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Goodbye 2016: Hello 2017

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jan 1st, 2017 at 12:27:22 AM EST

For many people 2016 was a forgettable year, with Brexit, Trump, the terrorist attacks in Nice and Berlin, the Syrian war and the refugee crisis the leading low lights for many. But everyone experiences each year differently.  So what were the highlights and lowlights of 2016 for you?

And what are your hopes and expectations for 2017? Any predictions you would like to make? Any New Year resolutions or special projects for 2017 you would like to take on?

Please feel free to add your musings to the comments below.

Comments >> (42 comments)

Is it Worth it?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Dec 30th, 2016 at 01:48:34 PM EST

Jon Worth is one of the few knowledgeable UK commentators on the EU who has some idea of how politics works on the other side of the channel based, as he is, in Berlin. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a blogging conference in Rotterdam some years ago and even did a short video interview with him about his political and journalistic ambitions against the backdrop of a boat trip around Rotterdam harbour:

Naturally his critical but basically pro-EU views get him into a lot of trouble with Leavers in the UK who seem to specialize in demonizing and abusing him rather than engaging with the actual factual points he makes. Recently he fisked Andrew Marr's delusional view of Brexit which drew a lot of abuse which he referenced in a follow up blog. None of his detractors seem to have the slightest idea of the political realities of the EU and fondly imagine that the UK can have more or less what it wants out of the Brexit negotiations and that the UK will be able to negotiate far more advantageous trade deals with the rest of the world than it ever could as part of the EU.

I have tried to show him a little support and add some "balance" to the debate by highlighting how the Brexit campaign is viewed from outside the UK. Even though I was as provocative as possible, no Leavers have acknowledged never mind responded to the points I made. They appear to be operating in a parallel universe. Anyway, for what it's Worth, I copy and elaborate on my comments below:

Read more... (36 comments, 1618 words in story)

China's National Carbon Cap and Trade Program

by gmoke Sat Dec 24th, 2016 at 06:16:15 PM EST

Notes from China's National Cap-and-Trade Program: The Promise and the Reality Wednesday, November 9
3:30PM TO 4:45PM
Harvard, 100F Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

Wang Pu, Fellow at the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, HKS.

Co-sponsored by the China Project, SEAS, and the Environment and Natural Resources Program, HKS.

China Project Seminar Series
https:/www.seas.harvard.edu/calendar/event/92611

Contact Name:  Tiffany Chan tiffanychan@seas.harvard.edu

------------------

China started 7 different pilot programs with local administration of carbon trading in 2013, covering electricity and heavy industry but also including buildings in the Shenzhen pilot program.  The average carbon price was $4-5 per ton.  Problems included lack of consistency and transparency, weak legal enforcement, and lack of accurate emission data, but there was very high compliance, up to 98% participation by the entities covered.

The national program has no specified emission reduction goals, projections, or trajectory for carbon reduction.  It is a bottom up approach with the national cap to be based on the sum of facility data.  The national carbon trading administration identifies industry sectors and thresholds while the regions identify the covered facilities:  steel, electricity, petrochemical, cement, nonferrous metal, paper mills and aviation. Around 10,000 firms are included, covering 30-40% of national carbon emissions.  The allowance allocation is similarly two tiered with provincial authorities allocating allowances based upon the national allowances using a combination of benchmarking, grandfathering, and auctions.

State-owned enterprises control 50% of electricity capacity and much of heavy industry.  The electricity sector has generation quotas and prices set by the government so market mechanisms don't necessarily work.  Steel, cement and glass production are decreasing but becoming more efficient.  The electricity and petrochemical industries may buy up their allowances to create inequities and reduce emission effects.  Climate policy is thus being used to force manufacturing to upgrade technology and improve energy efficiency to reduce air pollution, a pressing political issue around the country.  (And one becoming increasingly urgent given the most recent news in December 2016.)

CO2 is not categorized as a pollutant and the trading is supported only by administrative documents, with the climate department outranked by many state-owned enterprises and a very small staff, about 30 people in the NDRC (National Development and Research Commission).   Emission data is very weak, a problem of credibility more than technology, with self-reporting, third party verification and emission data checked against production data for consistency.  As China has strong regional differences in emissions and economic benefits - high emission/middle income (North), low emission/high income (South coast) and low emission/low income sectors (Western provinces), the calculations for each province of air pollution co-benefits range from $2 to $200 per unit of carbon capped, extremely unequally across the country.  

