climate change

How Obama’s Campaign For Fast Track Authority On The Trans Pacific Partnership Is At Odds With Efforts To Combat Climate Change

In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama made the case for Congress granting him fast track authority to negotiate free trade deals.

“I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.”

Obama is specifically seeking special authority to negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a so-called free trade agreement his administration is in the midst of negotiating with Canada, Mexico and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region like Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam—countries that, together, constitute 40% of the world’s GDP and 26% of global trade, according to the Washington Post.

Despite opposition from his own party, Obama has been on the stump for “trade promotion authority,” also known as “fast track authority,” which Congress would have to grant, essentially waiving its Constitutional right to give “advice and consent” on any international agreements negotiated by the president

On January 8, several Democrat members of Congress went so far as to join with union leaders and environmental and consumer advocates to hold a press conference on their opposition to fast track authority for the TPP.

In a letter to Congress sent the day after the State of the Union speech, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 42 other environmental groups urged the rejection of forthcoming legislation that would grant Obama fast track authority and “enable the president to push through flawed international trade agreements at the expense of the environment, public health, and communities.”

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.

Obama Vows To Fight For Climate Policies In State Of The Union But What He Didn’t Mention Was Just As Telling

President Barack Obama could not have signaled more clearly in his 2015 State of the Union address that he intends to fight for his legacy on climate change in the face of a hostile, anti-science GOP-led House and Senate.

But it was what the President didn’t mention that could negate his climate legacy: free trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership that undermine local efforts to lower emissions, projects like Keystone XL that lock us into decades of continued dirty energy use, and the exporting of American-made coal, crude oil and natural gas to overseas markets.

Which is not to say that every policy position Obama laid out regarding energy and the environment entirely matched his lofty rhetoric about climate change.

Social Cost Of Carbon Drastically Underestimated: Report

The U.S. government could be drastically underestimating how much climate change is going to cost us, according to a study published by Stanford researchers in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The researchers concluded that the Obama Administration is using a Social Cost of Carbon estimate that may be just one-sixth of the true cost—and that the true cost is high enough to justify aggressive measures for lowering emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to the 2 degrees Celsius that scientists tell us is the threshold for averting catastrophic climate change.

The Social Cost of Carbon is an official estimate of how much economic damage will be caused per metric ton of carbon emitted into our atmosphere—damages like lower crop yields and higher healthcare costs. It is used by the EPA and other federal agencies to calculate the benefits of policies intended to improve energy efficiency, lower emissions, and combat climate change. It is also often used to justify not taking action if the proposed action would cost more than the damage it is intended to mitigate.

The Obama Administration raised its official estimate of the economic cost of a metric ton of CO2 from $21 to $37 in November 2013. Even back then, however, many experts challenged that estimate as far too low.

According to the team at Stanford, that estimate was way too low—they calculate the true Social Cost of Carbon as $220 per metric ton.

Yet Another Record Breaking Hot Year 'Does Not Bode Well for Civilisation' Says NASA

Scientists confirmed this week that 2014 was the hottest year on record with global temperatures undermining claims from climate deniers that global warming is not a serious threat to civilisation.

Both NOAA and NASA have confirmed last year was the hottest year since the invention of the thermometer; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says temperatures are 1.24F (0.69C) higher than the 20th century average while NASA calculates that 2014’s average temperature was 14.67C, or 0.68C above the average.

The results undermine leading climate denial groups, including Lord Nigel Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation, who claim that an apparent plateau in global earth surface temperatures is direct proof that global warming has been widely exaggerated.

Tory Keeps Schtum About Oil Investment During Parliamentary Climate Change Debate. Guess What Happened Next…

Conservative MP Peter Lilley failed to disclose a financial interest in Asian oil company Tethys Petroleum during two parliamentary debates on the Climate Change Act and energy prices, profits and poverty.

The self-described ‘global lukewarmist’ is a non-executive director of Tethys Petroleum. He argues that because the company operates solely in Central Asia his position at the company is not relevant to discussions concerning the UK.

A report issued by the House of Commons Committee on Standards on 15 January 2015 stated that “Mr Lilley’s interest in Tethys Petroleum might reasonably be thought by others to have influenced his speeches in the two debates”.

DeSmogCAST 8: Oilsands Tailings Ponds, UK Drilling Imperative and Skeptics vs. Deniers

DeSmogCAST

In today's January 15, 2015 episode DeSmogCAST host Farron Cousins joins DeSmoggers Carol Linnitt, Kyla Mandel, and Mike Gaworecki to discuss Canada's efforts to prevent a NAFTA-led investigation into the management of Alberta's oilsands tailings ponds.

We also discuss a clause in the UK's new Infrastructure Bill that mandates efforts to “maximize economic recovery of UK petroleum” and what that means for the nation's climate policy.

Lastly we discuss recent developments in the denier/skeptics debate and a recent open letter to media, calling on journalists to reserve the favourable term 'skeptic' for those engaged in truly scientific critical investigation.

Duty to Maximise Oil and Gas a ‘Dangerous Addition’ to the Infrastructure Bill

The UK’s climate change ambition will be undermined if the duty to maximise oil and gas extraction is included in the Infrastructure Bill, argue environmental NGO, Friends of the Earth and non-profit environmental law organisation, ClientEarth.

Clause 36 will introduce a new legal obligation on current and future governments regarding “maximising economic recovery of UK petroleum”. This puts the bill in direct conflict with Britain’s target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.

Clause 36 is not consistent with the spirit of the Climate Change Act and the UK in the context of global action on meeting climate change targets and should be deleted,” Friends of the Earth said in evidence to the Public Committee for the Infrastructure Bill.

Rio Earth Summit: From Red Scare to Green Scare

Once heralded as a clear turning point, government participation at the Rio Earth Summit’s would soon be seen as more symbolic than effective. The DeSmog UK epic history series continues.

The Rio Earth Summit in July 1992 was celebrated by environmentalists as the clearest sign that the world's leaders would support limits to carbon emissions and literally save the world from the imminent catastrophe of climate change.

George Bush Snr, the Republican president, oil millionaire and former CIA director, signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that summer with the promise that he would ensure the document would become “concrete action to protect the planet”.

DeSmogCAST 7: Obama's Keystone Veto, U.S. Oil Exports and the World's Unburnable Carbon

In this episode of DeSmogCAST our team discusses Obama's recent promise to veto legislation put forward by a Republican-led Congress to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While the fate of Keystone remains uncertain, the Obama Administration made changes in the final days of 2014 that now allows for the export of U.S. crude oil. As Justin Mikulka reports, the change doesn't lie in a newly passed bill but rather in a language game used to mask the difference between crude oil and condensate

Finally we take a look at a new study recently published in Nature that analyzes the globe's total carbon reserves and pinpoints those that must remain unburned if we are to stay within the 2 degrees Celsius warming limit recommended by scientists and policy makers. That study highlights the Canadian oilsands and almost all coal reserves in the U.S. as carbon deposits that must remain in the ground in a carbon-constrained future.

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