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The Paris Agreement is a Suicide Pact – This is Why

The Paris Agreement is a Suicide Pact – This is Why

September 19, 2019

“The Paris Agreement is a Suicide Pact – This is Why”

 

The following is an excerpt from the paper This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality authored by Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria

 

“The Paris Agreement signifies commitment to sustained industrial growth, risk management over disaster prevention, and future inventions and technology as saviour. The primary commitment of the international community is to maintain the current social and economic system. The result is denial that tackling GHG emissions is incompatible with sustained economic growth. The reality is that Nation States and international corporations are engaged in an unremitting and ongoing expansion of fossil fuel energy exploration, extraction and combustion, and the construction of related infrastructure for production and consumption. The targets and promises of the Paris Agreement bear no relationship to biophysical or social and economic reality.”

Globalizations, 2016
Vol. 13, No. 6, 928–933,

The Paris Agreement follows suit and claims that: ‘Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting change does not require new technology which, even when successful, takes decades to move from invention to innovation to implementation. That time frame is a luxury that has already been squandered by decades of inaction and fossil fuel expansion. The reduction of GHGs is necessary immediately using existing appropriate (not high) technology, changing infrastructure, systemic transformation and control of demand.

Therein lies the problem with the Paris Agreement; it is a fantasy which lacks any actual plan of how to achieve the targets for emissions reductions. There are no mentions of GHG sources, not a single comment on fossil fuel use, nothing about how to stop the expansion of fracking, shale oil or explorations for oil and gas in the Arctic and Antarctic. Similarly, there are no means for enforcement. Article 15 on implementation and compliance establishes an expert committee that will be ‘non-adversarial and non-punitive’, which means that it has no teeth and can do nothing about non-compliance. Then, there is Article 28, which offers the withdrawal option without any sanctions. Everyone seems to have already conveniently forgotten how Canada backed out of the Kyoto Protocol in order to frack on a massive and environmentally catastrophic industrial scale.

What is the point of trusting the governments who sign up to this agreement with one hand while investing ever more in fossil fuel extraction, combustion and consumption with the other? These are the same governments who know the world already has proven fossil fuel reserves that exceed the amount that can be combusted by at least three times,[3] for an even chance of achieving 2C, but continue exploring for more. They are the same governments promoting 7 per cent growth rates and the proliferation of industrialisation and modern energy infrastructure including advanced fossil fuel technology (UN Resolution A/RES/70/1). So, they give us promises of 1.5C while constructing infrastructure and supporting production processes requiring massive fossil fuel expansion in an economic system built on mass conspicuous consumption and a throwaway fashion culture.

The divorce of economic and energy policy from the targets of Article 2 can only be seen as either total cynicism or total delusion on the part of the negotiators applauding in Paris. Perhaps they are all highly trained in the Orwellian art of doublethink. In any case, the aspirational targets bear no relationship at all to the reality of what governments, and their business partners, are actually doing today,[4] or the other treaties the same governments are simultaneously signing. The economic system is already committed to continue exploiting resources as fast as possible in the race for ever-increasing material and energy throughput. Just look at the European Community’s Horizon 20:20 goals and their promotion of growth and competition and the ongoing push for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Apparently, economic growth is the priority to be protected and promoted above all else.

The contradiction at the heart of the Paris Agreement is actually unsurprising because the powerful lobbying for growth as the solution to climate change has for some time been orchestrated by corporate business and financiers using the rhetoric of a green economy. As I have noted elsewhere (Spash, 2014), this has involved the combination of arguments for growth alleviating poverty with the necessity of environmental risk management, and ‘green’ technology promoted through trillions of dollars being directed towards ‘entrepreneurs’ (i.e. multinational corporations), to create a ‘new economy’. Technology and innovation are key to this position with its neo-Austrian economics and ‘free market’ rhetoric. Climate change policy must be crafted accordingly to serve the capital accumulating growth economy, and so the latter becomes the solution to (not the cause of) the former.

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Unfortunately, many environmental non-governmental organisations have bought into this illogical reasoning and justify their support as being pragmatic. Neoliberal language is rife across their reports and policy recommendations and their adoption of natural capital, ecosystems services, offsetting and market trading. These new environmental pragmatists believe, without justification, that the financialisation of Nature will help prevent its destruction. Thus, environmentalists promote carbon emissions trading but pay little attention to its dangers and failures (Spash, 2010). For example, Nat Keohane of the Environmental Defence Fund has noted on their website how they pushed in the corridors of Paris for ‘an opening for markets’. The right-wing government of New Zealand, leading an 18-country lobby, also had its negotiators pushing for the same international carbon markets. However, you will not find emissions trading, markets, cap and trade or offsets, mentioned in the doublespeak of the Agreement, but rather the term ‘internationally transferred mitigation outcomes’ (clause 108 and Article 6), something Keohane applauds.

Doublespeak and wording that is strategically ambiguous is the high point of international diplomacy in the Paris Agreement. This is what made the Agreement possible and why it is so meaningless. Do not look for the words oil, natural gas, coal or fracking because they do not merit even one single mention. Nor indeed is there anything about addressing the sources of human GHG emissions, or the structures that promote them. Consider something as fundamental as energy use. The one sentence that mentions energy appears in the preamble and merely acknowledges the need to promote ‘sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa’.

What the Paris Agreement tells is a bizarrely unreal story. Apparently, the cause of climate change is not fossil fuel combustion or energy sources but inadequate technology and the solution is sustainable development (i.e. economic growth and industrialisation) and poverty alleviation. As far as the current production and consumption systems are concerned, little needs to change. There are no elites consuming the vast majority of the world’s resources, no multinational corporations or fossil fuel industry needing to be controlled, no capital accumulating competitive systems promoting trade and fighting over resources and emitting vast amounts of GHGs through military expenditure and wars, and no governments expanding fossil fuel use and dependency.

The unreality of this document is only matched by the unreality of the praise given to it by the media and others. This is a sign of how much strategic ambiguity and doublespeak have now become an accepted way for international politics to be conducted and reported. People can even applaud stating that the whole UNFCCC has failed for over 20 years and the planet is headed well beyond 2C. The rhetorical flourish of successful agreement is meant to hide a total lack of substance. The Paris Agreement is at heart a document that consists of independent unilateral unenforceable targets but is being sold as a multi-lateral consensus with firm commitments.

In the final analysis, a simple test of the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement would have been a dramatic drop in the share price of the fossil fuel industry, which is loaded with toxic assets.

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That is, a serious agreement would have written-off all the fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burnt without heading way beyond the already exceed 2C target. This would have revealed the financial balance sheets that are bankrupt. Nothing happened to the stock market because the Paris Agreement is perceived by the fossil fuel industry, and financial markets, as no threat to business as usual, and possibly it is even a great opportunity for new financial instruments and ongoing economic exploitation of the planet, with trillions to come to the energy industry in subsidies for innovation and technology development.

In reality, the Paris Agreement is a compilation of nationally determined intended contradictions. The UNFCCC Secretariat advanced no plan of action and its latest Agreement is totally divorced from the operations of the current economic and political systems. Human-induced climate change can now conveniently slip off the political and media agenda until the time comes for the next major cop-out due in 2023 when a ‘stock-taking’ exercise is scheduled. By then few, if any, of the politicians responsible for this farce are likely to be in office, and neither they nor the bureaucrats and negotiators who have celebrated this great success will ever be held accountable. An acceleration of climate change impacts seems to be the only thing that will now alter the complacency of the global community.

 

Download the full paper: 2016-Spash-This-Changes-Nothing

 

[3] The excess of three times is based upon large conservative estimates of the available remaining budget, namely 1400 Gt of CO2, under a 50% chance of achieving 28C (Raupach et al., 2014, p. 874). IPCC (2013) calculations are much lower, but even these have been criticised as neither up-to-date (referencing 2011) nor adequately taking into account non-energy emissions which reduce the amount left for fossil fuels. Doing so leads Anderson (2015) to estimate the remaining budget for energy emissions over the period 2015–2100, at about 650 Gt of CO2 for a ‘likely’ (66%) chance of staying below 28C. On this basis, the excess of reserves is over 6 times the available budget. Going down to 1.58C and/or increasing the chance of achieving the target increase(s) the excess even further.
[4] The commitments already made to exploiting new fossil fuel sources by 2012 were estimated as leading to the release of 300 Gt CO2 equivalent between 2012 and 2050 (Meindertsma & Blok, 2012). This is being added to the existing excess of unburnable stocks for the 28C target (McGlade & Ekins, 2015); see also previous note.

