summits, COP 19 in Warsaw has gone past its Friday closing time and is now in overtime.

This year’s talks became bogged down by a series of challenges.

Russia raised fundamental issues of procedural fairness — little things like the UN not recognizing nations seeking to speak or permitting them to vote.

Then 132 poor nations walked out to pressure industrialized nations to accept legal liability for “loss and damage” they suffer as a result of natural disasters, though science cannot show a meaningful causal relationship between natural disasters and global warming. 

In a truly bizarre twist, hundreds of members of far-left enviro NGOs walked out of the talks to express their frustration when the UNFCCC did not immediately cave in to their demands to fund loss and damage and a host of other redistributive schemes.  They also found sponsorship of the COP by charitable gifts from industry and the presence of business representatives in the proceedings to be intolerable — that they themselves are tolerated in the proceedings under the same rules is quite conveniently beyond their ken.

All that Sturm und Drang left the climate talks way behind schedule.

Negotiators did emerge from behind closed doors to announce that they had an agreement in hand to finalize the UN’s REDD scheme.  If you’ve been dreaming of becoming a billionaire by selling carbon offsets from third world forests that will have no meaningful effect on world temperatures, your moment has come.

With most negotiating tracks way behind schedule, the Obama administration tried to ride to the rescue. U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern announced that for the first time the U.S. now supports all nations declaring their targets for reducing CO2 emissions before 2015. This would clear the path for the UN to adopt a full climate treaty and successor to the Kyoto Protocol in Paris in 2015, while Obama is still in office. 

E.U. climate chief Connie Hedegaard has been trying to get the U.S. on board for years. Stern’s announcement gave her something with which to encourage the delegates that their climate treaty of Paris remains in sight. However, major stumbling blocks remain. Developing nations remain simultaneously reluctant to reduce their own emissions and adamant that they want immediate funding for both the Green Climate Fund and Loss and Damage.  

As the talks enter their final hours, how big a bribe can Hedegaard and the industrial world come up with to get developing nations to agree to a COP 19 outcome? Alternatively, will developing nations defer their global warming distribution dreams to at last have the U.S. on board?

Whose money after all do you think it is that they are so eager to redistribute?

Tags: COP 19 , CFACT , Global Warming , Climate Change , Waraw , Poland , UN , UNFCCC

Bjørn Lomborg: ‘Typhoon Haiyan Not About Climate Change’



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Lomborg has a great column today on why poverty, not climate change, is to blame for the destruction caused by Haiyan:

The recent storm in Philippines was not a result of global warming, but about poverty.

The recent Typhoon Haiyan was terrible. Hitting the Philippines, it killed thousands, because of poverty: flimsy houses that were swept away, inadequate shelters and poor planning.

It is a pattern we know only too well. When a hurricane hits rich Florida, it makes significant damage, but kills few people. When a similar hurricane hits poor Nicaragua, it destroys the economy and kills tens of thousands.

Yet, many of the world’s top opinion leaders have not talked about poverty but rather linked Haiyan to global warming, focusing on cutting CO2. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it a climate “wake-up call.” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and British Prime Minister David Cameron both speculated Haiyan was caused by climate change and emphasized the need to cut emissions.

At the ongoing Warsaw climate summit, the Philippine negotiator Naderev Saño stated “climate change will mean more intense tropical storms,” and that a climate treaty could fix this. To a thunderous, standing ovation he exclaimed: “We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here.”

Yet, this connection is wrong and the focus on climate is possibly the worst way to help.

Global warming is real, and there are many good arguments for cutting CO2 effectively. But hurricanes are not one of them.

There is no indication of an increasing number of hurricanes around the Philippines or even globally. The longest comparable, global scientific study “does not support the presence of significant long-period global or individual basin linear trends for minor, major or total hurricanes.” Actually, the trend for strong hurricanes around the Philippines has declined since 1950.

The rest here.

Everybody Seems to Be Leaving the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw



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Some headlines this morning:

Green groups stage walk-out at UN climate talks

Environment and development groups are protesting at slow speed and lack of ambition of Warsaw negotiations

Environment and development groups together with young people, trade unions and social movements have walked out of the UN climate talks on Thursday in protest at what they say is the slow speed and lack of ambition of the negotiations in Warsaw.