This cap and trade program may simply be symbolic, a gesture to the international  community, but it can also serve as an experiment to build institutional capacity, and a market based policy for reform.  It's the only policy control on CO2, more flexible than command and control, and can help toward an economic soft landing by driving the less efficient businesses out without a big shock.  It also certainly builds the public awareness of climate change.  However, the speaker, Wang Pu, believes the program will not provide all the advertised benefits.

---------30---------

If Alex Steffen is right in this article Trump, Putin, and the Pipelines to Nowhere (https:medium.com@AlexSteffen/trump-putin-and-the-pipelines-to-nowhere-742d745ce8fd#.k2tuyyh7g ), and I believe he is correct in identifying what is happening as a global carbon coup to monetize as much fossil fuel as possible before climate change becomes undeniable, then I suspect the Trumpian USA and Putin's Russia will try to distract China from its own climate change activities like this national cap and trade program.  Might be good to keep that in mind as we descend into the depths of the fossil fools.  

More information on the current cost of carbon at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/8/16/1412568/-The-Current-Cost-of-Carbon

Comments >> (7 comments)

On Identity Politics

by ARGeezer Tue Dec 20th, 2016 at 05:00:54 PM EST

What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About The Strange Reaction To Donald Trump  HuPo

On election night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews had a revelation. Matthews, with a pained expression, began to piece together the basis for Hillary Clinton's pending defeat. She had failed to communicate a tough position on illegal immigration. She had supported bad trade deals. She had not renounced all of the "stupid wars."  

Her presidential rival, Donald Trump, on the other hand, had waged what Matthews called a "legitimate" campaign on these issues, a claim that seemed to stretch the bounds of legitimacy, but Matthews was not alone. In the following days and weeks, others would make similar claims implying a victory that, weeks before, had been impossible was actually inevitable ― and liberalism was largely to blame

----

In a New York Times op-ed, "The End of Identity Liberalism," Mark Lilla argued that "moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity" had "distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." Trump's popularity, Lilla argued, was not a consequence of a white backlash (whitelash) but rather a reaction to "the omnipresent rhetoric of identity or `political correctness.'"

And the problem with 'identity politics' is that everyone can play. All of the minority identity political agendas were blown out of the water by the simple expedient of mobilizing the now largest minority in a 'no majority' population - by a right winger. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

For more lasting success campaigns have to address the needs of all, but have to repudiate the bigotry and hate of any. Universalism is the concrete foundation for governing.  

Comments >> (17 comments)

City Agriculture - December 15, 2016

by gmoke Sat Dec 17th, 2016 at 12:20:52 AM EST

Guizhou - Mountain Forest Hotel:  a vertical forest hotel so green that it may also purify the surrounding air
http://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/portfolios/guizhou-10-thousand-peaks-valley-project/

Paris "Mille Arbres" or Thousand Trees building with an urban park on the ground and a forest in the sky
http://inhabitat.com/reverse-pyramid-in-paris-is-a-sustainable-urban-community-up-in-the-sky/

Vertical farming and urban ag tech article
http://www.core77.com/posts/57398/The-Urbanization-of-Farming--A-Love-Story

Living wall in London for construction site
http://www.arup.com/news/2016_11_november/1_november_arup_and_grosvenor_champion_new_living_wall_tec hnology_in_mayfair

Regenerative villages
https:/www.businessinsider.nl/self-sufficient-village-regen-2016-9

Amsterdam - redesigning Amsterdam for urban agriculture and more
http://www.hofmandujardin.nl/oamsterdam/
http://inhabitat.com/urban-farming-food-markets-and-parks-replace-banks-and-parking-lots-in-this-mas terplan-for-amsterdam/

Artisan Moss - moss for green walls - I wonder if they are doing edible mosses too
http://www.artisanmoss.com
http://www.artisanmoss.com/retail-residential-gallery/
http://www.artisanmoss.com/gallery-commercial/

Mississauga Food Bank starts an aquaponics food farm
https:/www.themississaugafoodbank.org/aquaponics-101
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mississauga-aquaponics-1.3865423

Living Food Bank - their first is in Haiti at the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission in St. Louis Du Nord
http://aquaponics.com/living-food-bank/

Agora Gardens in Taipei - a green building that absorbs CO2
http://vincent.callebaut.org/object/130122_taipei/taipei/projects

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative - America's First Sustainable Urban Agrihood is "two-acre urban garden, a 200-tree fruit orchard, a children's sensory garden, and more. Annually, the urban garden provides fresh, free produce to about 2,000 households within two square miles of the farm."
http://www.miufi.org

Mobile greenhouse for urban farming
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-12-08/insurgent-architecture-students-built-a-mobile-greenhou se-to-overcome-urban-farming-challenges?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

The Shafting of the UK

by Frank Schnittger Fri Dec 16th, 2016 at 03:00:19 AM EST


Irish TV news showed a clip of EU leaders gathering for their last summit of 2016 yesterday.  All were busily chatting to one another - except one:  Teresa May stood there awkwardly, looking for someone to talk to, but everyone had their backs turned to her.