 

[Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Behavioural Change Project “To Change Everything” [Volume II, Act V]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Behavioural Change Project “To Change Everything” [Volume II, Act V]

September 18, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VIAddenda I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V] [ACTS VI & VII forthcoming]

 

 

“All experts serve the state and the media and only in that way do they achieve their status. Every expert follows his master, for all former possibilities for independence have been gradually reduced to nil by present society’s mode of organization.”

 

Guy Debord, Paris, February-April 1988, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

 

The Climate Group Launches We Mean Business & Climate Optimist 

“With respect to environmental governance, the effect of this is to sustain ‘the paradoxical idea that capitalist markets are the answer to their own ecological contradictions’. In service to this fantasy, celebrity promotion helps to mobilize affect and desire in support of environmental causes, focusing attention on splashy, sensation-filled spectacle supporting the win-win narrative and thereby conjuring an aura of environmentalism ‘as exciting, exotic, erotic, and glamorous—as ‘sexy'”.

 

Blinded by the Stars? Celebrity, Fantasy, and Desire in Neoliberal Environmental Governance, Robert Fletcher

On September 5, 2014, The Climate Group announced that the launch of We Mean Business [Volume II, Act IV] would take place later that month on September 22, the eve of the UN Climate Summit, in order to “catalyze action around climate change and bring it back to the top of the global agenda”. The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the B Team, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Together, these entities represent the world’s most powerful corporations and investors.

Ahead of the launch (on September 9, 2014) a press conference was held by Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; and Nigel Topping, executive director of CDP. The conference focused on the role of corporations and investors at the UN Climate Summit and during climate negotiations, as well as the UN climate chief expectations from CEOs leading up to Paris 2015.

The media contact provided for both the press conference led by Figueres and the We Mean Business launch was that of Callum Grieve of We Mean Business. Grieve, who created and led the first Climate Week NYC in 2009 is identified by WWF as co-founder of We Mean Business. As disclosed in Volume II, Act IV Grieve shared the tweet of the *”lonely” girl on a sidewalk, Greta Thunberg, on the very first day of her strike, August 20, 2018. As the third person to reply to the initial tweet, Grieve would include the following people and institutions: We Don’t have Time, The Climate Museum, Greta Thunberg, Jamie Margolin (youth founder of This Is Zero Hour), Zero Hour, Youth Climate March LA, This is Zero Hour Ft. Lauderdale, Greenpeace International, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and the UNFCCC, the “official Twitter account of UN Climate Change”. [*Ingmar Rentzhog, founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time, Volume I, Act I]

As touched upon in Volume II, Act II, Grieve is the communications specialist for Christiana Figueres “Every Breath Matters” campaign. He is the former communications director for We Mean Business, The Climate Group (co-founder of We Mean Business), and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). Grieve has coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies.

Callum is the co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling, focused on climate change and energy. The co-founder of Counter Culture is Emily Farnworth, head of climate initiatives at the World Economic Forum, former director of Counter Culture and former campaign director of the We Mean Business RE100 initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. [Incorporated April 26, 2011, dissolved December 19, 2017, the Twitter account for Counter Culture has been inactive since May 11, 2018.]

WWF website, May 11, 2015: "We Mean Business – changing the climate challenge narrative... One area We Mean Business is focusing on is carbon pricing. “It seemed that businesses were becoming confused with all the things that they were being asked to sign on to. So we helped create something called the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which the World Bank is now driving with the UN Global Compact and many of our partners.”

WWF website, May 11, 2015: “We Mean Business – changing the climate challenge narrative… One area We Mean Business is focusing on is carbon pricing. “It seemed that businesses were becoming confused with all the things that they were being asked to sign on to. So we helped create something called the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which the World Bank is now driving with the UN Global Compact and many of our partners.”

 

August 20, 2018: Callum Grieve Twitter post on the first day of Thunberg's climate strike. Hashtag: #WeDontHaveTime

August 20, 2018: Callum Grieve Twitter post on the first day of Thunberg’s climate strike. Hashtag: #WeDontHaveTime

 

The Climate Group’s initiatives are brought forward as part of the We Mean Business Coalition. Such initiatives include RE100 (renewable power), EP100 (energy productivity), and EV100 (electric vehicles). [Source] [Further reading on The Climate Group: ACT IV]

By far the most popular initiative of The Climate Group is the annual event created by Grieve: Climate Week NYC.

On September 19, 2017, The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC 2017 with a high-profile opening ceremony attended by B Team leader billionaire Richard Branson, UN representatives, governors, NGOs and corporate entities such as PepsiCo, Bank of America, and Walmart. Showcasing “the unstoppable force for action on climate change”, the ceremony highlighted the launch of the Climate Optimist campaign created “to change the dominant narrative on climate change.”

“We also launched the Climate Optimist campaign, in partnership with Futerra, which aims to spread the word about climate action and focus on what is happening, rather than the doom and gloom.”

 

— Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, former head of Forum for the Future and Médecins Sans Frontières

 

“In the last eight weeks Mars and VF Corporation and Interface and Ashden and DivestInvest and EcoMedia came on board to help us launch this campaign.”

 

Solitaire Townsend, Co-Founder, Futerra, [Source]

The Climate Optimist campaign created by The Climate Group

The Climate Optimist campaign created by The Climate Group

 

The Climate Optimist Twitter account (created July 2017) would post its first “tweet” on September 25, 2017. The Climate Optimist concept, largely consisting of celebrity endorsement, appears to be more or less sitting in the wings at this time, having been effectively replaced by Christiana Figueres “Global Optimism” project.

The Medium is the Message

September 20, 2010: Kelly Rigg (centre), director of GCCA/TckTckTck (Climate Week NYC partner) speaks during the Opening Ceremony for Climate Week NYC Monday in New York. Christiana Figueres is seated on the right. Rigg: "And Christiana I just want to say, civil society has your back."

September 20, 2010: Kelly Rigg (centre), director of GCCA/TckTckTck (Climate Week NYC partner) speaks during the Opening Ceremony for Climate Week NYC Monday in New York. Christiana Figueres is seated on the right. Rigg: “And Christiana I just want to say, civil society has your back.”

 

During the years 2003-2009, new joint collaborations were forged to create a global platform where three entities – corporations, state and civil society – would all fuse together as one. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the non-profit industrial complex and the foundation funding made possible via oligarchs, corporations and capitalism itself, would facilitate the transition. [1] Pivotal to this evolution would be the corporate and foundation funded “progressive media”. The social engineering project to “change everything” is today perhaps the most successful behavioural sciences experiment in modern history.

The creation of ClimateWorks, GCCA (both officially launched in 2008), The Climate Group (2003), Climate Week NYC (2009), and other heavily financed projects would essentially culminate as an overlapping force of key players that would saturate and dominate the discussions surrounding climate. NGOs, such as those that formed the GCCA, would soft peddle feel-good messages to the public, while the critical discussions led by (and serving) corporate power took place behind closed doors unabated, with little to no dissent. Climate Week NYC (“shaping markets and setting policy“) was formed as a partnership between The Climate Group, the United Nations, the UN Foundation, the City of New York, the Government of Denmark, the GCCA TckTckTck campaign, and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Climate Week NYC, takes place every September in New York City and features the campaigns of We Mean Business.

