Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Pakistan: Ten Problems Karachi Wants Imran Khan To Address

September 17, 2018

Prime Minster Imran Khan is on his first official visit to Karachi today. The city which boosted his party’s chances in July 25 elections by voting for it massively is in shambles and in dire need of focused attention of the Federal Government.

During his election campaign in May, PM Khan presented a 10-point agenda for the development of Karachi, which included water supply, city administration, public schools and hospitals reforms. He said if his party made it to power then they will revamp the city’s administration system and will hold a direct election for the mayor.

Image result for Imran Khan, Karachi, Photos

Ownership of the city has been the biggest problem due to which successive governments never took keen interest in developing its commercial hub, which provides over 70 percent revenue even in worst conditions.

Now is the time for the prime minister to fulfill his promises he made with the people of Karachi. Here are a 10 key problems that Imran Khan must address.

Water Shortage

Karachi, a city of over 20 million suffers from a serious shortage of water and an all-powerful tanker mafia which operates in connivance of water board officials has made the masses hapless. Of the 1200 million gallons of water that Karachi requires every day, it is receiving only one-third of that amount. From that, much of the water is diverted to illegal hydrants and the tanker mafia, leaving 40 percent of the city without any water for the last two weeks.

Although there are several water supply projects underway but the delay in their completion has left the city high and dry.

Sewerage

Karachi Water & Sewerage Board, which is also responsible for managing city’s drainage system lacks proper mechanism to handle the massive flow of sewerage water with its meager resources. In absence of water treatment plants, the disposal of hundreds of gallons of untreated water from the industries have polluted the sea water.

Transportation

The government of Pakistan Peoples’ Party made announcements to overhaul the transportation network of the city but has never worked sincerely to resolve the crisis. Mega transport systems funded by the Federal Government remained incomplete even after many many months.

Waste management

The city gives the look of a garbage dump. Where ever you go, piles of garbage can be seen. The provincial government engaged Chinese companies to collect the waste from the selected points but that effort proved futile too owing to provincial authorities’ neglect.

Law and order

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government must not allow the fruits of the Karachi Operation go to waste and every effort should be made to keep the momentum going no matter what the cost is. Recently, street crimes witnessed a surge in the city once again.

Air pollution/Climate Change

Hundreds have died in the city due to heatstroke yet the provincial government is unmoved to look into this. The metropolis has become a concrete jungle. Billion Tsunami like plantation campaign here on war footings should be launched.

Police reforms

Just like  Punjab, Sindh Police too is rigged with political interference. Due to illegal appointments and corruption in the department the force is mostly dependent on Sindh Rangers to clear the city from criminals. Although it’s a provincial subject but the PM must put pressure on the Pakistan Peoples’ Party government to introduce KP-like reforms.

City Administration

The PTI is mulling to introduce a powerful local bodies system where the mayor is directly elected and has more powers and financial resources at his disposal. In his 10-point agenda Khan promised to change the administration system.

Census

Almost all the Karachi political parties have demanded an audit of the census claiming that the city population has been deliberately counted lesser. It is also important for better civic management that a factual assessment is conducted into this complain.

Electricity shortage/Over billing

The metropolis suffered hugely due to faulty transmission network of the power utility. The company entrusted to provide electricity to the whole of Karachi and a few areas of Balochistan need to be made answerable. Hundreds of Karachiites complain of over-billing which no one listens.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/369300-10-problems-karachi-wants-imran-khan-to-address

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EPA to Roll Back Obama-Era Methane Rules

September 11, 2018

Proposal is the latest Trump administration effort to ease measures addressing climate change

The Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington.
The Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington. PHOTO: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The Trump administration is about to propose its latest rollback of Obama-era climate rules, moving to ease requirements for oil and gas companies that were designed to limit leaks of the heat-trapping gas methane, administration officials said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to release on Wednesday a proposal that would make it easier for oil and gas companies to comply with rules designed to limit the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.

The EPA proposal aims to ensure oil and gas companies have more time to assess and safely repair infrastructure, often in remote locations, according to a draft summary of the proposal.

The proposed changes, among other measures, would give drillers a year to do leak inspections instead of just six months, and 60 days to make repairs instead of 30, the document said.

