Guest Post by Oliver Lough: Climate Change — Europe Needs Its Leading Lady Back

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Oliver Lough is a research intern at the New America Foundation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, months of faintly superior-sounding European criticism of American intransigence on climate change has started to ruffle a few feathers. “It may be,” retorts an exasperated U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, “that some people on the other side of the pond don’t understand the system that well.” This is unfair. European politicians are well aware of the intricacies of the “system”, and it scares the living daylights out of them.
The source of much of this pressure from “the other side of the pond” is a slightly contradictory mix of political showboating and genuine concern. The E.U. is extremely pleased with what it sees as its shining record of climate change leadership – instrumental in driving through the Kyoto treaty, Europe is now seeking to blaze a path for others to follow towards the climate change summit at Copenhagen this December.
So far, its commitments are impressive, with a unilateral pledge to reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 topped with an annual €15 billion mitigation package to help developing countries de-carbonize their economies.
The lack of action by anyone else on the issue has allowed the E.U. a rare opportunity to don its superpower cap, and it has done so with all the relish of a theatrical understudy determined to make the most of a big break. But behind the smug tone of the regular swipes at “our dear American friends,” there is a real and growing worry that hitherto promising US efforts to make up lost ground on the environment could end up going the way of the public option once they finally hit the Senate.
Despite its triumphalism, Europe knows that its ‘success’ is largely illusory, crafted at a time when the US was not even present at the negotiating table. It’s been a good run, but at the end of the day it simply does not possess the necessary clout to galvanize the trust and commitment of developing big hitters like China and India in any meaningful way. What the Europeans (and everyone else) desperately need is US leadership.
Over the past year, E.U. policy makers have been casting about for a strategy which would help the US to assume some kind of leadership role while allowing it steer momentarily away from some of the thornier issues it faces.
Recognizing the fact that a substantial reduction in emissions could well over-stretch a US administration starting off at an 8-year disadvantage, the E.U. is starting to shift towards squeezing America for a major financial commitment on the issue of mitigation – placed by some at something in the region of $40 billion a year.
Stern has already sought to head off potential critics of mitigation schemes off at the pass, reminding the Senate that these payments to the developing world are absolutely “not charity.”
But as NYT columnist Paul Krugman notes, with certain Senators already deriding mitigation proposals as little more than a “massive wealth transfer,” we could be in for another bumpy ride.
All this and more will be discussed at the New America Foundation‘s upcoming event: What Does Europe Expect From Obama at Copenhagen? The event will feature presentations by European Union parliamentarians Reinhard Bütikofer and Claude Turmes.
This event will take place tomorrow, Wednesday September 30 from 3:30pm – 5:00pm and will stream live here at The Washington Note.
— Oliver Lough

Comments

23 comments on “Guest Post by Oliver Lough: Climate Change — Europe Needs Its Leading Lady Back

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I don’t recall ever calling you an insect, but if I had to choose, I’d probably lean in favor of “maggot”. Although, on second thought, it is possible that the word “worm” has found its way into my discourse with you.
    I’m a stickler for accuracy.

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    A rose by any other name…. Next time POA drops the “I-bomb” (insect), I’m agonna think to myself, “rose”. Ahhh.
    Thanks Paul!
    A new day is dawning in the history of TWN!

    Reply

  3. MNPundit says:

    They will fail unless they come up with a way to exterminate the Republican Party of the United States of America. On issue after issue, that is the only possible solution.
    The GOP must be removed from existence and replaced with a rational right party.

    Reply

  4. Outraged American says:

    Geez, first POA & Questions were having an online affair and now
    it’s Norheim. Questions is obviously a tramp and Norheim a
    hopeless romantic, although being called a “cockroach” isn’t
    particularly enduring.
    “Cockroach” to” rose” — I’m going to have to ponder that one for
    awhile, and might need some help — what’s the Norwegian word
    for hash?

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    I sincerely doubt that it will be necessary to call you a cockroach,
    Questions. I think samuelburke realizes that he`s lost his case.
    But of course it would be funny to watch him trying to prove his claim.
    So let me call you a rose instead of a cockroach, and see if this gets us
    anywhere…

    Reply

  6. questions says:

    Paul, for you only, call me an insect any time! I’ll welcome the image.

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    until I get a reply from samuelburke, I assume you`re right.
    On the other hand, even a friendly exchange between you and me may in Sam`s eyes
    support his claim that I never miss a chance to stand up for Israel.
    Perhaps I could avoid this by calling you an insect?

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    Paul, I think you misread the line “your criminal country in the middle east” — he was talking about Norway, which of course, IS criminal and IS in the middle east!
    (insert smiley emoticon here.)