“Today more than 3,000 events in more than 120 countries around the world the TckTckTck campaign has organized what we call global wake up events to our leaders. We feel that now is the time for all of us government, business and civil society to stand shoulder to shoulder to work together…”

 

Kumi Naidoo, Chair TckTckTck Campaign, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, 6th segment of the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC, September 2009

Behavioural Change: “Together” and “Equality”

Today, the project for corporations, Annex 1 states and citizenry “to come together as one”, has been largely realized. The distinct boundaries between working class, ruling class, and the corporation rebranded with a caring human face, continue to be strategically and deliberately blurred. Orchestrated movements, comprising the Euro-Anglo (shrinking) middle class are embraced, regardless of vaguely understood elite/corporate origins. Manufactured demigods and deities (framed as “leaders” and “activists”) are predominantly white from elite backgrounds and/or privilege. As this relationship becomes more and more normalized, via a decade of societal conditioning, those tasked with implementing the “together” (i.e. we are all equal) ideology become more excelled in their ability to create discourse. That is, to shift all discussion away from class analysis – and even eliminate the issue of class altogether. The grotesque irony of corporate behemoths that purposely impoverish the world’s most vulnerable while plundering the planet for profits, feigning concern over inequality, goes largely undetected.

“What they do manage to do is deliver an added punishment on the poor and working class, people who are struggling to make ends meet. It places an unfair level of guilt on ordinary people whose impact on the environment is relatively negligible compared to the enormous destruction caused by the fossil fuel industry, mining companies, plastic and packaging production, shipping and the military industrial complex. Seldom (if ever) questioned are the basic foundations of the current economic order which is driving the decimation of the biosphere for the benefit of the wealthy Davos jet set.”

 

Kenn Orphan, March 2019

“The U.S. military hides statistics on its petroleum usage and its disposal of chemical waste, and of course the severe consequences of all the current ongoing U.S. wars (see Cholera in Yemen just for starters). The socio-political landscape is seeing the rise of global fascism as well as a continuing migration of wealth to the very top tier of the class hierarchy. Homes are being built with servants quarters for the first time in over a hundred years. It is a return to both Victorian values and social structure and in a wider sense a return to feudalism. The homeless camps that circle every American city speak to the extreme fragility of the social fabric in the West today. A fragility that both planned and exploited by the ruling classes.”

 

John Steppling, June 2019

+++

The Framing and Language Utilized to Create the Required Momentum

“To Change Everything We Need Everyone”

 

“Not only is tackling climate change compatible with economic growth… it is the only way that we are getting economic growth from the 21st century onwards.”

 

Paul Polman, Chair of the B Team, Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Vice Chair of the UN Global Compact Board and member of the International Business Council of World Economic Forum (WEF), August, 4, 2014 [Emphasis added]

“Oh, I say you been misled. You been had. You been took.”

 

— Malcolm X, 1964

Above: Susan Rockefeller, Co-executive producer of the “This Changes Everything” documentary film and founding partner of Louverture Films, LLC. Louverture is the production company for the documentary film “This Changes Everything” (with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions). Photo: Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on September 8, 2015. Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

 

We cannot change everything – without everyone.”

 

Solitaire Townsend, co-founder, Futerra, at the “Climate Optimism” global launch, Climate Week, September, 2017 (with Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group)

 

To change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we urge the adults to join us. On September 20th we call for a global general strike.”

 

— Greta Thunberg, May 23, 2019, Twitter

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, June 18, 2019

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, June 18, 2019

 

"Change Everything" - Illustration from the US Green New Deal promotional video directed by Naomi Klein: "A Message from the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez"

“Change Everything” – Illustration from the US Green New Deal promotional video directed by Naomi Klein: “A Message from the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”

 

2014 People's Climate March: "To Change Everything We Need Everyone"

2014 People’s Climate March: “To Change Everything We Need Everyone”

 

This Changes Everything started with “The Message” project financed in its infancy by Rockefeller and several foundations in 2011. In 2014 the first stage of “The Message” project launched with the book published by Naomi Klein (350.org director and Leap founder) “This Changes Everything”. [Further reading: “Financing ‘The Message‘ Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project”] The book was launched in advance of the first People’s Climate March which took place on September 21, 2014. The march was organized by GCCA/TckTckTck, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), 350.org (incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation), the Rasmussen Foundation and USCAN. The People’s March was mobilized as a means to build momentum for the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City.

From this juncture forward, “This Changes Everything”, in its many variations, has indeed served as the central “message” for desired behaviours sought by the ruling classes.

“Emphasis by repetition gains acceptance for an idea, particularly if the repetition comes from different sources.”

 

Edward L. Bernays, Biography of an Idea: The Founding Principles of Public Relations, 1965

Within the repetitive language and framing that inundates our collective psyche – ever so subtly coaxing our subconscious to acquiesce to the “new climate economy” – we find the words: change, everything, everyone and together. “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.” “This Changes Everything.” “Changing Together.”

From Naomi Klein, to 350.org, to WWF, to We Mean Business, to the World Bank, to The Climate Group, to the Green New Deal, to Greta Thunberg – the remixed slogans with identical language are reverberated from the corridors of the non-profit industrial complex and hallways of the power elite. The shared marketing slogans coalesce with the shared neoliberal ideologies. Ideologies undergoing a restructuring in a desperate attempt to maintain an economic system in decline.

The language continues right up to the present year with Naomi Klein presenting the video production “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” to the call for the September Global Strike by Greta Thunberg via Twitter: “To change everything, we need everyone.”[Shared at 2:22 PM – 23 May 2019, the tweet had 2.9k “retweets” and 6.8K “likes” on 23 May 2019 at 9:54PM EST].

The B Team, Toward A Plan B For Business, Fostering Collaboration

The B Team, Toward A Plan B For Business, Fostering Collaboration

 

2014, Purpose, People's Climate March: "To Change Everything We Need Everyone"

2014, Purpose, People’s Climate March: “To Change Everything We Need Everyone”

 

2015, WWF, Paris: "To Change Everything We Need Everyone"

2015, WWF, Paris: “To Change Everything We Need Everyone”

 

2019, 350.org: "We Need Everyone"

2019, 350.org: “We Need Everyone”

 

2019, 350.org: "School Strikers: 'We Need Everyone'"

2019, 350.org: “School Strikers: ‘We Need Everyone'”

 

The purpose of “the message” is paramount. This is the subtle, yet effective, erasure of class divisions. The peasants can sleep soundly knowing they and the corporation (or NGO) that has seized their land share the same values. The interests of those at the helm of Goldman Sachs are no different from those espoused by the plumbers, factory workers, and working class. There is no common enemy, as we are united as one. Inequality will be corrected under a new reformed capitalism sometime in the near future.

This can be illustrated in the article written by Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan, in collaboration with The B Team’s Sharon Burrows (January 21, 2019, Davos). The following is an excerpt from their article Tackling the Twin Challenges of Climate Change and Inequality:

“Meanwhile, the world’s richest one percent took home 82 percent of all new wealth last year and, according to the World Bank, almost half of all people worldwide are one medical bill or crop failure away from destitution. Inequality continues to rise as the world warms.”

The said solution provided by Morgan and Burrows is tragic to say the least: “We need the Davos elite to change the rules of the global economy to benefit people and the planet alike.” The citizenry must “demand the fundamental and urgent change we need” – from those that enslave us and destroy our natural world.

And here the word “together” presents itself once again. Morgan and Burrows surmise their argument with:

“We are determined and excited that together, as environmentalists and trade unionists, we can face up to the twin challenges of inequality and climate change. Will the ‘Davos Man’ join us?[Emphasis added]

The idea that “the Davos Man” (the billionaire oppressor) would consider joining the oppressed, impoverished and exploited, or that such a union would be a beneficial one, is an insult to both the world’s most vulnerable citizens and to the workers of the world. Black Panther Assata Shakur, now living in exile in Cuba, dispelled this myth and dangerous discourse in a single sentence: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” Yet this is exactly what those in servitude to the ruling class would like you to believe can happen. At one time, fairytales were written for children. Today, they are written for adults.

The United Nations goes further than Morgan and Burrows in framing the gross inequality with the following statistic provided by Oxfam:

26 people own the same wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.” [Emphasis in original.]

And indeed this is shocking as it is grotesque. But to comprehend the real new-found concern and focus on inequality between the world’s billionaires and those monetarily impoverished [“The New Focus: Inequality“], one must keep reading.

