Month: May 2018

We are not going to hit the Paris #ClimateChange target! 3C here we come #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

United States – Under the theme “Building the Investment Case for Sustainable Landscapes and Restoration,” the 2018 Global Landscapes Forum Investment Case Symposium took place at the World Bank in Washington D.C. on 30 May.

Attracting more than 500,000 listeners and engagers, the Symposium brought together local communities, scientific experts, investors and politicians to discuss how public and private finance can better partner to address climate change.

Center for International Forestry Research Director General Robert Nasi opened the Symposium, urging those across the environmental sector to act now, if we are to survive in a “3-degree warmer world.”

The following is a transcript of his welcome address.

ROBERT NASI: Welcome to the third edition of the Global Landscapes Forum Investment case. Many of you here and online attended the first two at the Royal Society in London, and we are very pleased to hold today’s event on the premises of one of our founding members, the World Bank.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank them profusely for their leadership, continued support and commitment to the GLF community and its mission.

Launched six years ago in Warsaw, the GLF has evolved and grown in parallel with global developments.

The key turning point came in 2015 with the adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

This opened the door to a new era in our quest for sustainable development and set clear targets for action on climate change.

These two developments recognized that we need to rethink the way we go about development.

We must work in an encompassing and holistic way that stops jeopardizing nature for human development and creates more equitable, more just and more resilient societies and landscapes.

And we also must stop the increase in global average temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The private and financial sectors have also embraced these goals and targets, beginning with the New York Declaration on Forests.

The commitment is there and the awareness is there, but there remains a prevalent and overarching dichotomy in development that places in opposition to each other humans and nature, public and private, developed and developing.

No one will be surprised if by 2030 the world continues to be locked in this battle of elephants, with little to show in creation of public-private partnerships.

The second point is that after we have calculated all of the nationally determined commitments (NDCs) in the Paris Agreement, we are still left with a gap of 10 to 35 gigatons of CO2, [the latter of] which is about the global emissions in 2017.

So again, we should not be surprised at the end of the year when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us later this year that we have a very, very little chance to achieve the Paris Agreement and its targets.

We are very unlikely to achieve a 1.5- or even 2-degree warming limit, and we are more likely end up in a 3-degree world.

The question is for how long are we going to end up in this situation before we come back to the more magical 1.5 degrees.

So, we are facing the necessity to reduce or bring to zero our net emissions, but this will not be sufficient.

We also need to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and store these gases for a very long time.

My point is simple.

We need to stop talking and thinking and acting like we are going to hit these targets.

We will not.

We are not going to hit the Paris Agreement target.

So we must start thinking about how we are going to adapt to a 3-degree world, how we are going to mitigate a warmer and more uncertain climate.

And this is where it’s very important that we both act together, public and private.

In any investment case for sustainable landscapes, forests and tree matter.

We need to protect the areas of undisturbed forests, we need to manage the increasing share of secondary forests or new forest ecosystems.

We must restore degraded lands faster.

We must invest in plantations for food and fiber and forest products. And we must promote sustainable agriculture intensification via tree-based systems.

Good public policies and significant public funding for infrastructure, research and other public goods are essential for these climate and development goals.

But to me, and that’s why we’re here today, the greatest opportunity for holding back the rise of the global temperatures lies in undertaking fundamental changes in the way that the private economy does business.

There must be far-reaching change in how companies and consumers use energy; change in how we manage soils and inputs; change in how we use and manage forests; change in the ways we involve communities.

Companies large and small must adopt measures to ensure their supply chains are devoid of products that contribute to deforestation and to landscape degradation.

But sustainable finance continues to be held back by short-termism and cost-benefit analyses that tell us that unless the ton of CO2 reaches a certain price – and, if you want to have negative emissions is about USD 160 per ton – we cannot implement this economically.

And while we are waiting for the price to rise, we continue to look for public funds to undertake sustainable development and fight climate change. This is wrong.

We must now play the long game and shift the investment of public and private funds toward preparation for a 3-degree warmer world. We have known for a long time that public funds are fundamental, but they will never be enough or totally useful without private funds working alongside them.

Unfortunately, a big part of the private sector is still shying away from the realities we are facing.

But the realization of the risks created by unequal development and climate change have begun to percolate – and in some cases not just percolate, like the insurance and re-insurance industry will tell you when they looked at 2017 as the most expensive year in American history in terms of natural disasters.

Technologies and visionary management together with informed consumers will promote the innovations needed for the shift to a green, sustainable economy.

But, this retooling of the private economy requires private finance that not only funds transformational change, but also incorporates changes as a condition for lending that make sustainable development a good business practice.

So who are going to be the winners, surviving in a 3-degree warmer world?

People, governments, companies who invest now in mitigating or adapting to these changes, and those who help people to mitigate or adapt or even prosper in these new conditions.

We must invest now in more sustainably managed landscapes and deforestation-, degradation-free value chains and not wait for a better carbon price.

It will be too late.

Most actions we can take related to the land-based sectors require decades to become effective.

They might not bring immediate returns – and clearly some will come faster than others – but their value will increase dramatically in our future world.

If you have read Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen says, “…here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast.”

This is what we, private-public, governments-society, indigenous and non-indigenous people are aiming to achieve through the GLF communities, and this is why we are all here.

As the Director General of CIFOR, I am very proud to be here and of what we have started. Let’s make sure it does not stop here and that we all contribute to a collaborative leadership that continues to foster positive changes across the world.

Thank you again!

Press link for more: Forests News

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Will Climate Change Cause More Migrants than Wars? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), spoke at a conference in Buenos Aires, during a meeting, T20 and Climate Change: Planning, Risk and Response Facing the Emergency, to study the emergencies caused by this phenomenon. Credit: Argentine Council on Foreign Relations

BUENOS AIRES, May 17 2018 (IPS) – Climate change is one of the main drivers of migration and will be increasingly so. It will even have a more significant role in the displacement of people than armed conflicts, which today cause major refugee crises.