Environmentalists are likely to oppose the plan, asserting the delayed inspections and repair schedules are likely to increase the amount of harmful gases released into the environment, and that the proposal opens the door to further rollbacks of climate regulations.

The proposal follows other moves by the EPA earlier this year to ease climate rules, including measures to roll back restrictions on carbon emissions from both power plants and automobiles.

Carbon and methane are considered to be two big drivers of climate change. Methane, however, is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon over the short term and frequently leaks from oil and gas wells, storage tanks and processing plants.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration set more stringent rules to address methane leaks. The rules were supposed to be a fundamental part of its effort to slow climate change, alongside the rules to lower carbon emissions in the power and transportation sectors.

The energy industry has long complained those rules amounted to regulatory overreach, claims adopted by the Trump administration, which includes among its ranks many former employees and allies of the energy industry.

The rollback is also an effort to fulfill the campaign promises of Mr. Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and blamed environmental rules for impeding economic growth.

The EPA plan is coming as the Interior Department also pushes its own proposal that would virtually eliminate its Obama-era rules aimed at cutting emissions of methane from drilling operations on federal lands.

EPA and Interior officials have discussed doing a joint announcement. But Interior is at a much different point in its rollback, near completing a proposal it made in February, according to a senior administration official.

News of the impending release of the methane proposal was reported on Monday in the New York Times.

“We welcome EPA’s efforts to get this right and the proposed changes could ensure that the rule is based on best engineering practices and cost-effective,” Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the oil-and-gas industry’s lobbying powerhouse, the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement.

While many of the proposal’s details are incremental, and relatively technical, more wide-sweeping changes are still under consideration. The draft summary says the agency will issue a separate proposal later on its regulation of the oil-and-gas sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists are concerned that foreshadows an ultimate effort to gut the agency’s oversight over methane from oil and gas operations.

“The net effect would be a fig leaf of a rule that does almost nothing to reduce emissions in the long run,” said Matt Watson, associate vice president for the climate and energy program at the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit environmental group that has been coordinating some of the country’s most extensive research on methane leaks.

Write to Timothy Puko at tim.puko@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/epa-to-roll-back-obama-era-methane-rules-1536628368

Janet Yellen calls for US carbon tax to curb climate change

September 10, 2018

Ex-Fed chief backs plan for levy with revenue given to the public as dividend payouts
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Janet Yellen: ‘When the central problem is the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions, the cleanest and most efficient way to address it is to tax those emissions’ © Bloomberg

Ed Crooks in New York 


Janet Yellen has spoken out in support of a carbon tax as the most effective and efficient way to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Yellen, who chaired the US Federal Reserve until February, has joined the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan group pushing for the US to address the threat of global warming by introducing a carbon tax, with revenues returned to the public in dividend payments.

The group is backed by large companies including ExxonMobil, BP, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson.

“Climate change is a very critical problem that we need to address,” Ms Yellen told the Financial Times. “When the central problem is the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions, the cleanest and most efficient way to address it is to tax those emissions.”

She was speaking as the council published estimates that indicated its plan to abolish climate regulations and replace them with a carbon tax could cut US greenhouse gas emissions by substantially more than all the policies put in place by President Barack Obama.

It is very concerning [that] it has been very difficult to get congressional buy-in to any kind of measure to address climate change

Janet Yellen, ex-Fed chief and member of the Climate Leadership Council
It also issued poll results suggesting that 56 per cent of respondents backed its idea of “taxing fossil fuel companies on their carbon emissions and rebating all the money directly to all Americans through a monthly cheque”, with 26 per cent opposed.

The proposal for the carbon tax and dividends is known as the “Baker-Shultz plan” after being drawn up by a group including James Baker and George Shultz, respectively secretaries of state under presidents George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Its supporters acknowledge that it stands little chance of becoming law under President Donald Trump, who has in the past described global warming as a hoax, but are working to win support for the 2020 elections and beyond.

Ms Yellen said she had joined the Climate Leadership Council because it was trying to build a political consensus for action on climate change. “Is this going to be politically acceptable? I really don’t know,” she said. “But I think it is worthwhile to show there can be broad agreement on a policy that is environmentally enlightened.”