I very much doubt that the move was choreographed.  EU leaders wouldn't be so petty, would they?  But the scene encapsulated a feeling that I have had for some time: The Brexit negotiations are going to be bloody, and more likely than not will lead to no substantial agreement at all.

Read more... (28 comments, 896 words in story)

Destroying Democracy to Save It

by Zwackus Fri Dec 16th, 2016 at 12:29:50 AM EST

Post-election events in the US have been as depressing as expected. Two developments, in particular, suggest that American democracy is really and truly in its death throes.

Read more... (18 comments, 783 words in story)

McKinsey Talks Energy and Climate at MIT

by gmoke Tue Dec 6th, 2016 at 10:49:57 PM EST

On November 21, 2016 Scott Nyquist of McKinsey & Company (http://www.mckinsey.com) spoke to the public at MIT's Sloan School (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeTLrGhwLlrx3wx3eTYcnTX6pIS6iziw4RTLiYNL9uP0dWmVQ/viewform ?c=0&w=1).

Over the next 20 years, there are projections for 80% more demand on resources as a result of growing populations and growing economic production.  However, higher energy intensity, efficiency, and slower GDP growth leads McKinsey and Company to consider a less than base case view.

McKinsey sees 74% of our energy still coming from fossil fuels by 2050, with an energy related CO2 peak by 2035, and a similar peak in transportation by 2025.  COP 21, the Paris Agreement, has businesses going ahead and beyond waiting for negotiation, regulations and governments.  Nyquist pointed us toward not only the Energy Transitions Commission (http://www.energy-transitions.org), 28 leaders from business who recognize that COP21 is not enough and are setting zero carbon as a planning goal but also the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (http://www.oilandgasclimateinitiative.com), 10 companies with 20% of global oil and gas production, which has pledged $1 billion for low carbon technology.

Read more... (10 comments, 525 words in story)

Transparency in the European Union

by eurogreen Sun Dec 4th, 2016 at 12:09:49 PM EST

I have, perhaps foolishly, promised to produce a policy contribution on the above subject, in the context of policy development for DiEM 25.
Currently the only official policy we have is the original manifesto, supplemented by a few ad-hoc issues settled by a vote of members.

The policy formation process itself is still very much a work in progress, but basically it works like this :

  • a policy convener writes a questionnaire on a policy domain,
  • local (or virtual) groups respond with proposals
  • three generations of Green Papers are generated
  • there is a vote to validate a White Paper.

There are six domains identified :
  • Transparency
  • Refugees and Migration
  • the European New Deal
  • Labour
  • Green Investment
  • A European Constitution.
This proces is underway for the first three domains, with a deadline of 15th December for the first round of contributions.

The rest of this diary is the questionnaire written by Dániel Fehér.

You know what I'm asking you to do now, don't you?
That's right. My homework.

More precisely : my Diem25 local group is meeting tomorrow night on the subject, and we have ten days to present a contribution. So any ideas batted around here in the meantime are quite likely to end up in that contribution.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (26 comments, 2109 words in story)

California Secession Diary #15 Sound Off !

by THE Twank Thu Dec 1st, 2016 at 11:37:24 AM EST

I'm composing my first email to Mr. Louis J. Marinelli, leader of the Calexit movement. Included will be your questions/comments from my previous Calexit diaries. Anything else? I'll keep E.T. apprised of my email exchange. I've already informed the Calexit VP that I'll post Calexit recruitment fliers on the Sac State campus come Jan. `17 along with my tutoring fliers; start of my 14th year, how time flies. P.S. I just checked the E.T. archives ... I've been visiting here for OVER 9 years !

Read more... (117 words in story)

Leaving the EU implies automatic exclusion from the EEA?

by Luis de Sousa Tue Nov 29th, 2016 at 07:35:18 PM EST

This question is slowly percolating through the wall of noise  around the UK's exit from the EU. More attentive folks are wondering if to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) a formal notification is required. I.e., if beyond triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, in order to fully exit its social and economics commitments the UK needs to trigger Article 127 of the EEA Agreement.

