The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released on 29th January a statement and a technical document that leave no doubt that the Paris Agreement is a treaty according to all international criteria that requires depositing “instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession” by the parties. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, and their legal allies in environmental pressure groups may quibble all they want that, although it may be considered a treaty by the United Nations and the entire international community, it’s still just a piece of paper that doesn’t rise to the level of a treaty requiring ratification by the Senate; but they cannot hide the reality that it is a treaty and according to the U. S. Constitution cannot go into force in the U. S. until it has been ratified by the U. S. Senate.
The UNFCC statement, Bringing the Paris Agreement into Force: Next Steps and National Climate Plans, confirms that the treaty will be open for signature from 22nd April 2016 to 21st April 2015. The press release issued at the end of COP-21 in Paris on 12th December 2015 first shared the good news that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will hold a hold a “high-level signature ceremony” at UN headquarters in New York City on 22nd April, which the press release refers to as “Mother Earth Day.”
The statement also makes clear that signing the treaty does not bind national parties to it. That only comes after “at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least an estimated 55% of total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.” [all emphasis mine] Thus President Obama may sign the treaty at the UN’s big Mother Earth Day celebration, but in order to become a party to the treaty the United States government will have to do something in addition to signing it.
The technical document, The Paris Agreement: Next Steps, makes it clear that the additional action required is ratification.
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It is with great sadness that I report the death of Robert M. Carter on 19th January in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, several days after suffering a heart attack. He was 74. The Heartland Institute has a tribute by Joe Bast plus tributes from many friends and colleagues. It also has videos of many of Bob’s excellent talks at Heartland International Climate Conferences. A short, more formal obituary may be found here.
Bob was a fine man, an outstanding scientist, and one of the leading climate realists in Australia and the world. It was my good fortune to get to know Bob and his wife Anne over the last decade when he came to America to speak at Heartland’s climate conferences. He was in good form at Heartland’s conference in Paris on 7th December. I and many, many people around the world have lost a good friend. The Cooler Heads Coalition has lost an esteemed ally. May he rest in peace.
President Barack Obama confirmed in a press conference in Paris on 1st December that he intends for the Paris Climate Treaty to bind politically the next President, even if he is succeeded by a Republican who opposes the treaty and even if it’s not ratified by the Senate.
Here is what the President said in response to a question:
But even if somebody from a different party succeeded me, one of the things that you find is when you’re in this job, you think about it differently than when you’re just running for the job. And what you realize is what I mentioned earlier, that American leadership involves not just playing to a narrow constituency back home, but you now are, in fact, at the center of what happens around the world, and that your credibility and America’s ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about.
Now, the fact of the matter is there’s a reason why you have the largest gathering of world leaders probably in human history here in Paris. Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously. They think it’s a really big problem. It spans political parties. You travel around Europe, and you talk to leaders of governments and the opposition, and they are arguing about a whole bunch of things — one thing they’re not arguing about is whether the science of climate change is real and whether or not we have to do something about it.
So whoever is the next President of the United States, if they come in and they suggest somehow that that global consensus — not just 99.5 percent of scientists and experts, but 99 percent of world leaders — think this is really important, I think the President of the United States is going to need to think this is really important. And that’s why it’s important for us to not project what’s being said on a campaign trail, but to do what’s right, and make the case.
In short, President Obama thinks his successor will lead—as he does—from behind.
received by globalwarming.org from our Vatican contacts
Pope Francis will visit Cuba and the United States from 19th through 27th September. The Vatican’s official schedule for both visits has been published on the Catholic Herald’s web site.
It has since been reported that the Pope will meet with former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, if Fidel is well enough, as well as current dictator Raul Castro while in Cuba.
The White House announced this week that President and Mrs. Obama will meet the Pope on his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base on 22nd September. Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress on the morning of 24th September. He is then likely to appear on a balcony of the West Front of the Capitol to speak to a “Moral Action for Climate Justice” mass rally on the Mall. The Pope will address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit in New York City on the 25th.