This was the warning sounded by Ovais Sarmad, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who was in Buenos Aires to participate in a meeting of international representatives and senior Argentine government officials, on May 16 to analyse the impacts of this phenomenon.

“One example I use is that recently there was migration of refugees and migrants in Europe because of the Syrian conflict and other conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa. That is a big political issue,” Sarmad told IPS.

“In many countries around the world, farmers are the most affected by droughts and they will move. With their cattle, with their children or whatever… And then… they won’t have many places to go. We have only one planet and they can’t go to space.” — Ovais Sarmad

“But the climate change impact will make one million look like a small number. Because a hundred or four hundred million people live in developing countrieso in low-lying areas, in cities which are very close to the sea. If sea level rises, then people will have to move.”

Sarmad, from India, is a specialist in commerce and financial management, with postgraduate studies in London, who for 27 years worked at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

He was chief of staff to the IOM director general until last year, when United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed him as number two at the UNFCCC.

“This movement won’t be just national; people will be moving to other countries. One of the examples is Kiribati, a small island in the Pacific with 100,000 people, that will disappear in a few years time. What will happen with this population?” asked Sarmad in a meeting with four journalists, including IPS.

Can one speak in a strict sense of climate refugees? The international community has not yet validated that definition, but Sarmad believes that the issue must be considered, due to realities such as the sea level rise, increasingly destructive hurricanes or persistent droughts.

“In many countries around the world, farmers are the most affected by droughts and they will move. With their cattle, with their children or whatever… And then… they won’t have many places to go. We have only one planet and they can’t go to space,” said the expert.

In that sense, he considered that the world should be “supportive” and “not close the doors” to those who are displaced due to extreme weather events.

The Indian diplomat was the keynote speaker at the meeting T20 and Climate Change: Planning, Risk and Response Facing the Emergency, organised within the framework of the so-called “Think 20 (T20),” which brings together academic organisations and researchers of the Group of 20 (G20).

The T20 is organised in 10 working groups, one of which deals with climate change and infrastructure for development.

Its mission is to submit public policy recommendations to the G20, the group of industrialised and emerging countries that encompasses 66 percent of the world’s population and makes up 85 percent of global GDP.

In December, Argentina assumed the one-year presidency of the G20, which will conclude at the end of the year with the summit that will bring together in Buenos Aires the world’s main government leaders.

The issue of climate change is particularly controversial in the G20, because last year, under the German presidency, the United States did not adhere to the Action Plan on Climate and Energy Growth, which was endorsed by the rest of the member countries, leading many to conclude that the G20 had become the Group of 19+1.

Argentina wants to be seen as taking an active stance in the battle against climate change, although it did not make the issue one of the G20 priorities for this year, to avoid conflicts.

The main themes chosen by the government of Mauricio Macri are: The future of work, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future.

Sergio Bergman, the Argentine minister of environment and sustainable development, acknowledged in the T20 meeting that Argentina needs to fulfill its commitments undertaken within the Paris Agreement on climate change.

That binding agreement that establishes global measures to combat climate change was adopted during the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21) in December 2015, and was considered a landmark achievement, until the U.S. administration of Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2017.

Argentina needs to maintain those commitments, among other things because it is applying for membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“We want to join the OECD and for that we have to take on our obligations and sit for an exam,” said Bergman, who added: “After what happened in Germany last year, the challenge is how we get the 20 members of the G20 into the final document.”

Also participating in the T20 meeting was Argentine Defence Minister Oscar Aguad, who to some extent played host since it was held at the National Defence University (UNDEF).

This state institution is responsible for the training of military and civilians and climate change is one of its areas of research.

Sarmad’s proposals in Buenos Aires made it clear that the goal of the UNFCCC is for Argentina, as chair of the G20, to promote commitments in the field of climate change.

“G20 must have political leadership and include in this year’s recommendations that the Paris Agreement must be implemented. Otherwise it will be a nice agreement, but it will stay on a shelf,” he said in the keynote address he gave during the event, before about a hundred attendees, many of them public officials.

Sarmad said that, despite the international community’s efforts to combat climate change, there was an increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, after a decrease in the previous three years.

The reason, he said, has been an increase in the consumption of fossil fuels.

This was confirmed by another participant in the T20 meeting, Youba Sokona from Mali, an environmental expert and the vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Sokona said that although the cost of renewable energies has gone down in recent years, fossils fuels are still cheaper.

“The cost of renewable energies is not only expensive for developing countries. Even Germany, when it decided to put a brake on nuclear energy, had to turn to coal,” said Sokona, who pointed out that the IPCC faces funding problems because of the withdrawal of U.S. economic support.

“It’s interesting that we have these conferences to talk about climate change, but there are many things we can do. We must take action because there’s much suffering around the world because of climate change, that affects especially women and children, the most vulnerable populations.”

“There’s no other issue at an international level, besides security and nuclear proliferation, more important than climate change,” he stated.

Press link for more: IPS NEWS

The Coal Truth. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

The Coal Truth. David Ritter

Jennifer GrayMay 27, 2018

David Ritter is softly spoken.

When he talks he uses mesmerizing, poetic verse. So I picked up his new book The Coal Truth with much anticipation. I was not disappointed. David has laid out one of the most terrifying stories of our time, in his gentle and yet forceful style.

Like many of you I pay little attention to the Adani Mine plans in the Galilee Basin. I know it is wrong but I have not spent much time trying to understand the seemingly limitless legal and political machinations. As David’s narrative unfolded I found myself increasingly enraged.

• How is it possible that this crime of global proportions, possibly a crime against humanity, is happening here in Australia?

• How is it possible that we are even considering a new coal mine when we already know that coal is over, the rapid rise of clean power threatens to strand existing coal based assets?

• How are we not connecting coal and its impact on the climate, with the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef?

• Why would the government fund a private operation that is so risky and unprofitable that 12 major banks will not fund it?

• Why would India want coal twice as dirty and polluting as the coal allowed in Australia?

• And do they seriously,have unlimited water rights, in a desert?

