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'Climate Protection is a Question of Our Self-Respect'

by a siegel Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 06:41:38 AM EST

So Der Spiegel titles its reporting on the EU summit.  

The EU's current president, German chancellor Angela Merkel, stated:

It is not five minutes to midnight. It's five past midnight.

But is this rhetoric reality?

Is this substance or just more hot air going into the atmosphere?

Germany is a huge market for solar and other renewable power systems. Germany, however, is also building coal plants to replace the nuclear power plants that are planned to be shut down.  Hmmm ...

The German leader is meeting with the other 26 leaders of the bloc in Brussels Thursday and Friday to discuss which measures to take. On the table is a proposal for a 20-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as compared to 1990 levels.

Typically, EU leaders are divided over how to achieve those goals, with national interests playing a large role in the strategies advocated.

This doesn't give great hope for a major change coming out of the summit ... much noise but perhaps not much substance.

And within Germany itself, resentment is growing over what is seen as other countries taking advantage of Germany's ecological conscience to place the burden of cuts on the country.

Sadly, we can see Republican talking points in German newspapers.  In the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

A confusing race has broken out among German politicians, who are competing to see who can deliver the highest costs to their voters. ... What the new EU members cannot achieve (and the old members don't want), because they are striving for growth and prosperity, the Germans are taking on their shoulders as an additional burden. ...

This reads like arguments against Kyoto ... it will hurt us (US) as others will pursue growth and prosperity that we abandon without profligate, polluting energy practices.

The Europeans are caught in a trap. Without the Chinese, Indians and Americans, they won't be able to save the world's climate. If they try to do it nevertheless, through excessive voluntary commitments, then they will damage their economic basis -- which, however, creates the material preconditions for environmental protection. ...

Why bother? Others aren't doing anything seriously enough. We're so small a part of the situation. Sounds like my neighbor trying to explain why it was inappropriate for me to explain the CO2 implications of his leaving on multiple 100 watt bulbs 24/7.
Every politician is happy to talk about the over 100,000 jobs which have been created in Germany through renewable energy. What nobody likes to mention is how many tens of thousands of jobs have been lost or moved to China or Eastern Europe due to overly-expensive energy costs.

By not following a polluting energy path, where the costs are hidden rather explicitly accountable, we can't survive economically.  Balderdash. (Okay, more accurately, total BS!)

In any event, when it comes to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists countdown to midnight, environmental issues (Global Warming) are becoming a terrifying part of the discussion:

Fossil-fuel technologies such as coal-burning plants powered the industrial revolution, bringing unparalleled economic prosperity to many parts of the world. In the 1950s, however, scientists began measuring ... carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that they could relate to fossil fuel combustion, and they began to develop the implications for Earth's temperature and for climate change.

Fifty years later, leading scientists agree that carbon-burning technologies continue to make Earth warmer at an unprecedented rate. They warn that the consequences could drastically alter both the planet and human life. Already, ice packs in Greenland are rapidly disappearing, which, in turn, threatens the existence of hundreds of species such as polar bears and the traditions of whole societies such as the Inuit. The future looks even bleaker, as scientists continue to observe cascading effects on Earth's complex ecosystems.

Let us go back to Europe, to German newspapers' perspectives on European Union Developments.  The appropriate ending words come from Der Zeit:

 Die Zeit writes:

Climate change puts humanity in a situation it has never experienced before. Within 20 years, the way we live and run our economies will have to change radically. ... Politics has to move just as fast as global warming. But objections are made against taking action. That is human, but it doesn't make any sense. ...

It is still always claimed that too much ecology costs jobs. That isn't true when it comes down to it, but it does give the fight against ecological progress a veneer of the existential. My job in a moral duel with the climate catastrophe -- that is justifiable. My weekend trip to Barcelona, my strawberries in winter -- that doesn't cut it against the extinction of polar bears, the demise of Bangladesh or starving Africans. That is undignified. The issue of whether Europeans should lead the way (in climate protection) is not a pure ecological or economic question -- it is a question of our self-respect.

Wonderful ... extremely good ... only one question:  Is this about self-respect or survival?

As Der Spiegel reported, Merkel has staked out Global Warming as the signature issue for her six months as the EU's President:

We will pass an action plan for climate protection and energy policy that is more concrete than ever before in the history of the European Union ... There is a common basic understanding in the European Union that we have to lead the way in the world if we want to demand that other countries like the United States, China and India live up to their obligations.

Despite these strong words, the path is not clear to unanimity.  For example, there is discord over nuclear power.  Germany wants a 20% Renewable Portfolion Standard (RPS) for electricity. France opposes this -- perhaps because it gets more than 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. And, there is disagreement throughout the EU about setting caps.

And, there is a serious 'why us' part of the discussion. The Bild, Germany's largest daily, had a front-page editorial directly to this point:

Are we Germans supposed to save the world on our own?" The newspaper wrote:

We Germans are for environmental protection! We're also prepared to make sacrifices for the environment. But sometimes one gets the impression: We're supposed to save the earth ourselves!

What are the biggest polluters, the USA, Russia and China, doing to save the planet?

Yes, what is the United States doing?  Well, as per the below, planning on a BAU (business as usual) with increasing CO2 levels.

China ... on a far worse curve, set to surge past the United States within a few years in terms of CO2 emissions. Russia, well, Putin is convinced that Global Warming will strengthen Russia.

And, well, this is not the first Der Spiegel reporting worth reading this week. As reported here, leaked IPCC material says that Global Warming is far worst and going far faster than previously thought.  

Hmmm ...

We can hope but perhaps the summit will be more hot air than cool refreshing breeze.

Hmmm ...

Climate protection is a not "a question of our self respect" ... it is an issue of our survival!


  • Cross-posted from Daily Kos.
  • Energize America is facing real opportunities and real deadlines .. please keep your eyes open ... and help us in coming days.
  • You care about a better tomorrow, sit up and face the facts that today's (this century's) reality is: THE Progressive Crises: Global Warming and Peak Oil
  • Answer the Call to turn us (US and the world) away from a catastrophic path on Global Warming.
  • And ... Imagine Life Differently ... Imagine it Better ... And Seek to create that better life

And, well of course,


In DC, there is a concern that there might be action on Global Warming in the coming year. Action that is enough to take the edge off demands for action but action that is insufficient to seriously change the situation.

And, with the EU summit and EU action???

NOTE: As discussed in Climate Change Games, the BBC has a reasonably good game re being the EU President and seeking to adopt policies over a 100 year period to 'solve' Global Warming.  I keep managing to hit zero CO2 emissions ... while only saving myself from the guillotine about half the time.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 06:46:14 AM EST
News from the EU summit: is that there is an agreement for binding targets to cut GHG emissions and for a 20% RPS.  Merkel:

"We have time still to reduce global warming to below 2 degrees," Merkel said as she announced the plan that would require greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by at least 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and ensure 20 percent of its power comes from renewable energy. "We could avoid what could well be human calamity."
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the measures "the most ambitious package ever agreed by any institution on energy security and climate change."

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 10:22:28 AM EST

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