Saturday, December 15, 2007

Greens versus Green-washed: Mesplay on the Bali Climate Change meeting

Press release from Kent Mesplay, Green candidate
for President of the United States

Greens versus Green-washed: Mesplay on the Bali

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
meeting in Bali is drawing to a close. While the
rest of the world is determined to do something
about Climate Change, the United States under the
Bush Administration continues to practice divide
and conquer tactics between countries in order to
avoid taking any responsibility for ourselves.
They use the word "consensus" in press
conferences and then try to undermine the
consensus that already exists.

This administration has been treating Al Qaeda as
a security threat and ignores the security threat
from an entire planet whose populations,
especially those of the poorest countries, have
been destabilized by rising ocean levels, failing
crops, drought and floods. That is the real
security issue of the 21st Century and it cannot
be solved by 19th Century policies. The
beginnings of this are already clear, as the US
Dept. of Agriculture announced this week that we
have had significant falls in the stocks of corn,
wheat and soybeans, along with an increased

The House Oversight Committee (Rep. Henry Waxman,
Chair) has just released a major report that
details exactly how far the Bush Administration
has gone with their political interference with
the work on climate science. As a scientist
myself, one whose current work deals with air
quality control, I am appalled that our
government has perpetrated this deceit on the
American Public. Under a Green Party
administration, there would be two standards: are
we getting the science right and are we being
just in our use.

The scientific consensus is clear. The only lack
is a political consensus. Even as the Bush
Administration's performance in Bali brings shame
to this country, the Congressional Democrats are
trying to green-wash themselves, hiding bad
policies behind carefully scripted language. The
Energy Bill (HR 6) recently passed by the House
of Representatives does contain some improvements
such as an increase in Corporate Average Fuel
Standards (CAFE) for both cars and trucks; but
not until 2020. It also calls for a three-fold
increase in the renewable fuel standard which
will create a greater demand for ethanol from
corn, itself a worse producer of green house
gases than the petroleum product it would

Even Sen. Obama cannot help but propose
legislation that would "require the production of
18 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2016".
The words he wraps around it are all about
boosting our rural economy. It is just about
winning votes in the Iowa primary and gaining the
support of major agri-business contributors.
Diversion of even more corn from our dwindling
supply for the production of ethanol will drive
up the prices of almost all our corn-derived
groceries: meat, milk and many packaged products
containing "high fructose corn syrup."

I want an improved political process that allows
good candidates to run so that we have public
officials who treat science with respect and who
actually work to make us more secure rather than
catering to their favorite businesses.

It is for lack of political will that we do not
have solar and wind as the back-bone of all
energy production in this nation. If we take
away the subsidies given to coal and nuclear,
allow an even handed, true costing of all energy
options, we will no longer be proposing new coal
or nuclear power facilities. Once we develop the
mind-set of every structure being designed for
energy efficiency and becoming its own power
plant we will not need those new plants.

There is now a proposed Science Debate 2008. I
would relish the opportunity to challenge any of
the other candidates. The debate we need is over
energy. The energy we need will come when one
joins the Green Revolution. Register Green and
Vote Green. Just be wary of green-washed

1 comment:

Jason Nabewaniec said...

We've been suckered again by the US. So far the
Bali deal is worse than Kyoto

America will keep on wrecking climate talks as
long as those with vested interests in oil and
gas fund its political system

George Monbiot
Monday December 17, 2007
The Guardian,,2228615,00.html

'After 11 days of negotiations, governments have
come up with a compromise deal that could even
lead to emission increases. The highly
compromised political deal is largely
attributable to the position of the United
States, which was heavily influenced by fossil
fuel and automobile industry interests. The
failure to reach agreement led to the talks
spilling over into an all-night session."

These are extracts from a press release by
Friends of the Earth. So what? Well it was
published on December 11 - I mean to say,
December 11 1997. The US had just put a wrecking
ball through the Kyoto protocol. George Bush was
innocent; he was busy executing prisoners in
Texas. Its climate negotiators were led by Albert
Arnold Gore.

The European Union had asked for greenhouse gas
cuts of 15% by 2010. Gore's team drove them down
to 5.2% by 2012. Then the Americans did something
worse: they destroyed the whole agreement.

Most of the other governments insisted that the
cuts be made at home. But Gore demanded a series
of loopholes big enough to drive a Hummer
through. The rich nations, he said, should be
allowed to buy their cuts from other countries.
When he won, the protocol created an exuberant
global market in fake emissions cuts. The western
nations could buy "hot air" from the former
Soviet Union. Because the cuts were made against
emissions in 1990, and because industry in that
bloc had subsequently collapsed, the former
Soviet Union countries would pass well below the
bar. Gore's scam allowed them to sell the gases
they weren't producing to other nations. He also
insisted that rich nations could buy nominal cuts
from poor ones. Entrepreneurs in India and China
have made billions by building factories whose
primary purpose is to produce greenhouse gases,
so that carbon traders in the rich world will pay
to clean them up.

