Mojo - September 2009

New Front Group: "CO2 is Green"

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 2:50 PM EDT

The Washington Post has a piece today on the group behind new anti-climate-bill ads running around the country that are so absurd you might mistake them for parody.

The ads, which have so far targeted the districts of Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), argue that the billions of tons of carbon dioxide we're spewing into the atmosphere are actually good for the planet.

"There is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant," say the ads. "In fact higher CO2 levels than we have today would help the Earth's ecosystems."

 

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Another Company Quits Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Position

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:21 AM EDT

Thursday was another bad day for the US Chamber of Commerce, as New Mexico utility holding company PNM Resources resigned from the group over its stance against climate change legislation. PNM spokesperson Don Brown said the company sees climate change as "the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time," and thus won't be renewing its membership in an organization that has raised doubts about whether global warming is man-made.

Their announcement comes less than a week after Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility, pulled out of the Chamber over concerns about the group's climate change policies.

The group which represents 3 million US businesses, has been waging a campaign against Congressional action and has threated to sue the Environmental Protection Agency if they move forward on regulating carbon dioxide. They also recently filed suit against the EPA for granting California the right to set higher automobile emission standards.

PG&E and PNM are thus far the only two groups to formally resign over the Chamber's climate stance. Here's the statement from PNM:

Given that view, and a natural limit on both company time and resources, we have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view on the need for thoughtful, reasonable climate change legislation and want to push that agenda forward in Congress. These organizations include the Edison Electric Institute, the association of shareholder-owned electric companies, and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of businesses and environmental organizations of which we are a founding member.

The Nigerians Have Kidnapped Harry Potter?

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:05 AM EDT

I just received this email:

Dear Selected personality.

We the harry potter foundation wishes to anounce to you that,sequel to your email profile, you have been selected in your state by this honorable foundation to disburse a reasonable amount of (£1,000.000.00) (one Million GBP) to the less privellege.This project is been sponsored by philanthropist and ably supported by united nation (U N).we are indeed overwhelmed with this laudable project and we do sincerely hope that you will discharge your duties faithfully on reciept of this funds.this following are request for final clearance and proper identification to avoid posible identity theft.

1. full names as appeared in national identity card......

2. last two places of residence...........

3. current phone number...........

4. language spoken..........

Inlight of the above please contact the the foundation co-ordinator

Names:mr. Andy Alec

Phone Number:+447024043608

E-mail:harrypotterfoundation@whangamata.net

Do you think it's real?

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G20 Expected to Move Forward on Cutting Fossil Fuel Subsidies

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:00 AM EDT

The Group of 20 will agree to phase out fossil fuel subsidies in the "medium term," according to the most recent leaked draft of their communique. Leaders will also agree to "intensify our efforts" to reach a deal in Copenhagen at the end of the year, but, as expected, won't offer any more specific commitments on climate.

The draft cites recent data from the International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that finds that cutting these subsidies alone would likely reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2050. It directs the energy and finance ministers of the G20 nations to develop timelines and strategies for phasing out those subsidies:

Best Idea From the UN Summit: A Green WTO

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 10:06 AM EDT

With the Copenhagen climate conference just around the corner, China's commitment to cap its carbon intensity and Obama's lack of firm commitments dominated most of the environmental headlines from the UN summit this week. So most observers missed a promising idea floated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy: an environmental counterweight to the World Trade Organization.

"Let us create a single World Environment Organization in Copenhagen," Sarkozy said during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. The French president used his turn at the podium to champion an idea he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had laid out for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the days leading up to the summit. A letter from the duo explained that after a climate agreement emerges from Copenhagen "a new institutional architecture will need to be set up to foster the development of international environmental law. Environmental governance must be overhauled." The letter concludes: "We must make use of the momentum provided by Copenhagen to make further progress towards the creation of a World Environmental Organization."

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 25, 2009

Fri Sep. 25, 2009 8:26 AM EDT

U.S. Army Spc. Olen Bailey stands post in a guard tower on Forward Operating Base Mizan in Zabul province, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2009. Bailey is assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Eglin.)