With questions raging in my head I finished this book thinking it should be compulsory reading for every politician in the country.

The topic could be toxic, but it is saved by David’s beautiful style. Every part is beautifully written with great humility and personal touches. To illustrate this I have chosen a few paragraphs from his trip to the site of the proposed mine, an onerous journey.

“In multiple ways, this is contested land, the earth wearing the physical signs, scars and ornaments of our human struggle for power. Above all, it is the sheer sense of space, the openness of the horizon and the hugeness of the sky between which we travel, the celestial and terrestrial domains oblivious to our tiny passage.”

The actual site is an anti-climax. Only fencing and weathered signs mark the battle site for the Adani Mine. There is a challenge in grasping the enormity of this misadventure, when it is so intangible.

“In combination, the hidden functioning of power, the abstract nature of global warming as a process and the remoteness of the Adani site make for a complex opacity; veil upon veils, beneath which is the face of absolute wrong.”

But woven through his beautiful words and phrases is a clear warning.

“It is actually quite peaceful here. But appearances are deceptive: hidden though it is, we are standing at one of the most important places on earth at the moment; literally ground zero for one of the planets greatest carbon bombs, primed and ready to go off if the Adani mine is permitted to go ahead. I guess it is one way of putting Queensland on the map.”

I will no longer have Adani on the periphery of my attention, I have heard the call to participate, after all it is our future at stake. If the measure of great writing is the power to change attitudes and behaviors, David has succeeded. I am changed.

I am sure when you read this marvelous book, as you must, something will grab your attention and change your perceptions. Perhaps it will be the haunting description of collecting his daughter from child care during the Sydney heat wave last year. Perhaps the anger of fire fighters increasingly exposed to the dangers of wild fires.

For me it was the idea of limitless water rights. In a future where water will be like gold, how can we responsibly give limitless water rights to a coal mine?

I have a simple ask, please buy this book, but buy 5 copies. Send one to your local member of parliament, one to your local high school and one to your bank manager. The other two are for people you know will love to really, truly understand this issue. I have placed my order and love the idea of literary advocacy.

And please vote for this book to win every literary prize possible, it is deserved.

Leaving the last words to David “…you are wanted and needed to play your part in the greatest story of our national history.

The future is for all of us to make together.”

Press link for more: LinkedIn.com

UN Launches New Coalition on Health, Environment and Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

UN Launches New Coalition on Health, Environment and Climate Change.

UN Climate Change News, 30 May 2018

The UN has launched a new global coalition on health, environment and climate change to reduce the annual 12.6 million deaths caused by environmental risks, and especially air pollution.

The heads of the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Environment and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) came together for the initiative.

At the launch of the coalition last week in Geneva, WMO chief Petteri Taalas urged for greater urgency in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change to keep the global temperature increase to well under 2°C by the end of this century.

Mr Taalas stressed that the world has a “30 year window of opportunity” to reduce the carbon footprint, reign in greenhouse gas emissions and to switch to clean and renewable energy in pursuit of the “win-win solution” of tackling both climate change and pollution.

He said the top challenge was in cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas driving climate change. This remains in the atmosphere and oceans for thousands of years.

Global average concentrations of CO2 in 2017 exceeded 400 ppm, and average temperatures were 1.1°Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Climate change is adversely affecting economies in developing countries, and the cost of natural disasters, in particular tropical cyclones, hit a new record last year, said Mr Taalas.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim and WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas briefed delegates at the annual World Health Assembly on the priorities, opportunities and challenges in the months and years ahead.

“If we want to achieve Health For All, we will need to keep health costs down and that means three things: prevention, prevention, prevention,” said Dr Tedros. “We must ensure people can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat nutritious food.”

According to WHO figures, an estimated 7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution related diseases, including strokes and heart disease, respiratory illness and cancer. Air pollution in most major cities exceeds WHO air quality standards.

Many pollutants which damage health also harm the environment and contribute to climate change. These include black carbon from diesel engines, cooking stoves and waste incineration, and ground level ozone, which are harmful but are short lived in the atmosphere. It is estimated that reductions in short-lived climate pollutant emissions from sources like traffic, cookstoves, agriculture and industry could help trim the rate of global warming by about 0.5°C by 2050.

The urgency of combating pollution in countries including China has provided new incentives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle long term climate change, said Mr Solheim.

“If we speed up on renewable energy solutions, fewer people will die from air pollution. Let’s create a pollution free environment,” he said.

WMO already closely collaborates with both the WHO and UNEP, but within the new coalition called for at COP22 in Marrakesh, WMO (through national meteorological services) will strengthen action specifically targeting health protection from environment and climate change related risks.

This will be through better provision of climate services such as seasonal outlooks and can improve management of climate-sensitive diseases like cholera and malaria, heat-health warnings against the growing problem of heatwaves, and multi-hazard early warning services against high-impact events like tropical cyclones.

The coalition begins with a joint focus on Air Quality outlining five areas of joint work. WMO’s observing network, its Sand and Dust Storm Warning, Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) and its Global Atmosphere Watch stations, which monitor the atmosphere, will be underpinning to the global drive to improve air quality mapping and monitoring.

The SDS-WAS can play an important role in knowing when and where dust storms may occur, to allow health partners to plan more effectively and benefit from WMO global atmospheric monitoring and forecasting capacity on acute episodes of hazardous air quality – such as dust storms.

The new global coalition on health, environment and climate change will seek to pool expertise and achieve greater coordination. One of the most immediate outcomes of the coalition will be a Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, which will take place in Geneva 30 October to 1 November.

Read the relevant WMO news item here

Press link for more: UNFCCC.INT

Working on #climatechange is an act of love. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Working on climate change is an act of love

By Catherine Abreu in Opinion, Energy, Politics | May 28th 2018

Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, poses for a photo at Meech Lake, in Gatineau, Que. on May 17, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Three years ago I could not have imagined that Canada would become a contender for the title of global champion for climate action.

