Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 10:23:07 AM EST
Two items stand out in today's Salon. The first concerns the UN Climate Change negotiations in Doha, that are now halfway through.
IPS - Fossil Fuel Lobby in the Driver's Seat at Doha | Inter Press Service
Countries have come to Doha unprepared to make the necessary commitments to actually stay below two degrees.
"There have been a number of voices suggesting (that) keeping temperatures below two degrees C is not possible. That simply isn't true. It is perfectly feasible," said Schaeffer.
countries are going in the wrong direction, spending 523 billion dollars in 2011 in public tax money to subsidise the burning of fossil fuels, said Michiel Schaeffer, a scientist with Climate Analytics that produces the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) with Dutch energy consulting organisation Ecofys and Germany's Pik Potsdam Institute.
"The 2011 subsidies for fossil fuels were a 30-percent increase over 2010, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency)," Schaeffer told IPS.
By contrast, the IEA said that solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy received only 88 billion dollars in subsidies, one-sixth of the amount given to the highly profitable fossil fuels sector.
Even though 194 states and the European Union are here at COP18 to ensure the heating of the planet stays below two degrees, they are not discussing how to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.
So subsidies to fossil fuels rose by a freaking 30% between 2010 and 2011. And renewables, that we incessantly hear are hopelessly expensive and subsidised, get one-sixth of the amount fossil fuels get. Are we getting round to understanding that the propaganda effort by incumbent energy industries is not only real but it is working?
The second lobby news item also concerns polluting by burning stuff.
European Commission: Big Tobacco at home in Brussels | Spiegel | Presseurop (English)
In Brussels, every meeting with a representative of the tobacco industry is a test of will - even for occasional smokers. Scarcely had we arrived when a spokesman for Philip Morris (Marlboro, L & M) slipped a packet of cigarettes into our hands. Instead of a brand name, the packaging has a picture of a man with a cancerous tumour in his throat.
"This is defamation," says the Philip Morris representative before showing us another packet featuring another cancer patient. The European Commission would like to print such images on all cigarette packaging to shock smokers, he protests, before lighting up a cigarette with evident relish.
Defamation? Is Big Tobacco still trying to pretend (as it did for decades) that smoking does not cause cancer? But more, how much influence can this lobby have?
Tobacco manufacturers have clearly managed to win influence over part of the European Commission. A series of internal documents obtained by Der Spiegel indeed reveals that several people from office of the President of the Commission oppose any strengthening of the tobacco regulations. Even the head of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has doubts about the legislation. In that light, Jose Manuel Barroso and the agents of OLAF have therefore played a not insignificant role in the resignation of the European Commissioner for Health a month ago.
"There is no conclusive evidence" against Dalli, the head of OLAF, Giovanni Kessler, admitted before the Committee on Budgetary Control of the European Parliament. But "the circumstances" don't put him in a good light, he insisted. While the President of the European Commission is still refusing to publish the OLAF inquiry, recent documents are reinforcing suspicions that have been circulating the capital for weeks, that Dalli may have fallen victim to a conspiracy.
The former European Commissioner, who used to be a heavy smoker, undeniably wanted to strengthen EU tobacco legislation, and was proposing harsh curbs on the sale and advertising of many products containing nicotine.
Whether Dalli fell foul of a conspiracy or not, there is certainly a lobbying push against draft EU legislation on smoking and non-smoke tobacco products. Read the rest of the article for examples of Commission foot-dragging. Wonderful.