At the heart of “the new focus, “inequality” represents something far more important than eradicating poverty and distributing wealth equally amongst the world’s citizens; rather, the real crisis is the growing fear of billionaires – that capitalism could collapse – due to a citizenry no longer willing to be compliant.

The UN divulges that in 2018 “79% of Latin Americans said their countries were governed in the interest of the powerful — the highest number since 2004.” This statistic is derived from the April 5, 2019 report “Ruling for the few? How Weak Legitimacy Can Hinder Compliance and Cooperation in LAC countries” written by Luis Felipe López-Calva, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

From the report:

“The increasingly widespread belief that countries are governed to benefit “the few” rather than “the many” suggests that the legitimacy of institutions may be declining in the region…. Voluntary compliance is a key enabler of cooperation and coordination, and thus ultimately an important foundation of positive governance-development dynamics.

 

As explained by Margaret Levi, “…citizens are willing to go along with a policy they do not prefer as long as it is made according to a process they deem legitimate, and they are less willing to comply with a policy they like if the process was problematic. One widely used measure of willingness of citizens to cooperate is tax morale…. In the graph, the share of people responding greater than 5 is shown as those that think it is “justifiable” to evade taxes. What we see is that while a majority of citizens in all countries manifest disagreement with the idea of evading taxes, there is a clear and positive relationship between the share of people who think their country is governed in the interest of a few powerful groups and the share who think it is justifiable to evade taxes…. If citizens do not believe that institutions are responsive to the needs of all, they may choose not to cooperate. We can think of this as “opting out” of the social contract.” [Emphasis in original]

Chapter 4 of the same UN report features a quote by Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, and former advisory board member of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (*TEEB):

“Inequality is causing all of us a great deal of unease. In many of our societies, it is triggering a great deal of polarization, a questioning of fundamentals – whether it is the social compact, whether it is the role of government, whether it is the role of capital…” [Source] [Emphasis added]

[*TEEB, launched in 2012, hosted by UNEP and backed by the European Commission and countries including Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom, has since been absorbed/rebranded into the Natural Capital Coalition. The Natural Capital Coalition is working with the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions for the implementation of the financialization of nature.]

The UN report continues: “Inequality has jeopardized economic growth and created a serious barrier to eradicating poverty, the bedrock of the 2030 Agenda. But inequality is not natural or inevitable. It stems from policies, laws, cultural norms, corruption, and other issues that can be addressed.”

While it is true that “inequality is not natural or inevitable”, the statement that it “stems from policies, laws, cultural norms, corruption, and other issues that can be addressed” is a convenient alibi. Inequality is a by-product of the capitalist economic system. It can be “addressed” by the UN for infinity, that is true. It cannot and will not, however, be solved inside of the capitalist system, as the system is built upon and dependent upon exploitation.

“In 2017, an estimated 82% of the wealth created globally went to the top 1% of the world’s population. Wages in many parts of the world remain flat. Despite important recent progress in tackling poverty, just under half of Africa’s population still lacks access to electricity today.” [New Climate Economy]

Following the rollout of the global “green new deals” masking the 100 trillion dollar bailout, we can expect the 82% of the wealth created globally that went to the top 1% – to rise. We can expect wages in many parts of the world to remain flat, and despite the promise of job creation (a key selling feature for the GND), the exact opposite is more likely to be true. The fourth industrial revolution is “characterised by increasing globalisation and the rise of automation. Indeed, the growth of new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) is having a profound effect on labour markets, with some economists suggesting that automation could potentially replace over half of all jobs by 2055.” [New Climate Economy]

Ironically, the featured image on the cover of this same Sustainable Development Goals report is a young girl in Afghanistan standing at a chalkboard. While feigning concern for the Earth, her inhabitants, and inequality, the US and NATO states have spent trillions of dollars financing their deadly resource wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Death, devastation, and environmental degradation, are exempted from discussions with the modern environmental “movement” – as is organized resistance to the US Pentagon – a leading contributor to climate change. Consider the June 27, 2019 article “The Pentagon’s Outsized Part in the Climate Fight” authored by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, minimizing militarism’s horrific impact. One can only wonder how a victim of US warfare would feel reading McKibben’s optimistic opinion on the world’s most destructive war machine.

November 24, 2015: "Coffees of the Secretary-General" series, Author Naomi Klein (left) with Angel Gurría OECD Secretary-General, member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, advisory board member for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF)

November 24, 2015: “Coffees of the Secretary-General” series, Author Naomi Klein (left) with Angel Gurría OECD Secretary-General, member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, advisory board member for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF)

 

The Framing and Language Utilized to Create the Required Momentum

Together

to·geth·er Dictionary result for together: 1. with or in proximity to another person or people. “together they climbed the dark stairs. synonyms: with each other, in conjunction, jointly, conjointly, in cooperation, cooperatively, in collaboration, in partnership, in combination, as one, in unison, in concert, concertedly, with one accord, in league, in alliance, in collusion, side by side, hand in hand, hand in glove, shoulder to shoulder, cheek by jowl; informal in cahoots “friends who work together”

Connect4Climate (World Bank): Changing Together

Connect4Climate (World Bank): Changing Together

 

December 4, 2018, WWF: "Stronger Together For Climate Action", COP24 climate change summit, Katowice, Poland, photo by Omar Marques

December 4, 2018, WWF: “Stronger Together For Climate Action”, COP24 climate change summit, Katowice, Poland, photo by Omar Marques

 

2018, COP24, United Nations: "Changing Together"

2018, COP24, United Nations: “Changing Together”

 

The European Bank: "Changing Together"

The European Bank: “Changing Together”

 

September 20, 2019: The “Global General Strike”

“And in 1964 this seems to be the year, because what can the white man use now to fool us after he put down that march on Washington? And you see all through that now. He tricked you, had you marching down to Washington. Yes, had you marching back and forth between the feet of a dead man named Lincoln and another dead man named George Washington singing “We Shall Overcome.” He made a chump out of you. He made a fool out of you. He made you think you were going somewhere and you end up going nowhere but between Lincoln and Washington.”

 

— Malcolm X, 1964

On May 23, 2019, the Greta Thunberg Twitter account announced “To change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we urge the adults to join us. On September 20th we call for a global general strike.

Also on May 23, 2018, The Guardian published a letter credited to “Greta Thunberg and 46 youth activists”: Young People Have Led the Climate Strikes. Now We Need Adults to Join Us Too – But to change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we have shown that collective action does work. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together.”

May 23, 2019: Author and 350.org board member Naomi Klein shares a social media post by 350’s Strategy and Communications Director, Jamie Henn. Henn is recognized by Future Stewards (Leaders Quest, Mission 2020, The B Team) as a “deep practitioner”: “Committed leaders will increase pressure on their peers to engage – establishing a new norm.[Source]

The following day (May 24, 2019), The Guardian published a letter of support and endorsement of the global strike credited to “Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and others”: “It’s a one-day climate strike, if you will – and it will not be the last. This is going to be the beginning of a week of action all over the world. And we hope to make it a turning point in history. “Others” included the following signatories: Christiana Figueres (B Team leader, Global Optimist, etc.), KC Golden (350.org), Annie Leonard (executive director of Greenpeace USA and co-founder of Earth Economics), Michael Mann (The Climate Mobilization board), Jennifer Morgan (executive director of Greenpeace International), Kumi Naidoo (executive director of Amnesty International), Gus Speth (The Climate Mobilization board, World Resources Institute founder), billionaire Tom Steyer (founder of Next Gen NGO), and Farhana Yamin (Track Zero and Extinction Rebellion leader). [2] Here we have Christiana Figueres slowly being brought into the public foray of elite “activism” by The Guardian with those such as 350’s McKibben and Klein.

Above: Global Climate Strike website [This Global Climate Strike event registration is hosted by 350.org.”] International partners include 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, Friends of the Earth International, Global Greengrants Fund, and Patagonia [3]

MoveOn is a co-founder of Avaaz: “US Youth Climate Strike is working with MoveOn

The “global strike”, coinciding with the Climate Week NYC event is, in reality, the opening act for the UN Climate Action Summit.

