Saturday, November 23, 2013

US role in Climate talks puzzling given its history of ducking hard choices


WhatCCIt’s almost the end of the Warsaw Climate Talks 2013, and things are not going well on that planetary discussion about the world crisis facing all of us. A large faction of environmental groups just stormed out of the meeting in protest. “Six groups leave climate negotiations in Warsaw after saying the talks are a waste of time,” (Green groups walk out of UN climate talks 11/21/2013, Aljazeera), though they didn’t say all Climate talks were a waste of time. They said this particular Climate talk, where the developed nations balked at any financial redress for Climate Justice and even stepped down their previous commitments to curb their greenhouse gases, was an outrage.

3 Countries That Are Bailing on Climate Action Japan isn’t the only country walking away from climate promises. When Japan dramatically slashed its plans last week for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, from 25 percent to just 3.8 percent compared to 2005 figures, the international reaction was swift and damning. Britain called it “deeply disappointing.” China’s climate negotiator, Su Wei, said, “I have no way of describing my dismay.” The Alliance of Small Island Nations, which represents islands most at risk of sea level rise, branded the move “a huge step backwards.” The decision was based on the fact that Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors—which had provided about 30 percent of the country’s electricity—are currently shuttered for safety checks after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, despite the government trying to bring some of them back online. That nuclear energy is largely being replaced by fossil fuels. (November 19, 2013) Climate Desk

The United States hasn’t come away from the talks unsullied either. Our lackluster approach to addressing Climate Change got outed by a Hindu journalist. [The Western press has ignored this issue and chosen instead to obsess over the anniversary of the JFK assassination—which is not news, just media-fed mass nostalgia.]

Leaked Memo Reveals U.S. Plan to Oppose Helping Poor Nations Adapt to Climate Change Newly leaked documents have revealed how U.S. negotiators at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw are opposing efforts to help developing countries adapt to climate change. According to an internal U.S. briefing memo seen by Democracy Now!, the U.S. delegation is worried the talks in Warsaw will "focus increasingly on blame and liability" and that poor nations will be "seeking redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts." We speak with Nitin Sethi, a journalist with The Hindu newspaper who first reported on the leaked document. (November 19, 2013)Democracy Now!

Our country’s lackluster approach to Climate Change is puzzling given our own history of ducking hard decisions on hard questions. The United States Constitution protected the institution of slavery for fear of not being able to produce any constitution at all. For the sake of expediency, it inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of hapless souls a great evil until a country divided for’ four score and seven years ‘reached a tipping point of moral outrage in 1861. Because Climate Change is a problem of physics and our window of opportunity is quickly closing before catastrophic warming is unavoidable, we do not have the luxury to forfeit the lives of billions before we act, and in this case we ourselves will get swept along in the crisis.

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