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Here’s How The US Can Rise To The Pope’s Call To Climate Action

Despite warnings by Congressional Republicans that he should stick to spiritual matters and leave politics to the politicians, Pope Francis immediately called for climate action upon arriving in the US last week.

“Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” the pope said in a speech at the White House. And that wasn’t even the most politically barbed point he would make.

Climate Justice Movement Highlights Women as 'Key' to Climate Solutions

Women from around the world are mobilising today to call for action on climate change as international leaders meet in New York at the United Nations General Assembly.

“There is no climate justice without gender justice,” the movement argues. Solutions and policy demands will be presented in New York City as part of the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action in an effort to highlight the reality that while women are among those most severely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, women are also the “key to creating climate solutions.”

The aim is to get political officials to agree “equitable, immediate, and bold action on climate change” as we enter the final two months before the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris in December. At this time, the Women’s Climate Declaration will be presented to world governments.

Tackle Climate Change Now or Risk 720 Million People Sliding Back Into Extreme Poverty Report Warns

An astonishing 720 million people around the world face falling back into extreme poverty unless we tackle climate change immediately, warns a new report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

The report was published as world leaders gathered this week at the United Nations General Assembly and agreed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among which is the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030.

This goal is achievable, according to the ODI, but not without a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions peak in 2030, and a fall to near zero by 2100. “Climate change increases the probability that those who emerge from extreme poverty will be at risk of falling back into it,” it concludes.

Will the Paris COP21 Climate Conference Make a Difference or Should We Try Something New?

Will COP21 make a difference?” This was the question being posed by Professor Scott Barrett, leading expert on transnational and global challenges and Professor of Natural Resource Economics at Columbia University.

Speaking at the London School of Economics, Barrett asked: “Will [Paris] sow the seeds… that will lead us to do what we need to do, which is basically to transform the world’s energy system? The markets don’t want to do it on their own, which is an unprecedented challenge for the whole world. Will it do that? Or, will it do what every meeting before this has done, which is to disappoint?”

After all, it's been 25 years and over 20 conferences. What's changed?

Power for All Shows Peabody a Real Plan to End Energy Poverty

Peabody Energy would like you to believe that coal is the only way to light up the homes of the roughly 1.1 billion who still live in energy poverty.

A new campaign launched Thursday at the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy For All Forum in New York City offers a much different solution. Clean, distributed energy sources, argue the groups behind Power for All, can eliminate energy poverty more quickly and for a fraction of the cost of centralized electric grids anchored by fossil fuels. And, of course, without poisoning the air of communities and lining the atmosphere with even more greenhouse gases.

Cameron Agrees 'Rare Deal' on Climate Change with Opposition Ahead of Election

Environmental leaders have welcomed a rare cross-party deal to tackle climate change struck between Britain’s leading political parties ahead of the general election.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labour Party have jointly agreed to end the use of 'unabated' coal for power generation unless it uses new clean-up technology – and achieve a “fair, strong, legally binding” global climate deal.

John Sauven, Greenpeace UK executive director, said: “This pledge marks a turning point in the collective effort to take Britain’s energy system out of the Victorian age and into the 21st century.

Heather Zichal, Former Top Obama Energy Aide, Named Fellow at Industry-Funded Atlantic Council

Heather Zichal, former top climate and energy aide to President Barack Obama his top aide in crafting his 2008 presidential campaign energy platform, has joined the industry-funded Atlantic Council as a fellow at its Global Energy Center.

New Obama State Dept Top Energy Diplomat Amos Hochstein A Former Marathon Oil Lobbyist

The U.S. State Department recently announced that Amos Hochstein, currently the special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, will take over as the State Department's top international energy diplomat.

Hochstein will likely serve as a key point man for the U.S. in its negotiations to cut a climate change deal as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), both at the ongoing COP20 summit in Lima, Peru and next year's summit in Paris, France. Some conclude the Lima and Paris negotiations are a “last chance” to do something meaningful on climate change.

But before getting a job at the State Department, where Hochstein has worked since 2011, he worked as a lobbyist for the firm Cassidy & Associates. Cassidy's current lobbying client portfolio consists of several fossil fuel industry players, including Noble Energy, Powder River Energy and Transwest Express. 

Back when Hochstein worked for Cassidy, one of his clients was Marathon Oil, which he lobbied for in quarter two and quarter three of 2008, according to lobbying disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmogBlog.

Hochstein earned his firm $20,000 each quarter lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on behalf of Marathon. 

Image Credit: Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives

New Report Highlights Fracking's Global Hazards

A new report, issued the same day the latest round of global climate negotiations opened in Peru, highlights the fracking industry's slow expansion into nearly every continent, drawing attention not only to the potential harm from toxic pollution, dried-up water supplies and earthquakes, but also to the threat the shale industry poses to the world's climate.

The report, issued by Friends of the Earth Europe, focuses on the prospects for fracking in 11 countries in Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe, warning of unique hazards in each location along with the climate change risk posed in countries where the rule of law is relatively weak.

“Around the world people and communities are already paying the price of the climate crisis with their livelihoods and lives,” said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. “Fracking will only make things worse and has no place in a clean energy future.”

The 80-page document describes plans for fracking in Brazil's Amazon rainforest (and the deforestation that would go along with that drilling), highlights the hazards the water-intensive process poses to already-disappearing aquifers in arid regions of northern Africa, and notes that licenses for shale gas drilling have been issued in the earthquake-prone zone at the foot of the Himalaya mountains in India.

It comes as representatives from 195 countries gathered Monday in Lima, with the goal of negotiating new limits on greenhouse gasses and staving off catastrophic climate change. Prospects for those talks seemed grim, with The New York Times reporting that it would be all but impossible to prevent the globe from warming 2 degrees.

State Department Keystone XL Contractor ERM Bribed Chinese Agency to Permit Project

Environmental Resources Management (ERM Group), the consultancy selected by TransCanada to conduct the environmental review for Keystone XL's northern leg on behalf of the U.S. State Department, is no stranger to scandal.

Exhibit A: ERM once bribed a Chinese official to ram through major pieces of an industrial development projectERM was tasked to push through the project in Hangzhou Bay, located near Shanghai.

Accepting the bribe landed Yan Shunjun, former deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, an
11-year prison sentence.

Yan “allegedly took bribes of 864,000 yuan (126,501 U.S. dollars), 20,000 U.S. dollars and 4,000 euros from seven contractors,” explained Xiuhuanet. “Yan was also accused of illegally setting up a channel to speed up environmental impact assessment processes, which are essential for companies wanting to build factories.”

BP, one of the companies standing to gain if Keystone XL North receives a presidential permit from the Obama administration as a major Alberta tar sands producer, was also mired in the Chinese ERM Group scandal. 

“Two firms on ERM's bluechip client list, BP and Sinopec, are big investors in a petrochemical complex on the site, but the Chinese authorities apparently saw no conflict of interest in awarding the environmental evaluation to ERM,” explained London's Sunday Times.

In a sense, history has repeated itself.


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