Wearing T-shirts reading “Volverermos” ["We will return"] around 800 people from organisations including Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union conferation and ActionAid, handed back their registration badges to the UN and left Poland’s National Stadium where the talks are being held.

“Movements representing people from every corner of the Earth have decided that the best use of our time is to voluntarily withdraw from the Warsaw climate talks. This will be the first time ever that there has been a mass withdrawal from a COP,” said a WWF spokesman.

“Warsaw, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing. We feel that governments have given up on the process,” he said.

And. . .

Poor countries walk out of UN climate talks as compensation row rumbles on

Bloc of 132 countries exit Warsaw conference after rich nations refuse to discuss climate change recompense until after 2015

Representatives of most of the world’s poor countries have walked out of increasingly fractious climate negotiations after the EU, Australia, the US and other developed countries insisted that the question of who should pay compensation for extreme climate events be discussed only after 2015.

The orchestrated move by the G77 and China bloc of 132 countries came during talks about “loss and damage” – how countries should respond to climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt to, such as typhoon Haiyan.

Saleemul Huq, the scientist whose work on loss and damage helped put the issue of recompense on the conference agenda, said: “Discussions were going well in a spirit of co-operation, but at the end of the session on loss and damage Australia put everything agreed into brackets, so the whole debate went to waste.”

Australia was accused of not taking the negotiations seriously. “They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation. That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in,” said a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network.

I am eagerly searching for video of the T-shirted Australians gorging on snacks and will update this post if I find it.

Climate Conference Collapsing



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The global warming crowd just experienced a double whammy.

COP 19 was shocked when China led a block of 132 nations in a walkout over “loss and damage.”

Loss and damage is an entirely bogus concept which would assign legal liability to prosperous nations for natural disasters and other problems experienced by developing nations.

The hunger strike by Philippine negotiator Yeb Sano over Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda has been the most dramatic moment of these negotiations. Climate campaigners have seized upon the Philippines typhoon as a rationale for supporting the proposed UN global warming treaty.

While we continue to encourage donations and humanitarian assistance to the Philippines and others in need, “loss and damage” is nothing more than a bid by developing nations to reap a tremendous redistribution windfall.

As Marc Morano of Climate Depot said at CFACT’s UN press briefing yesterday, “Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was not the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines in recent history… it was the seventh worst.”

While climate pressure groups continue to attribute the typhoon to man-made global warming, there is no scientific or historical basis for that claim. Neither pro-warming scientists nor those who question warming accept the connection. However, campaigners and delegates from developing nations at COP 19 are asserting the typhoon-warming link as fact.

The Guardian attributes the walkout in part to the Australian delegation which wanted to table funding loss and damage until after a full treaty is signed in 2015. The Australian delegation is apparently fearlessly following the national mandate they received in their recent election and are openly speaking out against the most egregious elements of the climate process.

As UN delegates were waiting to find out whether China’s coalition would be able to successfully pressure prosperous nations into agreeing that the weather in the developing world is their fault, they learned of a second stunner.

Poland fired its environment minister, who is also president of the UN climate summit, just two days before the end of the COP. Why? Because Polish prime minister Donald Tusk wanted someone with a deeper commitment to fracking.

Poland has been bullied for decades and they are not about to cede their energy independence to Russia, the UN, or anyone. (Nor, should they.)

Reuters frets that “the president of the talks has the power to wield the gavel, fighting off any last-minute objections and therefore forcing through some sort of agreement . . . but if the president does not have the authority of his government, then his power in the eyes of other countries is reduced.”

Poland is the host country for COP 19. With Australia blocking treasured warming-left initiatives, Russia formally calling into question the fairness of the entire UN process and Poland scheduling a coal conference and firing its environment minister in the middle of the COP, it is clear that many major countries no longer feel a need to go along with the global warming agenda.

Add all that to a 132-nation walkout, and one must ask: Can COP 19 recover and keep the global warming treaty on schedule for signing in Paris in 2015? Let us hope not.

Meanwhile: Bravo, Poland! Bravo, Australia! (And, dare we say?) Bravo, Russia!

