France Will Not Be Deterred!

“[COP21] will be held because it’s an essential meeting for humanity.”
—French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

In a “F**k you!” to terrorists everywhere, France will still go ahead with the global climate change summit in Paris later this month, this according to Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Despite the terrorist attacks that occurred this past Friday night, killing at least 127 people in their nation’s capital, Valls pledged to move forward with the summit. As Valls put it:

[The climate summit] will be held because it’s an essential meeting for humanity.

He also rightly pointed out this summit will be an opportunity for world leaders everywhere to show solidarity with France after these despicable attacks. As it stands, 118 world leaders are expected to attend the opening day of the summit, being held November 30 to December 11, 2015. Its primary goal: to finally commit to a global deal that will limit our planet’s climbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Many Americans like to point out that the US saved France’s butt in World War II, but if that’s the way to look at it then don’t forget France did the same for the US during the American Revolution. Indeed, France is the US’s oldest ally. Consistent with that long-standing relationship, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry still plan to attend the Paris summit. In total there will likely be at least 20,000 delegates in attendance, with some estimates anticipating as many as 40,000.

There will, however, be Continue reading

Gone…Keystone XL Rejected by Obama

After six years the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is over. And the good guys won. President Obama rejected the pipeline last Friday morning after meeting with his Secretary of State John Kerry. The State Department found that the pipeline would not be in the country’s national interest, and Obama agreed.

The President brought it down to three simple reasons as to why he rejected it:

1. He felt the pipeline wouldn’t make any meaningful long-term contribution to the economy. As Obama put it: “If Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it.” The pipeline would have only created abut 35 permanent jobs it turns out, so he has a good point.
2. The pipeline won’t lead to lower gas prices given the current state of global oil prices.
3. And as Obama puts it: “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our county would not increase America’s energy security.”

This is actually more symbolic than anything, especially with COP21 coming up in Paris next month. In messages that couldn’t be any clearer for the whole world to hear, Obama said “The time to act is now. Not later, not someday, right here, right now.” And John Kerry had this to say about it:

“The critical factor in my determination [as Secretary of State] was this: moving forward with this project would significantly undermine our ability to continue leading the world in combating climate change. I am also convinced that public arguments for and against the pipeline have, to some extent, been overstated. Our analysis makes it clear that the Keystone XL pipeline would not be the economic driver it is heralded to be. Decades of science prove beyond any reasonable doubt that human activity is a direct cause of the rising seas, increasing temperatures, and intensifying storms threatening our planet—and the window of opportunity for action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change is closing quickly. I have seen the world try and fail to address this threat for decades. Today, the need for American leadership to combat climate change has never been greater, and we must answer the call. The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves. Denying the Keystone XL pipeline is one of those tough choices—but it is the right decision, for America and the world.

Keystone XL has been a target for environmentalists over the years. Its sole purpose is to transport crude oil in the form of bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta, the most carbon-intensive form of oil, down to the Gulf Coast. That oil would have been responsible for 181 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year, the equivalent of 51 coal-fired power plants.

If America is looking for energy independence, it shouldn’t rely on dirty carbon-intensive oil from Canada, it should invest in renewables instead.

Do the Richest Companies in the World Deserve Government Money Too?

“While there may be more efficient instruments than environmental taxes for addressing some of the externalities, energy taxes remain the most effective and practical tool until such other instruments become widely available and implemented.”
—The IMF in a recent reoprt

Do you know what one of the richest corporations in the world is? Exxon Mobil, with a current value of $357.1 billion. Do you know what Exxon Mobil’s Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is paid? In 2012 his salary was increased by 15 percent to $2.57 million, along with a $4.59 million bonus and stock awards valued at $19.63 million, this all according to a public filing. In fact, other than banking and investment companies—many of them Chinese—the energy industry makes up many of the richest corporations in the world. (By the way, Exxon Mobil doesn’t even make the top ten, so you get some idea of what these companies are worth.)

So with such incredible value, are you surprised to learn that globally the fossil fuel industry receives $5.3 trillion a year to cover additional costs? This is from a recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We’re not talking subsidies here. This is actually in addition to the $492 billion in direct subsidies governments give the fossil fuel industry around the world.

$5.3 trillion a year is difficult to comprehend, but it works out to about one third of the U.S. gross domestic product. This report gets its total from both direct assistance as well as the amount spent to cover pollution damage by fossil fuels, an “externality” ignored by the industry. Continue reading

Commencement Means a New Beginning

At this time of year when college and university students are graduating all over the world, it’s interesting to realize that the average age of the Class of ’14 means these graduates have never lived in a month that was colder than the 20th century average globally. The time-honoured tradition of the commencement address offers a great opportunity for various invited speakers such as political leaders, scientists, and journalists to address these graduates and discuss the climate change our planet is experiencing.

Thanks to Climate Progress, here is a compilation of five speakers who tackled the subject head-on:

1. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (University of Maryland) criticized those who deny climate change: “To those who say climate change is not caused by human activity or that addressing it will harm the economy, let’s encourage them to go to college, too, and to study physics and to study economics, but for the rest of us, let’s get to work.” Continue reading

Climate Change: Our Most Fearsome Weapon of Mass Destruction

“The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3D movie. It’s warning us; it’s compelling us to act.”
Secretary of State John Kerry

John Kerry was in Indonesia this past weekend and had some strong words to say about climate change. He referred to it as the “world’s most fearsome” weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

Sound a bit harsh? Oil Change International has completed an analysis which shows that “all of the scenarios used by the State Department” in their assessment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline “result in emissions that put us on a path to 6 degrees C (11°F) of global warming according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).” Sounds like mass destruction to me.

Secretary of State Kerry put it this way: Continue reading