This question is highly relevant for a simple reason: membership of the EEA was not voted in referendum, therefore the UK institutions - Government, Parliament and House of Lords - are not morally obliged to any particular course of action in this regard. If leaving the EU does not automatically exclude the UK from the EEA, it will then remain a full member of the so called "Common Market" with all the rights and obligations it entails.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (8 comments, 854 words in story)

California Secession Diary #14: New Developments

by THE Twank Tue Nov 29th, 2016 at 06:26:15 PM EST

Find below the fold editorials by Keith Olbermann who seems concerned about the future of democracy in the U.S. Empire.

Read more... (135 words in story)

California Secession Diary #13 and final: How will we defend ourselves?

by THE Twank Wed Nov 23rd, 2016 at 09:24:34 AM EST

Below the fold find a page from the Calexit Manifesto pdf. and two three gems I found on YouTube.  I've omitted a number of Calexit topics which I thought were unimportant (Will we have our own Olympic team? Yeah, I'm losing sleep over that one.). Thanks for the use of the hall and I wish you all good luck.

Read more... (655 words in story)

California Secession Diary #12 What about our water and agriculture ?

by THE Twank Tue Nov 22nd, 2016 at 10:57:13 AM EST

Below the fold find pages from the Calexit Manifesto and two titles from today's Sacramento Bee; one of the articles is VERY relevant. This is the next-to-last diary in this series. Present your questions and comments now because I'm contacting the Calexit folks before this week is out. I read this yesterday in a word puzzle: "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed regularly and for the same reason." Mark Twain

Read more... (894 words in story)

California Secession Diary #11 Currency, Medicaid, Medicare & Social Security ?

by THE Twank Mon Nov 21st, 2016 at 10:30:43 AM EST

Below the fold are pages from the Calexit Manifesto, the title of an article in today's Sacramento Bee, and a link to a segment of today's Democracy Now! broadcast featuring Jeremy Scahill of the Intercept. As I've said previously, the current reasons for Calexit will pale compared to the abominations spewed from the Trump regime. For those curious about the characters Emperor Trump is surrounding himself with, please remember that Trump realizes that the only people who'll oppose his looting of the U.S. Empire is liberal Democrats ... Republicans will go along with everything. So the Trump hangers-on are designed to keep the Democrats distracted. Please see all of today's Democracy Now! broadcast to see what I mean.

Read more... (1 comment, 712 words in story)

Introducing the Berwick Brown Bear

by ChrisCook Sun Nov 20th, 2016 at 06:39:01 PM EST

This Diary introduces the Berwick Brown Bear pub project currently gathering pace in historic Berwick-upon-Tweed with its unique Corporation and Guild of Freemen

The aim is for Berwick's emblematic Brown Bear

to illustrate and prove the concept of a new breed of community Pub - the People's Pub Partnership - first conceived a few years ago by Mark Dodds.

Read more... (17 comments, 386 words in story)

California Secession Diary #10 What about all the debt we have ?

by THE Twank Sun Nov 20th, 2016 at 12:46:02 PM EST

Below the fold are two pages from the Calexit Manifesto and the title of one editorial in today's Sacramento Bee; the body of the editorial is behind a pay wall. And an added treat!

Read more... (853 words in story)

California Secession Diary #9 How will this impact our budget?

by THE Twank Sat Nov 19th, 2016 at 12:48:38 PM EST

Below the fold you'll find pages from the Calexit Manifesto pdf. followed by relevant Sacramento Bee headlines ... I've hit a pay wall. The articles were a nice addition to this diary series but no one gets my credit card number on line ... that's asking for trouble. Sorry, folks.

Read more... (779 words in story)

California Secession Diary #8 How will this impact our economy ?

by THE Twank Fri Nov 18th, 2016 at 12:38:44 PM EST

Below the fold find a page from the Calexit Manifesto pdf. followed by three articles from today's Sacramento Bee.

Read more... (1155 words in story)

California Secession Diary #7 What type of government will we have?

by THE Twank Thu Nov 17th, 2016 at 12:39:29 PM EST

Below the fold you'll find a page from the Calexit manifesto pdf., followed by three articles from today's Sacramento Bee.

Read more... (848 words in story)
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News and Views

 20 - 26 March 2017

by Bjinse - Mar 20, 43 comments

Your take on this week's news

 13 - 19 March 2017

by Bjinse - Mar 13, 43 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 13-26 March

by Bjinse - Mar 13, 35 comments

He was going to thread forever, or die in the attempt

 Open Thread 6-12 March

by Bjinse - Mar 5, 5 comments

Threads are always better in the morning

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