President Barack Obama on 3rd August announced the EPA’s final rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. In doing so, the President has finally fulfilled a pledge he made when running for president in 2008. Then-Senator Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 that, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
The Existing Source Performance Standards (or ESPS) being applied under section 111d of the Clean Air Act to coal- and gas-fired power plants already in operation are called by the EPA the “Clean Power” Plan. Don’t buy it. More accurate names would be the Costly Power Plan or the Skyrocketing Rates Power Plan (h/t Alan Carlin) or the Obama Power Grab (h/t Senator McConnell’s office) or the National Energy Tax (h/t Speaker Boehner’s office).
The final ESPS is 1560 pages. The final rule is significantly different from the proposed rule released in June 2014. In fact, it is so different that the legal case has already been made that it is a brand new rule and therefore EPA must start the rulemaking process all over again.
Here are some of the major changes from the proposed to the final rule. EPA has extended the deadlines by two years, but has also increased the emissions reductions that must be achieved by 2030 from 30% to 32% below the 2005 baseline. The proposed rule contained four “building blocks” by which States can meet their individual targets.
The final rule lowers its estimates of reductions that can be made from building block one—efficiency improvements in generating plants—from 6% to 2-4%. Reliance on building block two—replacing coal-fired plants with natural gas-fired plants—has been reduced, while reliance on replacing coal with renewable energy sources (building block three), such as windmills and solar panels, has been increased. And EPA has dropped gains in energy efficiency (building block four) entirely, although States can still count any emissions reductions that result from efficiency gains.
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Probably a big carbon footprint
The Vatican released Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’, on 18th June. It is, in general, scientifically ill-informed, economically illiterate, intellectually incoherent, and morally obtuse. It is also theologically suspect, and large parts of it are leftist drivel, albeit couched in the vocabulary of Catholic social teaching.
It has been reported that Vatican officials in the global warming debate want to make sure they do not put the Roman Catholic Church on the wrong side of science, as in the condemnation of Galileo in 1633 for believing that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Laudato Si’ fails to get the science right (see paragrahps 2026), and although the Vatican can no longer prosecute heretics, Francis has no hesitation condemning those who oppose the alleged global warming consensus (see, for example, paragraph 54).
The encyclical is a diatribe against modern industrial civilization. In this, it should be compared to the 1864 encyclical of Pius IX, Quanta cura, and its attached Syllabus of Errors, which constitute a much more impressive diatribe against modern intellectual culture. Francis believes the industrialized economies are wrecking God’s creation by digging far too much stuff (coal, oil, natural gas) up. The current level of resource consumption is exhausting and polluting the Earth.
On the other hand, he thinks that the wealthy industrialized countries are doing far too little to help the poor in the unindustrialized Third World. Paragraphs 48-52 discuss the ills caused by global inequality. But Francis does not emphasize the need for the rich to share their wealth with the poor. That is because Francis’s thinking on these issues, as he makes clear in paragraphs 10-12, is based on the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). It isn’t until paragraph 82 that the Pope mentions the name of Jesus. [click to continue…]
The American Enterprise Institute on 22nd April (the 145th birthday of Lenin and 45th Earth Day) held a seminar on “Implementing a Carbon Tax: Practicalities and Prospects.” A video of part of the event can be viewed here. The rest of the event can be viewed on the web site of a group promoting a carbon tax and headed by former Representative Bob (“Mr. 70-29”) Inglis (R-SC).
Some of the presentations were based on a collection of essays that grew out of a conference AEI held in 2012. That book has now been published by Routledge as “Implementing a Carbon Tax: Challenges and Debates.” For those not lucky enough to have been given a copy at the AEI event, it can be purchased on Amazon for the discounted price of $48.09.
AEI Resident Scholar Aparna Mathur, who was the only AEI scholar to contribute an essay to the book, hosted the event. The first speaker was Vitor Gaspar, director of the fiscal affairs department at the International Monetary Fund. He noted several times that getting the price of carbon was crucial and that most existing carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes had put the price too low.
Next on the agenda was a discussion with Representative John Delaney (D-Md.) and former Rep. Inglis, head of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, which is based at George Mason University. Rep. Delaney used the AEI event to announce that he would soon introduce a carbon tax bill. The “Tax Pollution, Not Profits” Act will begin with a $30 per metric ton of carbon dioxide and then escalate by 4% above the inflation rate every year.
