Another climate conclave comes and goes.Dec 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 16 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Nicholas Stern is one of the world’s über-environmentalists, the author of the famous Stern Review, a 700-page study released by the British government in 2006, which concluded, “Climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent response.” Eight years on, Stern professes himself satisfied that the 13-day, 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, concluded last week in Lima, Peru, is an important step towards a new agreement at the climate change summit to be held in Paris in December 2015. Of course, Stern and others in the climate change crowd agree there is much work to be done by then, and even after a deal is reached.
That may well be, but neither the Lima agreement nor what is yet to come has much to do with whether the goal of this exercise, set in Copenhagen in 2009 by world leaders, will be obtained—to prevent global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, thereby averting floods and droughts, storms and insects, and perhaps even the plagues visited upon the Egyptians by a wrathful God. The U.N. Environmental Program reported last month that to avoid this 2-degree increase and the catastrophic damage it is forecast to bring, global emissions must peak by around 2025 and fall to half their current level by 2050.
That’s a tall order for three reasons. First, Latin American and other poor countries (and some not-so-poor ones) are desperate for growth and see green policies as impediments to growth. Second, many participating countries do not even have the ability to measure their emissions, which should be a prerequisite for proving that commitments have been met. Finally, President Obama is insisting that the goals nations set for themselves be nonbinding. He points out that despite America’s failure to sign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, we have met its target, no matter that it took a huge increase in supplies of natural gas and a long recession to get us there.
Obama has no choice but to rely on some form of voluntary compliance. Recall that the Senate in 1997 voted 95-0 to set conditions for ratifying Kyoto that the Clinton-Gore administration knew it could not meet. So President Clinton, taking the Senate’s advice that it would not consent, did not send the proposed treaty for ratification, although Al Gore nevertheless went ahead and signed it, to no effect other than to secure his standing as America’s greenest politician. Kyoto expires in 2020, and the purpose of next year’s meeting in Paris is to replace it with . . . well, certainly not with another treaty that will not be ratified by the Senate. Instead, each country is to come to the table in March to lay out its “intended nationally determined contribution” [INDC] to reducing its emissions starting in 2020.
Those INDCs, which some countries say they cannot contrive until June, will cover 50 shades of green, a spectrum ranging from Obama’s dark green, to Canada’s, Australia’s, and Russia’s shades of pale green, and on through India’s forget green, we prefer coal-gray. The developing countries are interested in a different kind of green—greenbacks. They were exempted from the Kyoto Protocol and surrendered that exemption in Lima in return for promises of cold cash and treatment that differentiates them from developed countries, e.g., no outside monitoring. They say: We are where we are because the rich countries have been sending emissions skyward since the industrial revolution, and therefore
the wealthy countries should shoulder most of the burden of reducing emissions, and transfer large sums to developing countries to compensate us for joining the battle to reduce emissions. The relation of these demands to problems created by their cooperation in reducing emissions is somewhat unclear: Similar demands had been put to the developed world well before climate change became an issue and a new bottle into which to pour this old wine. The Lima award for chutzpah was won by Saudi Arabia, which is demanding compensation from wealthier countries, if any there be, for oil revenues the kingdom might lose as a result of any emission-reduction policies that result from these meetings.
President Obama pledged $3 billion of taxpayers’ money (specific source of funds as yet unidentified) to the Green Climate Fund, a U.N. agency in South Korea (headquarters for these sorts of organizations get spread around the world), matching the total pledged by Germany, France, and South Korea. Japan says it will toss $1.5 billion into the pot, and other countries have contributed enough to meet the fund’s initial capitalization goal of $10 billion. That still leaves it more than a bit short of the $100 billion annually developed countries pledged to mobilize back in 2009.
7:01 AM, May 22, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry recently told the graduating class of Boston College that climate change is threatening "nothing less than the future of the entir
12:12 PM, Apr 25, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Darren Samuelsohn of Politico rhapsodizes over the utter wonderfulness of Al Gore who is, these days, “richer and skinnier than ever.”
10:01 AM, Mar 12, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new Gallup poll shows the American people say climate change is one of the problems they worry about the least.
The polling firm asked Americans how much they worry about 15 separate issues facing the country, with the economy, federal spending, and health care ranking at the top. Fifty-nine percent said the economy and jobs were an issue they worried about "a great deal," and 58 percent and 57 percent said the same for federal spending and health-care affordability, respectively.
1:14 PM, Jul 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Today is Susan Rice's first day on the job as National Security Advisor. And already her portfolio has been expanded.
President Obama signed today an executive order on "Combating Wildlife Trafficking." The directive reads, "By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to address the significant effects of wildlife trafficking on the national interests of the United States, I hereby order as follows:"
His administration was greener than you think. Jun 17, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 38 • By ELI LEHRER
Mention Ronald Reagan to an avowed environmentalist, and you’ll generally elicit a groan. In the conventional telling, the Gipper appointed right-wing extremists to key environmental positions and proceeded to give timber companies and energy interests a free hand to despoil nature. Had Congress not stopped him, the tale goes, all of the environmental progress of the 1970s would have been swept away in the 1980s.
Good news on natural gas is bad news for a Democratic party full of environmental true-believers Apr 29, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 31 • By ROBERT H. NELSON
Much has been said recently about the deep tensions within the Republican party. Far less has been said about a sharp division arising inside the Democratic party.
11:05 AM, Dec 28, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
It’s symbolically appropriate that one of President Obama’s preferred forms of “green energy” crony capitalism has the effect of killing off the national bird.
11:56 AM, Dec 1, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
A top adviser to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, was heckled at a speech yesterday to grassroots organizers by a "climate activist."
3:16 PM, Nov 27, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The world's greatest deliberative body (just ask any of its members) got hung up over what is called a "Sportsmen's Bill." The impasse came on the first day after the Thanksgiving holiday, which is, traditionally, a time when hunters like to be in the deer woods and duck marshes, which the bill supposedly would have expanded and made more accessible. This is one of those bills that is said to "enjoy wide, bipartisan support."
Obama deserts coal; Democrats desert Obama.Sep 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 02 • By HENRY PAYNE
Charleston, W. Va.
The billboard high over I-64 outside the capital of this blue-collar state minces no words: “Obama’s NO JOBS ZONE: The President talks about creating jobs but his EPA is destroying jobs.”
Businessmen across nearly every American industry cite the Obama administration’s regulatory assault—from Obamacare to bank lending restrictions to fuel-economy mandates—as a cause of America’s jobless recovery. But perhaps no industry can count job losses the White House is causing like the coal industry.
1:31 PM, Nov 28, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “Here’s one good way to consider the vote in 2012: It’s about whether to re-elect President Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which these days runs most the U.S. economy.” The Journal observes that the Obama EPA has now decreed that “America’s fleet of passenger cars and light trucks will have to meet an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a doubling of today’s average of about 27 mpg.”
3:08 PM, Sep 23, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon kicked off today in Washington on the National Mall, under inauspiciously dark rainy skies.
Sep 26, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 02 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
To find a metaphor for the failed Obama presidency, look no further than Solyndra. Before it went bankrupt, the solar panel manufacturer was more than the recipient of a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government. It was the model for the White House effort to put the American economy on a “new foundation.”