Nor could I have predicted a pan-Canadian framework that establishes a shared vision for climate policy and clean growth across the federal and most provincial and territorial governments, and many sectors of our economy.

Given such unforeseen progress and the grueling work by government and Canada’s environmental community that went into it, I could not have anticipated that in 2018 we would find ourselves mired in the same painful conflict that has played out again and again in North America for more than a decade.

I refer to Indigenous and frontline communities standing up against an unwanted pipeline that industry and governments are determined to push through.

Meanwhile, the climate policies we have worked so hard for are under threat as short-sighted politicians take potshots at long-term protection of our health and our environment.

How heartbreaking.

And so these moments hurt – these moments where ambitious climate policy is undermined by expanding fossil fuel infrastructure.

They enrage.

And we fight because we have to to protect what we love. #climate #CDNpoli #BCpoli

The truth is that working on climate change is not a fight: it is an act of love.

Those of us who dedicate our lives to this effort, in whatever setting we choose to work (there are climate activists in governments and businesses everywhere), do it because we love our families, our children, the lake we swam in as teenagers, the communities we have seen suffer as weather gets more extreme and sea levels rise.

We do it because we see the injustice and inequity and colonial ideology that both drives and is exacerbated by climate change, and we have to believe in a world liberated from these institutions of violence.

And so these moments hurt – these moments where ambitious climate policy is undermined by expanding fossil fuel infrastructure.

They enrage. And we fight because we have to to protect what we love.

Canadians are told that climate action and opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline are fights against workers in Alberta’s oil sands, people who are also trying to protect and provide for those they care about.

Canadians are also told that these activities are a fight against the overall viability of Canada’s economy and, therefore, a fight against Canadians everywhere.

What cruel lies.

What climate action and opposition to fossil fuel infrastructure are is a fight against the influence of an oil and gas industry that is too used to calling the shots in Canada; a fight against a vision of economic success that ignores the jobs and wealth generated by sustainable industries and pins all our hopes on extracting the last dregs of our fossil fuel resources and exporting them to be burned up in a world that has already warmed by over one degree celsius.

Canada’s media and politicians are consumed by a debate that pits “the economy” against “the environment.” We should all know by now that it is absurd to suggest that the economy exists in a vacuum divorced from the ramifications of environmental degradation. Ask any fisherman who experienced the cod collapse in my mother’s home province of Nova Scotia how the economy fairs when ecosystems break down.

It is tragic that one of the most challenging conversations we need to have as a nation is being distilled into an oversimplified and polarizing debate. We deserve a discussion that offers a mature conversation about how we will address climate change while fairly and justly transitioning away from the fossil fuel production the climate can no longer afford.

I refuse to be sold short by an old, dangerous, truncated story of Canadian prosperity that reduces our economy to a pipeline and suggests that measures like carbon pricing – a tool being used by almost 70 jurisdictions worldwide with little issue – is going to kill jobs. Particularly when I can look around and see working examples of economic diversification paired with climate action everywhere.

Renewable energy has created 15,300 direct jobs for Indigenous workers across Canada in the last eight years. Efficiency Nova Scotia has created 1,200 long-term jobs in one Maritime province alone. Kinder Morgan has told the National Energy Board it would create just 90 long-term pipeline operating jobs with the Trans Mountain expansion. Some of the world’s first all-electric low-emissions mines are being built in Northern Ontario and Quebec and will employ hundreds. Cutting methane pollution in Alberta will create thousands of jobs. The evidence is bountiful.

This is one of those moments in history that calls on all of us to stand unflinchingly in the hard truth of our condition. We cannot shrink in fear of the impacts of climate change and the implications of the tremendous effort demanded of us. We can not continue to soothe ourselves with half measures, significant as they may be. Transformational renewal and nothing less is what Canadians deserve, and it is already playing out right before our eyes.

Catherine Abreu is executive director of Climate Action Network Canada

Press link for more: National Observer

Greens MP refers Adani to CCC #auspol #Qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Greens MP refers Adani to CCC over Isaac Regional Council deal.

Greens MP Michael Berkman has today asked the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) to investigate Adani bankrolling wages of Isaac Regional Council staff working on approvals for the controversial Carmichael project.

“This week we learnt Adani will bankroll $1.15 million in wages, vehicle and housing costs for Isaac Regional Council employees,” he said.

“Today I am referring the matter to the CCC. I’m calling on them to investigate the potential for corruption and conflict of interest this deal creates.

“Premier Palaszczuk urged Adani to seek advice from the Crime and Corruption Commission yesterday, but they’ve laughed her off.

Gentle prodding is not enough to address the serious concerns raised by Transparency International about this arrangement.

“The deal in question is unprecedented: Adani are paying the wages of staff responsible for ensuring their own legal, engineering and environmental compliance.

“Adani’s denials don’t comfort anyone – we know this company cannot be trusted. The Adani Group has a proven track record of complete disregard for environmental law, and has been accused of criminal corporate behaviour a number of times.

“This is not even the first time the CCC has been asked to investigate suspiciously close relationships between Adani and local councils in Queensland.

“Adani and Isaac Council’s apparent excuse for the new deal – that they want to protect ratepayers from extra costs – lacks credibility when you consider these previous scandals.

“Earlier this year we learnt Townsville and Rockhampton Councils were throwing $30 million of ratepayers’ money at Adani to build them a privately-owned airstrip in Central Queensland.

“The Isaac Council can claim staff will be ‘under its direction’ all they like, but the fact remains that their jobs depend on Adani.

“This type of dodgy behaviour is symptomatic of the power that fossil fuel companies wield over government at all levels in Australia.

“We’ll never make the urgent and necessary shift away from fossil fuels until we ban corporate donations and break free of corporate influence.”

Press link for more: Michael Berkman

How to Replace Neoliberalism With a Caring Economy #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

We must do more than resist Trumpism; we must resist neoliberal capitalism with a vision for how democratic ownership of common goods can build a nurturing society.

By Eleanor J. Bader / Truthout

In her timely book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, Naomi Klein calls on us to resist President Trump and the turn to reactionary-right politics in the US.

