Copenhagen

Wed, 2014-02-12 12:04Guest
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The NSA and Climate Change Spying: What We Know So Far

This is a guest post by Joshua Eaton.

The carbon footprint for the new data center the National Security Agency (NSA) is building in the middle of the Utah desert must be massive. Despite its planned LEED Silver certification, the one-million-square-foot, $2-billion facility will draw 65 megawatts of power and use some 1.7 million gallons of water a day to cool its servers, according to Wired Magazine. When it comes to the NSA, however, many environmentalists have much bigger worries.

To begin with, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed the agency’s keen interest in the global fossil fuel industry. In November, The New York Times published a 2007 Strategic Mission List from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. One of the missions it lists is “Energy Security,” with a special focus on “threats to production and global distribution” of fossil fuels in “Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Russia and Nigeria.”

We now know that the NSA put that directive into practice by spying on the Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, OPEC, Russian energy companies and the French energy company Total. The Australian Signals Directorate — with which the NSA shares data and facilities — may even have helped an Australian coal company in a trade deal with Japan, though there is no evidence the NSA was involved in that operation.

But the NSA’s surveillance of the fossil fuel industry is just the tip of the iceberg. According to an article in the U.K. newspaper The Guardian last November, NSA and the Australian Signals Directorate used the 2007 UN Climate Change Conference in Bali to spy on Indonesian officials and map out the country’s communications networks. The article was one in a series of reports spread across multiple outlets that disclosed Australia’s surveillance of Indonesia and other Asian countries on behalf of the NSA.

Agency officials have repeatedly said the U.S. only uses its immense surveillance capabilities to monitor serious security threats such as terrorism or weapons proliferation. Among themselves, however, agency analysts admit this operation was a fishing expedition.

The goal of the development effort was to gain a solid understanding of the network structure,” says one internal NSA document quoted by The Guardian, “should collection be required in the event of an emergency.” It is unclear what sort of emergency they anticipated.

A New York Times article published on the same day as The Guardian’s describes the NSA’s surveillance of the 2007 conference as “a major eavesdropping effort.” While neither The Guardian nor the Times mention whether that effort extended to climate negotiations, there are reasons to suspect that it did.

Fri, 2011-01-14 11:00Richard Littlemore
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Media Loses Interest In Climate Change

Updated research from Max Boykoff and Maria Mansfield suggests that the world’s media have lost interest in climate change, regardless that the evidence of potential catastrophe becomes more clear by the day - and that last year was tied as the hottest on record.

World news coverage spiked in late 2009, corresponding with the intense interest among politicians, bureaucrats and activists in the Copenhagen conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This study, however, is quantitative rather than qualitative. Boykoff and Mansfield have scoured the electronic sources and found how many stories appear in prominent global newspapers. But this graph doesn’t answer whether what was being published was stupid or wrong. And previous Boykoff studies - beginning with the landmark 2004 study that he conducted with his brother Jules - have demonstrated that a stunning amount of media coverage was presenting an imagined version of reality that was not reflected in actual climate science.

Tue, 2010-11-30 23:06Emma Pullman
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Canada Already on Track to be Fossil of the Year in Cancun; Cleans up on Day One of the Talks

Canada is off to an impressive start at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, if what you’re measuring is climate inaction and environmental embarrassment. 

Today, at the first set of the Fossil of the Day awards, Canada took home not one, or two, but all three of the awards.  The dubious ‘honour’ is voted on by an international coalition of than 400 leading international environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, who vote on the countries that performed the worst during the past day’s negotiations.  Turns out if you are really committed to climate inaction, fail to have any plan to meet already weak targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, defeat a climate change bill that was already passed in your House of Commons by holding a snap vote by an unelected Senate after no debate, and are complicit in trying to weaken climate policy outside of your own national borders, you can win all three of the humiliating prizes. 

The gentleman accepting the shameful awards on behalf of Canada hopped from podium step to podium step, barely able to juggle his armful of awards.  Looks like Canada can clean up humiliating awards, but can’t clean up its act.

In the next two weeks, we’ll see if Canada will take home the Fossil of the Year for the forth year in a row.  From the look of things now, we might as well preemptively cue the Jurassic Park theme music. 

Watch this hilarious video to see Canada’s flagrant lack of commitment to climate change policy given its due recognition.  We can only hope that history does not repeat itself once more.  Prove us wrong, will you Mr. Baird? 

Wed, 2009-12-23 16:14Emily Murgatroyd
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Did China Kill Copenhagen?

The Guardian published an interesting and depressing article yesterday on China’s behind-the-scenes involvement in killing Copenhagen.

