Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.



Published on

Published in: Economy & Finance, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this


  1. 1. THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Wednesday, July 15, 2009 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News • Reuters: Non-green asset managers could be sued: U.N. report • ISRIA (France): UN - Green investments a legal responsibility, say UN and top asset managers • UN News Centre: Green investments a legal responsibility, say UN and top asset managers • UN News Centre: Five top UN officials appeal to world leaders to ‘seal the deal’ on new climate pact • Handelsblatt (Germany): Kapital für die Rettung der Ökosysteme • L’Economiste (Morocco): Comment le changement climatique affecte le commerce Other Environment News • AFP: Experts hail Sahara-Europe solar plan • Reuters: EU president Sweden says U.N. climate talks too slow • Reuters: Britain to unveil "route map" to low carbon future Environmental News from the UNEP Regions • ROAP • RONA Other UN News • Environment News from the UN Daily News of July 14th 2009 • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of July 14th 2009 1
  2. 2. UNEP and the Executive Director in the News Reuters: Non-green asset managers could be sued: U.N. report Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:08am EDT Investment advisors and asset managers could be sued for negligence if they do not consider the environment and other social issues when making investment decisions, a United Nations report said on Tuesday. Money managers have a legal responsibility to raise environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when tendering investment and advising clients, a law expert and one of the report's authors said. "(There is a) very real risk that (the advisor) will be sued for negligence on the grounds that they failed to discharge their professional duty of care to the client by failing to raise and take into account ESG considerations," said Paul Watchman. The report was produced by the Asset Management Working Group of the U.N. Environment Programme's Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a partnership between the United Nations and more than 180 financial institutions with over $2 trillion under management. "Responsible investment, active ownership and the promotion of sustainable business practices should be a routine part of all investment arrangements, not an optional add on," said Steve Waygood, head of sustainability research and engagement at Aviva Investors, who also worked on the report. The report said that in the wake of the economic downturn, investment professionals now had a central role in using global economic stimulus money, estimated by HSBC to be around $2.8 trillion, to fund the transition to a low-carbon and resource efficient 'green' economy. "As investors return to the markets, the question remains whether the funds will go to the brown economy of yesterday -- or to a new green economy," said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP. But only around $430 billion, or 15 percent of these funds have so far been earmarked for funding the green infrastructure, according to research published by HSBC Global Research in February. One author said the worst financial and economic crisis in generations paled in comparison to what he called a looming "natural resources crisis" that would require investment professionals to rethink where they put clients' money. Last year, environmental group WWF said investors faced increased risk from companies that invested in unconventional fossil fuels without considering pending climate regulations or greenhouse gas emission permit costs in a carbon-constrained economy. 2
  3. 3. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ ISRIA (France): UN - Green investments a legal responsibility, say UN and top asset managers Tuesday, July 14 2009 ‘Green’ investments are no longer just a luxury, but are now a legal responsibility, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a powerful group of asset managers controlling some trillion in assets. The 120-page publication released today argues that if investment consultants and others do not incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into their services, they face “a very real risk that they will be sued for negligence.” It also stressed the central role that the world’s largest institutional investors – including pensions funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and mutual funds – have in easing the transition to a low-carbon and resource-efficient green economy. “ESG issues are not peripheral but should be part of mainstream investment decisions- making processes across the industry,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. Further, he noted that creative market mechanisms and other incentives can help to ensure that as investors return to markets after the current financial turmoil ends, they will put their funds into a greener economy and not the “brown economy of yesterday.” The new report, entitled “Fiduciary Responsibility: Legal and Practical Aspects of Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into Institutional Investment,” was produced by Asset Management Working Group of the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a partnership between the agency and more nearly 200 financial institutions around the world. It was launched on the eve of the annual Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) event in Sydney, Australia, which will draw many of the largest institutional investors. Almost 600 institutions, representing over trillion in assets, have signed up to the PRI, a joint effort between the UNEP FI and the UN Global Compact, a voluntary initiative to promote corporate citizenship which currently involves over 5,000 companies across 130 countries. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ UN News Centre: Green investments a legal responsibility, say UN and top asset managers 14 July 2009 3
  4. 4. ‘Green’ investments are no longer just a luxury, but are now a legal responsibility, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a powerful group of asset managers controlling some $2 trillion in assets. The 120-page publication released today argues that if investment consultants and others do not incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into their services, they face “a very real risk that they will be sued for negligence.” It also stressed the central role that the world’s largest institutional investors – including pensions funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and mutual funds – have in easing the transition to a low-carbon and resource-efficient green economy. “ESG issues are not peripheral but should be part of mainstream investment decisions- making processes across the industry,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. Further, he noted that creative market mechanisms and other incentives can help to ensure that as investors return to markets after the current financial turmoil ends, they will put their funds into a greener economy and not the “brown economy of yesterday.” The new report, entitled “Fiduciary Responsibility: Legal and Practical Aspects of Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into Institutional Investment,” was produced by Asset Management Working Group of the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a partnership between the agency and more nearly 200 financial institutions around the world. It was launched on the eve of the annual Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) event in Sydney, Australia, which will draw many of the largest institutional investors. Almost 600 institutions, representing over $18 trillion in assets, have signed up to the PRI, a joint effort between the UNEP FI and the UN Global Compact, a voluntary initiative to promote corporate citizenship which currently involves over 5,000 companies across 130 countries. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ UN News Centre: Five top UN officials appeal to world leaders to ‘seal the deal’ on new climate pact 14 July 2009 Five top United Nations officials have added their names to a petition urging world leaders to ‘seal the deal’ in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December on an ambitious new climate change pact aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Joining the ever-growing list of names are Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO); Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World 4
  5. 5. Trade Organization (WTO); and Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). They signed the online petition, which will be presented to leaders at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathering in Copenhagen, where negotiations are expected to wrap up on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012. The campaign calls for binding targets to be set on cutting emissions by 2020 and help for vulnerable countries so they can adapt to the effects of climate change. It also highlights the urgent need for a new deal that will spur ‘green’ growth, protect the planet and build a more sustainable and prosperous global economy that will benefit all countries and people. Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the cuts in emissions proposed by the world’s largest economies are not deep enough, warning that greater efforts must be exerted by governments if a meaningful agreement on climate change is to be reached in the Danish capital. The climate change commitments made by the leaders of those countries and other participants during the Major Economies Forum (MEF) meeting, “while welcome, are not sufficient,” he said in L’Aquila, Italy, where the annual summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations was taking place. “The time for delays and half-measures is over,” Mr. Ban said. “The personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.” G8 leaders have agreed to a long-term goal of reducing emissions by 2050, but Mr. Ban said that this target was not credible without “ambitious mid-term targets, and baselines.” With G8 countries responsible for more than 80 per cent of global emissions, “that is why they bear special responsibility for finding a solution to the political impasse. If they fail to act this year, they will have squandered a unique historical opportunity that may not come again… We stand at a historical crossroads. Business as usual is no longer viable,” he added. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Handelsblatt (Germany): Kapital für die Rettung der Ökosysteme 12.07.2009 Nachhaltige Anlage-Ideen verbessern nicht nur die Lebensqualität. Sie könnten nach der Krise zum neuen Wachstumsmotor werden. Auch an der Börse gewinnen die ökologischen Investments an Bedeutung: Die Zahl der strukturierten Investitionsformen wächst. 5
