4C NEWSLETTER, SEPTEMBER 2016

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25 september 2016

Dear Friends,

In earlier newsletters, I have sometimes complained about the underreporting of important climate news in the press and electronic media, its subordination to more immediately pressing events. While this problem has not disappeared, it is less evident now than a year or two ago.

True, the principal issues dealt with in the print and electronic media continue to bypass climate change. In the U.S. the electoral campaign has colonized the consciousness of most citizens, while TV news magnifies anxieties about immigration and terrorism.

In Europe, the UK’s “Brexit” vote, fueled by media-exacerbated fears of EU regulation and of immigrants grabbing jobs and social benefits, has preoccupied populations and encouraged secessionist movements elsewhere.

Destructive, terror-streaked wars in the Middle East, causing millions to flee destroyed cities, are another source of widespread concern. Many Europeans are torn between horror at videos of devastated neighborhoods and unwillingness to allow refugees in any significant numbers into their own communities. As a result, several countries are experiencing electoral surges of the xenophobic Right.

At the same time, an anti-austerity European Left has been strengthened by the widespread realization that neoliberal “financialization” of the economy has exacerbated social inequality while undermining social protections. Hence Spain’s Podemos, Greece’s Syriza, and the reelection, with enhanced majority, of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as head of the British Labour Party.

These left- and right-wing splits from the neoliberal consensus have led many European publics to be as focused on the weakening of the political center as American ones are on the coming election.

Nonetheless, the media in many countries are covering the problem of climate change more extensively and with greater concern than at any time I can recall. While this coverage has long been evident in “progressive” newspapers and websites like the UK’s Guardian or the U.S.’s Huffington Post and Common Dreams, and in left-wing periodicals like The Nation, it has been hard to find in the quality newspapers of the political establishment like the UK’s Financial Times or, in America, The New York Times or Washington Post, or, in the Netherlands, the NRC Handelsblad or Financieel Dagblad (in the latter country, only Trouw, a left-Protestant daily, has given adequate climate coverage) .

For example, NRC Handelsblad, in the “Economie” section of its weekend edition of September 24, devoted two pages to an article on the effort to curb CO2 emissions from civil aviation, responsible, due to the increasing demand for exotic vacation travel, for an ever-growing part of the earth’s greenhouse gases. The article almost reads as if it were written by Greenpeace. Generally critical of the air industry’s foot-dragging response to the EU’s demand for including aviation in its emissions trading scheme, it repeats the well-known statistic that a single individual flying from London to New York and back is responsible for as much GO2 as the heating of an average European home during an entire year. Among others, it cites Bas Eickhout, Dutch GreenLeft member of the European Parliament, in a series of blistering criticisms of the plans of the International Civil Aviation Organization to gradually introduce price compensation for the environmental damage done by passenger planes.

My impression is that since our April newsletter, partly because of the heat waves, floods, fires and droughts of the past two years, partly because of the Paris climate Accord and its introduction of the new target of a maximum 1.5C warming, the media concern has increased. A strong encyclical of an ecologically minded Pope Francis and the awakening of investors to the dangers of fossil fuel investments have also shifted attitudes.

Attentive readers of both The New York Times and Washington Post will have noticed this. Many editors seem to have become increasingly aware over the past year that the international and national measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions will have major consequences for investments in the energy sector: they appear now to be following closely both shareholder pressure on major companies like Shell and the actions of the governments to permit and encourage alternatives to fossil fuel, particularly offshore wind turbines. They also report on legal pressures on government to speed up mitigation efforts, The example of the partly successful Dutch Urgenda suit (accepted in court but challenged by the government), has been followed iIn Switzerland (by a group of women) and the U.S., where children and young people are taking the government to court for insufficient action against climate change.

An example of the changing awareness in the financial world that many papers and news websites now reflect is the September 6 warning to investors by asset manager Blackrock – the world’s largest, with nearly $5 trillion in assets and some 70 branches in the U.S., Europe and Asia -- to factor climate change into their decision-making. Blackrock also appealed to governments to set a higher price on carbon emissions to “limit the cost of reducing emissions and push companies to create solutions to the problem.”

