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September 30, 2014
Maybe Some Good Things Came out of Climate Summit
    by Robert Kropp

Business commitments on deforestation and renewable energy are not enough to overcome government inaction and the resolve of the fossil fuel industry to burn all its assets and explore for more.

It turns out that 400,000 people marching is not enough to get a commitment from the United States government to put a price on carbon, a strategy that many believe will contribute to a reduction in the ever-increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are wreaking havoc on the global climate.

Seventy-four nations, as well as over 1,000 companies and investors, signaled their support for a price on carbon in the days before last week's Climate Summit in New York, according to the World Bank. But the Obama administration, faced with the intransigence of science-denying Republicans in Congress, was not among the signatories.

In response to the President's speech at the Summit, Bill McKibben of said, “President Obama says America has ‘stepped up to the plate’ — and dropped down a bunt single when we’re behind by 10 runs in the 9th inning. If the President really wants collective ambition, he’s got to show a little more can do spirit from the world’s leading economy.”

“Today’s boasts about his climate efforts ring hollow in the face of America passing Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’ s largest oil and gas producer,” McKibben continued.

In advance of the Summit, four global investor groups on climate change announced that 348 investors representing some $24 trillion in assets under management have signed the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change, calling for appropriate government action to accelerate low carbon investment. And a number of major companies have joined initiatives as well.

Organized by the UN Global Compact, Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing calls for an internal carbon price high enough to materially affect investment decisions to drive down emissions; advocacy for the importance of carbon pricing through policy mechanisms; and public reporting on the impact of internal pricing.

The RE100 campaign is a campaign whose aim is for 100 of the largest companies to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2020.

And at the Summit, companies and governments released the New York Declaration on Forests, which endorses “a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strive to end it by 2030.”

In his C hair’s Summary of the Summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon stated, “As we look forward to Lima, later this year, and Paris in December 2015, let us look back on today as the day when we decided – as a human family – to put our house in order to make it sustainable, safe and prosperous for future generations.”

“Today’s Summit has shown that we can rise to the climate challenge,” he concluded.

Of course, not everyone views the commitments of governments and especially businesses through such rose-colored glasses. “We have not done the things needed to cut emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have struggled to find a way out of this crisis,” noted author Naomi Klein wrote in The Guardian recently. “We are stuck, because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and benefit the vast majority – are threatening to an elite minority with a stranglehold over our economy, political process and media.”


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