  6. 6. Grün investieren: Nachhaltige Anlagen sind an den Börsen gefragt. Quelle: ap FRANKFURT. Zur Bekämpfung der Weltwirtschaftskrise wurden inzwischen wohl mehr als drei Billionen US-Dollar zur Verfügung gestellt. Wenn die Welt einen großen Teil dieser Mittel zur Runderneuerung der angeschlagenen Ökosysteme investieren würde, hätte das vielfältige positive Auswirkungen. Denn ein solch zielgerichtetes Investitionsprogramm würde nicht nur zur Verbesserung der Lebensqualität beitragen. Es würde darüber hinaus auch helfen, Innovationen zu fördern, moderne Arbeitsplätze zu schaffen, die Steuereinnahmen der Regierungen zu erhöhen und die Talfahrt der Weltkonjunktur zu bremsen. Und letztendlich dürften auch all jene institutionellen und privaten Investoren, die ihr Kapital über verschiedene Börsen und unterschiedliche Finanzinstrumente in den "Wachstumsmarkt Ökosysteme" stecken, nicht nur ihr grünes Gewissen beruhigen, sondern auch durch üppige Renditen entlohnt werden. "Solche Investments verringern das Risiko einer Verlängerung der Weltwirtschaftskrise", sagt Stefan G. Stobbe, der bei der dänischen Bankinvest-Gruppe für das Deutschland-Geschäft zuständig ist. Dass Ökonomie und Ökologie im 21. Jahrhundert untrennbar zusammengehören, steht für Rainer Ottemann von KBC Asset Management außer Frage. Ähnlich wird die Lage auch von den Experten der Vereinten Nationen eingeschätzt. Diese weisen in ihrer Studie "Global Green New Deal" darauf hin, dass durch ökologische Investments in der Weltwirtschaft rasch sehr viel in Bewegung gebracht werden könnte. Maßnahmen zur Reduzierung von Treibhausgasen und zur qualitativen Verbesserung der Ökosysteme könnten die Weltwirtschaft sehr rasch aus der Rezession bringen, heißt es. "Wenn nur ein Drittel der finanziellen staatlichen Hilfspakete - also rund ein Prozent des weltweiten Bruttoinlandsprodukts - in grüne Investments fließt, wird dies signifikante Ergebnisse bringen", prognostizieren die UN-Experten. Wenn die von den Regierungen zur Ankurbelung der lahmenden Konjunktur zur Verfügung gestellten Gelder klug und kreativ investiert würden, könne die Grundlage für eine "bessere Welt" gelegt werden. Gleichzeitig könne man so den riesigen Herausforderungen dieser Zeit begegnen, sagt Achim Steiner vom United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Steiner sieht die Gefahren und Herausforderungen vor allem im Klimawandel und daraus resultierenden Gesundheitsrisiken sowie in der Versorgungssicherheit bei Rohstoffen und Urstoffen wie Energie, Nahrungsmittel und Wasser. Wenn das jetzt von Regierungen zur Verfügung gestellte Kapital richtig zugeteilt werde, könne eine innovative Welt gestaltet werden, die zum Beispiel durch einen schonenden Umgang vorhandener Ressourcen und durch einen geringeren Ausstoß an Treibhausgasen für viele Millionen Menschen mehr Platz biete. "Ökologische Investments haben für die Unternehmen der Wirtschaft längst strategische Bedeutung, weil das sowohl neue Kunden als auch neue Investoren bringt", sagt Stobbe. Banken und Anleger haben das in der ökologischen Erneuerung der Welt bestehende Potenzial längst erkannt. Der Kapitalzufluss in "grüne Märkte" hat in den vergangenen Monaten deutlich an Dynamik gewonnen. Und damit scheint der Kapitalfluss in nachhaltige Kapitalanlagen erst angestoßen zu sein, er steht also am Beginn. Große Fondsgesellschaften wollen Investments in diesem Bereich in den kommenden fünf Jahren verdoppeln oder verdreifachen. Allein in den deutschsprachigen Ländern ist 6
  7. 7. das in diesen Bereich geflossene Kapital von 2005 bis 2007 von vier Mrd. Euro auf mehr als 33 Mrd. Euro gestiegen. Die Krise hat diesem Boom Einhalt geboten, doch glauben Experten wie Stefan Stobbe, dass der aktuelle Rückgang des Anlagevolumens auf rund 21 Mrd. Euro nur ein kurzfristiges Phänomen ist. "Wir wollen die Idee der Nachhaltigkeit im Finanzsektor generell unterstützen", sagt auch Clemens Peinbauer, Nachhaltigkeitsexperte bei der Kapitalanlagegesellschaft Kepler. Die Emissionsbanken in Europa und Nordamerika waren zuletzt bei der Kreation strukturierter Finanzprodukte ebenfalls sehr innovativ. Sie haben viele Investmentvehikel (Zertifikate, Warrants, Notes, Indexfonds wie ETFs und ETCs) auf Rohstoffe und Urstoffe, auf erneuerbare Energieträger, auf Wasser, auf Klimazertifikate und auf Forst- und Farmland kreiert. In Stuttgart wurde zum Beispiel der S-Box-Index auf alternative Energien (Solar, Wind, Naturgas und Bioenergie) geschaffen, der als Basis zahlreicher Investmentprodukte dient. Allein am Euwax-Marktsegment der Stuttgarter Börse beziehen sich inzwischen mehr als 5 300 strukturierte Produkte auf "grüne Anlageideen". Zum Vergleich: Noch im Monat Januar hatte diese Zahl bei etwas mehr als 2 570 Produkten gelegen. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ L’Economiste (Morocco): Comment le changement climatique affecte le commerce 14/7/2009 L’agriculture, le tourisme, les services… les plus touchés Vulnérabilité des chaînes d’approvisionnement, de transport et de distribution L’économie mondiale sera probablement affectée par le changement climatique. Celui-ci touchera des secteurs importants pour les pays en développement comme l’agriculture, la foresterie, la pêche, le tourisme et l’infrastructure de transport… Ces effets auront souvent des implications pour le commerce international, indique un rapport de l’OMC et du PNUE intitulé “Commerce et changement climatique”. Notons que le débat sur le commerce et le changement climatique a lieu dans un contexte de négociations multilatérales sur le changement climatique, qui doivent être achevées à la 15e Conférence des Parties de la CCNUCC (Convention-cadre des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques) qui se réunira en décembre 2009 à Copenhague. D’après le rapport, le changement climatique peut avoir deux effets sur le commerce international. Premièrement, il peut modifier l’avantage comparatif des pays et entraîner de ce fait une modification de la structure du commerce international. Les pays ou les régions qui dépendent de l’agriculture peuvent voir leurs exportations diminuer si le réchauffement et les phénomènes météorologiques extrêmes plus fréquents entraînent une réduction du rendement des cultures. Le réchauffement n’a pas toujours un effet négatif sur les exportations, car il peut accroître les rendements agricoles dans d’autres régions. 7
  8. 8. Les effets du changement climatique ne seront pas forcément limités au commerce des marchandises et ils peuvent aussi toucher le commerce des services. De nombreuses destinations touristiques misent sur des atouts naturels (plages, eaux limpides, climat tropical ou neige abondante, par exemple) pour attirer les vacanciers. L’élévation du niveau de la mer ou la modification des conditions météorologiques pourrait priver les pays de ces atouts naturels. Deuxièmement, les changements climatiques peuvent accroître la vulnérabilité des chaînes d’approvisionnement, de transport et de distribution dont dépend le commerce international. Les phénomènes météorologiques extrêmes (comme les ouragans) peuvent entraîner la fermeture temporaire de ports ou de voies de communication et endommager les infrastructures essentielles pour le commerce. L’infrastructure côtière et les installations de distribution sont vulnérables aussi aux dommages causés par les inondations. Les perturbations des chaînes d’approvisionnement, de transport et de distribution augmenteraient les coûts du commerce international. Hausse des émissions D’après les estimations actuelles, les émissions augmenteront de 25 à 90% entre 2000 et 2030, la part des pays en développement devenant beaucoup plus importante dans les décennies à venir. Les pays membres de l’Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE), qui sont les plus industrialisés du monde, sont responsables d’environ 77% des émissions passées de gaz à effet de serre. On estime que les deux tiers des nouvelles émissions rejetées dans l’atmosphère proviennent des pays non membres de l’OCDE. De plus, on s’attend à ce que les émissions de ces pays augmentent de 2,5% par an en moyenne entre 2005 et 2030 alors que l’augmentation annuelle projetée pour les pays de l’OCDE est de 0,5%. Back to Menu ============================================================= 8
  9. 9. Other Environment News AFP: Experts hail Sahara-Europe solar plan Tue Jul 14, 12:19 pm ET Far-sighted plans to energise Europe by tapping solar power from the sweltering Sahara desert offer bright prospects but must not overshadow renewable sources closer to home, experts say. German deputy environment minister Matthias Machnig said solar systems behind the 400-billion-euro (560-billion-dollar) project, launched in Germany on Monday, had "enormous potential." The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) is powered by 12 mostly German companies from the engineering, energy and finance sectors but has also won support from firms in Algeria and Spain and from officials in Egypt and Jordan. The project, scheduled for completion in 2050, would install solar power generators across North Africa and the Middle East and share the electricity between host countries and their private partners. The technique, called solar thermal electrical generation (STEG), uses reflected sun rays to heat fluid-filled tubes, creating steam that drives a generator. The plan also includes water desalinisation plants for host nations. Greenpeace spokesman Andree Boehling said: "We support and welcome this initiative" and forecast that "around a quarter of the global electricity supply could come from solar electricity in deserts." Matthias Fawer, who covers sustainable energy for the private Swiss bank Sarasin, told AFP the initiative was "a visionary concept" but noted it was not the only solution. "I wouldn't bet on one horse," he said, adding that it was also important to develop wind energy parks in the North Sea and geo-thermal plants in places where that was appropriate. "It's the combination that is viable and makes renewable energy so strong," Fawer said. Greenpeace called the Desertec initiative "another building block" for the future but said it was "not an alternative to decentralised technologies like photo-voltaic or wind energy." The environmental group calls for a combination of such energy sources with centralised ones including offshore wind turbines and hydro-electric power from Scandinavia. German Social Democratic deputy Hermann Scheer also preferred decentralised European sources to a massive project in the hands of major corporations. 9
  10. 10. But Fawer backed the idea of helping North Africa, a major source of European immigrants. "We need to support this continent," he stressed. "Europe and Africa should work much closer together." Jordan's Prince Hassan ibn Talal agreed when the project was unveiled on Monday. Partnerships formed through the work "will open a new chapter in relations between the people of the European Union, West Asia and North Africa," he was quoted by a statement as saying. A study by Desertec, Greenpeace and the Wuppertal environmental research institute said the project could create two million jobs. Desertec spokesman Tim Hufermann said 80 percent of the electricity would power producer countries. The remainder should satisfy 15 percent of Europe's needs, he added. Critics say few jobs would be created in host countries however, and the business daily Handelsblatt warned Monday against fostering "eco-colonialism." The massive project would cover 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 square miles), including 2,500 for power plants and 3,500 for the distribution grid. "They are already building plants" in Egypt, Spain and Tunisia that could be integrated into the network, Hufermann noted. Desertec has put the initial start-up cost at around 10 billion euros. Beyond the massive cost, a potential obstacle is the possibility of regional instability, which the group hopes to avoid by increasing the number of host nations and encouraging their economic development. Solar-generated electricity is also expensive, and some question whether local populations can afford it. Greenpeace called for initially subsidised prices and said development of the technology would eventually make it cheaper than conventional sources. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Reuters: EU president Sweden says U.N. climate talks too slow Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:23pm EDT Global climate talks are progressing too slowly and too many countries are demanding action from others rather than acting by themselves, Sweden's Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said on Monday in Beijing. 10
