12:00 AM, Sep 28, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Last week was good for environmentalists, and perhaps even for the environment. President Obama doubled down on his effort to increase the likelihood of the success of the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris, claiming the U.S. has “a special responsibility to lead. That’s what great nations do.” He took the occasion of the UN meetings in New York to put the heat on China, the world’s largest polluter, to match the steps the U.S. is taking to reduce its CO2 emissions. The president is relying on executive orders to by-pass Congress and put in place stricter control of power plant emissions. He must believe that if he has the power to order such reductions without consulting Congress, surely the leaders of the somewhat less democratic Chinese regime can rely on similar fiats. He also believes that if the world’s two largest emitters agree on a program to reduce these greenhouse gasses, the third, fourth, and fifth largest polluters will sign on to that program.
· China’s president Xi Jinping (#1) did not come to New York.
· Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India (#3), although in New York, gave the climate meeting a miss, and his environment minister asked, “What cuts? That’s for more developed countries. The moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away.”
· Russian president Vladimir Putin (#4) is more interested in developing a plan to step up his challenge to NATO than to scale down his nation’s emission.
· Japan (#5), wants to keep open its options to burn more fossil fuels since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
Equally unfortunate is the difficulty of agreeing on a common set of facts as the background for a policy debate. There are studies showing that the climate is warming, and others that show it hasn’t done so for a couple of decades. There are studies showing that solar and wind power are now competitive with fossil fuels even in the absence of subsidies, and others showing that replacing fossil fuels with greater reliance on renewables that are not available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine can drive up energy costs and reduce a nation’s competitiveness, as has happened in Germany, in the end forcing greater reliance on coal than at any time since 2007.
To make matters even more difficult for policymakers, poorer developing countries say climate change has been created by the rich, industrialized countries, and are demanding that the costs of solving the problem be borne by those beneficiaries of the age of fossil fuels. (See statement above by Prakash Javadekar of India.) They want a rather substantial income transfer to developing from developed countries, a long-standing goal only recently tied to the desire to reduce carbon emissions. And they want developed countries to reduce their emissions so that emerging economies can increase theirs without driving the global total to threatening levels. They like to note that the EU has managed to reduce its emissions sharply, ignoring the facts that it did so by presiding over a recession and by importing more and more goods produced in China’s heavily emitting manufacturing plants.
The president’s renewed drive for a Paris deal was not the only good news for those who believe the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is imperative if a climate disaster is to be avoided. An estimated 300,000 activists, including former vice president Al Gore and marchers calling for the end of capitalism, the latter tussling with New York’s finest for the control of Wall Street, turned out in New York City to support a reduction in emissions. So did the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. He announced he would reduce New York’s emissions by 80 percent by 2050, presumably by putting pressure on real estate developers who need his approval of their construction permits.
The frosting on environmentalists’ cake came when the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced it would divest shares in companies producing fossil fuels. It could not be determined whether John D. Rockefeller, the fund’s founder who also founded the modern petroleum industry, is spinning in his grave or, as his heirs contend, would be a leader in the switch to renewables. But it is certain he would have noticed that the family’s $2 million investment in renewables was wiped out.
Oct 6, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 04 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
In Manhattan last Tuesday afternoon, The Scrapbook discovered what it’s like to get close to the president, and it stinks. We also now understand how to assemble a huge crowd to admire a presidential motorcade: You simply close 40 blocks of one of the busiest streets in the world. With typical attention to detail, the closure was scheduled for the beginning of rush hour, from about 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
2:22 PM, Sep 24, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly touched very lightly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That alone is a step forward: in previous years, he has made it a central part of his speech and left the impression that it is the main issue in world affairs.
10:14 AM, Sep 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Here's the text, as prepared for delivery, of President Obama's address to the United Nations General Assembly:
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: we come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.
1:42 PM, Sep 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
At the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary of State John Kerry will make "climate change ... a foreign policy priority," the State Department announced in press release. "Secretary Kerry Elevates Climate Change at UN General Assembly," the press release is titled.
"Secretary of State John Kerry will participate in several high-level events to reinforce U.S. leadership on climate change action this coming week during the UN General Assembly in New York," reads the release.
Sep 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 01 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
During the siege of Bastogne in December 1944, the German general Heinrich von Lüttwitz sent his American adversaries a note, explaining how “the fortune of war is changing” and that “there is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town.”
The note was received by Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe of the U.S. Army, who famously replied: “NUTS!” The siege went on, but the Americans prevailed.
12:29 PM, Aug 27, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The man who is described by his mouthpiece as “the constitutional lawyer in the Oval Office” is increasingly bored with the routine demands of his job (so much so that even Maureen Dowd has noticed) and finds the Constitution a darned nuisance and an obstacle.
3:06 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Bolton, in a fundraising email, makes the case for defunding UNRWA--and more:
As the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, my eyes have long been open to the dangerous biases and political agendas in play at the U.N. It is at the core of my mission to share these facts with the American people, and why I am writing today.
The United Nations has lost its way, and now we MUST take action.
7:02 AM, Apr 11, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
While crises continue in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, and the Central African Republic, the United Nations turned its attention to a different kind of crisis
10:18 AM, Apr 3, 2014 • By NOAH POLLAK
It is a cliché at this point to remark that John Kerry is operating in a fantasy world. But sometimes there is no other word to describe the enormous distance between his perception of what is happening and what is actually happening.
Courtesy of the U.N.Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By CLAUDIA ROSETT
It's well over a year since the United Nations intellectual property agency got caught undermining the U.N.’s own sanctions—shipping U.S.-origin computers and related high-tech equipment to North Korea and Iran. In classic U.N. fashion, the World Intellectual Property Organization, known as WIPO, stiffed congressional inquiries and arranged its own narrow and “independent” investigation of itself. Thanks to U.N. privileges and immunities, WIPO was ultimately judged by the U.N. to have stayed within the letter, if not the spirit, of U.N. sanctions.
Saudi Arabia would prefer not to. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By JOHN BOLTON
On October 17, Saudi Arabia was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council.
Behind the curtain at the IPCC.Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By STEVEN F. HAYWARD
Thought experiment: Imagine you are a national security reporter, covering the release of a massive, 2,000-page report on domestic intelligence gathering activities and future threat assessment from the National Security Agency. But instead of issuing the full report, the NSA issues a 30-page “Summary for Policymakers” (SPM) written by political appointees at the Justice Department, promising that the full 2,000-page report will be released a few days later. Would you print a front-page story based only on the 30-page summary, or would you demand to see the full report?
7:35 AM, Oct 2, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Mara Liasson and Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News: