Manchin’s Choice on Build Back Better: Mine Workers or Mine Owners – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — For years, burly men in camouflage hunting jackets have been a constant presence in the Capitol Hill office of Senator Joe Manchin III, their United Mine Workers logos giving away their mission: to lobby not only for the interests of coal, but also on more personal matters such as pensions, health care and funding to address black lung disease.

So when the miners’ union and the West Virginia A.F.L.-C.I.O. came out last month with statements pleading for passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act — just hours after Mr. Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said he was a “no” — the Capitol took notice.”

Kathleen Kingsbury | Why Times Opinion Is Sounding the Climate Change Alarm – The New York Times

Opinion Editor

“So many of the conversations about global warming focus on the direst consequences, projected far into the future: images of fires and floods on an increasingly uninhabitable planet if the governments of the world — and especially those of the United States, China and the other leading greenhouse gas emitters — fail to curb their use of fossil fuels. But the truth is that we are already living in a world that is being transformed by climate change. Every single country on Earth is feeling its effects — today.

That is the idea behind “Postcards From a World on Fire,” a major project from Times Opinion that published this morning. Last summer, as the COP26 meeting in Glasgow approached, we began work on what I envisioned as an expansive climate project that would draw on nearly every journalistic tool at our disposal. I wanted an assessment of where things stood from every country in the world and to make a bold argument for urgency. That call to action felt even more necessary as we watched the Glasgow summit come and go with high hopes and, ultimately, tepid actions.

A team of our journalists — led by Meeta Agrawal, Times Opinion’s special projects editor — has documented one way that climate change is having an impact in each of the 193 United Nations member states. It’s been a breathtaking effort to watch come together. Some of these stories may seem small, like an ancient drawing flaking off a cave wall in Indonesia; others are undeniably harrowing, like the stories of hungry people fleeing their homes in Guatemala; others may even seem hopeful, like the move toward building wooden skyscrapers in Norway.”

Interior Dept. Report on Drilling Is Mostly Silent on Climate Change – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Interior Department on Friday recommended that the federal government raise the fees that oil and gas companies pay to drill on public lands — the first increase in those rent and royalty rates since 1920.

The long-awaited report recommended an overhaul of the rents and royalty fees charged for drilling both on land and offshore, noting one estimate that the government lost up to $12.4 billion in revenue from drilling on federal lands from 2010 through 2019 because royalty rates have been frozen for a century.

The Interior Department said its goal is to “better restore balance and transparency to public land and ocean management and deliver a fair and equitable return to American taxpayers.”

But the report was nearly silent about the climate impacts from the public drilling program. The United States Geological Survey estimates that drilling on public land and in federal waters is responsible for almost a quarter of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States that are warming the planet.”

Christopher Caldwell | Bankers Took Over the Climate Change Summit. That’s Bad For Democracy. – The New York Times

Mr. Caldwell is a contributing Opinion writer and the author of “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties” and “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West.”

“The big annual United Nations forum for debate on climate change ended this month in Glasgow in a way that left many attendees bewildered. Money men have taken the thing over.

COP26, as the event was called, was less like its predecessors and more like a second “Davos” — the January meeting of the World Economic Forum where the global economy’s moguls and regulators meet to map out our economic future. Dozens of private jets arrived for COP26, bringing investors and fossil-fuel lobbyists in embarrassing profusion. The finance writer Gillian Tett noted that between 2015 and today, the “tribe” of COP attendees had been transformed from one of “environment ministers, scientists and activists” to one of “business leaders, financiers and monetary officials.” That is bound to render the movement’s tactics and goals less democratic.

For environmentalists, COP26 ended in disarray, with the world’s two largest coal-burning countries, China and India, refusing to sign on to a phaseout of that dirtiest of fuels. For the finance industry, prospects were rosier. The new Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero united 450 financial institutions around a “private-sector” plan to move the world to so-called net-zero carbon emissions. Bank of America, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Vanguard and Wells Fargo have signed on. Insurers (like Lloyds), ratings agencies (like Moody’s), pension funds (like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System) and financial-service providers (like Bloomberg) have also given their backing. They are ready to roll even if the COP activists are not.

The group is fronted by Mark Carney, a former Goldman Sachs executive and a former governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, who is now the United Nations “special envoy” for climate and finance. About $130 trillion was said to be at the alliance’s disposal. That is serious money. It is more than the world generates in a year, and about six times the gross domestic product of the United States.

The alliance’s plan is vague. It involves “driving upward convergence around corporate and financial institution net-zero transition plans” and using financial “levers” to impose carbon-neutral rules on economic actors. The upshot: The alliance wouldn’t disburse the funds on climate “projects.” It would direct how those funds could be invested, favoring behaviors the finance industry deemed virtuous and freezing out those it deemed not. This would be an extraordinary concentration of political power in bankers’ hands — exactly the place where prudence might counsel us to fear power most.”

David Lindsay:  I don’t agree with this writer Caldwell that the bankers jumping in is bad news, it is great news. We need all the help we can get, and his concern that democracy is more important than anything else, is strange. Democracy hasn’t been working at all in taking climate change seriously. . So if the banks and insurance companies can put pressure on governments, better than not. This is the best news I read since I read Bill Gates new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”

Opinion | Will Iván Duque Protect Environmental Defenders? – The New York Times

Blanca Lucía Echeverry and 

“At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, President Iván Duque of Colombia carried out a charm offensive to convince the world he is an environmental champion who would protect his nation’s vast forets. He promised Colombia would be carbon neutral by 2050 and that, by next year, 30 percent of the country’s land and waters would be protected areas.