  11. 11. Sweden holds the rotating presidency of the European Union for the rest of the year, during which time global climate talks, culminating in a conference in Copenhagen in December, are supposed to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. "The negotiations are too slow because too many are pointing at others and requesting them to do more," Carlgren told a briefing in Beijing on Monday. The EU had no "plan B" beyond Copenhagen, he said. "That's why the EU has said we'll reduce emissions by 20 percent regardless. "So if other parties would start in this way, moving forward, we would achieve great things in Copenhagen," said Carlgren, adding that he had had a frank exchange with Chinese officials. China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases because of its rapidly expanding economy and dependence on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Developing nations led by China and India say rich countries should aim for cuts in emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, of at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Last week, leaders at the 17-member Major Economies Forum in Italy agreed that global temperature rises should be limited to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but also said developing nations such as China and India should commit to meaningful carbon reduction targets of their own after 2012. Carlgren said the E.U. agreed that developing countries "should present mid-term targets that would lead to meaningful deviation from business as usual." That would mean a reduction in CO2 emissions in India and China of 15-30 percent compared to current "business as usual" projections, he said. CHINA VISIT U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are visiting China this week to press Chinese leaders to join stepped-up efforts to fight global warming. The trip also sets the stage for a visit by President Barack Obama to China later this year that many environmental experts hope will focus on the need for joint U.S.-China action before the Copenhagen meeting. The United States signed but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, becoming the only major developed nation to remain outside the treaty. Many in Washington opposed a pact that did not set a ceiling for future emissions growth by China and other big developing powers. 11
  12. 12. Since winning last year's election, Obama has made fighting climate change a major policy focus and wants to introduce a cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions. Kyoto held developed countries to a higher standard than developing countries, since the former were committed to caps on emissions, while the latter had no such obligation. But tensions have continued to simmer over the Kyoto principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" between industrialized nations and the developing world, with critics in the West saying China and India have effectively been given a free ride. Carlgren said everybody needed to make sacrifices. "Even if developed countries reduced their emissions to zero, it would still not be enough," Carlgren said, adding that China shared that view. "We still expect more from China, just as we know China expects more from developed countries." Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Britain to unveil "route map" to low carbon future Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:40am EDT Britain will say Wednesday how it plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change by investing in nuclear and renewable power and promoting greater energy efficiency. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband will publish a "route map" for British emissions cuts of 34 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels and at least 80 percent by 2050 to avoid the "massive dangers" posed by global warming. Britain's transition to a low carbon economy will see the country move away from imported oil and gas toward a mix of energy sources that are more sustainable, Miliband said. "It does mean big changes in people's lives," Miliband told the BBC ahead of the publication of the government's policy document on energy. The document will build on an agreement reached at a Group of Eight summit in Italy this month that temperature rises should be limited to 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). While some climate experts were lukewarm about that agreement, Miliband said it will be "very significant" in the run-up to global climate talks in Copenhagen in December. "They have got to put offers on the table to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions which can achieve that now," he said. 12
  13. 13. "AMBITIOUS" NUCLEAR PLANS Britain's proposals are expected to call for an enlarged nuclear program as well as far greater reliance on renewable energy sources like wind, solar and tidal power, Miliband signaled in interviews ahead of the report's publication. Under European Union targets Britain will have to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 compared to just 1.3 percent in 2005. "You have to be ambitious on nuclear," Miliband told the Guardian Tuesday. "I know that is hard for some people." The British plans will back the development of carbon capture and storage, a new technology that takes the carbon dioxide produced by burning coal and traps it underground. They are also expected to promote energy efficiency across industry and in homes, while pushing the case for electric cars. Miliband said the proposals would lead to higher energy prices, but said the cost of doing nothing would be greater. Green campaigners expect the proposals to give details of feed-in tariffs, which guarantee higher prices for renewable energy producers selling energy to the national power supply. Campaign group Friends of the Earth said it was important that Britain meets its emissions targets through cuts at home rather than relying on buying overseas carbon offsets. "There has been far too much hot air on climate change -- now we need tough and urgent action," Executive Director Andy Atkins said in a statement. Back to Menu ============================================================= 13
  14. 14. ROAP MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Wednesday, July 15, 2009 UNEP or UN in the News • NGO seeks solon's approval to harvest timber - PIA NGO seeks solon's approval to harvest timber - PIA By Erna Sy Gorne Southern Leyte (July 13) -- For having been acclaimed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) for his arduous tree planting programme in the province, NGOs here also sought Congressman Roger G. Mercado's approval in cutting their timber despite their permission from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The Young Innovators For Social and Environmental Development Association (YISEDA), a community-based Forest Management Project in Sitio Canlugoc in Barangay Lanao, Maasin City asked for the solon's approval to harvest their trees which were planted since 2000. “For almost ten years now since the 44 families in the community have planted trees, it is just high time for the mature timber to be harvested. “ Congressman Mercado said in an interview conducted. He further said that upon learning about the harvest, he made an ocular inspection at the five hectares of timberland when he was asked of his approval. The solon was also surprised to learn that the association have also established their own nursery as one of their livelihood activities. That the nursery was also prepared to replace their harvest with their own seedlings grown in the locality. It was also learned that both the municipality and barangay will receive their share from the proceeds of their harvest. Cong. Mercado was glad that there are also nurseries being established by the private sector, namely the Bogo Women's group, YiSEDA and a private-owned one in Anahawan, this province. He also mentioned that there are also the presence of non-government organizations who are concerned of the environment protection of the province like the GTZed, PLAN International, Limasawa Development Foundation (LIDEF), the Rural Development Institute and Coral Cay, an international organization who cares for marine environment, among others. (PIA Southern Leyte/esg) Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________ 14
  15. 15. RONA MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Tuesday, July 14, 2009 UNEP or UN in the News • New York Times: Capitol Hill Climate Debate Seen as Key to Copenhagen Success • Huffington Post: The Changing Climate of Diplomacy • New York Times: Getting Serious About Climate Change • Wall Street Journal: The U.N.'s 'Invisible Man' Capitol Hill Climate Debate Seen as Key to Copenhagen Success July 13, New York Times, By DARREN SAMUELSOHN of Greenwire Pressure is mounting on President Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats to show significant progress on global warming legislation in time for a major U.N. climate summit in December. "The Danes, the Chinese, the Europeans, the Australians, the Japanese -- everybody is almost singularly focused on what is the United States going to bring to the table," said Jake Schmidt, international policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Obama and congressional leaders say their goal is to pass a new climate law by the Copenhagen talks, a Herculean accomplishment, given the dynamics in Congress and given that there are only five months left before diplomats head to Denmark. But some veteran negotiators and longtime climate observers say U.S. politicians do not need to be so far along in the legislative process. Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), for example, warned in an interview last week that Congress would be putting too much faith in developing nations by passing a law without also getting agreement from Beijing, New Delhi and other major foreign capitals. "Let's say, for instance, we did pass a bill here, and we go to Copenhagen, but the Chinese continue to take the position we've had a century of development and they need time to catch up, and we also have to pay for the means of what they want to do," Lugar said. "This would be very disillusionary to most Americans, who say, 'Well, we've been had. There never was a political will.'" For the president, now is the time to talk tough on climate and urge lawmakers to wrap up their work by December. Momentum matters as Congress juggles a plethora of his top priorities, from health care reform to Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. And if all goes according to plan and the votes line up, Obama would be able to cross off one of his top legislative agenda items before the 2010 midterm campaign starts. 15