She also reminds us that, even if we succeed, we will still be left with the conditions that gave rise to Trumpism in the first place.

We’ve got to do more than resist Trump.

She calls us to change the neoliberal paradigm that has guided (or rather, misguided) public and private life for the last four decades in the United States and much of the rest of the world.

This is no small challenge, but without a new way forward, life will become increasingly unlivable.

As I have discussed previously, neoliberalism is a renewal of the 19th century liberalism of laissez faire, free market, unbridled capitalism of the robber baron era. The 20th century social liberalism we are more familiar with is the opposite of that. Born of the crisis of the Great Depression of the 1930s, it accepts the need for an active state to protect ordinary people from the depredations of the market while also regulating and guiding the economy to make capitalism work. That social liberalism, or “social democracy” as it is also called, was the dominant public ideology in the US up through the 1970s.

But then, with the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher’s leadership in the United Kingdom, a new ideology began to eclipse “social democracy.” Rather than seeing the state as the instrument for democratic self-government, this ideology saw government as the source of our problems. In this view, government should just “get out of the way” and let the market direct society.

The dirty little secret that advocates of neoliberalism try to hide from us is that government is still needed to structure markets so they will work for capitalism.

For example, unions must be curtailed since organized workers bargaining collectively distort a free market in labor. Individual workers are to be free to sell their labor as they choose. Powerless as individuals, the “right to work” in reality amounts to a right to work for less. At the same time, investors can organize collectively into corporations and operate freely in the market.

In neoliberalism, grossly unequal power relation between individuals and corporations is ignored or even perpetuated.

This means that neoliberalism favors the interests of corporate capitalism over working people, and that neoliberalism is a project for unbridled capitalism. It is the default position of capital when unrestrained by popular forces.

Neoliberal Government

What is the function of government in a capitalist society?

Naomi Klein has stated the neoliberal answer in clear terms: “governments exist to create the optimal conditions for private interests to maximize their profits and wealth….” It is then claimed by neoliberals that this is in the general interest of society because profits and economic growth benefits everyone — the “trickle-down” myth.

With this agenda, it should not be surprising to find widespread anti-government sentiment among the populace. When government benefits the few at the expense of the many, then government is seen as bad and less government is therefore better. It is precisely due to the anti-democratic character of neoliberal government that both the government itself and the political elite who champion neoliberalism lack legitimacy, as voters declared in the 2016 election.

By contrast, in a genuine social democracy, government is an instrument through which a community promotes the common good.

One way government can do this is by making available those common resources that can support the human development of its members. Institutionally, this takes the form of public goods or other types of commons.

A commons is a resource available to the members of a community (whether local or national) that is governed democratically by that community so as to better contribute to the human development of its members.

Examples of such commons abound: They range from the public library and fire department, public schools and the internet, to public security and, in other countries, the health care system. These contribute to human flourishing and are “common” because they can better benefit all when shared rather than held as private property. Then, of course, there is that greatest commons of all — the planet. With climate change, we are seeing what happens when a commons is not governed in the common good and private interests are allowed to ravage it.

Like all institutions, the commons educates us to a way of being. While a capitalist market educates us to a competitive individualism, a commons economy educates us to a nurturing community. And through the participation of the commoners in the governance of the commons, we are educated to democracy.

The thrust of neoliberal ideology is to privatize everything, taking common resources (even those built at public expense) and commodifying them so as to be able to realize a profit from their use. This then leads to economic inequality. As Ronald Reagan famously said: “I always want America to be a country where someone can get rich.” [Note: “someone,” but not everyone.] The role of government is to facilitate private enrichment.

It takes pressure to force ruling elites to moderate policies to favor the public, even if it is only to maintain social stability. This often results in the creation of public goods. But when popular pressure wanes, the capitalist state reverts to its neoliberal function, privatizing these public goods. Privatization of a public good breaks it away from the community and subjects it to the will of a private owner. No longer serving the interest of the community, it serves the interest of its owner.

Defending Commons

It is that privatization we are now called on to resist in the age of Trump. This administration is imposing a veritable tsunami of privatizations, attempting to complete the destruction of the New Deal/Great Society programs that have been undermined bit by bit over the last four decades. Now, as we wake up to the clear and present threat to public goods that have sustained us, we can better appreciate their value to us. With this increased consciousness, we may now be better able to press for an expansion of public goods.

A public good is a commons that is provided by government. There are other commons that are provided by communities, but it is the public ones that are now under attack due to the hostile corporate takeover of the government. There is now a concerted campaign by the right-wing to complete the privatization and commodification of education, health care, the internet, transportation infrastructure, public lands, prisons, security, the military and even Social Security. As corporate capital is hungry for places to invest, it looks to these public goods as potential profit centers. Every area of social life is being subordinated to the logic of capitalism and its markets. This has the effect of fragmenting society and de-socializing individuals who are “freed” from social solidarities and thereby become vulnerable to unregulated corporate forces in the market. The campaign to destroy unions is a prime example of this.

As we resist this neoliberal offensive, we need to be clear about what we are for. What is our vision of an alternative? We need more than a program that is a laundry list of what we are defending. We need to connect the dots by showing how they fit together in a coherent vision of a better society.

Naomi Klein’s “Leap Manifesto” links them with a value: the value of caretaking. A caring society is a compelling alternative to the present neoliberal order. But we need to make the ethics of caring concrete by outlining how it can be institutionalized. We need to institutionalize it in an expansion of commons that embody the ethics of caring.

Now, while existing commons are under threat of privatization and we are called on to defend them, we have an opportunity to call for their expansion. While neoliberals seek to strengthen the reign of private profits in our health care system, this is the time to demand health care as a right and call for its socialization as a public good. In this as in other areas, we need to boldly put forth the vision of expanded free access to common resources that enrich us all. A caring society requires social institutions that guarantee and protect the commons.