The former Fed chief’s involvement in climate policy dates back to her time as chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, when she argued the case for the 1997 Kyoto protocol, saying the cost of the 7 per cent emissions reduction sought by the administration would be “modest”.

“I learnt a lot about the seriousness of the issue,” she said last week. At the time, the administration backed a cap-and-trade programme to reduce emissions. Ms Yellen was willing to support it, she said, but most economists would argue that a carbon tax was a more effective policy.

A carbon tax would be more efficient than controlling greenhouse gases by regulating businesses, she added: “Some of these command and control regulations are very expensive from their point of view.”

The Kyoto protocol was signed by the Clinton administration, but a resolution in effect rejecting it was passed in the Senate on a 95-0 vote and the US never ratified it.

Ms Yellen said it was “very concerning” that “it has been very difficult to get congressional buy-in to any kind of measure to address climate change”.

Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican former governor of New Jersey and head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W Bush, is another founding member of the Climate Leadership Council. She said the broad support for the campaign from a range of companies, which also include Royal Dutch Shell, AT&T, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble, showed that the plan to combine a carbon tax with deregulation would be good for businesses.

“We can sweep away some of the regulation and inspection that industry finds burdensome,” she said. “When you look at the business opportunity here, it’s impressive.”

It was essential to take action on emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change decades in the future, she said. “I have grandchildren, and some of them are going to live to be 100. I don’t want to leave them a world where they can’t live on this planet any more,” she added.

https://www.ft.com/content/a70edd88-b486-11e8-bbc3-ccd7de085ffe

100% Certifiable California

September 10, 2018

Democrats now want to ban all fossil fuels from the electrical grid.

California Gov. Jerry Brown in May
California Gov. Jerry Brown in May PHOTO: RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

California Democrats pose as green saints, though their climate and social-justice values often conflict. The latest example is the legislature’s plan to banish fossil fuels from the state electrical grid, which progressives aim to export nationwide.

Most states are enjoying flat or declining electricity rates thanks to shale fracking, which has sent natural gas prices plummeting. But not California, where rates have jumped 25% since 2013. Electricity prices in the Golden State are by far the highest in the continental western U.S. and twice as high as in Washington state.

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The reason: California requires that 50% of power be generated from renewables such as solar and wind by 2030. Democrats recently passed legislation establishing a 100% requirement for 2045. Even Governor Jerry Brown ought to realize this energy experiment will punish Californians who can’t afford to live in Marin or Malibu.

Renewable prices have dropped thanks to technological improvements and cheap Chinese solar panel imports. The wholesale price of solar energy with the 30% federal tax credit is now nearly comparable to fossil fuels. But renewables impose other costs.

Start with backup power, which is needed when the sun isn’t shining. A 100% mandate would require natural gas plants that currently provide backup power—many recently constructed—to be retired and replaced with enormous batteries. Customers will pay for the stranded plants and the batteries, which will have to be replaced periodically.

Even batteries probably won’t capture all of the surplus solar energy pouring onto the grid on sunny days. So the state will have to find another outlet to avoid overloading the grid. In recent years California has paid Arizona to absorb its excess energy.

Then there are the state subsidies for renewable energy. Home and business owners that install solar panels can receive rebates and are paid the retail power rate for the excess energy they transmit to the grid, which increases the costs for everybody else. Most large-scale solar and wind farms are located in rural regions while natural gas plants are close to population centers along the coast. The cost to build and run power transmission lines from renewable plants is higher.

Managing the grid and balancing power sources will also become far more complicated and costly as renewable generation grows. Fellow sun-worshipper Australia provides a cautionary example.

In South Australia, wind and solar account for nearly 40% of power, which has caused rates to soar. South Australians pay more than three times as much for power than the average American. After storms felled transmission lines and caused power outages, the South Australian government tapped Tesla to build a battery the size of a football field capable of powering 30,000 homes for an hour to provide backup power in emergencies.

Tesla and the South Australian government have declined to disclose the battery cost. But the Electrek news site reported in January that Australia’s battery owners were paid 79 cents per kilowatt-hour—about 10 times the wholesale cost of power in the U.S.—to absorb surplus energy from the grid. That power can later be sold at a premium during shortages. Customers get charged twice—once for storing the excess power and then for discharging it.