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    samuelburke,
    could you please provide one single quote out of the several hundreds (probably) of
    Israel-critic comments I`ve written at TWN, to support your claim that I never miss a
    chance to defend Israel?
    I don`t care if you`ve read any of my comments here during the last couple of years,
    but to make such an absurd claim, you have to provide some evidence. It`s true that I`m
    not obsessed with the theory that Israel and Zionism is the root cause of evil in a
    cosmological perspective. I find this mindset ridiculous and dangerous. However, that
    doesn`t imply that I`ve spent much time defending Israel`s war crimes and its
    aggressive strategy and tactics.
    I look forward to seeing some evidence supporting your claim.

    Reply

  10. samuelburke says:

    paul give me two demerits and dont put a star under my name for missing quote marks but dont miss going to the links i post leading to the story i paste.
    sometimes i do miss placing the quote marks.
    you though never miss a chance to stand up for your criminal country in the middle east.
    regardless of the evidence of the murdering and crimes against humanity along with the aparheid recognized by men like desmond tutu and some famous iraeli writers whom i cant name off the top of my head you take your stand and defend an inhuman govt comparable to the national socialist in germany in their inhumanity towards a helpless people.
    you choose to defend the indefensible and it upsets you to no end, the special relationship is going away, the intelligence community in america have played the fool for too long and many in that community are speaking out, it wont be long before the entire nation knows what a few of us already are aware of.
    anti zionist is like being anti communist..a badge of courage. when the zionist stop taking land from a helpless people and stop murdering their women and children and moderate their form of colonization i will cease disliking their form of govt.
    http://jewsagainstzionism.com/rabbi_quotes/weissmandl.cfm
    “John M. Cole, an FBI spy catcher who retired in 2004, says that from 1993 to 1995 alone, he had “125 open cases” of Israeli espionage, representing nearly half of all the investigations carried on in his Global Unit, part of the now-defunct National Security division.” Inside the FBI itself, Cole said, tracking suspected Israeli spies was hush-hush.In a sharp break with FBI procedures, he was prohibited from notifying field offices when an investigation crept into their jurisdictions. “No one was supposed to know we were investigating the Israelis,” Cole said.”
    Stein’s article also quoted several other FBI officials confirming Cole’s disclosure:
    “The 125 figure “makes sense,” another former top FBI counterintelligence official said, speaking only on condition that he not be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity. This official called the Israeli embassy’s denials “horse [manure].” In fact, he said, U.S. officials repeatedly warned the Israelis to back off. But the finger-wagging only seemed to energize them. “We would call them in, call them on the carpet, and next week there would be 10 more cases,” he said. The Justice Department never seemed much interested in prosecuting them, he and other counterintelligence veterans said. Agents would get pissed off,” said the former top official. “We knew they were going to walk, that they were going to get a pass. . . . It was frustrating.”
    http://www.amconmag.com/blog/2009/09/28/and-its-not-only-sibel-edmonds-who-says-so/

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    …,
    samuelburke doesn`t use quotation marks in his comments at TWN. Most of the words
    apparently written by Sam are actually pasted from someone else`s article; in this case
    an article by David Deming. David is not Sam. David is David. This doesn`t imply that
    Sam is Sam.
    In one sense, Sam is David.
    I prefer to use quotation marks – even, and perhaps especially when I “do a Norheim”
    (which means to quote myself, according to Outraged American).
    I am never identical with the one I quote – even when I quote something said by myself
    yesterday, since the one I was yesterday is not the same as the one I am today (read up
    on Heraclitus).
    Sam is not capable of quoting himself, because he never says anything. Sam is not Sam,
    he is everybody else who happens to be an anti-Zionist.

    Reply

  12. ... says:

    george carlins words “i think we are a part a greater wisdom then we will ever understand…..”
    samuel burkes words… “As the years pass and data accumulate, it is becoming evident that global warming is a fraud.” 4 posts later and a few pretty long winded ones too, lol… i’ll take george carlins words above over yours.. thanks for the laugh though!

    Reply

  13. Jack Mildam says:

    Oliver,
    Good to see you acknowledge the urgency and importance of international agreement and action. I didn’t pick that up from the article.
    > China in particular seems to have worked out that there’s a lot of money and growth to be had off the back of expanding its green energy sector.
    Which echoes exactly what Obama has said. By the end of this century, if you’re not part of the renewable energy economy, you’re going to be an also-ran in the world economy (assuming there’s one left because we made substantial cuts to carbon pollution in time). But it’s a cheap shot to think their motivation is purely economic. The Chinese and Indians – and every country bar the US and maybe Australia, Canada – are acutely aware of the necessity of renewable energy to try to protect their water, crops and coastal regions from the worst effects of climate change.
    Certainly the US must be involved – and it’s a big concern that scientific illiterates, like ‘samuelburke’ here with his copy / paste Denier spam, are going to sabotage it. We won’t know until December. And the closer we get, the more the Denier wingnuts are going to shift their attention from sabotaging their own healthcare to sabotaging a liveable climate.
    I hope you can convey in future articles what’s important now – and not turn this in to some partisan, nationalistic game of horse-trading. There will be no winners if we don’t all act.

