Tasked to Fight Climate Change, a Secretive U.N. Agency Does the Opposite – The New York Times

Matt Apuzzo and 

LONDON — During a contentious meeting over proposed climate regulations last fall, a Saudi diplomat to the obscure but powerful International Maritime Organization switched on his microphone to make an angry complaint: One of his colleagues was revealing the proceedings on Twitter as they happened.

It was a breach of the secrecy at the heart of the I.M.O., a clubby United Nations agency on the banks of the Thames that regulates international shipping and is charged with reducing emissions in an industry that burns an oil so thick it might otherwise be turned into asphalt. Shipping produces as much carbon dioxide as all of America’s coal plants combined.

Internal documents, recordings and dozens of interviews reveal what has gone on for years behind closed doors: The organization has repeatedly delayed and watered down climate regulations, even as emissions from commercial shipping continue to rise, a trend that threatens to undermine the goals of the 2016 Paris climate accord.

One reason for the lack of progress is that the I.M.O. is a regulatory body that is run in concert with the industry it regulates. Shipbuilders, oil companies, miners, chemical manufacturers and others with huge financial stakes in commercial shipping are among the delegates appointed by many member nations. They sometimes even speak on behalf of governments, knowing that public records are sparse, and that even when the organization allows journalists into its meetings, it typically prohibits them from quoting people by name.”    . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Matt Apuzzo and Sarah Hurtes for bringing this mess, this Augean Stables, to our attention. This nonesense should be stopped ASAP. Someone should tell this group at the IMO that all its meeting have to be open to the press, or it should be dismantled. There are some great ideas in the comments, like getting rid of, making illegal, Open Ship Registers. The United States should have its own rules, regulations, and enforcement, perhaps permanently, or at least, until the UN organization shows that it is up to the job, which it clearly isn’t.

PS. One commenter suggested, the US should require all ships coming to the US should meet strict environmental standards, or they can’t stop here and unload or pick up goods. Another said, we should join with the EU, and create rules that anyone trading with either group must abide.

Climate Change Activists Notch Victory in Exxon Mobil Board Elections – The New York Times

“HOUSTON — Big Oil was dealt a stunning defeat on Wednesday when shareholders of Exxon Mobil elected at least two board candidates nominated by activist investors who pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas.

The success of the campaign, led by a tiny hedge fund against the nation’s largest oil company, could force the energy industry to confront climate change and embolden Wall Street investment firms that are prioritizing the issue. Analysts could not recall another time that Exxon management had lost a vote against company-picked directors.

“This is a landmark moment for Exxon and for the industry,” said Andrew Logan, a senior director at Ceres, a nonprofit investor network that pushes corporations to take climate change seriously. “How the industry chooses to respond to this clear signal will determine which companies thrive through the coming transition and which wither.”

The vote reveals the growing power of giant Wall Street firms that manage the 401(k)s and other investments of individuals and businesses to press C.E.O.s to pursue environmental and social goals. Some of these firms are run by executives who say they see climate change as a major threat to the economy and the planet.   . . . . “

David Lindsay

tfJuusrodsSplton shnorteodw  · The New York Times  · Shared with Public

I have opposed divestment from the oil and gas companies for many years, arguing that persuation from within is as important as legislation and pressure from without. It appears that yesterday, folks like me had a good day. I was extremely proud to have voted my small batch of Exxon Mobil shares for all four of the new sustainability board members, and for the the two biting resolutions that passed, requiring transparecy of all money to politics, and to evaluate such donations against the goals of the Paris Climate Accord goals.

Reflections on a three-decade legacy – IGBP

Reflections on a three-decade legacy

“The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) will come to a close at the end of this year after three decades of fostering international collaborative research and synthesis on global change.

The organisation’s legacy is embodied in its scientific publications; the workshops and conferences it organised; the close interaction it fostered with policy and assessment processes such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); and its innovative approaches to communication and outreach. It will leave behind a strong record in building networks as well as enhancing research capacity around the world.

The IGBP Secretariat, which has been housed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) in Stockholm for over 25 years, will vacate its offices at the end of this year. The IGBP website will not be updated from the 27th of November. However, it will remain accessible until 2026. An electronic archive of important documents will be available with our sponsor, the International Council for Science (ICSU). A hard copy archive will be held at the RSAS. . . . “

Source: Reflections on a three-decade legacy – IGBP

Nations Must Drop Fossil Fuels, Fast, World Energy Body Warns – The New York Times

“Nations around the world would need to immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields and quickly phase out gasoline-powered vehicles if they want to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, the world’s leading energy agency said Tuesday.

In a sweeping new report, the International Energy Agency issued a detailed road map of what it would take for the world’s nations to slash carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050. That would very likely keep the average global temperature from increasing 1.5 Celsius above preindustrial levels — the threshold beyond which scientists say the Earth faces irreversible damage.

While academics and environmentalists have made similar recommendations before, this is the first time the International Energy Agency has outlined ways to accomplish such drastic cuts in emissions.  . . . “

Thank you Brad Plumer. Here are two of my favorite comments, and my reply to the second one.