“Recent climate strikes have shown that young people and civil society are demanding action on climate and want to be engaged in the decision making process. The time to respond with action is now.”

 

Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, Track #3: Youth Engagement & Public Mobilization, V.3 – 31 May 2019

The UN Climate Action Summit commences on September 23, 2019: “There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society. The Summit will showcase a leap in collective national political ambition and it will demonstrate massive movements in the real economy in support of the agenda. Together, these developments will send strong market and political signals and inject momentum in the ‘race to the top’ among countries, companies, cities and civil society that is needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.” [Source][Emphasis added]

“Internally, the necessary acquiescence to established powers and institutions is garnered by public relations counsels through the selective presentation of information, repetition, emotional manipulation, and appeals to popularity and authority. Interestingly, contemporary writer and notable propagandist Walter Lippmann referred to this process as the ‘manufacture of consent.'” [See Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann][Source]

In order to achieve a much sought “Paris-like moment”, the UN has set up a steering committee of 25 “distinguished individuals” and “key advisory committees”. “The overarching purpose of the Key Advisory Committees is to ensure that the Secretary-General’s 2019 Climate Action Summit delivers major outcomes on enhanced climate ambition.” [Source]

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ClimateWorks) serves as co-chair of the Ambition Advisory Group. Christiana Figueres serves the Youth & Mobilization “action stream”. Other steering committee members include Nicolas Stern (The Global CCS Institute – carbon capture and storage), Paul Polman (New Climate Economy, B Team chair, International Chamber of Commerce chair, UN Global Compact Board vice-chair, member of the International Business Council of World Economic Forum), and Achim Steiner (TEEB, the financialization of nature, Green New Deal 2009). [Full list]

Christiana Figueres heads the UN taskforce for the Youth & Mobilization committee. Source: United Nations website

Christiana Figueres heads the UN taskforce for the Youth & Mobilization committee. Source: United Nations website

 

The UN Secretary-General has prioritized six action portfolios and three additional key areas. The second key area identified is “Youth Engagement and Public Mobilization: To mobilize people worldwide to take action on climate change and ensure that young people are integrated and represented across all aspects of the Summit.” [Source] [Track #3 work plan]

Leading the youth engagement and public mobilization for September 21, 2019 are GCCA co-founding NGOs Greenpeace International, 350.org, Avaaz and CAN International. Here, we can add that the money being funnelled into these NGOs is phenomenal. Consider 350.org (with assets of $11,249,637.00 in 2017) received funding from 197 foundations in 2017. These included US ClimateWorks, the European Climate Foundation (arm of ClimateWorks), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Others at the helm of youth engagement include WEF Global Shapers (World Economic Forum), The B Team (We Mean Business), World Resources Institute, and YouTube. [88] (Here it can be noted that Voice For the Planet is an WEF Global Shapers initiative managed by WWF. It is more than likely that very few, if any, youth that comprise the WEF Global Shapers actually comprehend that the Voice For The Planet campaign is in fact a campaign to advance the financialization of nature.)

Youth Engagement and public mobilization partners in the lead up to September 21, 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit

Youth Engagement and public mobilization partners in the lead up to September 21, 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit

 

Highlighted under “The Road to the Youth Climate Summit” section on the UN website is the May 29, 2019 meeting between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Greta Thunberg at the R20 Austrian World Summit, which links to a photo of Guterres and Thunberg on the UN Instagram account. The message to the millennials following Thunberg is that Guterres is an ally, as is the UN. The behaviour change insights offices working with governments across the globe would refer to this media event as “nudging”.

Behavioural Insights World Map 2018 - Who has institutionalised behavioural insights in public policy (verified by the @OECD) Behavioral Economics #Nudge

Behavioural Insights World Map 2018 – Who has institutionalised behavioural insights in public policy (verified by the @OECD) Behavioral Economics #Nudge

 

The “Expected Outcomes Objective” of the working plan is to “respond to the unprecedented mobilization of young people worldwide who are demanding ambitious climate action in the lead-up to the Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit.” In other words, give the appearance of concessions and victories to the organized and orchestrated mobilizations, financed and organized by the very same powers who will thus respond with the so-desired market solutions that will further destroy the biosphere.

Highlights from the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit outcomes convey what “success” looks like in the face of a global relentless assault on our planet that sustains all life:

“Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson announce that Starbucks commits to design, build and renovate — and, importantly, operate— 10,000 greener stores globally by 2025.”

 

[Source: 2018 Global Climate Action Summit Outcomes]

 

At the Global Climate Action Summit, more than 100 jurisdictions — including California, the world’s fifth largest economy — and over 70 big cities that are home to more than 425 million people, as well as a significant number of companies — including heavy industrial emitters and financial institutions — joined those who have explicitly pledged to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.

 

[Source: 2018 Global Climate Action Summit Outcomes] [Here, it must again be stated that “carbon neutrality” has nothing to do with stopping emissions. Rather, the term allows for continued business as usual while simultaneously accelerating carbon markets/offsets.]

Under the “youth engagement and public mobilization” section titled “intergenerational dialogue”, it is odd to find the “youth leaders of climate action” defined as “now talismanic”. Definitions of talismanic. 1. adj possessing or believed to possess magic power especially protective power. Perhaps written in reference to Thunberg’s mother’s metaphor in her recently published book, that Greta can see CO2 with her naked eye. [Source]

The intergenerational dialogue continues to the strategy of providing youth leaders “a chance to ask bold and provocative questions of political leaders as well as propose concrete solutions in a UN setting will be an important statement that the voices of youth are being listened to, and more importantly are being responded to” with the expected outcome as follows: “Through partnerships with the private sector, philanthropic foundations, and/or celebrity influencers, XX people reached worldwide as a result of innovative public engagement campaigns.”

Other expected outcomes are the complete omission of militarism, restrictions on aviation, the elimination of industrial livestock production, and any policy whatsoever that could hinder economic growth of the industrial machine destroying the planet.

It is incredible, yet completely predictable, that to date, the Twitter account belonging to Miss Thunberg, with 5,102  “tweets” for action on climate (accessed September 7, 2019), has yet to create a single post highlighting the primary drivers of climate change: militarism, imperialism, colonialism and capitalism. It’s not as though Miss Thunberg does not understand what war is, as she has mentioned the word “war” at least twice in reference to solving climate change:

“How do you solve landing on the moon for the first time? How do you solve a war? I’m sure as soon as we recognise that we are in a climate emergency, we’ll find solutions.”— Greta Thunberg in UK Parliament

 

“We need to change the system, as if we were in crisis, as if there were a war going on.” [Source]

The omission of war is quite an interesting oversight considering Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. A Norwegian lawmaker who nominated Thunberg for the prize states that “climate threats are perhaps one of the most important contributions to war and conflict.” – yet no one in a position of power and influence states the opposite reality: war and conflict are one of the most important contributions to the climate threat.

Recently, there was one small exception. On June 26, 2019, Thunberg retweeted a post on militarism’s contribution to climate change. The following morning on June 27, 2019, at 7am, an article authored by Bill McKibben (referenced earlier in this act) on minimizing militarism’s impact, was published by The New York Review of Books.

Rather than a call for a global general strike that could “make the economy scream” in defiance of US militarism – the largest polluter in the world, a call for a global strike has been issued by Thunberg et al. for Friday, September 20, 2019 – which will launch the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019. An institution and summit that bows down to corporate power and Annex 1 NATO states. An institution that has been successfully captured by the WEF – the architects of the fourth industrial revolution.

“The UN Climate Action Summit team invites input and leadership from businesses in the planning of the event throughout the year, and is working with the UN Global Compact, the We Mean Business coalition, the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Economic Forum to coordinate these efforts.”

 

— Briefing on Private Sector Engagement in the UN Climate Action Summit, 2019 [Emphasis added]

 

“To strengthen and preserve this [Liberal World] order, however, will require a renewal of American leadership in the international system. The present world order has been forged by many hands and peoples, but the role of the United States in both shaping and defending it has been critical. American military power, the dynamism of the U.S. economy, and the great number of close alliances and friendships that the United States enjoys with other powers and peoples have provided the critical architecture in which this liberal world order has flourished. A weakening of America’s commitment or its capabilities, or both, would invariably lead to its collapse.”