Tags: UN , COP 19 , Warsaw , Global Warming , climate , CFACT , Poland , China , Russia , Australia

Shocker: A ‘Setback’ at the UN’s Climate Change Talks in Poland



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NBC News reports:

Rich and poor were deadlocked Wednesday over how to raise aid to help developing countries cope with the damaging effects of global warming, in a setback at United Nations climate talks in Warsaw seeking progress toward a 2015 accord. 

Bolivia and other developing countries accused the rich of failing to show willingness to discuss aid or compensation for losses and harm due to global warming, such as rising sea levels or creeping desertification. 

The two-week Warsaw talks, due to end Friday, are trying to lay the foundations for a new global climate accord meant to be agreed on in 2015 and take effect in 2020. 

“I think we will find a resolution, but we are still some distance apart,” U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said of calls by emerging nations for a mechanism to cover loss and damage. 

The rich fear it would be costly and make them legally liable for droughts, heatwaves and storms. 

For many poorer countries, the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines earlier this month has raised the urgency of compensation. 

Global economic losses caused by extreme weather have risen to nearly $200 billion a year over the last decade and look set to increase further as climate change worsens, the World Bank said this week. 

“The compensation that those countries require is something that is absolutely fundamental and crucial,” said India’s environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan. 

But many richer countries are reluctant to foot the bill and are focused on spurring growth in their stagnant economies. 

“We cannot have a system where there will be automatic compensation whenever severe weather events are happening at one place or other around the planet,” the European Union’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said. 

Memo to the EU: You reap the climate-alarmism you sow. The rest here.

Advice for Global-Warming Alarmists



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Stop scheduling your protests in winter.

Protestors in Calgary said the Harper government is refusing to take meaningful action when it comes to climate change.

Originally about 300 people were slated to participate in the Calgary protest, but due to a snow storm only about 50 showed up.

UN Climate Chief: Coal Can be Part of Global Warming Solution



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And her statement didn’t go over very well at the UN’s climate pow-wow in Warsaw. The Guardian:

Coal power can be part of the solution to tackling global warming, the UN climate chief told a major coal industry summit on Monday.

Her remarks, at a summit that takes place as the second week of UN climate negotiations get under way in Warsaw, prompted strong criticism from the head of the UK’s climate statutory advisers and environment campaigners.

Christiana Figueres told delegates at the International Coal and Climate summit in Warsaw that they had “the opportunity to be part of the worldwide climate solution” by switching off old coal power plants, capturing and storing carbon from new plants and leaving most of the world’s coal reserves in the ground. She also said coal power could help poorer countries’ economic development and poverty reduction, but that the industry “must change”.

“We must urgently take the steps that put us on an ambitious path to global peaking [of emissions] by the end of this decade, and zero-net emissions by the second half of the century. Steps that look past next quarter’s bottom line and see next generation’s bottom line, and steps to figure health, security and sustainability into the bottom line.”

Youth climate campaigners and environmental groups had called on Figueres not to give her speech to the summit, but she told them that she would attend because “it is simply not enough to speak only to the committed.”

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have suffered several setbacks in recent years, with a £1bn competition in the UK for a commercial plant failing and the number of projects dropping by 10% worldwide since 2012.

Green campaigners attacked the UN climate talk hosts, Poland, for allowing the summit to take place while officials are meeting in Warsaw to thrash out the groundwork for a climate change deal in 2015.

The rest here.

Radical youth tossed from COP 19 over Filipino’s typhoon hunger strike



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Three members of far-left global warming youth groups “Push Europe” and “Earth in Brackets” had their badges confiscated, were escorted out of the official venue and banned from the UN climate negotiations for five years after demonstrating in support of the Philippines’ negotiator’s hunger strike at COP 19, the UN climate summit in Warsaw. 

Naderev “Yeb” Saño of the Philippines announced at the start of COP 19′s plenary session that he will conduct a hunger strike for the remainder of the UN climate summit in Warsaw. After Sano left a subsequent meeting, a large number of young global-warming boosters surrounded him, hoisted banners and chanted their demands for a UN climate treaty based on the false premise that global warming caused the Philippines typhoon. In doing so, they violated UN “civil society” rules forbidding anyone from interfering with free movement throughout the conference. 