A fascinating peek into the closed door meeting between Barack Obama and around 50 other international representatives during their last ditch effort to cobble together an internationally binding treaty. You might want to add some extra spike to your eggnog when you’ve finished reading.

Fri, 2009-12-18 03:51Brendan DeMelle
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Breaking: LEAKED final draft of Copenhagen treaty declaration

[Update: I’ve added in analysis of the key text]

With only hours left in the Copenhagen climate treaty talks we have obtained an early version of the final agreement’ draft text.

President Obama’s speech wrapped up a few minutes ago with nothing new announced. But as long as this session continues there remains hope that world leaders can deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal.

Things continue to evolve and according to the draft version of the agreement, the major issue of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions cuts by what year, remains unanswered.

As it stands, the text states:

Annex I Parties to the Convention commit to implement, individually or jointly, the quantified economy-wide emission targets for 2020 as listed yielding in aggregate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of X per cent in 2020 compared to 1990 and Y per cent in 2020 compared to 2005…

Based on the best scientific research these numbers should be 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80-95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Thu, 2009-12-17 17:46Joanna Dafoe
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Did Fairness Lead Us Here?

One more day remains for negotiations at COP15 and the likelihood of breakthrough is now small.  The “fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty” many hoped for will most likely end up as a fragmented and ambiguous outcome.  I am left wondering about the political rationale that brought us here.

Wed, 2009-12-16 08:15Jim Hoggan
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The Copenhagen Tea Party

The American Tea Party phenomenon unfortunately has a long arm, reaching all the way to the international climate negotiations currently underway in Copenhagen, Denmark.

With their outrageous signs and over-the-top rhetoric, the Tea Party claims can be easily dismissed as fringe players, but they are nevertheless playing a role in blocking action in Washington on the issue of climate change.

This is something the fossil fuel industry and their think tank network are very aware of and are using to their full advantage. One need not look any further than the notorious Americans for Prosperity, one of the leading groups organizing Tea Party attacks on healthcare reform, and now climate solutions.

The AFP is an organization that has recieved millions of dollars in funding over the years from the Koch Family Foundations - Koch Industries Inc., is the largest private energy company in the United States and a major Big Oil force. When it comes to funding the right-wing think tanks and the climate denial industry, Koch makes ExxonMobil look like a minor player.

AFP is a non-profit organization that will not disclose its donors when asked. However, Media Transparency shows that Americans for Prosperity, and their previous incarnation “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” have received over $13 million from the Koch foundations. 

Sat, 2009-12-12 08:42Richard Littlemore
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Pachauri: Email theft a "recreational distraction"

The theft and release of the University of East Anglia emails is nothing more than a “recreational distraction” to the Copenhagen climate summit, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri said at a news conference today.

Yet immediately after he said it, another senior IPCC member said he believed that his colleagues have, from the very beginning, underestimated the potential effect of the email story on public understanding of climate science - and public support for action in Copenhagen.

Pachauri (or “Pachy,” as he seems to be known  among his friends) had called a news conference on the “Scientific Basis” for climate change. It wound up being a review of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, a reiteration of news that “the warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

The question (which I posed and which Pachauri did not answer) was whether the UNFCCC or the IPCC would have felt such a conference was necessary had the emails not been used so effectively to call the science into question.

Wed, 2009-12-09 14:57Brendan DeMelle
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Climate Contrarian Monckton calls young climate activists “Hitler Youth” and "Nazis"

Fifty young U.S. clean energy activists stormed the stage today in Copenhagen during a live webcast organized by Americans for Prosperity and featuring climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton

When the youth group interrupted the webcast to deliver the message that real Americans want clean energy and a fair climate treaty, Monckton went ballistic, calling the students “crazed Hitler youth” and “Nazis.”

The incident was not likely the intended result Americans for Prosperity hoped for as it launched the COP15 version of its “Hot Air Tour” (a.k.a. denial-a-palooza). AFP sent its team to Copenhagen “to make sure that our side of the story is told.” But their live event today – complete with the student protest - was webcast to over forty climate denier rallies taking place in cities across the United States.

Wed, 2009-12-09 09:25Richard Littlemore
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Canada takes early lead in the fossil race

Summit watchers will recall Canada’s past domination of the Fossil of the Day competition - a race for the bottom in which the poorest performers in UNFCCC climate summits are singled out for their efforts to block, obstruct, degrade or otherwise louse up the climate talks.

Canada has appeared on the podium for the first three days of the conference - claiming the honour today for advocating a “base year” of 2006 instead of 1990, the year enshrined in the protocol and one still approved by 190 of the 192 signatories. (Croatia shared the prize today for being Canada’s partner in distraction.)

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