  16. 16. On the world stage, the president would be able to hold up a U.S. law that signals to the developing nations that the United States has for the first time committed to mandatory emission caps, while also giving a clear picture of how much money those countries can expect for help on adaptation, clean energy technologies and reducing deforestation. "It lets the Obama administration go to Copenhagen with the best story to tell on domestic action," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. 'Some skin in the game' Congress responded to the first part of Obama's strategy last month with a narrow 219-212 House victory on a sweeping energy and climate bill that includes emission cuts of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and a midcentury 83 percent target. It also offers some $600 million in clean-energy technology support to developing countries, as well as guidelines for countries that want access to what is projected to be a multitrillion U.S. carbon market. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said last week during the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy, that the House bill demonstrates that the United States has "some skin in the game." "I know it was important to the president to have that step through the House of Representatives before he got here in order, I think, to show a strength in hand in dealing with developing nations," Gibbs said. And with all eyes now on the Senate, administration officials are still pushing for a law by December. "I would love to have as much progress on the law by the time of Copenhagen as possible," Todd Stern, Obama's top climate diplomat, said in an interview last month following a Senate briefing. "If it can be done by Copenhagen, that would be great." Stern and others also recognize the political reality on Capitol Hill, which does not bode so well for a finished product in time for Copenhagen. Consider Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who was circumspect last week about the chances of final action in time for the U.N. talks, considering the 60 Senate vote hurdle, let alone a successful conference negotiation with the House and then another round of votes in both chambers on the new, reconciled legislation. "My experience is, these things take a lot of time," said Harkin, a five-term Iowa Democrat, as he left a meeting with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), White House energy adviser Carol Browner and other Senate committee leaders. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) insisted that a final law is not necessary. "Oh no, no, no, no," he said in an interview last week. "Look, our goal is to pass it. I don't think we even have to have it passed, essentially. But our goal is to do that. And it's better if it is. But it's not catastrophic if it isn't." 16
  17. 17. What would be catastrophic, according to several climate advocates, would be a Senate vote before Copenhagen that falls well short of 60. With the world watching Washington, an unsuccessful Senate roll call could sink the Copenhagen negotiations at a time when Obama is trying to rebuild trust after more than a decade of U.S. resistance to the Kyoto Protocol and the largely voluntary climate policies of the George W. Bush administration. "An unmitigated disaster that almost certainly means no progress in Copenhagen, and probably no serious negotiations after Copenhagen until the U.S. political situation improves," Meyer said of a losing Senate vote, adding that such a defeat would likely punt progress in the international negotiations beyond the 2010 midterm elections. "Everyone knows there can't be a repeat of Kyoto," added Annie Petsonk, international counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, referring to the 1997 Senate's 95-0 vote that essentially doomed chances of the protocol's ratification in the United States. Several scenarios There are several other scenarios for the Capitol Hill climate debate to consider as Copenhagen approaches. Should Reid and Senate Democrats find 60 votes before December, there is also an argument to be made for holding the bill in conference negotiations until after the U.N. talks conclude. Here, Obama could demonstrate that he largely has the backing of Congress on the greenhouse gas emission caps, as well as other critical items like financing, trade provisions and offsets. The United States also would not be showing all of its cards, allowing it to negotiate with other countries while still having the ability to tweak the domestic legislation to accommodate the Copenhagen outcome. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said last week that Senate-passed legislation would be critical for success in Copenhagen. "If the House has passed a bill and the Senate passed a bill and we're in conference, I think that works," Carper said. "If we're still struggling to get a bill out of committee by December, that doesn't work. If we're just starting to get a bill off the floor, that doesn't work." According to Reid, the current Senate climate plan envisions all committee action being completed by the end of September. The Senate leader is also eyeing October for the floor debate. But Reid has shifted the Senate climate schedule around several times this year already, and it is far from clear if Democrats are even ready to take up the bill. Past versions of cap-and-trade legislation have never gotten more than 48 votes, and an E&E analysis shows there are still about 15 moderate Democrats with significant concerns about the issue. 17
  18. 18. Yet Senate gridlock also does not help Obama headed into Copenhagen. Granted, the Senate could modify its bill to reflect the international talks. But developing countries would likely be less willing to make their own major commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions if the United States remains several steps away from doing anything itself. Meyer said a bill that has not cleared the Senate creates "questions among other countries about whether President Obama has the full backing of Congress for his negotiating positions." The complexities of the Capitol Hill process also loom over Copenhagen. Foreign diplomats and the general public have little understanding of the U.S. system, and any effort to tout something short of a final law is sure to be lost on most. "The easier and more streamlined you can be, the more believable you can be in these negotiations, the more credible you are," said the Natural Resources Defense Council's Schmidt. Obama also must be mindful of going to Copenhagen without a law and signing up for an agreement that does not have the support of Congress. "He cannot risk bringing back an agreement and having the Senate and House both potentially saying, 'Sorry, go back and get more,'" the Environmental Defense Fund's Petsonk said. "That's why the best position is to have legislation pass both the House and Senate." Others stress that the Obama administration does not need to have a law in hand in Copenhagen. Negotiators did not have laws before Kyoto was signed in 1997, but instead went back and dealt with the legislation and ratification in later years. "It'd be an almost unfair burden if the United States had to have it signed, sealed and delivered when most others haven't," said Jim Connaughton, who served as the top environmental adviser to former President George W. Bush. The Changing Climate of Diplomacy Huffington Post, by Banning Garrett, 14 July 2009 From the start of the global economic crisis, it has become clear that a new world order has emerged. While the world is increasingly interconnected, it is specifically the US- China relationship that will determine how and if our leaders can meet the major global challenges of the 21st century. The first major test of this new world order will occur this fall in Copenhagen, where the follow-up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol at the UN's global climate change conference will be negotiated. In Denmark, there will be only one meaningful question asked: will the US and China -- the world's biggest developed and developing countries, the biggest consumers of energy, and the largest producers of greenhouse-gas emissions -- come together to make meaningful concessions to reduce their environmental footprints? 18
  19. 19. Today, American and Chinese leadership and innovation are essential to shaping a new global model that will simultaneously advance the environmental agenda and increase global prosperity. The future of international peace, stability and development depends to a large degree on building a comprehensive US-China strategic partnership and avoiding a future of US-China strategic misunderstanding and tensions. To this end, US- China cooperation on climate change can serve as the vital first step to ushering in the new age of multilateral collaboration on shared strategic goals. Any treaty signed in Copenhagen will be rendered ineffectual without the mutual support and leadership of these two immense international powers. Fortunately, the interdependence that has been created between theUnited States and China has created a win-win, lose-lose strategic relationship between the two countries. They each have a vested interest in the other's successes and are threatened by its failures. The two countries are now faced with an historic opportunity to catalyze a global economic and environmental transformation to low-carbon sustainable economic development on a global scale. The aims of this transformation include, but are not limited to, carbon emissions reductions, transition to clean energy systems, averting a catastrophic global climate crisis, and sustainable use of the world's resources. Coupled with the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression, a surge in innovative economic forces is needed now more than ever. A tide of creativity, resourcefulness, ingenuity and determination of millions of people and businesses is waiting to be unleashed to spirit the world's transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. So far, leadership in both countries appear ready to tackle the challenge domestically, but have yet to fully take advantage of the new opportunities for cooperation. In response to the economic crisis, the leaders of US and China have introduced so-called green stimuli to their respective economies. By doing so, both are showing resolve to seize the opportunity granted by the harsh economic conditions to retool domestic infrastructure to incorporate the use of technologies and energies that will be sustainable in the long-run. US president Barack Obama has stated that mitigating climate change will be a high priority for his administration, which is committed to 80% reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. His stimulus plan includes commitment of massive resources for building a new clean energy infrastructure, greater efforts to enhance energy efficiency, and new steps to move away from dependence on fossil fuels. Chinese leaders have a similar perspective on the climate-change threat and the need for a fundamental policy transition. Accordingly, they are devoting stimulus resources to energy efficiency and green technologies, among other efforts to build a low-carbon energy infrastructure. China has committed to producing 15% of their nation's energy needs from solar, hydro, wind and other carbon-neutral means by 2020. Officials even think that through such green infrastructure investments (which themselves would provide much-needed jobs) they could easily outstrip this goal and hit 20% within the decade. The nations of the European Union have set a similar bar at 20% by 2020. The US is attempting to pass a 25% renewable energies standard by the year 2025, but this is struggling in legislative processes. 19