The result of this sabotage is that the market
for low-carbon technologies has remained
moribund. Without an assured high value for
carbon cuts, without any certainty that
government policies will be sustained, companies
have continued to invest in the safe commercial
prospects offered by fossil fuels rather than
gamble on a market without an obvious floor.

By ensuring that the rich nations would not make
real cuts, Gore also guaranteed that the poor
ones scoffed when we asked them to do as we
don't. When George Bush announced, in 2001, that
he would not ratify the Kyoto protocol, the world
cursed and stamped its foot. But his
intransigence affected only the US. Gore's team
ruined it for everyone.

The destructive power of the American delegation
is not the only thing that hasn't changed. After
the Kyoto protocol was agreed, the then British
environment secretary, John Prescott, announced:
"This is a truly historic deal which will help
curb the problems of climate change. For the
first time it commits developed countries to make
legally binding cuts in their emissions." Ten
years later, the current environment secretary,
Hilary Benn, told us that "this is an historic
breakthrough and a huge step forward. For the
first time ever, all the world's nations have
agreed to negotiate on a deal to tackle dangerous
climate change." Do these people have a chip

In both cases, the US demanded terms that
appeared impossible for the other nations to
accept. Before Kyoto, the other negotiators
flatly rejected Gore's proposals for emissions
trading. So his team threatened to sink the
talks. The other nations capitulated, but the US
still held out on technicalities until the very
last moment, when it suddenly appeared to
concede. In 1997 and in 2007 it got the best of
both worlds: it wrecked the treaty and was
praised for saving it.

Hilary Benn is an idiot. Our diplomats are
suckers. American negotiators have pulled the
same trick twice, and for the second time our
governments have fallen for it.

There are still two years to go, but so far the
new agreement is even worse than the Kyoto
protocol. It contains no targets and no dates. A
new set of guidelines also agreed at Bali extend
and strengthen the worst of Gore's trading scams,
the clean development mechanism. Benn and the
other dupes are cheering and waving their hats as
the train leaves the station at last, having
failed to notice that it is travelling in the
wrong direction.

Although Gore does a better job of governing now
he is out of office, he was no George Bush. He
wanted a strong, binding and meaningful protocol,
but American politics had made it impossible. In
July 1997, the Senate had voted 95-0 to sink any
treaty which failed to treat developing countries
in the same way as it treated the rich ones.
Though they knew this was impossible for
developing countries to accept, all the Democrats
lined up with all the Republicans. The Clinton
administration had proposed a compromise: instead
of binding commitments for the developing
nations, Gore would demand emissions trading. But
even when he succeeded, he announced that "we
will not submit this agreement for ratification
[in the Senate] until key developing nations
participate". Clinton could thus avoid an
unwinnable war.

So why, regardless of the character of its
leaders, does the US act this way? Because, like
several other modern democracies, it is subject
to two great corrupting forces. I have written
before about the role of the corporate media -
particularly in the US - in downplaying the
threat of climate change and demonising anyone
who tries to address it. I won't bore you with it
again, except to remark that at 3pm eastern
standard time on Saturday, there were 20 news
items on the front page of the Fox News website.
The climate deal came 20th, after "Bikini-wearing
stewardesses sell calendar for charity" and
"Florida store sells 'Santa Hates You' T-shirt".

Let us consider instead the other great source of
corruption: campaign finance. The Senate rejects
effective action on climate change because its
members are bought and bound by the companies
that stand to lose. When you study the tables
showing who gives what to whom, you are struck by
two things.

One is the quantity. Since 1990, the energy and
natural resources sector - mostly coal, oil, gas,
logging and agribusiness - has given $418m to
federal politicians in the US. Transport
companies have given $355m. The other is the
width: the undiscriminating nature of this
munificence. The big polluters favour the
Republicans, but most of them also fund
Democrats. During the 2000 presidential campaign,
oil and gas companies lavished money on Bush, but
they also gave Gore $142,000, while transport
companies gave him $347,000. The whole US
political system is in hock to people who put
their profits ahead of the biosphere.

So don't believe all this nonsense about waiting
for the next president to sort it out. This is a
much bigger problem than George Bush. Yes, he is
viscerally opposed to tackling climate change.
But viscera don't have much to do with it. Until
the American people confront their political
funding system, their politicians will keep
speaking from the pocket, not the gut.