But back in Colombia, armed gangs are threatening and murdering community leaders and environmental activists who have been trying to protect Colombia’s forest from destruction by mining, lumber and oil companies. Morbidly, Colombia has emerged as the world’s deadliest place for environmentalists and others defending land rights. Global Witness documented at least 65 killings in 2020.”

Negotiators Strike a Climate Deal, but World Remains Far From Limiting Warming – The New York Times

“GLASGOW — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries on Saturday struck a major agreement aimed at intensifying global efforts to fight climate change by calling on governments to return next year with stronger plans to curb their planet-warming emissions and urging wealthy nations to “at least double” funding to protect poor nations from the hazards of a hotter planet.

The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming, despite the urgent demands of many of the thousands of politicians, environmentalists and protesters who gathered at the Glasgow climate summit. Its success or failure will hinge on whether world leaders now follow through with new policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And the deal still leaves vulnerable countries far short of the funds they need to cope with increasing weather disasters.

The talks underscored the complexity of trying to persuade scores of countries, each with its own economic interests and domestic politics, to act in unison for the greater good.

But the agreement established a clear consensus that all nations must do much more, immediately, to prevent a harrowing rise in global temperatures. And it set up transparency rules to hold countries accountable for the progress they make or fail to make.”

San FranciscoNov. 13

The most critical summit of the last decade ended with rich countries seeking legal waivers on their liabilities to poor countries for destroying the climate. The United States played the role of the Sacklers in Glasgow. Blah blah blah.

1 Reply53 Recommended

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Good comment. I am not surprised if this is true. I had an epiphany this Sunday morning, reading this article in print, by Plummer and Friedman. The rich countries will probably not increase their spending on the poorest countries, as the poorest demand, and deserve, because the rich countries need to reign in the biggest polluters, India and China and Australia. The rich countries should focus their investments on lowering the carbon pollution first, and saving lives in the poorest countries afterwards. It would be great if we could afford to do both, but unlikely. What is essential, is to reduce our carbon footprint, as fast as possible, through carrots and probably sticks. The demands for indemnification follow this observation, whether conscious or unconscious.

Thomas L. Friedman | The Climate Summit Has Me Very Energized, and Very Afraid – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I spent last week talking to all sorts of people gathered for the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, and it left me with profoundly mixed emotions.

Having been to most of the climate summits since Bali in 2007, I can tell you this one had a very different feel. I was awed by the energy of all the youth on the streets demanding that we rise to the challenge of global warming and by some of the amazing new technological and market fixes being proposed by innovators and investors. This was not the old days — everyone waiting for the deals cut by the priesthood of climate diplomats huddled behind closed doors. This was the many talking to the many — and I am buoyed by that.”

Jeffrey Ball | The Developing World Is Falling Short on Emissions Reductions – The New York Times

Mr. Ball, a writer focusing on energy and the environment, is the scholar in residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Nowhere is cutting carbon emissions more crucial than in the world’s emerging and developing economies, where the thirst for energy, and the output of carbon dioxide, is rising the fastest. New power plants there will lock in the trajectory of global warming for decades to come.

But here’s the big problem: Fifty-two percent of new power generation financed in those countries from 2018 through 2020 is on track to be inconsistent with the global goal of keeping Earth’s average temperature from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold scientists have said is crucial to stave off particularly disastrous effects from global warming.

The biggest foreign financiers of these projects were in Japan, China and South Korea. But significant funds have also been coming from banks, utilities and other companies in the countries themselves.

COP26 in Glasgow Live Updates: Leaders Vow to End Deforestation – The New York Times

“In a sweeping accord aimed at protecting the world’s forests, which are crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming, leaders of more than 100 countries gathered in Glasgow vowed on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030.

President Biden said the United States would contribute billions to the global effort to protect the ecosystems that are vital for cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink, and keeping the Earth’s climate in balance.

The pact — which also includes countries such as Brazil, Russia and China — encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests, officials said. It is one of the first major accords to emerge from the United Nations climate summit known as COP26, which is seen as a crucial moment in efforts to address climate change.

“These great teeming ecosystems — these cathedrals of nature,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said in announcing the agreement, “are the lungs of our planet.”

President Biden said he would work with Congress to deploy up to $9 billion to the global effort through 2030. Additionally, governments committed $12 billion through 2025, and private companies pledged $7 billion to protect and restore forests in a variety of ways, including $1.7 billion for Indigenous peoples. More than 30 financial institutions also vowed to stop investing in companies responsible for deforestation.”

Opinion | For Climate Change, Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Plan Isn’t Big Enough – The New York Times

There will be no bargains with an overheating climate.The $3.5 trillion price tag that President Biden proposed for his climate-heavy Build Back Better Act might seem enormous. But over the long term, it will be a pittance.By zeroing in on that number, the public debate seems to have skipped right over the economic ramifications of climate change, which promise to be historically disruptive — and enormously expensive. What we don’t spend now will cost us much more later.The bills for natural disasters and droughts and power outages are already pouring in. Within a few decades, the total bill will be astronomical, as energy debts surge, global migration swells and industrial upheaval follows. The scale of the threat demands a new way of thinking about spending. Past budgets can no longer guide how governments spend money in the future.