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CCNet 30/01/14

Obama’s Speech Softens Tone On Climate Change 

Green NGOs Break With Obama Over U.S. Energy & Climate Policy 

 

 
 
Is the president going a little soft on climate change? It’s an interesting State of the Union address when oil and natural gas producers and their lobbyists sound happier with the president’s speech than environmental groups that have been Mr. Obama’s staunchest allies. --Alicia Mundy, 
The Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2014



Tuesday night’s speech seemed a far cry from from 2013, when Mr. Obama raised a call to arms against climate change deniers and fossil fuels –  or as he once called them,  “yesterday’s energy.”  Remember his threat?  “ If Congress won’t act on climate change, I will.” --Alicia Mundy, The Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2014


 
 

Just 10 days ago,  18 green groups including the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters slammed the White House’s current  energy strategy “all of the above” that draws on fossil fuels-oil, natural gas and coal, as well as clean energy. But Tuesday night, Mr. Obama reiterated his commitment to  “all of the above,” which he linked to jobs and energy independence. "President Obama says he recognizes the threat of climate change, but he sure doesn't act like it," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "If he was serious, he'd reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and stop promoting fossil fuels like natural gas.” --Laura Barron-Lopez, 
The Hill, 29 January 2014


 
 
 
 
 
 


A group of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is breaking with the administration over its energy policy, arguing that the White House needs to apply a strict climate test to all of its energy decisions or risk undermining one of the president’s top ­second-term priorities. The rift — reflected in a letter sent to President Obama by 18 groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice — signals that the administration is under pressure to confront the fossil-fuel industry or risk losing support from a critical part of its political base during an already difficult election year. --Juliet Eilperin and Lenny Bernstein, The Washington Post, 17 January 2014
 
 
 
 
The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden. The document, with portions marked "top secret," indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that "analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies." --Huffington Post, 30 January 2014
 
 
 

The EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, has spoken out against a planned 40% cut in CO2 emissions across the EU by 2030, just a week after he helped to launch the policy. Speaking at an ‘Industry Matters’ conference in Brussels, Oettinger said those who expected the cut to “save the world” were “arrogant or stupid”, and publicly questioned whether the reduction was even achievable. --EurActiv, 29 January 2014
 
 


Like Frankenstein, the EU has created a renewable-energy monster it does not know how to tame. For the rest of the world, Europe offers a stark lesson. When it comes to unilateral cuts in greenhouse emissions and aggressive incentives for renewables, this is a global race you don’t want to win. As Europe shows, the winner loses—big. --Rupert Darwall, The Wall Street Journal, 28 January 2014
 
 


High gas and electricity prices will continue to plague Europe for at least 20 years, damaging the competitiveness of industries that employ almost 30m people, the world’s leading energy forecaster has warned. In findings likely to inflame claims EU climate change policies are damaging the bloc’s manufacturers, the International Energy Agency said Europe will lose a third of its global market share of energy-intensive exports over the next two decades because energy prices will stay stubbornly higher than those in the US. --Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 30 January 2014
 
 

1) Obama's Speech Softens Tone On Climate Change – The Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2014

2) Natural Gas Big Winner In Obama SOTU Address - The Hill, 29 January 2014

3) Green NGOs Break With Obama Over U.S. Energy & Climate Policy - The Washington Post, 17 January 2014

4) Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit - Huffington Post, 30 January 2014

5) EU Energy Commissioner Rallies Opposition To 2030 Climate Targets - EurActiv, 29 January 2014
 



 

 
1) Obama's Speech Softens Tone On Climate Change
The Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2014

Alicia Mundy

Is the president going a little soft on climate change? It’s an interesting State of the Union address when oil and natural gas producers and their lobbyists sound happier with the president’s speech than environmental groups that have been Mr. Obama’s staunchest allies.

After upbeat comments about America’s energy boom,  President Barack Obama gave a big shout out to natural gas Tuesday,  citing its impact on lowering carbon emission pollution and on businesses’s willingness to invest $100 million.  “I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built,” Mr. Obama said.