Less than a week later, the UK’s Financial Times of 12 September published a lead editorial that echoed the Blackrock warning:“Investment threats in a changing climate”, with as subtitle: “Global warming is a business issue that cannot be ignored any longer.” The editorial focused on three important events of the past few weeks: the joint commitment by the U.S. and China – together responsible for 38% of current greenhouse gas emissions – to ratify the Paris climate accord; the Obama administration’s order to temporarily block the building of a part of the Dakota pipeline (vigorously contested by a Sioux Indian tribe whose water supply it threatened; and the BlackRock warning to investors.

To “reduce the risk of catastrophic warming”, the FT urges “a huge reallocation of capital away from fossil fuels and towards low-emissions energy sources.” It also warns its readers that, as BlackRock indicates, personal views on climate science are not relevant: “Enough governments and businesses are convinced by the scientific consensus that the threat is real, and are driving regulatory and technological changes that are reshaping the investment landscape. You may not be interested in the climate, but you can be sure that the climate is interested in you.”

The New York Times
of September 4, also reflected this increased attention to climate news in the U.S. establishment press. On the Times’s website, for the first time to my knowledge, the first two headlines brought the climate issue home to its readers. I copy them here:

Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun


Rare Harmony as China and U.S. Commit to Climate Deal

Moreover, the FT’s editorial had been preceded two weeks earlier (in the FT of August 28) by an opinion piece of Edward Luce, the FT’s main Washington correspondent: “US election: Nobody is talking about climate change”

Luce’s article reminded me of some of our 4C Newsletters.

The author notes the paradox of the silence on climate change in an electoral campaign during a year when warming and extreme weather are affecting the life experience of large numbers in the USA as never before. “Global warming,” he writes, “is no longer a documentary film by Al Gore… Last month, America’s east coast suffered from an unusually long “heat dome” — summer temperatures so high the authorities in New York, Washington and elsewhere urged people to keep their children inside and stay well hydrated.”

Luce continues: “People living in southern California, which has suffered from a rise in the ferocity of wildfires; Louisiana, which earlier this month was flooded by “once-in-a-thousand-year” rainfall; or large tracts of midwest America, where drought is no longer freakish, are feeling the anecdotal force of climate change. Westerners may find it hard to identify with people in the Gulf, where years of growing heat intensity threaten to make it uninhabitable. But they feel the impact when insurance rates shoot up in low-lying coastal areas, such as Florida, Alabama and even New Jersey.”

As to Florida, Luce reports the warning of an online property site that one in eight Florida homes would be under water by the end of this century.

Why, then, is there no discussion of climate change in the current campaign for the presidency? Luce offers two explanations. One is the skepticism of a large part of the electorate about expert opinion. This skepticism is allegedly supported by the changeability of the weather and is manipulated by Republican congresspersons to avoid more government “regulation”. The other is the fear by many people that any major action to limit greenhouse gases will cost taxpayer dollars.

The consequence, writes Luce, is that “it could take years before the public reaches a verdict on global warming, by which time we may be reaping the whirlwind.”

Just four days later, Pope Francis spoke once more of the urgency of climate action. According to the UK Guardian:

“Francis said the worst impact of global warming was being felt by those who were least responsible for it – refugees and the poor.

“The pontiff used the occasion to revive many of the powerful issues he highlighted a year ago in his provocative encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’, and his latest message seems certain to rankle conservatives.

“Francis described man’s destruction of the environment as a sin and accused mankind of turning the planet into a ‘polluted wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth’.

“Global warming continues,’ the pope said. ‘2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.’

“Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.’”


Interacting with these voices from the top of the social and cultural ladder have been widespread popular protests against the production, use and transportation of fossil fuels, sometimes organized by NGO’s like 350.org, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace and sometimes by ad hoc groups like the young people suing their governments or the U.S. Indian rights movement against the Dakota pipeline.

In the past month, we’ve posted fifty-five news articles dealing with these subjects. To make it easier to find your way in them, we’ll reproduce them here and precede each one with a letter code referring to a specific category. The key to this code will precede the list of articles.