While the leftist kids who were tossed couldn’t have been more wrong about correlation vs. causation when it comes to global warming and extreme storm activity, the UN bureaucrats could have been less harsh. Americans are used to erring on the side of free speech, messy though that may be. A warning would have sufficed. The last thing organizations like CFACT – who are here to challenge warming with facts — want to see is a clampdown on dissent.

In announcing his hunger strike Sano said:

“I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I speak also for those who have been orphaned by the storm. I speak for the people racing for time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected. We can take drastic action now to ensure we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life. . . . By failing to meet the objectives of the convention we may have ratified our own doom. We have to confront the issue of loss and damage. Loss and damage today is a reality across the world. . . . In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days. . . . I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means that I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in site. Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund.”

Earth in Brackets took Mr. Sano’s position to the extreme saying the typhoon was, “a gross reminder that these deaths were result of 20 years of inaction from the men and women sitting in that room. . . . [T]hose men and women, representing their governments, holding so much power in their hands, are the only people capable of taking actions that could stop this trail of dead, once and for all.”  How high do they think the carbon tax would have to have been to have prevented the typhoon?

This is Mr. Sano’s second tear-filled speech to a COP plenary. Last year Mr. Sano demanded that the delegates in Doha, Qatar, accelerate the climate funding and treaty process after another typhoon struck his homeland. 

We accept Mr. Sano’s pleas at face value. Unlike so many involved in international global warming politics, Mr. Sano’s tears appear completely sincere. We can’t help but admire Yeb’s compassion for those in need and the strength of the protective instinct he feels towards his countrymen.

When devastation strikes, the nation’s of the world should be there for one another. Taiphoon Haiyan/Yolanda was a terrible and tragic storm. We again encourage people to make a gift to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. We posted several reliable groups you can make your gift with in CFACT’s previous typhoon coverage. You can find them here.

However, as CFACT observed last year, Mr. Sano’s wholly appropriate tears are also misdirected.

Typhoon activity in the Philippines is normal. Despite over-the-top reporting before the typhoon struck (timed perfectly for COP 19) Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was not the strongest typhoon recorded in the Philippines. It was the seventh.  1970’s Typhoon Sening was over 20 mph stronger. Warm tropical weather is the norm for the Phillipines. And with tropical splendor comes tropical storms.

There are no worthwhile science or historical records which support the notion that extreme storms have worsened in the Philippines or elsewhere as a result of a warming planet. We must soberly remind ourselves that global temperatures have not risen since the nineties and that warming to date peaked at less than a degree Centigrade, with only a few years coming anywhere near that.

Further, weather remains normal. Reports in the media continually attribute individual incidents to global warming. However, today’s storms, floods, droughts, fires, famines, etc. have to do with weather, not climate. Global warming pressure groups continually attribute weather events to climate as a propaganda technique and the media, always on the lookout for drama, plays along. See, Extreme weather debunked which features Climate Depot’s extreme weather report.

Not only is global weather historically normal, this year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the gentlest on record.

As he concluded his speech, Mr. Sano said, “Mr. President, this process has been called a farce. It has been called an annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent fliers… It has also been called saving tomorrow today. We can fix this. We can stop this madness.”

Mr. Sano’s conclusion is loaded with wisdom. Yes, Mr. Sano, useless frequent fliers are precisely what the delegates to the COP are. “Farce” and “madness” are highly descriptive terms, perfect to describe international efforts to lock the world into a global warming treaty. However, the UN climate summit does not offer salvation for the future, but a threat to the freedom and prosperity of all mankind.

We stand with Yeb Sano in mourning the losses in the Philippines. However, we cannot allow appeals to emotion, that most potent of logical fallacies, to take the place of rational decision making.

Philippines climate negotiator Naderev “Yeb” Saño of the Philippines announced to COP 19′s plenary session that he will conduct a hunger strike for the remainder of the UN climate summit in Warsaw.

“I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I speak also for those who have been orphaned by the storm. I speak for the people racing for time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected. We can take drastic action now to ensure we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life… By failing to meet the objectives of the convention we may have ratified our own doom. We have to confront the issue of loss and damage. Loss and damage today is a reality across the world… In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days… I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means that I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in site. Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund.”

This is Mr. Sano’s second tear-filled speech to a COP plenary. Last year Mr. Sano demanded that the delegates in Doha, Qatar accelerate the climate funding and treaty process after another typhoon struck his homeland. Read The misdirected tears of the Philippines at CFACT.org.

