Sunday, November 16, 2014

POTUS and the Chinese Successfully Conclude a Secret Nine Month Negotiation & Announce a Vital Deal on the Climate Crisis

Edward S. Curtis - Heavy Load (1908)
From Curtis' caption: "Summer and winter, Sioux women performed the heavy work of the camp ..."

This is an historic event. The action taken is not enough (of course), but it is nevertheless of great importance. Understand it! And lean forward. Because soon everything is going to get much worse in this country (seriously), because everything is going to get even crazier in Beltwayistan starting in January (seriously), and this deal offers some leverage in the struggle for control over the final shreds of our collective reality (seriously). It will be a day of profound shame and embarrassment when control of both houses of the Congress of the United States get turned over (once again) to the Zombie Cult and its Death Eater Overlords (seriously). But, meanwhile, to help you get your mind around POTUS' deal with the Chinese, here is some excellent analysis of what it is and what is isn't from four of the worthiest sources available to us:

Naomi A. Klein: Timing isn’t everything but it sure helps. After the mid-term elections, the mood in climate circles was getting pretty grim. We faced the prospect of a Republican-dominated House and Senate overturning emission controls, ramming through Keystone XL and elevating a climate denier (James Inhofe) to chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Already there was talk that upcoming UN climate negotiations were dead on arrival. In this context, the US-China climate deal is a badly needed piece of good news. It signals that Barack Obama is willing to expend political capital fighting for his climate legacy. It Makes It Harder For Republicans to Break Obama’s Promises The deal is also tactically smart: by tying the emission reduction targets of both countries together in a bilateral deal, the President is making sure that his successor will have to weigh any desire to break these commitments against the risks of alienating America most important trading partner. That’s smart. It Robs Climate Obstructionists of Their Best Argument Most significantly, commitments made by China under the deal take away what has historically been the most effective argument in defense of climate negligence in the US: “Why should we stop polluting if China won’t?” For the first time, China is committing to capping its emissions and acknowledging that there must be a limit to its coal-powered growth juggernaut. It Shows that Movements Matter The fact that both governments felt the need to make this pledge speaks to the growing power of social movements in China and the US demanding pollutions controls. In the US, 350,000 people marched in NYC in September demanding action. In China, soaring air pollution levels in major cities have put unprecedented pressure on the governing party to stop relying on coal. Particularly in the context of the Hong Kong protests, the Chinese government cannot afford to ignore public opinion ... -- Some Very Initial Thoughts on the US-China Deal, This Changes Everything, 11-12/14

Bill McKibben, 2) It isn't binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it's meaningful, but for now it's a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead. 3) It is proof, if any more was needed, that renewable energy is ready to go. The Chinese say they'll be using clean sources to get 20 percent of their energy by 2030 -- which is not just possible, it should be easy. Which they know because they've revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90 percent or more in the last decade. 4) It is not remotely enough to keep us out of climate trouble. We've increased the temperature less than a degree and that's been enough to melt enormous quantities of ice, not to mention set the weather on berserk. So this plan to let the increase more than double is folly -- though it is good to see that the two sides have at least agreed not to undermine that two degrees target, the one tiny achievement of the Copenhagen conference fiasco. 5) It is a good way to put pressure on other nations. I've just come back from India, which has worked hard to avoid any targets of any sort. But the lesson from this pact is, actual world leaders at least need to demonstrate they're talking about climate; it makes the lead-up to the global negotiations in Paris next year more interesting. 6) It isn't a way for Obama to get off the hook on things like the Keystone pipeline. If he's serious about meeting these kinds of targets, then we need serious steps; the surest sign this is a talking point, not a serious commitment, would be to approve new pipelines or authorize new drilling. If you pledge sobriety and then buy a keg of beer, people are going to wonder. -- The Big Climate Deal: What It Is, and What It Isn't, Huffington Post, 11-12-14

Joseph Romm, Climate Progress: The historic new U.S.-China climate deal changes the trajectory of global carbon pollution emissions, greatly boosting the chances for a global deal in Paris in 2015. The deal would keep, cumulatively, some 640 billion tons of CO2 emissions out of the air this century, according to brand new analysis by Climate Interactive and MIT, using their C-ROADS model. The U.S.-China deal is truly a gamechanger. In fact, you could make a strong case that prior to this deal, neither the U.S. or China were seriously in the game of trying to stave off climate catastrophe. Now both countries are. When you add the recent European Union (EU) pledge to cut total emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, we now have countries representing more than half of all global emissions making serious commitments — and that in turn puts pressure on every other country. If the developing countries were to all follow China’s lead, and the non-EU developed countries follow ours, a 2015 global deal would slash carbon pollution this century by a whopping 2500 billion tons of CO2 ... -- Why The U.S.-China CO2 Deal Is An Energy, Climate, And Political Gamechanger, Climate Progress, 11-12-14

JAKE SCHMIDT (NRDC): Well, our assessment has looked at this, and we’ve come up with a very strong conclusion, which is that this can actually be achieved under the existing law. Congress has passed the Clean Air Act. Congress has given them the authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And we expect that this kind of target can be met without having to go back to Congress for new legislation. Clearly, we have to ensure that Congress doesn’t try to stop that, but the president does have the power to veto those, and we expect that this and future administrations will clearly send that signal, that any efforts to try to roll back these landmark agreements will be undercut. -- Obama Reaches Climate Deal with China — and GOP Congress May Not Be Able to Stop It, Democracy Now!, 11-12-14

VIDEO: Obama Reaches Climate Deal with China — and GOP Congress May Not Be Able to Stop It, Democracy Now!, 11-12-14