In the neoliberal ideology, there is no common good. Indeed, there is no society. This was the premise of neoliberalism in the view of Margaret Thatcher. As she said, “There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families.” In fact, this is not a description of reality. Rather, it is a project to remake reality. As she admitted, “Economics are the method, but the object is to change the soul.” Neoliberalism attempts to remake reality by shredding the social contract and dissolving society into individuals who are powerless to resist the ravages of capitalism.

Neoliberal Man

The neoliberal concept of the human being is what economists call “homo economicus.” Economic man is a purely self-interested individual seeking his own economic advantage in the marketplace. He is shorn of any moral restraints, compassion for others, or sense of responsibility to the community or others. He is an amoral, asocial atom.

This homo economicus is usually understood to be an abstraction. It is recognized that in reality, we are social beings, with meaningful relations with others and moral sentiments, living in communities. Nevertheless, as Naomi Klein points out, with Donald Trump we have a neoliberal man, a personification of homo economicus. He is a nearly pure product of neoliberal capitalism. He is asocial and amoral. His entire being is focused on self-interest. In him, we can see mirrored what neoliberalism is making us. It is from that that we recoil in horror.

Long ago, Karl Marx observed this tendency in capitalism when he noted how the bourgeois system had “left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.'” He famously observed: “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” This is the ethics of neoliberalism unleashed by unrestrained capitalism and personified in our president today.

That is why a genuinely alternative vision to neoliberalism roots us in human collectivities, in communities. We are not only economic beings, we are also moral beings with a social identity. We care for others as well as for self. That is why we common together with others in a community to share resources that contribute to the fuller human development of all.

The conceptual basis of such a society has been set forth by Gar Alperovitz in his book Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth. The idea of a commonwealth is a political community that recognizes wealth (in the sense of well-being) comes from our association together in society. For decades, Alperovitz has been building institutions within present capitalist society that strengthen our interdependence for the common good — institutions such as cooperatives and community development corporations.

He recognizes that who owns capital is a major determinant of who has power in a society. Thus, to have a democratic society where power rests with the people, much of the capital of society must be in the hands of the popular classes. But that does not necessarily mean the state, as was commonly assumed in the 20th century. Applying the principle of subsidiarity, ownership and decision-making power should be at the lowest level possible, with higher levels providing support. This then gives scope to a participatory form of democracy such as is possible in a worker-owned, self-managed cooperative. However, Alperovitz points out, “the interests of workers in any unit of production or social administration are not the same as those of the community as a whole.” Thus, to ensure that the common good prevails, cooperatives must be “embedded within more comprehensive frameworks of support and democratic control,” as in the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, for example.

In addition to cooperatives, Alperovitz allows for small, private, individual ownership, as well as larger firms held as public utilities. But such a pluralist commonwealth can be oriented to the common good with “public provision of, and oversight over, investment capital.” As he asserts, “a rigorous conception of a robust and democratic public sphere depends to a significant degree on the development of democratic forms of ownership.”

As we struggle to resist the neoliberal world, we come together to build vibrant, resilient communities. Ours is a vision of a society based on solidarity, of collective empowerment, of public institutions that nurture the fuller development of all humans. Ours is a struggle to reclaim a human world in the midst of the multiple crises of these times.

Eleanor J. Bader teaches English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY and is a freelance writer.

Her work appears frequently on Truthout.org, Rewire.news, Theasy.com, and on the Lilith Magazine blog.

Press link for more: Alternet.org

We need a new understanding of what the economy is auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Kate Raworth: We need a new understanding of what the economy is and what it’s for.

Kate Raworth is a renegade economist passionate about making economics fit for the 21st century. Her best-selling book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist has been translated into seven languages and was long-listed for the 2017 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year award.

She teaches at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she is a Senior Visiting Research Associate, and is also a Senior Associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and an advisor to the Global Challenges programme of the Stockholm School of Economics.

Here Kate discusses people-centred economics and environmental integrity in an age of mass commercialism. Join us at FutureFest 2018 on 6-7 July and hear Kate explore these topics further.

Neoliberal doctrines have virtually taken over universities and governments in the West. What do you think is the best method of persuasion to challenge this and turn people towards people-centred economics?

The best way to challenge something you’re against is to propose something you’re for. If you try and fight something purely by critiquing it, you will never displace it. As Buckminster Fuller said: “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” It’s crucial to always have a counter-argument and to suggest an alternative. With Doughnut Economics, I set out to demonstrate what’s wrong with the mainstream, economic theories that are typically taught in universities, and that create a form of intellectual graffiti in our minds. Ideas, like graffiti, are very hard to scrub out: it’s far smarter to paint over them with propositional ideas that are fit for our times. That’s what Doughnut Economics aims to do, describing the regenerative and distributive economy that I believe we need to thrive this century.

“Doughnut Economics” suggests a safe space, where everyone has enough and not too little. Do you think the way our governments, economies and businesses are set up suggests that we humans have a natural propensity towards greed? Is it realistic to endeavour for this safe space, or are we fighting a losing battle against human nature?

Adam Smith, a founding father of economic thought, had a rather nuanced view of humans — that self-interest is essential for making markets work, but our interest in others is essential for making society work. However, economic theory evolved to focus only on that trait of self-interest, resulting in a dangerously narrow picture of who we are. What’s fascinating is the more that students learn about the traits of rational economic man, the more they come to value self-interest and competitiveness and the more they turn away from altruism and collaboration. We essentially end up mimicking and re-enforcing the model we make of ourselves. Who we tell ourselves we are shapes who we become.

Whilst we do have a propensity towards selfishness, we are also the most social mammal and we possess strong traits of cooperation and altruism.

People often say they are the happiest when they are helping others. But this side of our nature was airbrushed out by mainstream economics.

The re-painting of humanity’s portrait in economics is ongoing of course, but it couldn’t come soon enough.

We can see this dependence on human greed filter into marketing and advertising as well, and that re-enforces the existing economic model.