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Need To Read: September 25, 2009

Fri Sep. 25, 2009 7:57 AM EDT

Today's must-reads:

Follow me! David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, also tweets, as does awesome new MoJo blogger Kate Sheppard. So do my colleagues Daniel Schulman and Rachel Morris and our editors-in-chief, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Follow them, too! (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

Lowered Expectations for Climate Talks at G20

| Thu Sep. 24, 2009 8:20 PM EDT

Hope for a major breakthrough on climate at the G20 has faded in the environmental and international NGO community, and many are dubious about what might come out of the summit Friday.

"Expectations have really fallen in the past few weeks," says Kirstine Hughes, head of the public policy and advocacy for Oxfam Great Britain. After less-than-breakthrough meetings of the G8, G20, Major Economies Forum, and the United Nations this past year, she speculates that people are now "summited out." "It's almost as if there are too many meetings, too many overlapping agendas." And there are still more questions than answers on Obama's anticipated pitch to end fossil fuel subsidies, the other major climate-related topic this week.

There may yet be signs of progress—if leaders emerge with specifics. With several major summits to go before the big climate talks this December, including two meetings of the Major Economies Forum and a meeting of finance ministers in November, solid commitments from leaders now could still lead to a deal in Copenhagen.

On financing (which Rachel Morris covered in an excellent post this morning), Hughes argues that leaders will need to come up with some dollar figures this week, even if it's only for the near-term. And any financing plan has to acknowledge the historical responsibility of developed nations for emissions, as well as their responsibility to help poorer nations transition. "If you're serious, you actually recognize that a deal needs money," says Hughes. "It's not the end of negotiations tomorrow, but if you want to get the negotiations going, you have to put some credible financial offer of some sort on the table."

Boxer-Kerry Climate Bill Expected Next Wednesday

| Thu Sep. 24, 2009 7:10 PM EDT

After weeks of waiting, it now looks like the Senate will see a climate bill next week after all. At an event in Pittsburgh ahead of the G20 summit, bill cosponsor John Kerry (D-Mass.) announced that the bill will be released next Wednesday.

Kerry said the bill, which he is cosponsoring with Energy and Public Works chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), will have a strong and broad coalition backing it at release. He also said it will be a "thoughtful, innovative, far-reaching solution" and "will take a more comprehensive approach to dwindling oil reserves than any prior legislation."

It's expected that the bill Kerry and Boxer release will still include some placeholders as senators continue to work out the details on issues like permit allocation. Boxer has promised to hold hearings on her draft, which sources close to the debate say will start the week of Oct. 5. Markup is expected to begin in mid-October.

One notable development, reported by Greenwire, is that Boxer's draft will likely include an emissions reduction target of 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The House bill had a 17 percent target, and Boxer's environmental allies have been pushing her to improve it. One argument she is expected to make supporting the increase is a recent study from the Energy Information Administration that found that the US is on track to come in at 8.5 percent below 2005 levels of carbon dioxide by the end of this year. Most of the decrease is due to the recession and some utilities switching to natural gas, but it is exactly halfway to the emissions cuts outlined for 2020 in the House bill–meaning a larger cut won't be quite as challenging as once thought.

Palin Talks Tough to China

| Thu Sep. 24, 2009 5:39 PM EDT

In Sarah Palin's speech at a conference of investors in Hong Kong, she made a number of unorthodox moves. One was to deliver sweeping criticism of President Obama in a country with which the US has a rather sensitive relationship. Another was to attack a policy embraced by her running mate in last year's election, John McCain. In the speech, Palin lambasted the Obama administration's decision to end production of the F-22 fighter jet. McCain (along with Carl Levin) championed this decision in the Senate, playing a leading role in bringing down the plane. But still that wasn't the only graceless note Palin struck. At a speech in Hong Kong, Palin says she opposed ending the F-22 program...because of the military threat posed by China:

Despite the need to move men and material by air into theaters like Afghanistan, the Obama Administration sought to end production of our C-17s, the work horse of our ability to project long range power. Despite the Air Force saying it would increase future risk, the Obama Administration successfully sought to end F-22 production—at a time when both Russia and China are acquiring large numbers of next generation fighter aircraft. [emphasis mine.]