California’s low-income residents will suffer the most since they spend more of their income on energy and live in hotter inland areas where more electricity is required for cooling. Workers in energy-intensive industries like manufacturing would be especially hard hit. Manufacturing employment has grown half as fast in California as nationwide since 2010.

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All of this explains why a dozen Democrats in the state Assembly, most from low-income and minority areas, rebelled against the 100% renewable bill. “This is yet another in a laundry list of bills that are discriminatory to the people I represent,” said Adam Gray of Merced.

California’s power generation accounts for less than 0.2% of global CO2 emissions, so the mandate won’t matter to the climate. But green groups are hoping California’s fossil-fuel purge will coax politicians elsewhere to follow. Democrats running for Governor in Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Maryland have endorsed a 100% renewable mandate. Presidential aspirants Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders have introduced legislation in the Senate setting a nationwide 100% renewable target.

Governor Brown would be wise to veto the bill. As an alternative, he’s promoting a plan to integrate California’s grid with other western states to minimize the costs of its renewable binge. But the liberals who dominate state politics would apparently rather make poor people pay more for energy so they can pretend they’re saving the planet.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/100-certifiable-california-1536532039

Global protests as key UN climate talks stumble

September 8, 2018

Thai fishermen and labourers whose livelihoods are threatened by rising sea levels kicked off an international day of protests in Bangkok Saturday, where key UN talks are attempting to breathe life into the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Image may contain: 8 people, including Dung Dang, text

As global warming races ahead of efforts to contain it, the discussions are deadlocked over a number of contentious issues, with activists demanding immediate action to prevent irreparable damage to the planet.

The “Rise for Climate” protest movement — which has organised events in dozens of countries on Saturday — wants governments to end their reliance on fossil fuels and transition fully into renewable energy.

Beginning in Australia, a tall ship moved through Sydney Harbour in front of the Opera House as activists on board held up protest signs.

Image result for Aree Kongklad, photos

Its billowing sails featured banners that read “Rise for Climate; Action with 350” — referring to environment advocacy group 350 which spearheaded the global protest.

Blair Palese, CEO of 350 Australia, said that the country — heavily reliant on coal mining for its economy — has long suffered the effects of climate change.

“We are fighting bushfires in winter, suffering a crippling drought, and scientists fear back-to-back of bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef this summer.”

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Australia — survival of the Great Barrier Reef hinges on urgent moves to cut global warming

Hundreds more protesters gathered outside the electorate office of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling on him to “kick coal out of politics”.

In the Thai capital, some 200 protesters assembled in front of the UN regional headquarters, where delegates were discussing how to implement measures agreed by world powers under the 2015 Paris Accord on climate change.

The talks aim to create a draft legal framework for limiting global temperature rises that can be presented to ministers and heads of state at a final round of discussions in Poland in December.

The delegates have been meeting since Tuesday, but have made little progress, according to multiple sources close to the negotiations.

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File photo: Climate activists hold a banner during a demonstration outside the United Nations (UN) Centre during the first day of the UN Climate Change Negotiating sessions in Bangkok, Thailand, 04 September 2018. // EPA-EFE

“The negotiators are not taking any action,” Ruchi Tripathi, head of climate justice at charity ActionAid, told AFP.

In particular, the issue of how the fight against climate change will be funded — and how that funding is made available to developing nations — remains a key sticking point.

Dozens of labourers and fishermen from the Gulf of Thailand, whose livelihoods are threatened by rising sea levels and coastal erosion caused by climate change, joined Saturday’s protest.

Many brought examples of their produce, including crabs and shrimp, and held banners demanding that delegates take action.

“I came here today to ask the government to put coastal erosion on the national agenda,” 58-year-old fisherwoman Aree Kongklad told AFP.

She said that the mangrove forests near her coastal home had been destroyed, jeopardising the supply of crabs which are her livelihood.