Delaney said that his bill would use 50% of the revenue to reduce the corporate income tax from 35% to 28%. Another chunk of revenue would be used to offset the higher energy costs of poorer people. Finally, some of the revenue would be used to compensate coal miners who lose their jobs by paying for retraining, relocation, early retirement, and health care. Delaney did not say whether the 4% annual escalator would be used for further reductions in corporate tax rates or higher government spending.
Delaney, who was a successful corporate founder and CEO before his election to Congress in 2012, emphasized that carbon was a massive net drag on the economy and that his bill was a free market solution that would spur economic growth and innovation. Asked by Evan Lehmann of Greenwire whether his bill also repealed the EPA’s Clean Air Act rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Delaney replied that his bill does not do that. But he went on to say, “I think it would inevitably lead to that.” If it’s inevitable, then he should put it in his bill.
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New York’s Times republished a Greenpeace press release on the front page of its Sunday, 22nd February edition that attacks Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for obtaining $1.2 million in funding for his research over the last decade from energy corporations, electric utilities, and charitable foundations related to those companies. The press release, cleverly disguised as an article supposedly written by Times reporters Justin Gillis and John Schwartz, also claims that Dr. Soon did not adequately disclose the sources of his funding in articles published in scientific journals.
“all the news that’s fit to print?”
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Greenpeace and its closely affiliated so-called “Climate Investigations Center,” Soon received $409,000 from the Southern Company, a major utility, and $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to fund his research. The Greenpeace press release as republished in the Times notes that “Mr. Koch’s fortune derives partly from oil refining.” Yes, and the biggest charitable foundation donor to environmental pressure groups is the Pew Charitable Trusts, which was founded on the Pew family’s Sun Oil Company earnings. Other major givers to green groups are the various Rockefeller foundations, which are based on earnings from Standard Oil (of which Exxon Mobil and Chevron are among the many successor companies). So what’s Greenpeace’s point? And everyone knows that scientists who accept funding from the EPA are never influenced by the source of their funding. That’s why the EPA funds so much research that contradicts its policies. Right?
I have known Willie Soon for about fifteen years. I respect him highly, particularly for the great integrity he has shown in pursuing his politically incorrect research under scurrilous attacks like the one reprinted in the NY Times. If Willie valued money over science, he would have joined the Global Warming Pep Squad long ago. [click to continue…]
how quickly they forget
The UK Climate Coalition announced on Saint Valentine’s Day that British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband had signed a joint agreement on climate policy. The leaders of the three main political parties—Conservative, Liberal Democratic, and Labor—pledge to work together on three key areas: achieving a new legally-binding UN climate agreement that limits global warming to two degrees Celsius; agreeing on a “carbon budget” that achieves the targets set in the Climate Change Act of 2008; and enacting policies that “accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy” and that shut down coal-fired power plants unless they are equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.
London’s political establishment has been in full agreement on global warming and energy-rationing policies for many years. The Cameron-Clegg-Miliband pact seems to me a potentially significant step beyond the existing consensus for at least two reasons. First, it means that climate policy will not be an issue between the three parties in the upcoming general election campaign. It will be up to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to challenge the establishment consensus. Polling has shown that most Britons, like most Americans, don’t believe global warming is a crisis that warrants the ruinously costly policies supported by the three major parties. [click to continue…]
On Friday, I participated in an online video interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel regarding the green scandal that engulfed Oregon Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber. After the video, I’ve posted my summary of the situation.
Oregon’s Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation on Friday, 13th February, as the result of revelations that Oregon’s “First Lady” Cylvia Hayes has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs from green energy clients and non-profit groups to promote their interests. Kitzhaber will be succeeded by Oregon’s elected Secretary of State, Kate Brown, until a special election is held in November 2016 to fill the last two years of his term.
Hayes has been Kitzhaber’s girlfriend for several years and more recently his fiancée. The governor designated her as Oregon’s official first lady and allowed her to run her clean energy consulting business out of the governor’s mansion and gave her authority to direct state employees on policies related to her clients. Hayes received payments from some of these clients that were not reported by her in state conflict of interest filings. These payments included $118,000 from the Clean Economy Development Center in 2011 and 2012 and a further $85,000 in 2013, including $50,000 from the Energy Foundation. [click to continue…]