 

Strengthening the Liberal World Order, A World Economic Forum White Paper, April 25, 2016 [Emphasis added]

Emerging from Emergency – Harnessing the Momentum

Citizen protests and legal actions against companies, governments and individuals will undoubtedly become an increasing leverage opportunity in support of this emergency approach and have already begun.”

 

Club Of Rome “The Climate Emergency Plan”, launched with We Don’t Have Time and Global Utmaning, December, 2018

The July 4, 2019 high-level Roundtable “Emerging from Emergency – Urgency as a Catalyst for Action and Regeneration” again introduces as the original cast of the Manufacturing for Consent series:

“The Club of Rome will take part in the inaugural London Climate Action Week, which runs from 1st – 8th July. Co-President, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, will speak at a GLOBE international event (1st July) at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, on the role of parliament in responding to the Climate Emergency. On Thursday 4th July, the Club of Rome will host a high-level Roundtable at Chatham House (“Emerging from Emergency) on harnessing the momentum generated by the growing climate emergency narrative, to shift from mere declarations to action. The meeting will convene the various strands of the climate emergency and sustainability space – activists, problem-holders and solution providers – in order to co-design concrete solutions for genuine impact.  – invite only.” [Source]

February 10, 2019: Sandrine Dixson, #voicefortheplanet, #newdealfornature

February 10, 2019: Sandrine Dixson, #voicefortheplanet, #newdealfornature

 

Until recently, Sandrine Dixson was Chief Partnership Officer for UN Agency Sustainable Energy for All. Prior to this position, Dixson served as the Director of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) (also referred to as EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change). CLG, a co-founder of We Mean Business, is the same group of corporations that the climate umbrella group TckTckTck (now simply known as GCCA) had partnered with in its formation prior to COP15 – that threw the G77 states under the bus in Copenhagen, in servitude to their funders. Dixson’s bio is extensive as are her past and current advisory positions inclusive of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). She is a member of The Guardian’s Sustainable Business Advisory Board; former vice chair of the European Biofuels Technology Platform, a former board member of We Mean Business and served on the Advisory Board of the Oil and Gas major African oil corporation Sasol. Dixson worked with Al Gore in 1992. In 2017 she served as moderator for Norwegian CCS policy at a seminar in the European Parliament. [Full bio]

July 10, 2019: The Under2 Coalition (The Climate Group): “Global ‘Climate Emergency’ declarations are soaring as governments work towards long-term carbon neutrality.” The Climate Group business campaigns “are brought to you as part of the We Mean Business coalition.”

The challenge now is to shift from merely sounding the alarm to giving policy-makers and the business community the policy tools and levers of change which genuinely respond to the emergency.”

 

City of London website

The “Emerging from Emergency” roundtable event was organized by The Club of Rome in partnership with EIT Climate-KICETC/SystemIQWe Mean Business and E3G.

“The challenge now is to shift from merely sounding the alarm to giving policy-makers and the business community the policy tools and levers of change which genuinely respond to the emergency. The other key intervenors for this session are: Nigel Topping (We Mean Business), Chad Frischman (Project Drawdown) and Cynthia Scharf (Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative).” [Source]

If only to demonstrate the degree of overlap, here it is of interest that the president and executive director of the Sunrise Movement is Michael Dorsey a full member of the Club of Rome. [ACT V]

+++

“And that’s the real question faction the white activists today. Can they tear down the institutions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hundreds of years?”

 

Black Power by Stokely Carmichael, 1966

As media hypes the global climate mobilizations in perfect synchronicity with a tsunami of “12 years until climate apocalypse” news articles saturating our collective psyches, global climate emergency declarations announced by states, and all levels of government, are indeed soaring. As this series has demonstrated, and as confirmed by the July 4, 2019, high-level roundtable (“Emerging from Emergency – Urgency as a Catalyst for Action and Regeneration”) this feat has been a high-level orchestrated endeavour. Indeed, the stakes could not be higher. Late-stage capitalism is faltering with economic growth in freefall. The climate mobilizations beget the declarations, beget the policy, beget the budgets, beget the finance.

The policy and legislation are instrumental to unlocking the public funds for so-called “climate infrastructure” projects (predominantly in the Global South). Infrastructure and technologies that will be paid by the citizenry, to be owned by the billionaires. We must never lose sight that the terrifying news regarding our rapidly deteriorating natural world is real, but the reason for the media saturation (spectacle) has nothing to do with protecting the natural world nor the climate – and everything to do with rebooting global economic growth and saving the capitalist system itself. Consider the Global Optimist meme shared by We Mean Business: “People are desperate for something to happen.” The message is this: No one can save you but us. Accept our solutions, or die. Another world is possible, but only if that world is designed by the ruling classes that maintain and expand current power structure. One could call this psychological manipulation, or hegemonic coercion.

This is the gentle transition into the new age of neo-feudalism. Social engineering and behavioural change campaigns have been employed to make hierarchical class invisible, in real time.

The environmental NGOs comprising the non-profit industrial complex exist as corporate front groups. They insulate, protect, and assist in the expansion of existing power structures that facilitate capitalism. NGOs cannot and will not stop climate change because this would be counterintuitive to why they were created. They are funded to the tune of trillions by foundations which, in many cases, assisted in their development and incubation, because they function precisely as they were designed to function.

The answers to the multiple ecological crises upon us, will not be found within the capitalist system that created them. Continuing down this path of denial is time wasted while the world burns.

“Capitalism is borne on manic wings. The economic elite move from corporate skyscrapers and high rise rooftops in order to travel by helicopter, where upon landing, they board private, luxury jets, then, whereupon landing again, they are transported by helicopter to corporate skyscrapers and high rise rooftops. Touching the earth is a fleeting experience. The ruling class have lost touch with ground level verities. In a classical sense, such displays of hubris were understood as the progenitor of madness. The gods first elevate those they drive mad.”

 

Bodies on the Ground and the Rise and Rise of the Economic Elite, August 12, 2019

 

 

End Notes

[1] On May 30, 2007 it was announced that “HSBC has created a five-year, US$100 million partnership to respond to the urgent threat of climate change world-wide with the support of The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and WWF… HSBC’s US$100 million partnership – including the largest donations to each of these charities and the largest donation ever made by a British company.” [Source]

[2] “Christiana Figueres, Prof Tim Flannery, Nancy Fraser, KC Golden, Tom BK Goldtooth, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dr John Hewson, John Holloway, Prof Lesley Hughes, Tomás Insua, Satvir Kaur, Barbara Kingsolver, Winona LaDuke, Jenni Laiti, Bruno Latour, Annie Leonard, Michael Mann, Gina McCarthy, Heather McGhee, Luca Mercalli, Moema Miranda, Jennifer Morgan, Tadzio Müller, Kumi Naidoo, Mohamed Nasheed, Carlo Petrini, Dr Anne Poelina, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Sarsgaard, Dr Vandana Shiva, Rebecca Solnit, Gus Speth, Prof Will Steffen, Tom Steyer, Chris Taylor, Terry Tempest-Williams, Aurélie Trouvé, Farhana Yamin, Lennox Yearwood are signatories to this article.” [Source]

[3] INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS

  • Accountable Now
  • Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD)
  • ActionAid International
  • Amnesty International
  • Avaaz (GCCA co-founder)
  • CAN International
  • CARE International
  • CIVICUS
  • Christian Aid
  • Demand Climate Justice
  • Earth Day Network
  • Earth Strike
  • Extinction Rebellion
  • Fridays for Future
  • Friends of the Earth International
  • Fund our Future
  • Global Catholic Climate Movement
  • Global Forest Coalition
  • Global Greengrants Fund
  • Global Justice Now
  • Global Policy Forum
  • GreenFaith
  • Greenpeace International
  • Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)
  • Indigenous Environment Network (IEN)
  • International Student Environmental Coalition
  • International Tibet Network
  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  • Oil Change International
  • Our Kids’ Climate
  • Oxfam
  • Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
  • Parents for Future Global
  • Patagonia
  • Polar Bears International
  • Slow Food
  • War on Want
  • Women’s March Global
  • World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF)
  • Yes! 4 Humanity

 

How Circular is the Circular Economy?