“Rain and storms have become ferocious. I have already had to move my house inland three times,” she said.

burs-dhc-pg/sls

AFP

Trump Vindicated as Paris Climate Agreement Unravels

September 5, 2018

The Paris Climate Agreement is a dead non-binding treaty walking. All the signatories know this, none of them will admit it. So instead, we have to endure the ritual spectacle of UN delegates racking up yet more air miles and dumping their carbon footprint on a new location in order to wail hysterically that much, much more needs to be done to save the planet from the greatest threat evah.

This week the UN’s clown caravan has moved to Bangkok, Thailand – the preliminary to an even bigger meeting, COP24, in December in Katowice, Poland.

By James Delingpole

As the South China Morning Post reports, the auguries aren’t good:

Time is running out to save the Paris Agreement, United Nations climate experts warned Tuesday at a key Bangkok meeting, as rich nations were accused of shirking their responsibility for environmental damage.

That’s because – just as they were in Paris 2015 – the negotiations are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Western countries don’t want to stump up for what is essentially an attempted shakedown by poorer countries demanding more handouts in the name of “climate justice.”

Image result for coal in China, photos
Coal mine in China

Developing economies – as they have cunningly managed to designate themselves – like India and China and the rest of the BRICs have absolutely no interest in hampering their economies with carbon emissions cuts, not least because they recognise that “global warming” is just a scam invented by Euro Weenies who want to decide how the world is run.

That’s why, as Townhall reports, they are all going mad for coal:

[Climate Justice] was the idea that developed countries should pay developing countries compensation for the slowing down of their economic growth that would result from the mandatory transition from coal to more expensive renewable energy sources, as proposed in the agreement.

Despite the approval of such funding, both India and China continued to expand their coal consumption. They continue to import, export, and use coal extensively. At their current pace, neither country will ever achieve their emission targets as mentioned in their respective INDCs.

Russia, meanwhile, is quietly developing its coal infrastructure despite its claims of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. In 2015, Russia’s coal production stood at 186.37 million TOE (Tons of Oil Equivalent). It jumped to 206.33 million in 2017.

The country is expanding its coal infrastructure to enable more streamlined transport of coal across the country and to meet the increase in exports due to demand from its Asian neighbor China.

Meanwhile, in the other BRIC, the most likely candidate to win Brazil’s next elections – Conservative Jair Bolsonaro – has vowed to pull his country out of the Paris Agreement.

So, all in all, President Trump has every right to feel vindicated at his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

And that is left for his critics to do is wail and gnash their teeth, making impotent demands like this one from a bunch of 200 arthouse luvvies – led by Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche.

They have written to France’s Le Monde newspaper, claiming that climate change is the “greatest challenge in the history of mankind” and demanding that all necessary measures be taken by governments – no matter how unpopular their decisions may be.

The signatories are a Who’s Who of some of the most attractive actresses in French cinema – Binoche; Isabelle Adjani; Marion Cotillard; Catherine Deneuve, plus a few Americans who want to be burnished by association with moody, arthouse French cinema (Tim Robbins, Rufus Wainwright, etc), plus some French rappers no one outside France has heard of.

Unfortunately, no one cares.

Nauru blasts ‘insolent’ China for speaking out of turn at meeting — “He was from a big country he wanted to bully us”

September 5, 2018

China’s envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum was “very insolent” and a “bully” for speaking out of turn during a leaders’ meeting, the president of host-nation Nauru said, after an angry exchange made for a tense start to the annual gathering.

Nauru is hosting leaders of 18 Pacific nations, plus delegations from non-member countries including the United States and China, at a time of growing tension and rivalry in a strategically important region with access to swathes of resource-rich ocean.

“The Chinese demanded to be heard when (Tuvalu’s) prime minister was about to speak,” Nauru President Baron Waqa said at a news conference late on Tuesday, after media reported a heated start to the leaders’ closed-door meeting.

Image result for Nauru President Baron Waqa, photos

Baron Waqa, President of Nauru

“He insisted and was very insolent about it, and created a big fuss and held up the meeting of leaders for a good number of minutes when he was only an official. So maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us,” Waqa said.

Nauru and Tuvalu are two of six Pacific countries to have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, another major source of tension with China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province, to be taken back by force if necessary.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s delegation was led by Du Qiwen, its ambassador to Fiji.

