https://democracynow.org – This year’s U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany, marks the first climate conference since President Donald Trump vowed to pull the United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, a process that takes four years. We speak with Trump’s climate adviser David Banks, the White House special assistant for international energy and environment, about his views on climate change and the Trump administration’s stance on the role by humans in inducing climate change. This comes one day after the Trump administration made its official debut at COP23 with a forum pushing coal, gas and nuclear power that included speakers from coal company Peabody Energy, a nuclear engineering firm and a gas exporter.
https://democracynow.org – Reporting from COP23 in Bonn, Germany, Democracy Now! travels to the nearby blockade of the Hambach coal mine, the largest open-pit coal mine in Europe. Activists say the mine extracts an extremely dirty form of coal called lignite, also known as brown coal, which causes the highest CO2 emissions of any type of coal when burned. For more than five years, they have been fighting to shut down the mine and to save the remaining forest from being cut down to make way for the expanding project. Only 10 percent of the ancient forest remains.
https://democracynow.org – At COP23, the International Energy Agency predicts U.S. oil production is expected to grow an an unparalleled rate in the coming years—even as the majority of scientists worldwide are saying countries need to cut down on fossil fuel extraction, not accelerate it. Meanwhile, a group of 15,000 scientists have come together to issue a dire “second notice” to humanity, 25 years after a group of scientists issued the “first notice” warning the world about climate change. We speak with the co-author of this report, Kevin Anderson, one of the world’s leading climate scientists. Anderson is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester in Britain. The report is entitled “Can the Climate Afford Europe’s Gas Addiction?”
https://democracynow.org – Broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany, we look at protests underway against oil, coal, gas and nuclear power. Indian activists are demonstrating against India’s largest nuclear power station, the Kudankulam plant in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Activists also disrupted a presentation by the European Investment Bank at an annual corporate conference held alongside the climate summit here in Bonn, with a protest against the construction of the Trans Adriatic gas pipeline, known as TAP, which is slated to run from the Greek-Turkish border, under the Adriatic Sea and into Italy. Meanwhile, activists had a special welcome ready for German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday before her address to the conference.
Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are well-known for pumping tens of millions of dollars into so-called “dark money” nonprofits — groups that actively promote or criticize candidates for office but are not required to reveal their donors.
Not so well known is the duo’s role in underwriting and sculpting the legal landscape that led to the court decisions that made possible these and other groups such as super PACs.
The Center for Public Integrity investigated an array of organizations that have participated in legal challenges dating back 40 years that have resulted in a system allowing unlimited sums to be pumped into modern elections. It’s a system that both Republicans and Democrats now fully rely upon ahead of 2018 midterm elections that could reaffirm — or torpedo — President Donald Trump’s congressional majority.
Throughout that history, Koch-backed groups have stood out as reliable, stalwart opponents of regulation of money in politics. While far from the only players in the legal battle, the Kochs are certainly among the most recognizable — and significant.
“They’re not the only group in the game,” Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said of the Kochs. “But I think what you’ll see, it’s a deep well with a long-term commitment.”
The Center for Public Integrity identified the sources of $293 million received by groups that lodged formal arguments in key campaign finance deregulation cases. It also identified $64 million in funding for groups that defended campaign finance regulations, including significant cash from liberal billionaire and Koch foil George Soros.
Funds underwriting the legal campaigns to shape how money influences politics come from individuals, corporations, unions, foundations and family trusts of all sizes. Some have come from surprising sources, according to tax records, internal documents and other records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.
Not all the money identified went toward campaign finance fights, and much of the funding is simply untraceable since most of these groups keep their donors secret.
But the funding that is known offers key clues about the players behind the greatest unraveling of campaign finance regulation in US history.
A young girl gets drenched in a large wave during high tide at a sea front in Mumbai, India, May 24, 2016. Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
November 14, 2017 · 5:15 PM EST
From “Silent Spring” to “An Inconvenient Truth,” the environment beat has changed the way we understand our relationship to the world around us, and often changed the way we live in it.
We can’t make sense of where we are as a global community — and where we might be going — without exploring how people are changing the natural systems we rely on, and how those changes often come back to haunt us. That’s why PRI’s The World established its environment desk in 2008: To bring a dedicated focus on this crucial beat to a program that takes a daily pulse of the world.
But times change. Our country has become much more polarized in recent years, and the word “environment” has itself become one of the fault lines, increasingly more of an ideological indicator than a broadly shared value. The word has also diminished over time — what was once a powerful new way of understanding how humans are damaging our world and ourselves has, for many, become a box that holds marginal concerns that aren’t part of our daily lives.