Women’s clothing shops initially started with four seasons, then 12, now some have 52 seasons. Shopping has turned from a necessity to a form of leisure. The greed that we see when people are shopping in the high street is fuelled by the design of marketing and advertising to make us feel deficient. They put their skills into tapping into the most vulnerable parts of human nature and mine them for all they’re worth. There is a whole other side to human nature that has been neglected and fails to be reinforced through advertising. That’s because the 20th century design of business is focused on maximising shareholder returns. But we could quite feasibly design businesses to deliver social value as their main purpose and still maintain a healthy return on investment.

Why do you think the economy and the environment are treated so separately by those in power? How can we compel people to turn away from this short-term, profit-hungry thinking?

Because when you look in the economics text books from which all politicians, journalists, and business people draw their narrative of the economy, the living planet is largely absent – it shows up as an ‘externality’. If in these early days of the 21st century, we are still framing the degradation of the planet — on which all of our lives depend — as an ‘externality’, this should be an alarm call that the economic theories we are still using are in no way equipping us to deal with the reality we now face.

It’s almost treated as something to be dealt with later. We all know how important it is, but nobody wants to address it right now.

Starting in the 1990s, there’s been a persistent belief in economic policymaking circles that growth will clean up after itself. This may sometimes happen on a national scale in terms of local water and air pollutants, but globally, in terms of greenhouse gases and a nation’s use of global resource flows, a nation’s environmental impact tends to grow, not fall, as countries get richer. This is why we need a new mindset in economics, which starts by recognising that the economy is embedded within the living world and is dependent upon its enduring health and stability.

If the idea is to push Doughnut Economics into the mainstream, doesn’t it need the backing of a political party? Do you see your views reflected in the policies of any existing political parties?

I was really surprised by the level of engagement with Doughnut Economics from politicians. I’ve had people from diverse political parties reach out to me, including the Green Party and the Labour Party. David Davis from the Conservative Party said he was reading Doughnut Economic last summer. The core recognition that a transformation in economic mindset is needed seems to resonate across many parties. I think there’s a growing recognition of the fact that we need a new economic story and a new understanding of what the economy is and what it’s for. It’s clear to me there is a hunger for a new economic narrative among politicians, that allows them to move beyond calling for inclusive, green growth. It shows a desire for richer thinking about environmental integrity and the future of the planet.

Have you publicly affiliated yourself with any party?

No, I’m interested in exploring the reimagining of our economy and so am willing to engage across the political spectrum. If these ideas seemed to belong to any one party, they would risk becoming a matter of party politics rather than speaking to the wider debate. Doughnut Economics is about reimagining the economy – that’s much bigger than party politics – but I hope it will influence and become part of every party’s future vision of well-being.

Press link for more: Nesta.org.uk

Trump & Turnbull refuse to consider that 97% of climate scientists could be right #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Trump & Turnbull refuse to consider that 97% of climate scientists could be right

Even though smart climate policies could save tens of trillions of dollars.

Dana Nuccitelli

Tue 29 May 2018

Last week, the Washington Post obtained a White House internal memo that debated how the Trump administration should handle federal climate science reports.

The memo presented three options without endorsing any of them: conducting a “red team/blue team” exercise to “highlight uncertainties in climate science”; more formally reviewing the science under the Administrative Procedure Act; or deciding to just “ignore, and not seek to characterize or question, the science being conducted by Federal agencies and outside entities.”

In short, the White House considered ‘debating’ established climate science, casting doubt on scientists’ conclusions, or just ignoring them. Accepting and/or acting on the findings of the scientific experts is not an option they’re willing to consider.

Meanwhile, a paper published in Nature last week concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures would save more than $20tn as compared to a temperature of 2°C. The carbon pollution cuts needed to achieve the 1.5°C target would cost about $300bn more than efforts to meet 2°C. In other words, the economic benefits of the more aggressive target would outweigh its costs by a factor of about 70-to-1.

Current international climate policies will only limit global warming to about 3–3.5°C global warming, and America’s policies are “critically insufficient” to meet either the 2°C or 1.5°C targets. Under the Trump administration, the US has no plans to try and cut its carbon pollution, and in fact the administration has been taking every possible step to undo established climate policies and increase pollution from the coal and oil industries, even though global warming will especially hurt Trump country.

Basically, taking aggressive action to curb global warming would save the world a lot of money, and it would especially benefit the economies in southern, conservative states. But it wouldn’t be good for the fossil fuel industry, and the Trump administration has prioritized short-term corporate profits above all else, including American welfare and lives.

https://youtu.be/7d8PwPHMKEw

Ignoring experts is stupid

There’s a 97% expert consensus that humans are causing global warming, and the scientific research is clear that the consequences of continued rapid climate change could be devastating for the economy and for all species on Earth.

The case for the Trump administration approach – ignoring and casting doubt on the conclusions of climate science experts – is that of a bad gambler. It’s not a 100% consensus; maybe the less than 3% of climate contrarians are onto something. Perhaps the experts are wrong and climate change won’t be so bad.

If the stakes were something inconsequential like a Trump steak, that would be fine, but it should go without saying that betting the future of humanity and life on Earth on a less than 3% long shot is a bad idea. The stakes could not be higher. Prudent risk management dictates that we should be taking serious steps to mitigate the chances of such a disastrous outcome. That’s why Americans buy home and auto and health insurance. It’s why fewer than 17% of Americans today are smokers, down from 42% in 1965.

Saving the Republican Party

Not only is global warming denial terrible policy, but it’s bad for the long-term health of the Republican Party. There’s a climate change generation gap – most young Americans realize that humans are causing global warming, and young conservatives want their leaders to do something about it. Climate change impacts will only become more severe over time, and today’s youth know that they’ll have to live with the consequences of our actions today. They simply can’t afford denial, and the GOP risks losing these voters forever by willfully ignoring the problem that poses an existential threat to young Americans.

There are a few glimmers of hope in the party. Trump’s new Nasa administrator now accepts climate science. Eight House Republicans signed a letter to leaders of the Appropriations Committee urging them to reject any provisions in the 2019 spending bill that would undermine efforts to combat climate change. The conservative Climate Leadership Council proposed a free market, small government, revenue-neutral carbon tax ready to go as soon as the GOP can elect a leadership that’s willing to make a great climate change deal.