Waqa said protocol dictated speaking priority was given to ministers over diplomats.

China has become one of the dominant economic players in the Pacific, spending billions of dollars in trade, investment, aid and tourism in a region that staunch U.S. ally Australia has long regarded as its “back yard”.

Chinese lending to the region has surged from nearly zero to $1.3 billion over the last decade, stoking concern that tiny nations could end up overburdened and in debt.

It is also the second-largest bilateral donor in the region, behind Australia. Nauru has no diplomatic relations with China.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters attended the leaders’ meeting, and had told reporters on Tuesday there was no walk-out by China’s delegation, contrary to some reports.

The dispute echoes an incident in 2017 when Chinese delegates were reported to have disrupted the opening remarks at a conference in Australia about conflict diamonds, because a Taiwan delegation was invited.

Separately, Nauru on Wednesday also reinstated the press credentials of a New Zealand journalist who had been briefly held by police for failing to seek permission to meet a refugee sent to Nauru under Australia’s hardline immigration policy.

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON and Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY. Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel

Reuters

Related:

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Pacific Islands Forum masking human rights abuse – advocate

Behind the scenes of the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru human rights abuses are continuing, a refugee advocate says.

A ward at the RON Hospital on Nauru

A ward at the RON Hospital on Nauru Photo: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said journalists attending the forum needed to look at the bigger picture.

Mr Rintoul said to avoid scutiny, staff working at Australia’s refugee detention centres on the island had been told not to speak to the media.

He said despite the Nauru president’s denial of a mental health crisis among about 900 refugees on the island, they were still committing acts of self harm.

“There’s a woman on Nauru at the moment who’s swallowed a razor blade,” Mr Rintoul said.

“There have been recomendations from doctors on Nauru and in Australia that she can’t be treated on Nauru.

“She needs to be taken off Nauru for that treatment. She was sent home from the RON (Republic of Nauru) hospital last night [and was told] ‘come back when you start vomiting blood’.”

Nauru’s hospital was inadequate and in a poor state compared to facilities prepared for the forum, Mr Rintoul said.

“It’s one of the things the Australian government boasts about, how much money has been spent on the RON hospital. But when you look at photos of the hospital compared to facilities built for the forum you will see where the money has gone,” he said.

The Nauru Civic Centre.

The Nauru Civic Centre. Photo: Refugee Action Coalition

“It’s not just refugees, Nauruan people can’t get the treatment they need at the hospital. We’ve got hundreds of people (refugees) who’ve had to be sent off Nauru to Australia and other countries for medical treatment they can’t get on Nauru.”

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government said it would close the “backdoor route” to Australia – should the government there ever take up its offer of resettling 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, in New Zealand.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters met with his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne, on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum yesterday.

Currently New Zealanders can travel freely to, and live in Australia, and the Australian government is concerned this will allow refugees to ultimately settle there.

Mr Peters said he was certain changes could be made in New Zealand to shut that door and ease those concerns.

 

Pacific Islands Summit: China Storms Out; Journalist Arrested for Reporting on Australia’s Hardline Immigration Policies

September 4, 2018

Nauru’s government “has recently lurched towards authoritarianism”

The Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru began in dramatic fashion Tuesday, with Chinese diplomats storming out of a meeting and a New Zealand journalist detained for interviewing refugees held on the tiny island nation.

After a low-key opening ceremony late Monday, tensions erupted almost as soon as formal business commenced on Tuesday, when China’s Du Qiwen attempted to address a meeting about climate change.

The meeting chairman, Nauru President Baron Waqa, stopped him from talking, prompting Du and the rest of the Chinese delegation to walk out.

Image result for Du Qiwen, china, diplomat, photos

The exchange highlighted sensitivities over Beijing’s rising influence in the region, where Nauru backs Taiwan over arch-rival China in the battle for diplomatic recognition.

A few hours later, police took veteran TVNZ journalist Barbara Dreaver into custody as she was interviewing an asylum-seeker held on the island under Australia’s hardline immigration policies.

The plight of the refugees, particularly children, has threatened to overshadow the summit, despite attempts by Nauru authorities to control visiting journalists.