“The president is continuing to evolve,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, in an interview after the speech ended.

“This year he gave a full-throated endorsement to natural gas” and said it is bringing down carbon pollution,  Mr. Gerard  said.

“Next year, he’ll be giving a full-throated endorsement to U.S. oil production.”
Mr. Gerard added that the “broader message” of this year’s SOTU is that oil and natural play a key role in U.S. energy future.  “His words are going in the right direction for us,” Mr. Gerard said.

Tuesday night’s speech seemed a far cry from from 2013, when Mr. Obama raised a call to arms against climate change deniers and fossil fuels–  or as he once called them,  “yesterday’s energy.”  Remember his threat?  “ If Congress won’t act on climate change, I will.”

This year he was more restrained in talking about the need for more carbon emission controls, saying, “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”

Environmental groups didn’t criticize the speech,  but they were also more restrained. Natural Resources Defense Council said, “His Climate Action Plan points the way to using the Clean Air Act to allow even our most coal-dependent states to cut their emissions without economic impact.”

Tom Steyer, the San Francisco philanthropist, environmentalist and Democratic donor, said in a statement from his group NextGen Climate Action,    the “Administration has already made great strides with the establishment of the Climate Action Plan, and tonight’s address reaffirmed his commitment to moving America toward a more sustainable energy future.”

Just 10 days ago,  18 groups including the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters slammed the White House’s current  energy strategy “all of the above” that draws on fossil fuels-oil, natural gas and coal, as well as clean energy.

But Tuesday night, Mr. Obama reiterated his commitment to  “all of the above,” which he linked to jobs and energy independence.

The League of Conservation voters avoided the “all of the above” controversy  in their reaction, and instead focused on climate change.

Full story
 
 


2) Natural Gas Big Winner In Obama SOTU Address
The Hill, 29 January 2014

Laura Barron-Lopez

While standing by his "all of the above" energy strategy on Tuesday night, President Obama gave a big hat tip to natural gas production.

Obama credited natural gas as one of the top factors in bringing the U.S. closer to energy independence for the first time in decades.

"The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades," Obama said during his fifth State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

"One of the reasons why is natural gas, if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change," Obama said.

In a fact sheet accompanying the speech, the White House called on Congress to establish "sustainable shale gas growth zones."

"My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities," Obama said.

Obama added he would work with Congress to create jobs by building fueling stations, as the administration plans to propose new incentives for medium and heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas, or other alternative fuels.

A number of green groups didn't take Obama's praise of natural gas well. While applauding Obama's comments on climate change, the Sierra Club and 350.org blasted the president for promoting the fossil fuel.

"President Obama says he recognizes the threat of climate change, but he sure doesn't act like it," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "If he was serious, he'd reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and stop promoting fossil fuels like natural gas.

"Fracking isn't a solution; it's a disaster for communities and the climate."

Full story
 
 

3) Green NGOs Break With Obama Over U.S. Energy & Climate Policy
The Washington Post, 17 January 2014

Juliet Eilperin and Lenny Bernstein

A group of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is breaking with the administration over its energy policy, arguing that the White House needs to apply a strict climate test to all of its energy decisions or risk undermining one of the president’s top ­second-term priorities.

The rift — reflected in a letter sent to President Obama by 18 groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice — signals that the administration is under pressure to confront the fossil-fuel industry or risk losing support from a critical part of its political base during an already difficult election year.

For years, the administration has pushed aggressively to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants and improve fuel efficiency in transportation while also embracing domestic production of natural gas, oil and coal under an “all of the above” energy strategy. This has angered environmental groups, which reluctantly went along until Thursday’s break.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in an interview.

The criticism came on the same day that the fossil-fuel industry and its congressional allies began separate efforts to challenge the administration’s environmental policies. That suggests that the White House will have to marshal additional resources to defend the work it is already doing to address climate change.