We accept Mr. Sano’s pleas at face value. Unlike so many involved in international global warming politics, Mr. Sano’s tears appear completely sincere. We can’t help but admire Yeb’s compassion for those in need and the strength of the protective instinct he feels towards his countrymen.

When devastation strikes, the nation’s of the world should be there for one another. Taiphoon Haiyan/Yolanda was a terrible and tragic storm.  We again encourage people to make a gift to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. We posted several reliable groups you can make your gift with in CFACT’s previous typhoon coverage. You can find them here.

However, as CFACT observed last year, Mr. Sano’s wholly appropriate tears are also misdirected.

Typhoon activity in the Philippines is normal. Despite over-the-top reporting before the typhoon struck (timed perfectly for COP Phillipines typhoon chart19) Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was not the strongest typhoon recorded in the Philippines. It was the seventh. The Philippines enjoys warm tropical weather. However, with tropical splendor comes tropical storms. This duality is a fact of life in the tropics.

There are no worthwhile science or historical records which support the notion that extreme storms have worsened in the Philippines or elsewhere as a result of a warming planet. We must soberly remind ourselves that global temperatures have not risen since the nineties and that warming to date peaked at less than a degree Centigrade, with only a few years coming anywhere near that.

Further, weather remains normal. Reports in the media continually attribute individual incidents to global warming. However, today’s storms, floods, droughts, fires, famines, etc. have to do with weather, not climate. Global warming pressure groups continually attribute weather events to climate as a propaganda technique and the media, always on the lookout for drama, plays along. See, Extreme weather debunked which features Climate Depot’s extreme weather report.

Not only is global weather historically normal, this year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the gentlest on record.

As he concluded his speech, Mr. Sano said, “Mr. President, this process has been called a farce. It has been called an annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent fliers… It has also been called saving tomorrow today. We can fix this. We can stop this madness.”

Mr. Sano’s conclusion is loaded with wisdom. Yes, Mr. Sano, useless frequent fliers are precisely what the delegates to the COP are. “Farce” and “madness” are highly descriptive terms, perfect to describe international efforts to lock the world into a global warming treaty. However, the UN climate summit does not offer salvation for the future, but a threat to the freedom and prosperity of all mankind.

If you want to restore public confidence in the UN’s climate proceedings, we must cease to tolerate the propaganda which festoons the proceedings and which has shaken public confidence in climate science. Science must be unbiased and it must be sober. It must be open to alternative hypotheses and it must be verifiable through observation. Lose the scientific method and the result is dogma fueled hysteria.

We stand with Yeb Sano in mourning the losses in the Philippines. We count upon the people of the world to help their neighbors in need. However, we cannot allow appeals to emotion, that most potent of logical fallacies, to take the place of rational decision making.

- See more at: http://www.cfact.org/2013/11/16/cop-19-filipino-negotiator-goes-on-hunge...

Tags: CFACT , COP 19 , UN , Warsaw , Global Warming , climate

Canada Congratulates Australia for Ending Carbon Tax



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CBC News: 

Canada’s Harper government is facing criticism after congratulating the government of Australia for ending its carbon tax.

Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, issued a statement this week commending the move by Australia’s recently elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“Canada applauds the decision by Prime Minister Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal the carbon tax,” the statement reads.

“The Australian prime minister’s decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message.”

The Conservatives have used the carbon tax issue to great effect domestically. The government has long accused the Opposition NDP of wanting to impose “a tax on everything,” a claim NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has vehemently denied.

The Conservatives campaigned successfully against Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and his “Green Shift” policy in the 2008 election, using the same “tax on everything” line. Dion’s plan, which included a carbon tax, was derided by Harper as a cash grab and was rejected by voters at the polls.

The rest here.

 

Japan Cuts Its CO2-Emissions Target



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AP:

Japan’s decision to drastically scale back its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions could hurt efforts to craft a global deal to fight climate change, delegates at U.N. talks said Friday.

The new target approved by the Japanese Cabinet calls for reducing emissions by 3.8 percent from their 2005 level by 2020.

The revision was necessary because the earlier goal of a 25 percent reduction from the 1990 level was unrealistic, the chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters in Tokyo.