  20. 20. However, looking beyond these domestic goals, successful US-China cooperation on energy and climate security will be necessary to substantially enhance prospects for a new international climate agreement as well as bolstering political support in each country for climate change mitigation policies. Perhaps more importantly, it will also build mutual trust between the United States and China, strengthen the US-China partnership for tackling a wide range of common strategic challenges in the twenty-first century, and allow for greater multilateral cooperation amongst the most powerful and most polluting nations of the world. A comprehensive U.S.-China strategic partnership is both possible and essential to confront the great issues of our time. Solidifying such a collaborative bilateral relationship will facilitate and even catalyze greater cooperation among China, the United States, Japan, Europe and the other powers of the developed and developing world. It is time to take the US-China relationship to the next stage beyond China as a "responsible stakeholder" to the US and China as working together as "collaborative responsible stakeholders." It is essential that both the Obama administration and the Chinese leadership engage at the highest levels to begin a new program of significantly scaled-up cooperation on energy and climate change as soon as possible. Such a bilateral partnership would be a much-needed force for strategic stability and global cooperation. As the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is set to kick off this July, there would be no better issue on which to compromise than to save the very Earth we walk on. Getting Serious About Climate Change New York Times, July 13, 2009, Op-Ed Contributor - By PAUL HOHNEN and JEREMY LEGGETT Climate “policy as usual” is not working. In the 20 years since serious global discussions on climate change have been underway, atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations and average temperatures have continued to rise. During the 1990s, the talk was mostly about the need to prevent climate change. Now, adapting to climate change is given equal or greater priority. This shift of focus is an admission of failure. To save the environment we will need unprecedented action — and a great deal of luck. But the change we need is nowhere in sight. Having participated in U.N. negotiations and countless climate conferences in recent decades, we confess to a dreadful sense of déjà vu as we approach the December 2009 Climate Summit in Copenhagen. There will be fresh scientific warnings and calls for collective responsibility and urgent action. A few climate skeptics will get more than their share of media attention, but they will not dent the underlying science. The business sector will highlight its ability to deliver emission-reducing technologies while at the same time urging pragmatism on the inevitability of burning more coal. 20
  21. 21. Nongovernmental organizations will hang we-told-you-so banners from the moral high ground. When it gets down to the hard negotiations, however, the discussions will result in 11th hour lowest-common-denominator compromises. The overall effect will be to weaken almost every nation’s commitments to action. In terms of what is needed to peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and then reduce them by at least 50 percent (relative to 1990 levels) by 2050, the dirty little secret is that not even the most ambitious agreement will meet this goal. If this assessment is correct, there is a need for a major rethink on how the global community approaches the issue. While no one has all the answers, here’s a set of suggestions: It’s defense of the planet, stupid. The Copenhagen meeting is not just another diplomatic talkfest. It must be seen as a global security conference about the survival of life on earth as we know it. It would help negotiators get a sense of the stakes if they likened the challenge to that of stopping the impact of an incoming asteroid or deterring an alien invasion. Collective urgent action, in which all players compete to contribute and recognize there are no winners, is required. Priorities as usual won’t work. While it is increasingly acknowledged that climate change will affect all ecosystems and levels of civilization, there is still a tendency to treat climate change as a discrete set of policy issues. If we are really talking about global self- defense then hard thinking needs to go into current government priorities. With global military expenditure in 2008 at just under $1.5 trillion, politicians must question investments that won’t do a thing to protect nation states from the ravages of climate change. Re-evaluating priorities will help mobilize the additional resources needed and put the costs of climate protection in the right perspective. Limits of market forces. As with conventional conflicts, winning the war against climate change will not be achieved by the use of markets alone. While the power of markets will need to be used to the fullest, the whole arsenal of government policy tools needs to be wheeled out to accelerate action. Nothing should be off the table, including product bans and mandatory emissions reporting. A serious international architecture. Most intergovernmental bodies have responded to climate change by forming a climate department. But they need to do more: fundamental reorganization. The World Trade Organization, for example, must have “low-carbon trade” as part of its central mission. Similarly, the World Bank’s priority needs to be “low-carbon sustainable development.” Efforts to put climate change on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council should be renewed. None of these approaches is on the agenda — yet. The irony is that if climate change isn’t stopped and escalates as quickly as many scientists fear, measures such as these will be taken anyway, but then hastily, with little coordination. 21
  22. 22. This is not a counsel of despair or defeat — to the contrary. As the last decade in particular has demonstrated, there is an unprecedented level of concern, creativity and action taking place globally at many levels. Humankind can rally quickly, but leadership, engagement and resources need to be commensurate to the challenge. Paul Hohnen is an associate fellow of Chatham House, London. Jeremy Leggett is executive chairman of Solarcentury and the author of several books on climate change and the oil economy. The U.N.'s 'Invisible Man' Ban Ki-moon Struggles to Make Mark; U.S. Urges Stronger Role Wall Street Journal, July 14 2009, By JOE LAURIA and STEVE STECKLOW As the Obama administration implements a new U.S. strategy toward the United Nations, it's working with a U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, who is struggling to prove himself on the world stage. The latest example: Mr. Ban's trip to Myanmar this month. Despite Mr. Ban's requests, Myanmar's ruling junta declined to let him visit opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On Monday, Myanmar's U.N. envoy did say the junta would release some political prisoners, but provided no details. Outside groups say similar promises in the past have gone unfulfilled, and even Mr. Ban reacted cautiously. Mr. Ban had been warned by some about making the trip. "I told him, 'Don't go there if you are not sure you will get something, because it will not help you, it will weaken you,'" France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Maurice Ripert, a supporter of Mr. Ban, said in an interview before the trip. On Monday, Mr. Ban called Myanmar's actions "encouraging, but I will have to continue to follow up how they will implement all the issues raised during my visit." Speaking to reporters, he added: "I am not quite sure ... who will be included in this amnesty." At the midpoint of a five-year term as secretary-general, the 65-year-old Mr. Ban is defined by his low profile. "I am known as invisible man," he said during a recent interview, adding that he "really struggled" with issues related to his public perception. "I am more interested in results and am not a fiery rhetoric person" in public, he said. Mr. Ban -- who rose from deep poverty in Korea to his current post -- steers the U.N. at a pivotal moment. He succeeded the charismatic Kofi Annan, who shared a 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for his U.N. stewardship only to have the "oil for food" scandal break out, which exposed graft in the handling of Iraqi humanitarian aid by the U.N. and some member states. Mr. Ban took over as U.N. head in 2007 and pushed for reform, blasting a bureaucracy last year that wastes "incredible amounts of time on largely meaningless matters." Today, Mr. Ban acknowledges his reform effort has, to some extent, stalled. In the 22
  23. 23. recent interview, he spoke of it in the past tense. "I really wanted to change the working culture," he says. Mr. Ban seeks to lower expectations. During last month's interview, he said less should be expected of the U.N. chief in the post-Cold War era, as regional organizations take on greater roles. However, a senior aide quickly interjected that the U.N. was never more necessary than today, pointing out that it currently oversees some of the biggest humanitarian operations in its history, and has 110,000 peacekeepers deployed. By comparison, in 1988 there were fewer than 10,000 deployed. The U.S. is redefining its sometimes strained relationship with the world body. In September, President Barack Obama plans to make his first address to the General Assembly, laying out his vision for the organization. Speaking a week ago in Italy at a meeting of the Group of Eight wealthy nations, Mr. Obama said he has told Mr. Ban that the U.N. needs "revitalizing" so that it can tackle global problems now taken up by the G8 and Group of 20 industrial and developing nations' summits. A few disagreements and missteps have popped up. On Thursday, Mr. Ban criticized the G-8 talks in Italy, saying the group didn't go far enough in tackling climate change. And in March, Mr. Ban had to apologize after calling the U.S. a "deadbeat" because it owed more than $800 million in U.N. dues. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a Ban supporter, calls the statement "unquestionably the most foolish thing he's done in two- and-a-half years." The U.S. recently paid its peacekeeping arrears and the House has voted to pay the rest of what is owed. U.S. officials also had suggested that Mr. Ban not lend legitimacy to Myanmar's leaders without extracting political reforms in return, U.N. officials and a Western diplomat say. But a U.N. official added that, had the U.S. strongly protested, Mr. Ban "would have thought twice about going." Other countries, including Britain, backed the trip. Overall, Mr. Ban says he enjoys "very positive personal relations with U.S. officials." In a statement, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Mr. Ban "is principled, hard-working, cares deeply and is willing to take risks" in what she called "one of the most difficult jobs in the world." Mr. Ban's aides describe him as a master of quiet diplomacy, working behind the scenes to advance causes as diverse as deploying U.N. peacekeepers into a defiant Sudan to enlisting world leaders to fight climate change. U.N. officials acknowledge Mr. Ban lacks the powerful personality of some of his predecessors. And to their frustration, they say, many of his public pronouncements pass relatively unnoticed, despite his bully pulpit. "No matter what he does, he just can't make a splash," says one U.N. official. "Nothing sticks." Some U.N. observers say the secretary-general's low profile is a liability. "It's fair to say you can accomplish very good things as the steward of the U.N. even if you don't have 23