But right now the GOP is still stuck being, as Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) described it five years ago, “the stupid party.” Its leadership won’t even consider the possibility that 97% of climate science experts are right. That denial is going to be very expensive, and as Americans increasingly accept the realities of climate change, it will also land the GOP on the endangered species list.

Press link for more: The Guardian

The biggest mistake we’ve made on climate change. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

The biggest mistake we’ve made on climate change

Ross Gittins29 May 2018

Illustration: Andrew Dyson

Photo:

Every time I go to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival I’m asked the same question: since there’s no policy issue more important than responding to global warming, and we’re doing so little about it, why do I ever write about anything else?

I give the obvious answer. Though I readily agree that climate change is the most pressing economic problem we face, if I banged on about nothing but global warming three times a week, our readers would soon lose interest.

But even as I make my excuses, my Salvo-trained conscience tells me they’re not good enough. Even if I can’t write about it every week, I should raise it more often than I do.

I’m still combing through the budget’s fine print, but I’ve yet to remark that its thousands of pages make almost no mention of climate change.

Even the federal government’s latest, 2015 “intergenerational report” peering out to 2055, devotes only a few paragraphs to “environment” and avoids using words starting with c.

I fear that history won’t be kind to the present generation – and particularly not to people with a pulpit like mine.

We’ve known of the scientific evidence for human-caused global warming since the late-1980s. Since then the evidence has only strengthened. And by now we have the evidence of our own senses of hotter summers and autumns and warmer winters, plus more frequent extreme weather events.

And yet as a nation we procrastinate. Our scientists get ever more alarmed by the limited time we have left to get on top of the problem, and yet psychologists tell us that the harder the scientists strive to stir us to action, the more we turn off.

Our grandchildren will find it hard to believe we could have been so short-sighted as to delay moving from having to dig our energy out of the ground to merely harnessing the infinite supply of solar and wind power being sent to our planet free of charge.

What were we thinking?

Did an earlier generation delay moving from the horse and buggy to the motor car because of the disruption it would cause to the horse industry?

The biggest mistake we’ve made is to allow our politicians to turn concern about global warming into a party-political issue, and do so merely for their own short-term advantage.

The initial motives may have been short term, but the adverse effects have been lasting. These days, for a Liberal voter to worry about climate change is to be disloyal to their party and give comfort to the enemy.

Apparently, only socialists think their grandkids will have anything to worry about. The right-thinkers among us know the only bad thing our offspring will inherit is Labor’s debt.

Global warming used not to be, shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to stay a right-versus-left issue.

In Europe it’s bipartisan. Margaret Thatcher was a vocal fighter for action on climate change, and the Conservative Party is anti-denial to this day.

If you remember, John Howard went to the 2007 election promising an emissions trading scheme. The big debate in that campaign was whether Labor’s rival plan was better because it started a year earlier.

The biggest mistake we’ve made is to allow our politicians to turn concern about global warming into a party-political issue, and do so merely for their own short-term advantage.

The initial motives may have been short term, but the adverse effects have been lasting. These days, for a Liberal voter to worry about climate change is to be disloyal to their party and give comfort to the enemy.

Apparently, only socialists think their grandkids will have anything to worry about. The right-thinkers among us know the only bad thing our offspring will inherit is Labor’s debt.

Global warming used not to be, shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to stay a right-versus-left issue. In Europe it’s bipartisan. Margaret Thatcher was a vocal fighter for action on climate change, and the Conservative Party is anti-denial to this day.

If you remember, John Howard went to the 2007 election promising an emissions trading scheme. The big debate in that campaign was whether Labor’s rival plan was better because it started a year earlier.

John Howard went to an election promising an emissions trading scheme.

Photo: AAP

The econocrat who designed Howard’s scheme, Dr Martin Parkinson, was the same person the Rudd government appointed to develop its scheme. The Department of Climate Change was a virtual outpost of Treasury. Indeed, I know of few economists who aren’t supporters of putting “a price on carbon”.

At the time, the Libs’ strongest supporter of action on climate change was a Malcolm someone. I wonder whatever happened to him?

As Liberal opposition leader, Turnbull was offering bipartisan support for Rudd’s emissions trading scheme when he was thrown out by Tony Abbott, who quickly changed his views to become leader of the party’s then-minority of climate change deniers.

I don’t doubt there are many, many Liberal voters who accept that global warming is real and would like to see the Coalition acting more decisively, but feel obliged to keep a low profile and let Dr John Hewson do the talking for them.

The National Party’s climate change denial is puzzling.

Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

The fossil-fuel industry is no doubt generous in its support to any party willing to help it stave off the evil hour, but the attitude of business generally is different.

Initially, it accepted that the move to renewable energy was inevitable. In which case, the government should just get on with it, reducing uncertainty by making the rules for the transition as clear and firm as possible.

But when the Libs succumbed to the deniers, business savoured the temporary relief of doing nothing. Now, however, the electricity and gas industries are in such a mess that business is back to demanding certainty in the inevitable move to renewables.

The Coalition, unfortunately, is utterly incapable of agreeing to anything meeting that description.

With states taking the lead in the renewable energy push, a report by the Climate Council puts each state’s efforts against one another.

Which brings us to the mystery of the seemingly denier-packed National Party. How any farmers or people from country towns can doubt the reality of climate change is beyond me. The National Farmers’ Federation certainly doesn’t.

But we can’t put all the blame on short-sighted politicians and crony capitalism. If enough of us did more to voice our disapproval, the pollies would change their tune PDQ.

And we’d have a more convincing story to tell our grandkids when they want to know what we did in the climate war.

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.

Ross Gittins is economics editor of the SMH and an economic columnist for The Age. His books include Gittins’ Guide to Economics, Gittinomics and The Happy Economist.

Press link for more: SMH