Ccsh10Indiana 3h ago

I am a scientist with a solid background in engineering, which includes research at American and German laboratories. I am presently an emeritus professor of physics volunteering in climate work. This article does an excellent job in laying out the issue and the urgency. This is not a time to point to each other’s failures. We all have them abundantly. This is a time to see the magnitude of the problem we face, hope that we have more time than we deserve, and get to work. The issues are remarkably simple. We must stop fossil fuel use and turn to renewables and nuclear power. A combination of these is the path to the future. As scientists we are not joking. If we continue with fossil fuels the result will be catastrophic in terms of mass migration and destruction of our civilization. We must see our all of our neighbors as assets in this greatest challenge we have ever faced. South Chicago is as valuable as Evanston! Wall street must begin to be honest about the value of fossil fuels. We must also realize that the problem of high level nuclear waste has been solved in terms of vitrification. And we have smaller reactors on the horizon. Come, join the scientists on this path. Let us talk together about our goals and possibilities. Choose life, not death. 5 Replies 85 Recommended

DL:

Vitrification is a process used to stabilize and encapsulate high-level radioactive waste. In the vitrification process, radioactive waste is mixed with a substance that will crystallize when heated (e.g., sugar, sand) and then calcined. … Vitrification allows the immobilization of the waste for thousands of years.Jan 13, 2012″
Disposal of radioactive waste – vitrificationhps.org › publicinformation › ate

AAKJerseyNew Jersey 3h ago

Another major report on global warming that ignores the impact of world overpopulation in producing global warming. It is clear that the world will not achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050, regardless of what is done in the United States. Through at least the end of the 21st century, the world will continue to heat up. The report admits that the world population is expected to increase to 10B by 2050, but gives no indication that this can be changed. On the contrary, the only way to control global warming is to control world population. We must stop the increase, and then start decreasing. The natural population increase has already halted in the US and other developed countries, but that must be extended to regions in Africa and South Asia. US foreign policy should promote family planning for free worldwide. Also, free high school for girls will reduce the pressures for child marriage and large families. This is the only way to combat global warming in the long run.3 Replies58 RecommendedShareFlag

My Reply to the comment above.

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | Repy to comment at NYT:

@AKJersey

Well said. Your words ring true, but bother me. If all you say is true, maybe we and our Nato Allies shouldn’t withdraw completely from Afghanistan, so as to preserve the pro modernization and pro female education war lords and current officials.

E.P.A. to Announce Sharp Limits on Powerful Greenhouse Gases – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03/climate/EPA-HFCs-hydrofluorocarbons.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday will take its first significant step under President Biden to curb climate change when it moves to sharply reduce a class of chemicals that is thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, an agency spokesman has confirmed.

The proposed regulation aims to reduce the production and importation of hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, in the United States by 85 percent over the next 15 years. It’s a goal shared by environmental groups and the business community, which jointly championed bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in December to tackle the pollutant.

The move is important because it will be the first time the federal government has set national limits on HFCs, which were used to replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the 1980s but have turned out to be a significant driver of global warming. More than a dozen states have either banned HFCs or are formulating some restrictions.

Kate Aronoff | Biden’s Climate Summit Won’t Save the World – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/22/opinion/climate-pledge-summit.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

I do not endorse this op-ed, but find it has some good and perhaps some bad ideas. It will be worth studying, to determine which is which. The thesis, that the oil and gas establishments are embedded in our trade and policy laws is probably true, and will require serious attention and reform.

April 22, 2021

Credit…Illustration by Jim Datz/The New York Times; Photographs by Doug Mills/The New York Times and Charles O’Rear/Getty Images

” “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil … preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft,” Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in 1965. That ethos would inspire a generation of environmentalists to see the fates of this planet’s inhabitants as intertwined. By contrast, the ecologist Garrett Hardin, who was labeled a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 1974 urged a “lifeboat ethics”: for rich countries to be “on our guard against boarding parties” in predominantly nonwhite countries whose residents he saw as an intolerable strain on the planet’s resources.

Racked by ever-worsening fires and floods, our little craft is not doing well. This week, the White House is welcoming world leaders to a virtual summit on curbing climate destruction. Countries will present their plans to meet the goal inscribed in the Paris Agreement to cap warming at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. President Biden has pledged to cut emissions at least in half from 2005 levels by 2030, aiming for “net zero” emissions by 2050.

But accounting for the United States’ outsize responsibility for the climate crisis requires much bolder action, according to a recent recommendation from several groups, including Friends of the Earth U.S. and ActionAid USA: “a reduction of at least 195 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions” compared with 2005 levels by 2030 — 70 percent cuts within U.S. borders and “the equivalent of a further 125 percent reduction” by providing support for emissions reductions abroad.

The question, then: Does the White House want to helm a spaceship or a lifeboat?  . . . “

Gina McCarthy Leads Biden Climate Push – Coral Davenport – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/20/climate/gina-mccarthy-climate.html

“WASHINGTON — Gina McCarthy worked six or seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, to produce America’s first real effort to combat climate change, a suite of Obama-era regulations that would cut pollution from the nation’s tailpipes and smokestacks and wean the world’s largest economy from fossil fuels.