By the time this reaches you, the first Trump-Clinton debate will have occurred, giving a clue as to whether the next president of the United States will or will not be a climate denier supported by the fossil fuel industry (See "Trump picks top skeptic to head EPA transition" Climate Wire, September 26, 2016.

Good luck to all, especially to planet Earth ,

Arthur Mitzman, Coordinator, Concerned Citizens against Climate Change
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4C’S CLIMATE NEWS RUBRIC, AUGUST 23-SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

A Government actions (mainly EU, Paris Accord ratifications and U.S.)
B Important statements, analyses or commentaries on the climate issue
C Economics and the climate
D Extreme Weather and warming effects
E Popular oppositional movements
F Climate Change in the U.S. elections
G Renewables and mitigation efforts (taxes, emissions trading etc.)


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A INDIA TO RATIFY PARIS ACCORD ON OCTOBER 2, BIRTHDAY OF MAHATMA GANDHI
25 september 2016
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A. LEGAL ASPECTS OF EARLY EU RATIFICATION OF PARIS ACCORD
23 september 2016
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A. DUTCH PARLIAMENT VOTES FOR 2030 EMISSIONS CUT OF 55%, CLOSURE OF ALL COAL PLANTS
23 september 2016
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E. FUTURE OPERATOR OF INDIAN-OPPOSED DAKOTA PIPELINE RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE OIL SPILLS THAN ANY OTHER
23 september 2016
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E. COMPLEX HISTORY OF DAKOTA PIPELINE - POTENTIAL SUCCESSOR TO KEYSTONE XL
23 september 2016
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A. EU CLOSER TO FAST-TRACKING PARIS ACCORD RATIFICATION, MAKING ENACTMENT BEFORE END OF YEAR POSSIBLE
22 september 2016
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D. UNPRECEDENTED WARMTH OF THE LAST SIXTEEN MONTHS
21 september 2016
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B. 375 MEMBERS OF US NAT'L ACADEMY OF SCIENCES IN OPEN LETTER ON CLIMATE CONDEMNING POLITICAL INACTION
21 September 2016
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D GREENLAND ICE MELT GREATER THAN PREVIOUSLY ESTIMATED
21 eptember 2016
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B DANGERS TO HUMAN SURVIVAL IN THE 21ST CENTURY
20 september 2016
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B IN UN VALEDICTORY, OBAMA APPEALS FOR MORE CLIMATE FINANCE TO REDUCE GLOBAL INEQUALITY
20 september 2016
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C GLOBAL TRADE IN SERVICES AGREEMENT THREATENS PARIS CLIMATE GOALS
20 september 2016
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D ENGELHARDT AND KLARE ON HOW THE RISE OF THE GLOBAL RIGHT RISKS A CLIMATE CATASTROPHE
15 september 2016
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F DONALD TRUMP IS THE FOSSIL INDUSTRY'S CANDIDATE FOR US PRESIDENT
14 september 2016
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A EU DISCUSSING FAST-TRACK RATIFICATION OF PARIS ACCORD
13 september 2016
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E BRINGING THE KIDS' CLIMATE CASE TO COURT: A LAWYER MOM FROM OREGON
13 september 2016
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E REBECCA SOLNIT ON DAKOTA INDIAN PIPELINE PROTESTS: A NEW ENVIRONMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
12 september 2016
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A BRAZIL, WITH WORLD'S LARGEST TROPICAL RAIN FOREST, RATIFIES PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD
12 september 2016
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A&E UK GREENS AND F.O.E. HAIL MAY GOVERNMENT QUESTIONING OF PLANNED OPENCAST COAL MINE IN NORTHUMBERLAND
9 september 2016
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E OBAMA HALTS DAKOTA PIPELINE WORK AFTER PROTESTING SIOUX INDIANS PEPPERSPRAYED AND BEATEN
9 september 2016
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A NOVELIST AMITAV GHOSH SLAMS PARIS DEAL'S LACK OF CLIMATE JUSTICE AND INDIA'S WEAK CLIMATE PROGRAM
8 september 2016
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A OBAMA DEFENDS CLIMATE RECORD IN NEW YORK TIMES INTERVIEW
8 september 2016