The American Petroleum Institute announced a new advertising and electoral campaign that will promote domestic oil and gas production. At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked the Government Accountability Office to determine whether the Senate can use the Congressional Review Act to reverse a proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from new power plants.

The new pressure from both sides — one demanding that President Obama reconcile his commitment to fight climate change with his other energy policies, the other pushing him to scale back environmental regulation — could have an impact on critical permitting decisions on issues ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to natural gas exports and federal coal leases.

The environmental groups’ initiative was perhaps more surprising, given their long support of Obama’s efforts to combat climate change.

Full story
 
 
 
 
 
4) Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit
Huffington Post, 30 January 2014

WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

 


 
The document, with portions marked "top secret," indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that "analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies."

"Second Party partners" refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship. "While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event," the document says.

The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.
The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact.

The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions limits, while the United States -- the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when the protocol went into effect in 2004 -- had famously declined to join. The two-week meeting was supposed to produce a successor agreement that would include the U.S., as well as China, India and other countries with rapidly increasing emissions.

The document indicates that the NSA planned to gather information as the leaders and negotiating teams of other countries held private discussions throughout the Copenhagen meeting. "[L]eaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding sidebar discussions with their counterparts -- details of which are of great interest to our policymakers," the document states. The information likely would be used to brief U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, among others, according to the document.

The document does not detail how the agency planned to continue gathering information during the summit, other than noting that it would be capturing signals intelligence such as calls and emails. Previous disclosures have indicated that the NSA has the ability to monitor the mobile phones of heads of state. Other documents that Snowden has released indicate that the U.K.'s intelligence service tapped into delegates' email and telephone communications at the 2009 G-20 meetings in London. Other previous Snowden disclosures documented the surveillance of the G-8 and G-20 summits in Canada in 2010, and the U.N. climate change conference in Bali in 2007.

The document also refers to some intelligence gathered ahead of the meeting, including a report that "detailed China's efforts to coordinate its position with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same outcome." It refers to another report that "provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch a 'rescue plan' to save COP-15."

Full story
 
 

5) EU Energy Commissioner Rallies Opposition To 2030 Climate Targets
EurActiv, 29 January 2014

The EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, has spoken out against a planned 40% cut in CO2 emissions across the EU by 2030, just a week after he helped to launch the policy.

Speaking at an ‘Industry Matters’ conference in Brussels, Oettinger said those who expected the cut to “save the world” were “arrogant or stupid”, and publicly questioned whether the reduction was even achievable.

“It’s an ambitious compromise and I am a little bit sceptical,” he told delegates at the conference, organised by the pan-European employers’ confederation BusinessEurope.
“I have to be constructive as I’m a member of the team but I’m sceptical.”

The energy commissioner, who argued for a lesser 35% goal behind the scenes, said the EU was only on track to cut emissions 20% by the decades’s end because of economic crisis and the closure of soviet-era plants in Eastern Europe.

“These were low-hanging fruits but there are no more now, so every percentage going down gets more difficult and cost-intensive,” he said. The EU was just responsible for 10.6% of global emissions today, a sum that would fall to 4.5% by 2030, he noted.

“To think that with this 4.5% of global emissions you can save the world is not realistic,” Oettinger said. “It is arrogant or stupid. We need a global commitment.”

The EU’s 2030 package will now be discussed at a European summit of EU heads of state in March, before a new proposal is revealed in September, the same month that an international climate summit meets in Lima, Peru.

A final package should then be agreed before July 2015, ahead of a climate summit in Paris that is supposed to forge a binding global agreement.

As well as addressing climate issues, Oettinger, a Christian Democrat from Germany, said that in the long-term Europe might import gas from Iraq, Nigeria, Libya and Qatar.

Shale gas ‘pioneers’

He hailed the UK and Poland as cheap energy “pioneers” for their efforts to exploit shale gas and said that perhaps the US could export some of its shale here.

“Europe is on the way to deindustrialise and the US has a different strategy,” he said.

Full story
 
 
 
 

 
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