Low-tech Magazine

November 3, 2018

By Kris De Decker

The circular economy – the newest magical word in the sustainable development vocabulary – promises economic growth without destruction or waste. However, the concept only focuses on a small part of total resource use and does not take into account the laws of thermodynamics.

Circular-economy-2

Illustration: Diego Marmolejo.

Introducing the Circular Economy

The circular economy has become, for many governments, institutions, companies, and environmental organisations, one of the main components of a plan to lower carbon emissions. In the circular economy, resources would be continually re-used, meaning that there would be no more mining activity or waste production. The stress is on recycling, made possible by designing products so that they can easily be taken apart.

Attention is also paid to developing an “alternative consumer culture”. In the circular economy, we would no longer own products, but would loan them. For example, a customer could pay not for lighting devices but for light, while the company remains the owner of the lighting devices and pays the electricity bill. A product thus becomes a service, which is believed to encourage businesses to improve the lifespan and recyclability of their products.

The circular economy is presented as an alternative to the “linear economy” – a term that was coined by the proponents of circularity, and which refers to the fact that industrial societies turn valuable resources into waste. However, while there’s no doubt that the current industrial model is unsustainable, the question is how different to so-called circular economy would be.

Several scientific studies (see references) describe the concept as an “idealised vision”, a “mix of various ideas from different domains”, or a “vague idea based on pseudo-scientific concepts”. There’s three main points of criticism, which we discuss below.

Too Complex to Recycle

The first dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the fact that the recycling process of modern products is far from 100% efficient. A circular economy is nothing new. In the middle ages, old clothes were turned into paper, food waste was fed to chickens or pigs, and new buildings were made from the remains of old buildings. The difference between then and now is the resources used.

Before industrialisation, almost everything was made from materials that were either decomposable – like wood, reeds, or hemp – or easy to recycle or re-use – like iron and bricks. Modern products are composed of a much wider diversity of (new) materials, which are mostly not decomposable and are also not easily recycled.

For example, a recent study of the modular Fairphone 2 – a smartphone designed to be recyclable and have a longer lifespan – shows that the use of synthetic materials, microchips, and batteries makes closing the circle impossible. Only 30% of the materials used in the Fairphone 2 can be recuperated. A study of LED lights had a similar result.

The large-scale use of synthetic materials, microchips, and batteries makes closing the circle impossible.

The more complex a product, the more steps and processes it takes to recycle. In each step of this process, resources and energy are lost. Furthermore, in the case of electronic products, the production process itself is much more resource-intensive than the extraction of the raw materials, meaning that recycling the end product can only recuperate a fraction of the input. And while some plastics are indeed being recycled, this process only produces inferior materials (“downcycling”) that enter the waste stream soon afterwards.

The low efficiency of the recycling process is, on its own, enough to take the ground from under the concept of the circular economy: the loss of resources during the recycling process always needs to be compensated with more over-extraction of the planet’s resources. Recycling processes will improve, but recycling is always a trade-off between maximum material recovery and minimum energy use. And that brings us to the next point.

How to Recycle Energy Sources?

The second dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the fact that 20% of total resources used worldwide are fossil fuels. More than 98% of that is burnt as a source of energy and can’t be re-used or recycled. At best, the excess heat from, for example, the generation of electricity, can be used to replace other heat sources.

As energy is transferred or transformed, its quality diminishes (second law of thermodynamics). For example, it’s impossible to operate one car or one power plant with the excess heat from another. Consequently, there will always be a need to mine new fossil fuels. Besides, recycling materials also requires energy, both through the recycling process and the transportation of recycled and to-be-recycled materials.

To this, the supporters of the circular economy have a response: we will shift to 100% renewable energy. But this doesn’t make the circle round: to build and maintain renewable energy plants and accompanied infrastructures, we also need resources (both energy and materials). What’s more, technology to harvest and store renewable energy relies on difficult-to-recycle materials. That’s why solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries are not recycled, but landfilled or incinerated.

Input Exceeds Output

The third dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the biggest: the global resource use – both energetic and material – keeps increasing year by year. The use of resources grew by 1400% in the last century: from 7 gigatonnes (Gt) in 1900 to 62 Gt in 2005 and 78 Gt in 2010. That’s an average growth of about 3% per year – more than double the rate of population growth.

Growth makes a circular economy impossible, even if all raw materials were recycled and all recycling was 100% efficient. The amount of used material that can be recycled will always be smaller than the material needed for growth. To compensate for that, we have to continuously extract more resources.

Growth makes a circular economy impossible, even if all raw materials were recycled and all recycling was 100% efficient.

The difference between demand and supply is bigger than you might think. If we look at the whole life cycle of resources, then it becomes clear that proponents for a circular economy only focus on a very small part of the whole system, and thereby misunderstand the way it operates.

Accumulation of Resources

A considerable segment of all resources – about a third of the total – are neither recycled, nor incinerated or dumped: they are accumulated in buildings, infrastructure, and consumer goods. In 2005, 62 Gt of resources were used globally. After subtracting energy sources (fossil fuels and biomass) and waste from the mining sector, the remaining 30 Gt were used to make material goods. Of these, 4 Gt was used to make products that last for less than one year (disposable products).

Circular-economy-diego

Illustration: Diego Marmolejo.

The other 26 Gt was accumulated in buildings, infrastructure, and consumer goods that last for more than a year. In the same year, 9 Gt of all surplus resources were disposed of, meaning that the “stocks” of material capital grew by 17 Gt in 2005. In comparison: the total waste that could be recycled in 2005 was only 13 Gt (4 Gt disposable products and 9 Gt surplus resources), of which only a third (4 Gt) can be effectively recycled.

About a third of all resources are neither recycled, nor incinerated or dumped: they are accumulated in buildings, infrastructure, and consumer goods.

Only 9 Gt is then put in a landfill, incinerated, or dumped – and it is this 9 Gt that the circular economy focuses on. But even if that was all recycled, and if the recycling processes were 100% efficient, the circle would still not be closed: 63 Gt in raw materials and 30 Gt in material products would still be needed.

As long as we keep accumulating raw materials, the closing of the material life cycle remains an illusion, even for materials that are, in principle, recyclable. For example, recycled metals can only supply 36% of the yearly demand for new metal, even if metal has relatively high recycling capacity, at about 70%. We still use more raw materials in the system than can be made available through recycling – and so there are simply not enough recyclable raw materials to put a stop to the continuously expanding extractive economy.

The True Face of the Circular Economy

A more responsible use of resources is of course an excellent idea. But to achieve that, recycling and re-use alone aren’t enough. Since 71% of all resources cannot be recycled or re-used (44% of which are energy sources and 27% of which are added to existing stocks), you can only really get better numbers by reducing total use.

A circular economy would therefore demand that we use less fossil fuels (which isn’t the same as using more renewable energy), and that we accumulate less raw materials in commodities. Most importantly, we need to make less stuff: fewer cars, fewer microchips, fewer buildings. This would result in a double profit: we would need less resources, while the supply of discarded materials available for re-use and recycling would keep growing for many years to come.

It seems unlikely that the proponents of the circular economy would accept these additional conditions. The concept of the circular economy is intended to align sustainability with economic growth – in other words, more cars, more microchips, more buildings. For example, the European Union states that the circular economy will “foster sustainable economic growth”.

Even the limited goals of the circular economy – total recycling of a fraction of resources – demands an extra condition that proponents probably won’t agree with: that everything is once again made with wood and simple metals, without using synthetic materials, semi-conductors, lithium-ion batteries or composite materials.

 


References:

Haas, Willi, et al. “How circular is the global economy?: An assessment of material flows, waste production, and recycling in the European Union and the world in 2005.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 19.5 (2015): 765-777.

Murray, Alan, Keith Skene, and Kathryn Haynes. “The circular economy: An interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and application in a global context.” Journal of Business Ethics 140.3 (2017): 369-380.