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C CHINESE PRODUCTION FOR WESTERN CONSUMERS A MAJOR SOURCE OF EAST ASIAN CLIMATE CHANGE
8 september 2016
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G SUPERGRIDS COMING TO THE AMERICAN WEST
7 september 2016
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G CLIMATE TAX ON THE HORIZON FOR SHIPPING
7 september 2016
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C CORPORATE AMERICA'S ENVIRO-HYPOCRISY - LIP SERVICE FOR CLIMATE GOALS, MONEY TO CLIMATE DENIERS
6 september 2016
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G DESPITE DUTCH PROMISES TO CUT CARBON EMISSIONS, THEY ROSE 5% IN THE NETHERLANDS LAST YEAR
5 september 2016
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D METHANE BOMB AND FISH DEPLETION IN ACCELERATED WARMING OF EARTH'S SEAS
5 september 2016
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A U.S./CHINA JOINTLY RATIFY PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT - NOW FOR THE EU, BEFORE THE END OF 2016
3 september 2016
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D WARMING-CAUSED COASTAL FLOODING NOW ERODING U.S. EAST COAST
3 september 2016
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B POPE FRANCIS IN RENEWED APPEAL FOR CLIMATE ACTION - WE NEED TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY
1 september 2016
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G MORE THAN 3500 UK CHURCHES SWITCH TO RENEWABLES
1 september 2016
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C NATURAL GAS EMISSSIONS OUTPACE COAL IN U.S. -- THE DOWNSIDE: MUCH MORE METHANE FROM GAS
31 august 2016
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C CLIMATE CHANGE MAY BANKRUPT YOUNGER GENERATION UNLESS CHANGE COMES QUICKLY
31 august 2016
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E CONTINUED POPULAR RESISTANCE TO BANGLADESHI COAL POWER PLANT IN SUNDARBAN REGION
31 august 2016
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D LOUISIANA INDIAN COMMUNITY FIRST OFFICIAL U.S.CLIMATE REFUGEES
30 august 2016
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E SIOUX INDIANS VS OIL PIPELINE - US ARMY ENGINEERS IGNORED OBJECTIONS OF THREE FED. AGENCIES
30 august 2016
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D UNPRECEDENTED EARTH WARMING MAY PRECLUDE EVEN KEEPING BELOW 2.C INCREASE -- NASA
30 august 2016
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G CALIFORNIA STATE LEGISLATURE URGES CONGRESS TO PASS REVENUE-NEUTRAL CARBON TAX
29 august 2016
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C CITING URGENCY OF CLIMATE CRISIS AND PARIS ACCORD INSURANCE GIANTS ASK G20 END FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES
29 august 2016
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F CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
29 august 2016
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B CLIMATE CHANGE A MAJOR FOCUS ON OBAMA'S LAST TRIP TO ASIA
29 august 2016
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G SMALL OFFSHORE WIND FARM IN ATLANTIC HARBINGER OF MAJOR U.S. POWER SHIFT
27 august 2016
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A QUESTIONS ABOUT POSSIBLE EARLY IMPLEMENTATION OF PARIS ACCORD
26 august 2016
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E WILDEARTH GUARDIANS SUES GOV'T FOR HIDING CLIMATE DAMAGE DUE TO OIL/GAS DRILLING ON PUBLIC LANDS
25 august 2016
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G CHINA DIALOGUE -- SHORTAGE OF RARE EARTH METALS A POTENTIAL BOTTLENECK FOR RENEWABLES
25 august 2016
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D CLIMATE-INDUCED FLOODING IN INDIA ENDANGERS 130,000 LIVES
25 august 2016
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E GLOBAL COAL CONSUMPTION ON A ONE WAY PATH DOWNWARD; COAL LOBBIES LOSING MEMBERS
24 august 2016
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D AUSTRALIAN REPORT SIGNALS DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 1.5C AND 2.C WARMING - UNCHARTED TERRITORY
24 august 2016
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A 130 INSTITUTIONS CONTROLLING US$13 TRILLION ASK G20 TO RATIFY PARIS DEAL, EXIT FOSSIL FUELS
24 august 2016
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E DAKOTA TRIBES IN MILITANT PROTEST AGAINST OIL PIPELINE THREATENING THEIR LAND
23 august 2016
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