Then the administration of Donald J. Trump shredded the work of President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency chief before any of it could take effect.

Ms. McCarthy is back, as President Biden’s senior climate change adviser, and this time, she is determined to make it stick.

She is the most powerful climate change official in the country other than Mr. Biden himself, and her charge is not simply to reconstruct her Obama-era policies but to lead an entire government to tackle global warming, from the nation’s military to its diplomatic corps to its Treasury and Transportation Department. She will also lead negotiations with Congress for permanent new climate change laws that could withstand the next change of administration.  . . . “

Opinion | Trump Abandoned the Climate. This Is Biden’s Moment. – The New York Times

“On April 22, Earth Day, the leaders of more than three dozen countries, among them 17 nations responsible for four-fifths of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases, will convene at a virtual summit. The purpose is to discuss where the world goes from here on climate change and what each country must do to limit Earth’s warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels — a threshold beyond which scientists predict irreversible environmental damage.

All eyes will be on the person who organized the summit, President Biden. It is a bit melodramatic to call this a moment of truth for Mr. Biden, but it is a critically important moment for a new president who has promised to reclaim a leadership role for America on a pressing global issue that his predecessor foolishly abandoned. Likewise for a president who has pledged to make America’s economy carbon-neutral by midcentury and who has said he will work tirelessly to persuade other major economies to do the same. The ideas he presents must therefore be not only ambitious but also credible.

Anyone with the energy to slog through acres of verbiage will find the elements of a plausible strategy embedded in his $2 trillion recovery plan. The plan is not exactly what his energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, enthusiastically described as a “once in a century” chance to reinvent America’s energy delivery system. (One would hope for more such moments in this century.) But it offers a great deal more than one would deduce from the reactions of left-of-center groups. The Center for Biological Diversity, for instance, complained about the plan’s “gimmicky subsidies,” its fealty to free markets and its failure to end oil and gas drilling much more quickly.

The plan has many moving parts, two of which are transformative. One is aimed at reducing emissions from cars and trucks, America’s biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Mr. Biden is betting heavily on electric vehicles, which today make up only 2 percent of the vehicles on the road. To “win the E.V. market,” as he put it (China being the main competitor), he proposes $174 billion to build half a million charging stations along the highways — a small fraction of what will be needed, but a good start — plus an array of tax credits aimed at persuading manufacturers to make E.V.s and equip them with batteries that can be recharged as quickly as one can fill up a tank of gas. Also, point-of-sale credits to get people to buy the finished products.”

Biden’s American Jobs Plan Prioritizes Renewable Infrastructure Investment Opportunities | Locke Lord LLP – JDSupra

“The American Jobs Plan and Made in America Tax Plan (the “Plan”), announced by the Biden Administration on March 31, 2021, place heavy emphasis on renewable energy, electrical grid improvements, and climate change-related carbon reductions. In addition to transportation infrastructure repairs, the Plan prioritizes investment in renewable and clean energy technologies.

Roughly $800 billion of the $2 trillion plan directly or indirectly increases investment in renewable energy, electric grid improvement, and climate change mitigation through investments in:

  • Electric vehicles and associated Infrastructure ($174 billion)
  • Public infrastructure resilience to withstand climate disasters  ($50 billion)
  • Clean energy research and development ($180 billion)
  • Electricity grid improvements ($100 billion)
  • Advancement of clean energy manufacturing and technology ($300 billion)

The Plan also proposes a ten-year extension and phase down of an expanded direct-pay production tax credits (“PTCs”) and investment tax credits (“ITCs”) for clean energy generation and storage, continuing the federal incentive to continue solar and wind development through 2031.” . . .

Source: Biden’s American Jobs Plan Prioritizes Renewable Infrastructure Investment Opportunities | Locke Lord LLP – JDSupra

Paul Krugman | Embracing the Softer Side of Infrastructure – The New York Times

“. . . The idea that investment isn’t real if it doesn’t involve steel and concrete would come as news to the private sector. True, back in the 1950s around 90 percent of business investment spending was on equipment and structures. But these days more than a third of business investment is spending on “intellectual property,” mainly R&D and purchases of software.

Businesses, then, believe that they can achieve real results by investing in technology — a view ratified by the stock market, which now puts a high value on companies with relatively few tangible assets. Can the government do the same thing? Yes, it can. In fact, the Obama administration did.

Investment in technology, especially in renewable energy, was only a small fraction of the Obama stimulus, but it’s the piece that got the worst rap. Remember how Republicans harped endlessly on how loan guarantees for the solar-power company Solyndra went bad?

The thing is, if your technology strategy produces only winners, you’re not taking enough risks. Private investors don’t expect every bet to succeed; three out of four start-ups backed by venture capital fail. The question is whether there are enough successes to justify the strategy.

And the Obama investment in green technology produced many successes. You’ve probably heard about Solyndra; have you heard about the crucial role played by a $465 million loan to a company named Tesla?

More broadly, the years since 2009 have been marked by spectacular progress in renewable energy, with solar and wind power in many cases now cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels. There are still people who seem to imagine that green energy is flaky hippie stuff, but the reality is that it’s the wave of the future.” . . .