Dreaver said she was held for three hours, her footage was confiscated and her PIF media accreditation was revoked.

She described herself as “fine and dandy” after her release but said she was now barred from attending PIF press conferences.

“I can do Forum stories but I’m not allowed to report on anything to do with the refugees,” she told TVNZ.

Australia’s Lowy Institute think-tank said earlier this year that Nauru’s government “has recently lurched towards authoritarianism”.

Opposition figures have been arrested and judges sacked for making decisions the government disagrees with.

Authorities have also muzzled the media, strictly controlling journalists’ access to the tiny island.

© AFP | This year’s Pacific Islands Forum continues to be one of the most ill-tempered since the organisation was created

– Boycott averted –

Few foreign reporters have made it into Nauru in recent years, with many hampered by a decision to charge Aus$8,000 (US$5,800) for media visa applications, non-refundable even if not granted.

The fee was temporarily waived for the PIF but the government curbed the number of reporters allowed into the country to cover the region’s biggest annual diplomatic meeting.

It also banned Australia’s public broadcaster ABC after taking exception to its coverage.

Reporters who did make it in are subject to unprecedented restrictions at the usually media-friendly event, under threat of visa revocation.

“You are only authorised to report on, or take photos or videos of the PIF. Any other subjects must be approved by the RON (Republic of Nauru),” the media visa restrictions said.

After Dreaver’s release, the Nauru government said the only restrictions it had placed on journalists were for safety reasons.

“No journalist on Nauru has been prevented from talking to any person, including refugees,” it said.

“However, in order to protect the safety and security of all, journalists were required to follow procedures.”

The controversies have left Nauru struggling to control the agenda at the 18-nation summit, where official business is focussed on climate change and regional security.

It was revealed Tuesday that the China issue almost derailed the entire event, when some member nations threatened to boycott it over Nauru’s treatment of Beijing’s delegation.

Nauru refused to stamp entry visas into Chinese diplomatic passports, instead saying it would only process their personal passports.

While seemingly a minor detail, it provoked a furious response from other PIF members, many of whom receive development aid and concessional loans from Beijing.

Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Nauru’s actions risked undermining “the integrity, credibility and foundation of our organisation”.

“Your unilateral action as President of Nauru is a dangerous precedent that I believe may not be accepted by forum leaders,” he wrote in a letter to Waqa obtained by AFP.

While a compromise was reached, this year’s PIF continues to be one of the most ill-tempered since the organisation was established in 1971.

AFP

Canadian province of Alberta pulls out of carbon tax initiative after Trans Mountain pipeline ruling

August 31, 2018

The Canadian province of Alberta announced Thursday it would pull out of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s flagship climate change initiative in protest against a court ruling against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

© POOL/AFP/File | Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced a federal carbon tax earlier this year to curb greenhouse gas emissions

A court had earlier quashed the government’s approval of expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline to the Pacific, siding with indigenous people worried that increased tanker traffic will harm whales along the coast.

Landlocked Alberta in western Canada, which sits on the world’s third largest oil reserves, was set to rely on the pipeline to sell oil to Asian markets via the port of Vancouver.

“As important as climate action is to our province’s future I have also always said that taking the next step, in signing on to the federal climate plan, can’t happen without the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Premier Rachel Notley told reporters in a live address Thursday evening.

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“With the Trans Mountain halted and the work on it halted, until the federal government gets its act together, Alberta is pulling out of the federal climate plan,” she said.

Trudeau’s government introduced a federal carbon tax earlier this year to curb greenhouse gas emissions, set to rise steadily from Can$10 ($7.50) per tonne this year to Can$50 per tonne in 2022.

“Let’s be clear, without Alberta that plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” Notley said.

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Meanwhile, Trudeau said in a tweet he confirmed to Notley that his government “stands by the TMX expansion project” and “will ensure it moves forward in the right way”.

In addition to Alberta, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario in mid-July announced an alliance against the carbon tax, which they believe is harmful to the economy.

Ontario — Canada’s richest and most populous province — elected a climate-sceptic prime minister in June, who is working to dismantle climate change policies.