    Reply

  14. samuelburke says:

    george carlin said it best.
    enjoy it open up the mind.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw
    save the planet, we dont even know how to take care of ourselves yet.

    Reply

  15. ... says:

    samuel burke, one thing i think is undisputed is that we are headed for an environmental holocaust thanks to those who always put the economy before any environmental concern or consideration… i guess the fact that ships are getting thru the inside passage now whereas they weren’t able to before is just a fluke… i am not convinced on the idea of global warming being a non event.. and, i am concerned that no interest in the environment gives carte blanc to major corporations, something that i don’t feel like helping facilitate.. i suppose monsanto can use all the help they can get!

    Reply

  16. samuelburke says:

    Despite all the historical shifting from one position to another, many in the media no longer welcome opposing views on the climate. CBS reporter Scott Pelley went so far as to compare climate change skeptics with Holocaust deniers.
    “If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel,” Pelley asked, “am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?” he said in an interview on March 23 with CBS News’s PublicEye blog.
    He added that the whole idea of impartial journalism just didn’t work for climate stories. “There becomes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible,” he said.
    Pelley’s comments ignored an essential point: that 30 years ago, the media were certain about the prospect of a new ice age. And that is only the most recent example of how much journalists have changed their minds on this essential debate.
    Some in the media would probably argue that they merely report what scientists tell them, but that would be only half true.
    Journalists decide not only what they cover; they also decide whether to include opposing viewpoints. That’s a balance lacking in the current “debate.”
    This isn’t a question of science. It’s a question of whether Americans can trust what the media tell them about science.
    http://www.businessandmedia.org/specialreports/2006/fireandice/fireandice.asp

    Reply

  17. samuelburke says:

    the problem is neither global cooling as in the 70’s nor global warming before it became global climate change…the problem is global leaders are in thrall with global governance.
    global governments can not agree on much politically so they resort to this issue over and over until finally it seems to have some legs.
    Here is the text of Newsweek’s 1975 story on the trend toward global cooling. It may look foolish today, but in fact world temperatures had been falling since about 1940. It was around 1979 that they reversed direction and resumed the general rise that had begun in the 1880s, bringing us today back to around 1940 levels. A PDF of the original is available here. A fine short history of warming and cooling scares has recently been produced. It is available here.
    We invite interested readers to vist our new website: Climate Debate Daily. — D.D.
    There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas – parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia – where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.
    The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree – a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars’ worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.
    To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”
    A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.
    To the layman, the relatively small changes in temperature and sunshine can be highly misleading. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin points out that the Earth’s average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras – and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. Others regard the cooling as a reversion to the “little ice age” conditions that brought bitter winters to much of Europe and northern America between 1600 and 1900 – years when the Thames used to freeze so solidly that Londoners roasted oxen on the ice and when iceboats sailed the Hudson River almost as far south as New York City.
    Just what causes the onset of major and minor ice ages remains a mystery. “Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is at least as fragmentary as our data,” concedes the National Academy of Sciences report. “Not only are the basic scientific questions largely unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions.”
    Meteorologists think that they can forecast the short-term results of the return to the norm of the last century. They begin by noting the slight drop in overall temperature that produces large numbers of pressure centers in the upper atmosphere. These break up the smooth flow of westerly winds over temperate areas. The stagnant air produced in this way causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases – all of which have a direct impact on food supplies.
    “The world’s food-producing system,” warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, “is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago.” Furthermore, the growth of world population and creation of new national boundaries make it impossible for starving peoples to migrate from their devastated fields, as they did during past famines.
    Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
    http://www.denisdutton.com/cooling_world.htm

    Reply

  18. Oliver Lough says:

    Dear Jack,
    The point of this piece? Publicising our upcoming event (it’s at the bottom). If you happen to be conveniently located within the beltway, do come along. Or there’s the webcast.
    You’re quite right about China and India. China in particular seems to have worked out that there’s a lot of money and growth to be had off the back of expanding its green energy sector. There are a few niggling issues with poorly-planned projects or difficulty in actually getting turbines connected with the grid, but they’ll get past those – the momentum’s now there, and that’s the main thing.
    Like it or not, however, the emissions matter. China and India having an energy mix containing 15-20% renewables by 2020 is great, but it’s not enough.
    The US is simply too big of an emitter – and an economic force – not to play a major role at Copenhagen. Europe has made its unilateral cuts, and bloody well done to us too, but that in itself hasn’t been enough to bring big developing countries round to a serious commitment on reducing their emissions.
    If America can ultimately step up and pledge something solid at Copenhagen, whether it’s an emissions cut or a meaningful sum on mitigation, you can bet your bottom dollar that others will follow suit. It’s not that the US ‘deserves’ any kind of leadership role (it’s about the only country in the developed world where climate change denial still holds serious traction), but things being as they are, that’s the role that everyone it is expecting it to play.
    Without its input, the absolute best we can hope for this december is another version of Kyoto, which would be a disaster for everyone

