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Lord Stern Charts A 'Green' Industrial Revolution

On the sidelines of UN climate talks, leaders deliver big vision on how to beat climate change and poverty together

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 6, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO -- At the Cancun climate talks, climate change expert Nicholas Stern presented a vision of a new era in "green" economic growth comparable to the industrial revolution, in which the reduction of both poverty and planet-warming emissions are top priorities.

"The two defining challenges of our century are managing climate change and overcoming poverty," said Stern, a former chief economist of the World Bank. "If we fail on one, we will fail on the other."

"We should not see them as separate ambitions," he said.

Speaking at a side event of the South Korea-based (GGGI), where he is vice-chair of the board, Stern said that the "central issue" in the Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 UN talks is how to "do green growth."

But the actual negotiations say otherwise.

WikiLeaks: More U.S. Climate Shenanigans

Rajendra Pachauri denies helping Washington block Iranian scientist from senior post on intergovernmental climate body

by Damian Carrington,

Dec 6, 2010

The US used backstage diplomatic maneuvers to help block the appointment of a scientist from Iran to a key position on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a leaked diplomatic cable reveals.

The US privately lobbied IPCC chair Dr Rajendra Pachauri, as well as the UK, EU, Argentina and Mali representatives, and had put its embassies to work from Brazil to Uzbekistan. It wanted to prevent the election of Dr Mostafa Jafari as one of two co-chairmen of a key working group.

The other co-chair was to be an American scientist, . The US state department noted that sharing the IPCC position with an Iranian would be "problematic" and "potentially at odds with overall US policy towards Iran".

The jobs often involved travel to and extended residencies in each other's countries, the cable said. The appointment of an Iranian would also "significantly complicate" US funding for the IPCC secretariat for that working group. US diplomats recognized Jafari as "a highly-qualified scientist ... but he is also a senior Iranian government employee".

Republished with permission.

Bipartisan Groups Want to End Ethanol Subsidy and Save Taxpayers Billions

A diverse coalition of organizations and lawmakers say the ethanol subsidy is fiscally irresponsible and environmentally unwise.

By Elizabeth McGowan

Dec 6, 2010

WASHINGTON— It’s a rare day when somebody pleads with Congress not to take action.

But that’s exactly the stand Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, is proposing. By not lifting a finger to renew a corn ethanol tax credit of 45 cents per gallon—which will expire at the end of this month if federal legislators choose to let it—she estimates taxpayers will reap an annual savings of roughly $6 billion.

And she’s not alone.

Friends of the Earth is part of an unconventional and diverse amalgam of 59 organizations from the faith, progressive, environmental, agricultural, conservative, humanitarian and public interest sectors that made a case against the subsidies in a late November .

“At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard,” they wrote. “Experts like the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have concluded that the subsidy is no longer necessary, and leading economists agree that ending it would have little impact on ethanol production, prices or jobs.”

Climate Deal Failure Could Devastate World's Poor, IPCC Chief Says

Exclusive interview: Science provides "compelling logic" for decisive progress at UN climate talks, Pachauri says

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 5, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO -- Further delay in international action to slow warming would endanger vast numbers of lives in the world's poorest countries, but Cancun can still deliver decisive progress to help avert disaster, the head of the UN climate science panel said.

In an interview with SolveClimate News, Rajendra Pachauri said he "would think" that the Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 negotiations taking place in the Mexican resort would achieve at least some success toward a new climate pact.

Bill McKibben Talks about his Life in Writing and Activism

"I think my assumption when I was 27 was that explaining rationally all the trouble we're in would be sufficient."

by Susanna Rustin,

Dec 5, 2010

If William Ernest McKibben had not become a leader of the 21st-century global environmental movement, if he had perhaps been born 150 years ago, he would have made a great vicar. His middle name suits him.

Republished with permission.

REDD Forest Rescue Deal Still Draws Bitter Debate, Weak Agreement Feared

Nations are at loggerheads over fundamental issues, most notably Bolivia and the U.S. and Australia.

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 3, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO -- Big holes remain in some of the most basic but contentious issues in a UN-backed scheme to prevent deforestation, fueling speculation of a weaker than expected forestry agreement at the Cancun climate talks.

Sticking points include the mechanisms to monitor critical safeguards that protect biodiversity and the rights of indigenous people and the question of whether to finance the plan with public money or offsets.

"They're all pretty fundamental issues," said Davyth Stewart, a lawyer with the UK-based campaign group . "Each of these, depending on how you decide it, could lead to a really bad deal."

Stewart is not alone in that view.

"We're really only a few words away from a good agreement — and similarly, a few words away from a bad agreement," said Roman Czebiniak, a political adviser for , who has been in the forestry negotiations.

Wikileaks: How U.S. Manipulated Climate Accord

Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen Accord

by Damian Carrington,

Dec 3, 2010

Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.

The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.

Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilization but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected.

Seeking negotiating chips, the US state department sent a secret cable on 31 July 2009 seeking human intelligence from UN diplomats across a range of issues, including climate change. The . As well as countries' negotiating positions for Copenhagen, and deals between nations.

Republished with permission.

Cancun Protesters Target Canada, U.S. over Oil Sands Pipelines

In contrast to eventful Copenhagen in 2009, the oil sands action was one of the first visible demonstrations held at the Cancun talks

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 3, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO -- North American native groups urged the United States and Canada to abandon support for carbon-heavy oil sands in one of the first visible protests at the UN climate talks in Cancun.

They regard the booming oil sands industry in Alberta as the main reason for Canada's reluctance to embrace stronger greenhouse gas reduction targets and its failure to meet its Kyoto commitments. The U.S. is the largest purchaser of the Canadian crude.

The indigenous groups are particularly concerned over the possible U.S. approval of a 1,700-mile cross-border pipeline known as the Keystone XL. The project, proposed by , would eventually pipe 900,000 barrels of oil sands crude each day from northern Alberta to refineries in Texas and tankers off the Gulf Coast.

Biodiversity Loss Raises Disease Risk in Humans, Study Finds

Protection of human health is an ecosystem service provided by biodiversity, as well as drought resistance and carbon storage

by Shanta Barley,

Dec 2, 2010

Dwindling biodiversity could cause more humans to contract infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus, according to scientists who have reviewed the results of 24 separate studies.

Biodiversity hotspots must be protected to prevent the transmission of dangerous diseases from increasing, they warn.

According to the review of research published since 2005, loss of species from a range of ecosystems, including forests, savannahs and coral reefs, leads to a boost in the transmission of infectious diseases.

"What we're finding out is that the protection of human health is one of many major ecosystem services provided by biodiversity," said lead author Prof Felicia Keesing at Bard College, New York. High levels of biodiversity also help ecosystems to resist drought and store carbon, reducing climate change.

Republished with permission.

Storms Drown Out Markey Committee's Swan Song

A funereal feeling permeated the hearing room on a stormy day that kept people away from the global warming's committee's final act

By Elizabeth McGowan

Dec 2, 2010

WASHINGTON—It was his global warming committee leadership swan song, and Rep. Ed Markey had counted on going out with a bang.

Through no fault of his own, however, the event he called “Not Going Away: America’s Energy Security, Jobs and Climate Challenges” turned into somewhat of a whimper.

The Massachusetts Democrat was forced to do some last-minute recalibrating Wednesday when stormy weather and a cancellation diluted the planned one-two star-power punch of the final hearing of his Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

With so many countries being forced to adjust to the ravages of climate change, perhaps it’s fitting that the chairman of such a committee had to practice his own brand of adaptation.