  24. 24. the communication skills or charisma," says historian Steven C. Schlesinger, a backer of Mr. Ban and of the U.N. in general. "The problem is that if you don't get any hurts the U.N." because it looks like "the U.N. is back to its old ineffectiveness." Critics also accuse Mr. Ban of failing to take a strong enough stand against oppressive regimes. Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, says, "He's barely said a word about massive human-rights violations" in places including North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. In the June interview, Mr. Ban defended his record of private diplomacy with dictators. "With all these kinds of very difficult leaders I have been much more vocal than, I bet, any of my predecessors," he said. Mr. Ban argues that his tough talk saved a half-million lives, after a May 2008 cyclone devastated Myanmar, when he persuaded the country's generals to open their ports to foreign aid. Lex Rieffel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, called Mr. Ban a "commendable and significant" part of the global call for Myanmar to allow aid. Mr. Ban says in March 2007 he berated Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, to which Mr. al-Bashir agreed three weeks later. "You could hear the screaming through the wall," says an aide to Mr. Ban. John Prendergast, co-founder of an anti-genocide project at the nonprofit Center for American Progress, says Mr. Ban's "personal advocacy" was a factor in getting the regime to acquiesce. Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, denied Mr. Ban played a role. Mr. Ban also says he persuaded Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not to deny the existence of the Holocaust in a speech at a U.N. conference. Nevertheless, Mr. Ahmadinejad sparked a walkout of European delegates after labeling Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime." Iran's mission to the U.N. didn't respond to a request for comment. The U.N.'s charter gives the secretary-general two main roles: to be an administrator, and to help shape the U.N.'s diplomatic agenda by bringing issues to the Security Council. The latter role can be controversial. Mr. Bolton, the former U.S. envoy to the U.N., decries activist secretaries-general who confront member states' own interests. The charter doesn't call the secretary-general "president of the world" or "chief poet and visionary," he says. Mr. Bolton says the Bush administration "got exactly what we asked for" in Mr. Ban, describing him as an administrator as opposed to an activist. Mr. Ban's predecessor, Mr. Annan, was a charismatic act to follow. Former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke once called him "an international rock star of diplomacy." Under the U.N.'s power-sharing arrangement among regions of the world, Mr. Annan's successor (chosen by Security Council members) was to be from Asia. In his book, 24
  25. 25. "Surrender Is Not an Option," Mr. Bolton wrote that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally liked Mr. Annan, but that while discussing possible successors to him, she privately told him, "I'm not sure we want a strong secretary- general." In an interview, Ms. Rice denied making the statement. "I would certainly want the strongest possible secretary-general. But a secretary-general who isn't supported by and can't bring the member states to do things isn't going to get very far," she said. Mr. Ban feared from the start he might be misunderstood in the West. "Asia is a region where modesty is a virtue," he said in his acceptance speech in October 2006. "But the modesty is about demeanor, not about vision and goals." Mr. Ban grew up in war-ravaged Korea, where his parents were so poor, they foraged for wild grain in Sangdong, a village about 200 miles south of Seoul. One of eight children (two died before he was born), Mr. Ban walked miles everyday to a schoolhouse that had no roof. In 1962, the 18-year-old Mr. Ban won an English-language competition in high school, and was rewarded with a trip to the U.S. and the White House, where he shook President Kennedy's hand. He says he vowed that day to become a diplomat. Mr. Ban earned a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1984 and became an adviser to South Korean presidents. Upon rising to U.N. secretary-general, he dismissed most of Mr. Annan's top staff and increased the number of women in senior positions from 17 to 45, or about a quarter of the total. He asked top U.N. officials voluntarily to file public financial-disclosure forms, although not all have done so. U.N. officials cite Mr. Ban's diplomatic success promoting the need to combat climate change, an issue he calls his No. 1 priority, winning over some world leaders, including President George W. Bush. Mr. Ban says he ignored the advice of his advisers and raised the issue at his first Oval Office meeting with Mr. Bush in January 2007. "The response was cool," Mr. Ban says, but adds that Mr. Bush later agreed to attend a dinner that year during a U.N. meeting on fighting global warming. Mr. Ban says he has no plans to alter his style, although he hopes Americans will change their "fixed perception" of him. But a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last month found 81% of Americans either had no opinion or had never heard of him. "That's why I have been traveling a lot through American cities," he says. Last month, he addressed students at St. Louis University, and last year sat with 27 Chicago high- schoolers in a simulated U.N. debate on climate change. Mr. Ban concedes it will take a lot more than speeches to prove himself. "Improving our image," he says, means "you have to deliver some results." 25
  26. 26. General Environment News • Reuters: Obama Team Sees Jobs Growth in Health, Environment • Reuters: Electric Cars Could Dominate U.S. Roads in 2030 • Reuters: U.S. to Press China on Tariffs on Clean Energy Trade • Reuters: FACTBOX: US, China Key to Climate Change Challenge • Reuters: Obama's healthcare, climate goals hit speed bumps • Reuters: California climate change law cost underrated: study • Los Angeles Times: EPA to develop rule to ensure hardrock miners will pay for environmental cleanup • Washington Post: The Summit of Green Futility • Washington Post: The 'Cap And Tax' Dead End • Washington Post: Wind Projects at a Standstill • Washington Post: Exxon makes first big investment in biofuels • New York Times: Debate on Clean Energy Leads to Regional Divide • New York Times: Drawing Critics, China Seeks to Dominate in Renewable Energy • New York Times: Letter - Global Warming: A Clarion Call for Action • San Francisco Chronicle: Climate-change challenge shifts to the U.S. Senate • Ottawa Citizen: Ottawa on track to break trail on green power • Ottawa Citizen: We're missing out on green wave: advocates • Edmonton Journal: Canada's climate change stance 'opposite of leadership' • Edmonton Journal: Harper stumbles in face of global water crisis REFILE-Obama team sees jobs growth in health, environment Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:21am EDT WASHINGTON, July 13 (Reuters) - Jobs in the healthcare and environmental sectors are growing at a faster rate than those of the U.S. economy as a whole, President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers will say a report to be released on Monday. The report, which looks at how the U.S. labor market is expected to develop in the next few years, says a rebound in employment in construction and some manufacturing sectors is expected as stimulus spending approved early this year invests in projects around the country. The report is based on an analysis of recent labor market data, a White House official said. The report identifies likely changes in the U.S. labor market as economic drivers shift from sectors like financial services to the growing sectors that are transforming the economy, the official said. The report, entitled "Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow," will also discuss the skills and training that will likely be most relevant in growing occupations, the official said. It also will discuss the type of education and training system needed to prepare workers for those jobs. 26
  27. 27. Obama said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post published on Sunday that he would be talking this week about how to ensure workers have the skills needed to compete for the jobs of the future. "In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate's degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, it's never been more essential to continue education and training after high school," he wrote. Obama has said he wants the United States to lead the world in college degrees by 2020. "Part of this goal will be met by helping Americans better afford a college education. But part of it will also be strengthening our network of community colleges," he said. "We believe it's time to reform our community colleges so that they provide Americans of all ages a chance to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to compete for the jobs of the future," Obama wrote. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told a meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council several weeks ago that the administration was planning a major education initiative dealing with community colleges. Electric cars could dominate U.S. roads in 2030 Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:50am EDT SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Electric car sales could jump to 86 percent of U.S. light vehicle sales in 2030 if consumers don't have to buy batteries themselves, according to a University of California, Berkeley study to be released on Monday. A company called Better Place and emerging rivals plan to offer pay-per-mile plans, similar to cell phone minutes. A family would buy a car but Better Place would own the battery, offer charging stations, and swap out batteries as needed to extend the driving range. The cost of building charging systems will be more than $320 billion over the next couple of decades, although health-related savings due to less vehicle pollution could be $210 billion, according to the study by economist Thomas Becker. The main benefit to drivers would be cars with price tags and operating costs similar to or less than gasoline models. Renault-Nissan is making cars for the Better Place project. Better Place has said its system would be cheaper than using gasoline. The Berkeley analysis predicted the per- mile cost of making and charging batteries, including the cost of building a charging system, would be similar to or sharply less than a gasoline car, depending largely on whether prices of petrol rise. U.S. to Press China on Tariffs on Clean Energy Trade 27