The new target represents a 3 percent increase over 1990 emissions.

Given Japan’s status as the world’s third largest economy and fifth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the decision to back away from the more ambitious target could be a significant setback for efforts to reach a new global climate agreement in 2015.

I think we’re seeing the beginning of a movement where countries/people openly state they believe climate change is real, but it’s not a catastrophe. The rest on Japan’s decision here.

Poland Touts Coal as It Hosts the UN Global Warming Conference



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Serves the United Nations right for picking a country that is dependent on coal for its energy needs for its summit. Via the Chicago Tribune:

Poland is struggling to make “coal” less of a dirty word as it hosts U.N. talks on slowing global warming that usually focus mostly on phasing out fossil fuels in favor of renewable energies such as solar and wind power.

Coal-dependent Poland has angered environmentalists and put the United Nations in a quandary by planning a coal industry summit next week on the sidelines of November 11-22 U.N. talks among 200 nations seeking ways to slow global warming.

Warsaw says governments must find ways to cut emissions from coal, a cheap and often highly polluting energy source that generates 40 percent of world electricity, and not pretend that it will simply wither away in favor of greener energies.

“Coal is still the basic source of energy in many countries in the world. So a transition period is needed,” deputy environment minister Beata Jaczewska said of the November 18-19 meeting organized by the World Coal Association (WCA) and Poland’s economy ministry.

But many environmentalists say coal distracts from a U.N. drive to restructure the world economy around cleaner options, from hydro- to geothermal power. Some also object to efforts to capture and bury the carbon emissions from coal.

“Coal is not the solution,” said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace. He called the coal talks a “slap in the face” to developing nations that are suffering extreme weather and want rich countries to take the lead in phasing out fossil fuels.

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest single source of manmade greenhouse gas emissions blamed by a U.N. panel of climate scientists for pushing up temperatures and causing more heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

“We can burn coal more cleanly. It’s not science fiction,” Milton Catelin, head of the WCA, told Reuters, adding that the coal meeting was a “constructive contribution” towards a U.N. deal, meant to be agreed in 2015, to slow global warming.

He said that raising the overall efficiency of the world’s coal-fired power stations to the standards of a modern plant would cut global carbon dioxide emissions by about 2.4 billion tones, roughly the equivalent of India’s total emissions.

Poland generates 90 percent of its electricity from coal. Among European Union members, it has been one of the most reluctant to toughen the existing goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The rest here.

Rahm Emanuel Wanted to ‘Kill’ Secretary Chu for Talking About Global Warming



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Glenn Thrush has a less-than-flattering peek inside the Obama White House in today’s Politico. Check out how they treated Nobel-winner Secretary Chu:

Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, a brilliant innovator whose research fills several all-but-incomprehensible paragraphs of a Wikipedia entry that spans his achievements in single-molecule physics, the slowing of atoms through the use of lasers and the invention of something called an “optical tweezer.” President Barack Obama even credits Chu with solving the 2010 Gulf oil spill, claiming that Chu strolled into BP’s office and “essentially designed the cap that ultimately worked.” With rare exception, Chu is the smartest guy in the room, and that includes the Cabinet Room, which he occupied uneasily as secretary of energy from 2009 to the spring of 2013.

But the president’s aides didn’t quite see Chu that way. He might have been the only Obama administration official with a Nobel other than the president himself, but inside the West Wing of the White House Chu was considered a smart guy who said lots of stupid things, a genius with an appallingly low political IQ—“clueless,” as deputy chief of staff Jim Messina would tell colleagues at the time.

In April 2009, Chu joined Obama’s entourage for one of the administration’s first overseas trips, to Trinidad and Tobago for a Summit of the Americas focused on economic development. Chu was not scheduled to address the media, but reporters kept bugging Josh Earnest, a young staffer, who sheepishly approached his boss, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, with the ask. “No way,” Gibbs told him.

“Come on,” Earnest said. “The guy came all the way down here. Why don’t we just have him talk about all the stuff he’s doing?”

Gibbs reluctantly assented. Then Chu took the podium to tell the tiny island nation that it might soon, sorry to say, be underwater—which not only insulted the good people of Trinidad and Tobago but also raised the climate issue at a time when the White House wanted the economy, and the economy only, on the front burner. “I think the Caribbean countries face rising oceans, and they face increase in the severity of hurricanes,” Chu said. “This is something that is very, very scary to all of us. … The island states … some of them will disappear.”