AFP

California Lawmakers Vote to Mandate Carbon-Free Electricity Generation

August 29, 2018

Target for completion is 2045, and state would be first large one to require such a change

Power lines and poles in Rosemead, Calif.
Power lines and poles in Rosemead, Calif. PHOTO: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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California passed legislation Tuesday that would make it the first large state to mandate completely carbon-free electricity generation, with a target of 2045.

If signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the bill would keep the nation’s most populous state at the forefront of environmental regulation trends and could have a big impact on electricity generation beyond California’s borders. In 2017, California imported roughly 30% of its electricity generation, according to state data.

Though the bill sets the most ambitious carbon-free goals in the nation, it doesn’t specify how California would get there.

It would require utilities to transition gradually to electricity resources that don’t emit greenhouse-gas emissions, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear power. The first target:  33% carbon-free power by the end of 2020. Utilities would then need to get 50% of their power from carbon-free resources by the end of 2026 before hitting the 100% goal 19 years later.

It passed the Assembly Tuesday evening by a vote of 43-33, according to the office of the chief clerk. It is now headed back to the Senate, which approved an earlier version of the bill, and is expected to pass again there before heading to Mr. Brown’s desk.

In an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Brown said he supported the goal of 100% renewable energy, but that specific details not included in the bill are critical.

“Goals have to be credible,” Mr. Brown said. “In order for the goal to be credible, we have to have the ingredients that will actually get us there.”

To achieve 100% carbon-free power, Mr. Brown suggested California needs to increase its ability to store power from unpredictable sources like wind and solar, to become part of a multistate energy grid and put millions more electric cars on its roads, because most of the state’s carbon emissions come from the transportation sector.

“It’s not like you can do one without all the other other things—this is a whole pattern of events and activities and decisions that have to take place,” Mr. Brown said.

The bill was authored by state Sen. Kevin de León, a Democrat who is waging a long-shot run for a U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Dianne Feinstein. Mr. de León linked the bill to California’s costly and deadly wildfires of this summer and prior years, which experts have said are caused in part by climate change.

“As fires rage up and down the state of California, costing our taxpayers billions of dollars and threatening our families’ health—- the need for California to move to 100% clean, renewable energy could not be more urgent,” said Mr. de León in a statement.

If signed into law, California would again be a bellwether of the transition to renewable energy and efforts to combat climate change, providing a model for other states to follow as they consider renewable resources that have seen dramatic price drops in recent years.

The state has long been a leader on environmental issues, including imposing stringent fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles that have made it a de facto auto regulator. The Trump administration wants to end the state’s ability to set its own mileage standards and dial back Obama-era limits on tailpipe admissions. California has sued the administration over its auto policies.

Under California’s already ambitious current law, utilities are required to get 50% of their electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar by the end of 2030. In 2017, roughly 29% of the state’s electricity was generated by renewables, according to state data.

The new bill sets a 100% goal by 2045 but calls for that power to come from resources that are renewable and “zero-carbon,”  a definition that could include nuclear power, natural gas and even coal plants with carbon-capture technology.

Hawaii is the only other state with a similar target. In 2015, it set the goal of producing all of its energy from renewable sources by 2045.

PG&E Corp. , parent of the state’s largest investor-owned utility, opposed the bill for more than a year and on Tuesday called it “poorly timed.”

“Lawmakers in the Assembly have put the cart before the horse by approving a long-term procurement mandate that will affect utilities and their customers for more than 25 years without any assurance that the state’s utilities will remain financially stable and able to shoulder these new mandates in the face of growing wildfire risk,” said PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo.

San Diego Gas & Electric, part of Sempra Energy , said that rather than imposing mandates on utilities, it would like to see the state do more to address greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

Several former political leaders who made climate change a signature issue have spoken out in favor of the California bill, including former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Vice President Al Gore.

Ed Smeloff, California regulatory director of the advocacy group Vote Solar, said passage of zero-carbon legislation would be “a capstone” for California in its decadeslong quest to promote renewable energy.

“California is now saying to the nation it’s feasible and we now have a road map to get to 100% clean energy,” he said.

Appeared in the August 29, 2018, print edition as ‘Clean Energy Bill Gains in California.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-lawmakers-vote-to-mandate-carbon-free-electricity-generation-1535507792