  28. 28. Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:54pm EDT, By Doug Palmer SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The United States will press China this week to lower its tariffs on clean energy technology as one of many steps the two countries can take to fight global warming, U.S. officials said on Monday. "Both China and the U.S. have much to lose from potentially devastating impacts of climate change, but much to gain by partnering to develop clean energy technologies that will power our economy by cutting carbon emissions," David Sandalow, assistant secretary of energy for policy and international affairs policy, told reporters in telephone conference call. He spoke shortly before U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke were headed to China to explore ways the world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters could work together to address climate change. Locke, who was departing from San Francisco, wants to begin talks "on how to accelerate and enhance the role of the private sector in driving cooperation, investment and trade in clean energy," Travis Sullivan, policy director for Commerce Department, told reporters. The two countries have tremendous trade opportunities in areas such as wind power, energy efficiency, clean coal and modernizing the electric grid, but U.S. companies face high tariffs on some exports, Sullivan said. They also worry about Chinese practices that favor domestic companies and weak intellectual property rights protection that puts their patented products at risk, he said. At the same time, Locke will listen to China's concerns about U.S. export controls that restrict sales of some high-technology goods, Sullivan said. This week's talks set the stage for "possible agreements in the weeks and months ahead," Sandalow said. But he emphasized Locke and Chu are not going to China "to negotiate the details of the new climate treaty" that countries are striving to conclude this December in Copenhagen. Many experts believe close cooperation, perhaps even a bilateral deal, between the United States and China is needed for the Copenhagen meeting to succeed. But so far, China is resisting setting a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions that many believe is necessary for the U.S. Senate to approve any climate treaty. "We think China needs to make a significant commitment ... in order to address the climate problem," Sandalow said, noting that the country is "already doing a lot to cut emissions" and to boost energy efficiency. 28
  29. 29. "It has strong goals with respect to renewable energy and nuclear, but both our countries are going to have to do more in the years and decades ahead," Sandalow said. FACTBOX: US, China Key to Climate Change Challenge Sun Jul 12, 2009 12:38pm EDT (Reuters) - Cooperation between the United States and China is considered essential for the world to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions blamed for global warming. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will travel to Beijing this week to promote clean energy technology trade and other ways the two countries can work together to fight climate change. Here are some climate change facts about the two countries: U.S., CHINA BIGGEST GREENHOUSE GAS EMITTERS * China's rapid growth has pushed it into first place as the world's leading source of carbon dioxide emissions. But the United States, the number two emitter, still has spewed the most heat-trapping gases into the air over time. * From 1998 to 2006, China's annual carbon dioxide emissions doubled to more than 6 billion metric tons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Over the same period, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions grew much less rapidly, from 5.6 billion metric tons to 5.9 billion. * The United States and China's greenhouse gas emissions are driven by their huge appetite for fossil fuels. The United States consumes more oil and natural gas than any other country and is second only to China in coal consumption. The United States and China are number one and two, respectively, in electricity generation. * The United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, is responsible for about 30 percent of the world's cumulative carbon dioxide emissions. China, with one-fifth of the world's population, accounts for about 8 percent of the emissions already in the atmosphere. * The average American accounts for 20 metric tons of carbon emissions per year, compared to 10 for the average European and around 5 for the average Chinese. * China relies on coal, the most carbon-intensive energy source for over two-thirds of its energy needs, including about 80 percent of its electricity generation. * The United States has the world's largest coal reserves and uses coal for 22 percent of its energy needs and 49 percent of electricity generation. STEPS TAKEN SO FAR 29
  30. 30. * The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2010 and 83 percent by 2050. * It is unclear whether the U.S. Senate will pass similar legislation before countries meet in Copenhagen in December to try to strike a new global climate treaty. * China has raised concern about a House provision creating a "border adjustment" program beginning in 2010 that would set additional tariffs to protect certain energy- intensive U.S. industries such as steel, cement, paper and glass. * The House legislation falls short of Beijing's demand developed countries cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Beijing also wants rich countries to commit between 0.5 and 1.0 percent of their GDP to help developing countries address climate change. * China's latest five-year plan calls for a 20 percent cut in energy intensity by the end of 2010. Chinese authorities estimate this would cut the country's carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 1 billion tons versus "business as usual." However, the effort has fallen behind schedule. * China has invested heavily in solar and wind power as part of its goal of having renewable fuels account for 15 percent of its total energy consumption by 2020. * China's fuel economy standards for its rapidly growing passenger vehicle fleet are more stringent than those in Australia, Canada and the United States. Average fuel economy for new vehicles was projected at 36.7 mpg in 2008. * Last week, the United States, China and other major economies responsible for about 80 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions pledged to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. CONFLICT POINTS * China is resisting pressure from the United States and other developed countries to agree to a specific cap on its emissions at the December forum in Copenhagen. * China argues it has been industrializing only for a few dozen years, compared to much longer in the West. * Nearly 200 million Chinese have moved from rural areas to cities since 1992 and that rapid migration is expected to continue for at least another 15 to 20 years. * Industries including cement, steel, petrochemical, power and aluminum needed to build new urban infrastructure are the biggest source of China's greenhouse gas emissions. * China has been unenthusiastic about an U.S. and European Union proposal in world trade talks to eliminate tariffs on solar, wind, water and other clean energy products that could help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. 30
  31. 31. WHY SCIENTISTS BELIEVE ACTION IS NEEDED * The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has forecast global average temperatures could rise 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius (2.0 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2099. * Scientists consider it likely the Greenland ice sheet will begin melting uncontrollably if global temperatures climb more than 2 degrees Celsius, threatening islands and coastal cities. More people would suffer from malnutrition and some infectious diseases and there would be more deaths from heat waves, floods and droughts, the IPPC says. Obama's healthcare, climate goals hit speed bumps Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:39am EDT, By JoAnne Allen WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama suffered a double-barreled setback in Congress on Thursday when members of his own party moved to apply the brakes on his top legislative priorities, healthcare and climate change. Obama has demanded urgent and simultaneous attention to overhauling healthcare and addressing climate change, saying both were necessary to boost the U.S. economy, which is in a deep recession. He has demanded that Congress send him a bill by October to cut healthcare costs and provide medical coverage to most of the 46 million uninsured Americans. The president wants climate change legislation before year's end. While Obama was in Italy on Thursday encouraging world leaders to intensify the fight against global warming, legislation to cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases suffered a delay in the Senate. The leading Senate committee responsible for developing the climate change legislation put off for at least a month work on a bill, leaving less time for Congress to fulfill Obama's desire to enact a law this year. "We'll do it as soon as we get back" in September from a month-long break, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, announced. Earlier this week, Boxer said her committee had planned to complete work on a bill by early August. A White House spokesman, who asked not to be identified, said: "The administration is continuing to work with the Senate to pass comprehensive energy legislation and believes it's on track." He declined to discuss timetables. The House of Representatives last month narrowly passed its version of a bill to cut carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. 31
  32. 32. The Senate delay came as senators continued to bicker over how to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide without putting U.S. businesses and consumers at a disadvantage. Congress, which is controlled by Obama's Democrats, also was preoccupied with healthcare reform as lawmakers in both chambers worked on draft proposals to revamp the bureaucratic U.S. healthcare system. Supporters of the healthcare overhaul are searching for ways to bring down the plan's price tag of at least $1 trillion and pay for it without raising taxes on the middle class and poor. Some of the U.S. Senate's main players on climate change also are central to the healthcare reform debate in Congress. The House of Representatives' healthcare plan faced a possible delay after a group of fiscally conservative Democrats let it be known that they were not happy with the cost and direction of the draft. The so-called Blue Dog Democrats put their concerns in a letter released after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed that she intends to win House passage by Congress's August recess of a comprehensive healthcare bill. In the letter to Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Blue Dog faction said that the House should "pare back some of the cost-drivers to produce a bill that we can afford." "Paying for health care reform must start with finding savings within the current delivery system and maximizing the value of our health care dollar before we ask the public to pay more," the letter said. The group complained that the House bill failed to reform payments to doctors, hospitals and insurers and lacked provisions to shield small businesses from excessive costs. With rapidly dwindling legislative time until the House and Senate take their August break, the conservative Democrats also insisted there must be sufficient time to review any legislation and discuss it before a floor vote. Separately on Thursday, Democratic senators crafting their version of a healthcare reform bill said they were trying to wring billions of dollars more in savings out of proposals to reform Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and insurers. Calif. climate change law cost underrated: study Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:59pm EDT, By Peter Henderson SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's fight against global warming will cost small businesses $183 billion per year in lost output, about 10 percent of state production, according to a study released on Monday. 32