Earnest slunk backstage. “OK, we’ll never do that again,” he said as Gibbs glared. A phone rang. It was White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel calling Messina to snarl, “If you don’t kill [Chu], I’m going to.”

As Air Force One headed back to Washington, Messina found Chu—who has “no recollection” of this exchange, a person close to him says—sitting at the long table in the plane’s conference room. “What did you say?” Messina demanded, according to a witness. “What were you thinking?” he yelled. “And how, exactly, was this [f*****g] on message?”

I guess by “f*****g on message,” Messina meant that Chu should focus on the president’s achievements with Solyndra, Fisker, etc. The rest here.

 

How Corn-for-Ethanol Is Destroying the Environment



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AP:

The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America’s push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply.

Even the cemetery that disappeared like an apparition into a cornfield.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. And when President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline each year, Bush predicted it would make the country “stronger, cleaner and more secure.”

But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.

Five million acres of land set aside for conservation – more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined – have vanished on Obama’s watch.

Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.

Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.

The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.

Farmers planted 15 million more acres of corn last year than before the ethanol boom, and the effects are visible in places like south central Iowa.

The hilly, once-grassy landscape is made up of fragile soil that, unlike the earth in the rest of the state, is poorly suited for corn. Nevertheless, it has yielded to America’s demand for it.

“They’re raping the land,” said Bill Alley, a member of the board of supervisors in Wayne County, which now bears little resemblance to the rolling cow pastures shown in postcards sold at a Corydon pharmacy.

The rest here.

WaPost’s Charles Lane: How Liberals Keep Tesla Alive



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Lane has a great op-ed in today’s Post on Tesla and the role liberals play in the company’s very “survival.” An excerpt:

Tesla epitomizes the mutation of modern American liberalism. Once an ideology whose central concern was the plight of lunch-bucket working stiffs and oppressed minorities, liberalism is increasingly about environmentalism and related “quality of life” issues.

Framing such long-term challenges as climate change in apocalyptic terms, many “blue” Americans focus more on technocratic environmental fixes — solar energy, electric cars — than on practical solutions to the here-and-now issues of the middle class. Instead of coal miners and steelworkers, 21st-century progressives exalt Silicon Valley’s young men (and women) in a hurry, urging taxpayer financing for their “green” business plans.

And so a man like Musk — a billionaire financed by Goldman Sachs pushing a flashy, battery-powered car priced upward of $70,000 — shared top billing with former president Bill Clinton and liberal think-tanker John Podesta at a 2012 Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

This version of green capitalism might be justified if it delivered the public goods it promises. Tesla’s trickle-down business plan calls for sales of expensive early models to pave the way for an everyman electric vehicle later this decade.

But even if widely adopted, Teslas would have little impact on climate change as long as drivers have to charge their vehicles from a coal- and natural gas-fired U.S. electric grid. In May, JPMorgan Chase analysts calculated that the Model S’s annual fossil fuel “footprint” is bigger than that of a Honda Civic hybrid.

Nor is there a case for electric cars based on their contribution to U.S. energy security. Thanks to increased oil and natural gas production, United States imported only 40 percent of its oil in 2012, down from 60 percent in 2005, according to the Energy Department. That trend is projected to continue.

Indeed, it was already underway on May 5, 2011, when Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development, hyperbolically told the House subcommittee on energy and power that “oil . . . is now the source of our greatest vulnerability in terms of both national and economic security.”

Nevertheless, Tesla remains deeply dependent on taxpayers. Much has been made of the fact that, last May, the company repaid a 2009 Energy Department soft loan, totaling $465 million, that had enabled it to survive the Great Recession.

As The Post’s Steven Mufson reported, Musk capitalized on Tesla’s first-quarter profit, its first ever, to engineer a stock offering whose proceeds paid back the government.

That profit, however, was accounted for by $68 million from a California state government program for zero-emissions vehicles, funded by a de facto tax on Tesla’s competitors. Tesla has logged an additional $62 million in such credits since the first quarter. It’s also gotten$20 million in grants from the California Energy Commission.

The whole thing here.

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