All of which is why The World is saying goodbye to its environment desk and hello to something new: its Livable Planet desk.
Livable Planet is a new frame for reporting on these evermore important challenges. It’s about people as part of the natural world instead of apart from it. It’s about finding ways for human communities and enterprise to coexist alongside the healthy natural systems that support us. It’s about what we can agree on and aspire to, rather than just what we fight over. It’s about what we need to have a future.
For us at The World, this isn’t so much a radical change as part of a natural evolution. We’ve long brought these values and approaches to our reporting. But in a time of deep and even dangerous divisions in our society, it’s time to make them more explicit. We believe it’s the responsibility of journalists not just to report on issues, events and conflicts, but to help create space for bridge-building, engagement, civil discourse and problem-solving. Our Livable Planet desk is a key part of that effort. And in the coming months and years we’ll increasingly go beyond just reporting to direct engagement with our audience through outreach, live events, and social media communities.
Speaking of digital and social communities, here at PRI.org you may occasionally find a Livable Planet story that came from another PRI show, like Living on Earth or Science Friday, though we’ll make sure it always has the Livable Planet spirit. You can find all our coverage on PRI.org here. And, if you’re into Twitter, follow us on Twitter.
The Livable Planet desk is led by The World’s founding environment desk editor Peter Thomson, an award-winning veteran of more than a quarter-century on the beat, along with editor Jeb Sharp, staff reporters Carolyn Beeler, Daniel Gross and Jason Margolis and a host of contributing reporters. We hope you’ll tune in, become engaged and join the conversation.
The official US delegation to the United Nations’ climate talks this year in Bonn, Germany, cuts a confusing profile.
It’s small and nearly invisible, delegates refuse to talk on the record and the team’s office door is often closed.
More than halfway through the two-week meeting, the only official US event has promoted fossil fuels as a solution to climate change, including a big push for so-called clean coal.
Two years ago, the US delegation to the global climate talks helped push through the Paris Agreement, a breakthrough deal that for the first time committed virtually every country in the world to fight climate change. But this year’s delegation is the first under President Donald Trump, who has declared climate change a hoax, promised to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and put fossil fuels back at the center of US energy policy.
But this is not the only delegation — or message — from the US here in Bonn. There’s another group, loosely assembled under the slogan “We’re still in.”
Unlike the Trump administration, this group accepts the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is real, and supports the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“We have oyster fishermen in my district, they’re experiencing the effect of climate change through the water getting warmer, bacteria coming in that were never there before,” said Josh Cutler, a state representative from Massachusetts who’s part of the unofficial US contingent at the summit.
Just after arriving at the conference site, Cutler and his colleague Jim Cantwell put on their carefully chosen ties — one sporting images of the US capital, the other with the official seal of the state of Massachusetts. They want to make it clear where they’re from and who they claim to represent.
But they’re a little nervous about how they’ll be received here.
A man walks over a projection on the floor reading “America’s pledge #wearestillin” during the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji but held in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 11, 2017. Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters November 14, 2017 · 6:15 PM EST By Katie Worth
The Trump administration on Monday used its only event at the United Nations climate talks to promote the use of “cleaner” coal and other non-renewable energy sources, prompting an outcry from participants working to reduce the use of fossil fuels and halt climate change’s most catastrophic consequences.
With protesters looking on, President Donald Trump’s special adviser on energy and the environment, David Banks, led a panel discussion that included representatives from the coal, natural gas and nuclear industries. Banks framed the administration’s position as a way to improve human rights, saying that more than a billion people on the planet still lack reliable energy, and that fossil fuels can improve that situation.
“Without question, fossil fuels will continue to be used, and we would argue it’s in the best global interest to make sure that when fossil fuels are used, it’s as clean and efficient as possible,” Banks said.
Demonstrators in the audience responded to his remarks with a raucous protest song that accused the panelists of greed, interrupting the presentation for nearly 10 minutes. Later in the day, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is in Bonn as a UN special envoy, tweeted, “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”
Monday’s event reflected the deep divisions on display at the summit after this year’s dramatic upending of American climate policy. What might have been a wonky working session of the UN talks has instead become a stage on which the fight over America’s role in shaping global climate policy is playing out.
This is the first major UN climate meeting since President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the seminal 2015 Paris climate agreement — and that decision has transformed US influence both inside and outside the negotiating rooms here.
Inside the rooms, the official US delegation has lost heft, both literally and politically. Outside, a well-funded and well-organized coalition of elected officials, businesses and nonprofits is working to convince the world that the American government’s reversal on climate change is only temporary.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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