    Reply

  19. samuelburke says:

    As the years pass and data accumulate, it is becoming evident that global warming is a fraud. Climate change is natural and ongoing, but the Earth has not warmed significantly over the last thirty years. Nor has there been a single negative effect of any type that can be unambiguously attributed to global warming.
    As I write, satellite data show that the mean global temperature is the same that it was in 1979. The extent of global sea ice is also unchanged from 1979. Since the end of the last Ice Age, sea level has risen more than a hundred meters. But for the last three years, there has been no rise in sea level. If the polar ice sheets are melting, why isn’t sea level rising? Global warming is supposed to increase the severity and frequency of tropical storms. But hurricane and typhoon activity is at a record low.
    Every year in the US, more than forty thousand people are killed in traffic accidents. But not one single person has ever been killed by global warming. The number of species that have gone extinct from global warming is exactly zero. Both the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets are stable. The polar bear population is increasing. There has been no increase in infectious disease that can be attributed to climate change. We are not currently experiencing more floods, droughts, or forest fires.
    In short, there is no evidence of any type to support the idea that we are entering an era when significant climate change is occurring and will cause the deterioration of either the natural environment or the human standard of living.
    Why do people think the planet is warming? One reason is that the temperature data from weather stations appear to be hopelessly contaminated by urban heat effects. A survey of the 1221 temperature stations in the US by meteorologist Anthony Watts and his colleagues is now more than 80 percent complete. The magnitude of putative global warming over the last 150 years is about 0.7 °C. But only 9 percent of meteorological stations in the US are likely to have temperature errors lower than 1 °C. More than two-thirds of temperature sensors used to estimate global warming are located near artificial heating sources such as air conditioning vents, asphalt paving, or buildings. These sources are likely to introduce artifacts greater than 2 °C into the temperature record.
    Another cause of global warming hysteria is the infiltration of science by ideological zealots who place politics above truth. Earlier this month, the Obama administration issued a report that concluded global warming would have a number of deleterious effects on the US. In 1995, one of the lead authors of this report told me that we had to alter the historical temperature record by “getting rid” of the Medieval Warm Period.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig9/deming3.html

    Reply

  20. samuelburke says:

    Statement before the US House of Representatives, June 4, 2009
    Madam Speaker, before voting on the “cap-and-trade” legislation, my colleagues should consider the views expressed in the following petition that has been signed by 31,478 American scientists:
    “We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
    http://www.google.com/custom?sa=Search&cof=LW%3A500%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.lewrockwell.com%2Flewroc1a.gif%3BLH%3A93%3BAH%3Acenter%3BAWFID%3A65dad07a461e3427%3B&domains=lewrockwell.com&q=ron+paul+global+warming&sitesearch=lewrockwell.com

    Reply

  21. daCascadian says:

    “…It comes across as petty, petulant, guilty and scared.”
    Well of course it does, it was written by someone inside the beltway that has little, if any, experience in the real world the majority of the human community lives in.
    Gee, what a surprise !
    “If you don’t deal with reality, reality will deal with you” – C.J. Campbell
    [Captcha still broken – 3rd attempt]

    Reply

  22. ... says:

    “”What the Europeans (and everyone else) desperately need is US leadership.””
    that was supposed to be a joke right?? either that or the writer hasn’t been paying attention to the change in international dynamics the past 10 years, or how the usa has lost any type of moral or ethical compass for responding to the rest of the world in an uplifting manner..

    Reply

  23. Jack Mildam says:

    Rather than smugness, conceit, petty posturing and “political showboating” that you accuse Europeans of, perhaps they are scientifically literate and understand the urgency of the problem and the apocalyptic consequences of ignoring it? Perhaps they understand the depth of ignorance, gluttonous consumption, deep sense of entitlement and lack of desire for international cooperation that comes from “the other side of the pond”? Maybe that’s why they’re concerned?
    And even though the average European already produces less than half per capita emissions of the average American, they still see the need for *everyone* to act *now* – especially those who pollute the most.
    > The lack of action by anyone else on the issue…
    You’re evidently ignorant of the massive investments made by the Chinese in solar and wind. The Indians are also investing massively in solar. Or are you arguing because no one has completely ‘fixed’ their emissions, then they’ve done nothing?
    So, apart from the snide, impotent commentary, what was the point of this piece? It comes across as petty, petulant, guilty and scared.

    Reply

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