  33. 33. The study, funded by small business groups and written by a university dean, added fuel to a heated debate over the effects of California's efforts to curtail climate change and provoked criticism from environmentalists and a state agency. California, which has the largest population and economy of the 50 U.S. states, passed its climate change law in 2006. Since then, the state's economy has weakened dramatically, reinvigorating the arguments about whether the program makes financial sense, even as global warming has become a national concern and a top priority of U.S. President Barack Obama. The state's law set goals but many of the rules are still being drafted, making it a laboratory for the debate as the U.S. Congress considers a climate change bill and countries around the world try to reach consensus on what to do. California aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming, to 1990 levels by 2020. Measures hit nearly every aspect of life, from renewable energy use to protecting forests and redesigning cities for less driving. "This is going to have a huge impact on the state's entrepreneurial spirit," said Sanjay Varshney, dean of the Business College at California State University, Sacramento, and the author of the study. In contrast, an analysis by California's Air Resources Board, which is responsible for implementing the climate change law, had found a slight net economic benefit to the plan. But that analysis was roundly criticized, including by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office, which called it "inconsistent and incomplete." CRITICS DIFFER ON STUDY Supporters see California's moves, ahead of other states, as creating a vibrant green economy. But Varshney argued that businesses already struggling with an economic meltdown would flee and small enterprises would have to shut down as costs eclipsed their profits. Estimating 10 percent cost hikes for transportation, housing, fuel, food and utilities, the study forecast $63.9 billion in direct costs to small business would cause $182.6 billion in total loss of output, especially in professional services, manufacturing, arts, entertainment and recreation. The study did not quantify the benefits of the law, saying costs would come early while benefits might never materialize. "It is very much a stack-the-deck kind of analysis," said James Fine, an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund. 33
  34. 34. He said the law would not have a big effect one way or the other on California's economy, because of balancing benefits. Supporters see an economic boon in lower costs of fuel from more efficient cars and a boom in green energy jobs, among other factors. The Air Resources Board said it disagreed with basic assumptions of the study and especially the thesis that there would be no savings or benefits. "This contradicts the track record of three decades of improvements in energy efficiency in California which has saved individuals and small businesses alike billions of dollars," spokesman Stanley Young said in a statement. EPA to develop rule to ensure hardrock miners will pay for environmental cleanup Los Angeles Times, SANDY SHORE, AP Energy Writer, 12:29 PM PDT, July 13, 2009 DENVER (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency, complying with a court order, will develop a rule to guarantee companies that mine everything from copper to uranium will pay for needed environmental cleanup, not taxpayers. The announcement on Monday comes in the wake of a federal judge's order in February requiring the EPA to close loopholes that allow some companies to get out of paying for such costly cleanups when they file bankruptcy. The agency said it will develop similar financial responsibility requirements for other types of operations but started with hardrock mining because of the size of the operations, the amount of waste and the number of mining sites on its Superfund's national priorities list. The EPA did not release specifics on how it will establish financial assurance requirements but said it will propose the rule by spring 2011. An e-mail message asking the agency for more details was not answered. The National Mining Association trade group said the industry already is regulated by other state and federal laws establishing financial responsibility for cleanup. "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ignored critical facts and used inappropriate data in singling out U.S. hardrock mining for financial assurance requirements under Superfund," association CEO Hal Quinn said in a statement. The EPA's announcement came a day before a Senate hearing on proposed changes to a 137-year-old hardrock mining law that would bolster environmental restrictions and implement royalties. Under the existing law, private companies haven't paid royalties to taxpayers for an estimated $245 billion worth of minerals extracted from public lands in more than a century. It also allows companies to buy public land for as little as $2.50 an acre. In 2008, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups sued the EPA, arguing it failed to establish financial responsibility mandates as required under the Superfund act. 34
  35. 35. Among the cases they cited were 94 Superfund sites in 21 states operated by Asarco, which filed bankruptcy in 2005; the Smoky Canyon Mine in southeastern Idaho, and a molybdenum mine near Questa, N.M. Earthjustice Attorney Jan Hasselman, who handled the lawsuit, called the EPA's decision "an important first step." The Summit of Green Futility Washington Post, By Anne Applebaum, Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Two headlines caught my eye last week. "Summit Leaders in Climate Deal" read the one on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Europe. Above it was a picture of 10 smiling heads of state -- the leaders of the Group of Eight, plus China and India. Below was an article that, in contradiction to the cheerful photograph, described how the world's political leaders had failed, once again, to halt climate change by decree. The group could not agree on short-term emissions targets, could not agree on how developing countries would be compensated for meeting the targets and, indeed, could not even decide from what baseline any targets would be calculated. Buried on Page 21 of the same newspaper was a story headlined "Ill Winds Blow for Clean Energy"; the picture was of oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has just decided to postpone, until further notice, an investment in a big Texas wind farm. Natural gas prices have fallen so low, it seems, that once-promising investments in alternative energy no longer make sense. Banks that once might have financed such large-scale investments are now unwilling to do so. And thus business leaders are also failing, once again, to halt climate change through technology and entrepreneurship. Let me be clear: I do not doubt the reality of climate change. I have long accepted that human use of fossil fuels has caused it, and I agree that great efforts should be made to reduce carbon emissions, as well as our politically risky dependence on oil and gas. But I do doubt the wisdom of assuming that eight or 10 politicians will ever solve this problem during a meeting at a conference center, in Italy or any other country. I also question whether even several hundred politicians -- plus their scientific advisers, assorted environmentalists and lobbyists -- will solve this problem at the Copenhagen climate super-summit scheduled for December. At that time, the original signatories of the Kyoto Protocol are supposed to renew their vows and the U.S. delegation is supposed to bow its head and rejoin the club. If everyone can agree, new emissions targets will be set. They will be as unenforceable as the emissions targets we have now. The truth is that carbon emissions will not be reduced by international bureaucrats, however well-meaning, sitting in a room and signing a piece of paper. They will not be reduced by public relations campaigns or by Oscar-winning documentaries. Above all, they will not be reduced by a complex treaty that neither the United Nations nor anyone else can possibly supervise, particularly not a treaty that effectively punishes those countries that abide by it and ignores everyone else. They can, however, be reduced by the efforts of entrepreneurs such as Pickens. If he and others can find economically viable ways to produce clean energy, then the problem will solve itself without the aid of a single international conference. To put it another way: The first solar power billionaire will have many, many imitators. 35
  36. 36. American politicians who really care about climate change -- I'm assuming this includes our president, as well as a majority in Congress -- should skip the summits and instead ask themselves why the oil and gas prices that started rising a couple of years ago (creating a boom in alternative-energy research) have once again dropped to an artificial low. Why artificial? Because the price of fossil fuels has never reflected their true cost, either environmental or political. It doesn't reflect the cost of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. It doesn't reflect the cost of treating asthma. And it certainly doesn't reflect the cost of rescuing bits of the coast of Florida that will be submerged by rising sea levels. Raise the taxes on fossil fuels to reflect those costs, and Pickens's project, along with many others, will once again be viable. It's also time for those international politicians who really care about climate change -- I'm assuming this includes at least the Europeans, as well as the Canadians -- to move on. The drama is over: The American president and the U.S. delegation have rejoined the negotiations. There is no further need for green, self-righteous preening. Attacks on greedy, polluting Uncle Sam will fall flat. Instead of pontificating at summits, they, too, should go home, brave the wrath of their voters and slap higher taxes on fossil fuels in their countries. If you care about the planet, save the jet fuel, cancel the conferences and focus on creating the economic conditions for energy entrepreneurship. Then, this problem will eventually solve itself. The 'Cap And Tax' Dead End Washington Post, By Sarah Palin, Tuesday, July 14, 2009 There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America's unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won't bring jobs. Our nation's debt is unsustainable, and the federal government's reach into the private sector is unprecedented. Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be: I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage. American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy. There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who 36