Gregson, Nicky, et al. “Interrogating the circular economy: the moral economy of resource recovery in the EU.” Economy and Society 44.2 (2015): 218-243.

Krausmann, Fridolin, et al. “Global socioeconomic material stocks rise 23-fold over the 20th century and require half of annual resource use.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017): 201613773.

Korhonen, Jouni, Antero Honkasalo, and Jyri Seppälä. “Circular economy: the concept and its limitations.” Ecological economics 143 (2018): 37-46.

Fellner, Johann, et al. “Present potentials and limitations of a circular economy with respect to primary raw material demand.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 21.3 (2017): 494-496.

Reuter, Markus A., Antoinette van Schaik, and Miquel Ballester. “Limits of the Circular Economy: Fairphone Modular Design Pushing the Limits.” 2018

Reuter, M. A., and A. Van Schaik. “Product-Centric Simulation-based design for recycling: case of LED lamp recycling.” Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy 1.1 (2015): 4-28.

Reuter, Markus A., Antoinette van Schaik, and Johannes Gediga. “Simulation-based design for resource efficiency of metal production and recycling systems: Cases-copper production and recycling, e-waste (LED lamps) and nickel pig iron.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 20.5 (2015): 671-693.

[Kris De Decker is the creator and author of “Low-tech Magazine”, a blog that is published in English, Dutch and Spanish. Low-tech Magazine refuses to assume that every problem has a high-tech solution. (Since 2007).]

Nature is Being Renamed ‘Natural Capital’ – But is it Really the Planet that Will Profit?

The Conversation

September 13, 2016

by Sian Sullivan

 

China’s Jiangxi mountains: now just an asset? Shutterstock

The four-yearly World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just taken place in Hawai’i. The congress is the largest global meeting on nature’s conservation. This year a controversial motion was debated regarding incorporating the language and mechanisms of “natural capital” into IUCN policy.

But what is “natural capital”? And why use it to refer to “nature”?

Motion 63 on “Natural Capital”, adopted at the congress, proposes the development of a “natural capital charter” as a framework “for the application of natural capital approaches and mechanisms”. In “noting that concepts and language of natural capital are becoming widespread within conservation circles and IUCN”, the motion reflects IUCN’s adoption of “a substantial policy position” on natural capital. Eleven programmed sessions scheduled for the congress included “natural capital” in the title. Many are associated with the recent launch of the global Natural Capital Protocol, which brings together business leaders to create a world where business both enhances and conserves nature.

At least one congress session discussed possible “unforeseen impacts of natural capital on broader issues of equitability, ethics, values, rights and social justice”. This draws on widespreadconcerns around the metaphor that nature-is-as-capital-is. Critics worry about the emphasis on economic, as opposed to ecological, language and models, and a corresponding marginalisation of non-economic values that elicit care for the natural world.

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Naming nature … but at what cost? Shutterstock

Naturalising ‘natural capital’

The use of “natural capital” as a noun is becoming increasingly normalised in environmental governance. Recent natural capital initiatives include the World Forum on Natural Capital, described as “the world’s leading natural capital event”, the Natural Capital Declaration, which commits the financial sector to mainstreaming “natural capital considerations” into all financial products and services, and the Natural Capital Financing Facility, a financial instrument of the European Investment Bank and the European Commission that aims “to prove to the market and to potential investors the attractiveness of biodiversity and climate adaptation operations in order to promote sustainable investments from the private sector”.

All these initiatives share the UK Natural Capital Committee’s view that “natural capital” consists of “our natural assets including forests, rivers, land, minerals and oceans”. People used to talk about “nature” or “the natural environment” – now they speak of “natural capital”.

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Growing profits. Shutterstock

So what does the word “capital” do to “nature” when they are linked? And should nature be seen in terms of capital at all? One controversial aspect, backed by IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity Programme, is receiving particular attention. This is the possibility of securing debt-based conservation finance from major institutions and the super-super-rich based on the value of income generated from so-called natural capital assets conserved in situ.

Capitalising natures

At the IUCN’s conservation congress a Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation was launched. Led by financial services company Credit Suisse, and backed by the IUCN and the World Wide Fund for Nature, the coalition builds on a series of recent reports proposing capitalising conservation in exactly this way.

In 2016, and following a 2014 report, Credit Suisse and collaborators published two documents outlining proposals for debt-based, return-seeking conservation finance. The most recent is called Levering Ecosystems: A Business-focused Perspective on how Debt Supports Investment in Ecosystem Services. In this, the CEO of Credit Suisse states that not only is saving ecosystems affordable, but it is also profitable, if turned “into an asset treasured by the mainstream investment market”.

The report proposes a number of mechanisms whereby “businesses can utilise debt as a tool to restore, rehabilitate, and conserve the environment while creating financial value”. The idea is that as “environmental footprints move closer to being recognised as assets and liabilities by companies, debt can be used to fund specific investments in ecosystems that lead to net-positive financial outcomes”. Debt-based financing – for example, through tradeable securities such as bonds – is framed as attractive in part because interest received by investors is “usually tax-deductible”.

The Levering Ecosystems report followed quickly from Conservation Finance: From Niche to Mainstream, steered by a small group including the director of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme. This report estimated the investment potential for conservation finance to be roughly US$200-400 billion by 2020.

Of course, investors loaning finance to projects associated with conservation also expect market-rate returns to compensate for investments considered to conserve, restore or rehabilitate ecosystems.

In the documents above, financial returns are projected as coming in part from new markets in payments for ecosystem services and sales of carbon credits. These new markets will supply the potentially monetisable “dividends” of conserved and restored habitats as “standing natural capitals”. Investor risk is proposed to be reduced through mobilising these assets, as well as the “land or usage rights” from which they derive, as underlying collateral.

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Two redrawn graphs representing the design of debt-based conservation finance, as per Credit Suisse reports in 2014 and 2016.

The graphs above present two schematic diagrams redrawn from the Credit Suisse texts to indicate how these flows of financial value may be leveraged from areas capitalised as investable natural capital. The models are based in part on expectations that recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change support for international carbon compensation mechanisms will release new long-term sources of public funding to “balance anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases”, thereby boosting possibilities for financial flows from forest carbon.

Such financialising moves, nascent and clunky as they are, may yet have significant implications if applied to countries in the global south with remaining high levels of “standing natural capital”. Caution is needed regarding the possibility that forest-rich but least developed countries may become indebted to ultra high-net-worth investors who access returns on their investments from new income streams arising from conserved tropical natures in these countries.

What’s in a name?

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Pandas: sending a powerful message. Shutterstock

In 1986, the central secretariat of the WWF decided to change the name of the organisation from the World Wildlife Fund to the World Wide Fund for Nature. The thinking was that an emphasis on “wildlife”, borne of a concern for endangered species, no longer reflected the organisation’s scope of work for the conservation of the diversity of life on earth. It was considered that overall the organisation would be better served by the term “nature”. In other words, it seems that naming and framing “nature” matters.

Given the conversations and debates at IUCN’s World Conservation Congress, it seems important to ask: how exactly does the conservation of natural capital equate with the conservation of nature? Do these terms in fact invoke different things? If they do, then it is worth clarifying whether the conservation of natural capital is always good for the conservation of nature. If they don’t, then it remains worth querying why exactly “nature” needs to be renamed as “natural capital”.

 

 

[Sian Sullivan is Professor of Environment and Culture, Bath Spa University.]

This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality

Globalizations, 2016
Vol. 13, No. 6, 928–933,

 

The following is an excerpt from the paper This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality authored by Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria

 

“The Paris Agreement signifies commitment to sustained industrial growth, risk management over disaster prevention, and future inventions and technology as saviour. The primary commitment of the international community is to maintain the current social and economic system. The result is denial that tackling GHG emissions is incompatible with sustained economic growth. The reality is that Nation States and international corporations are engaged in an unremitting and ongoing expansion of fossil fuel energy exploration, extraction and combustion, and the construction of related infrastructure for production and consumption. The targets and promises of the Paris Agreement bear no relationship to biophysical or social and economic reality.”

 

The Paris Agreement follows suit and claims that: ‘Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting change does not require new technology which, even when successful, takes decades to move from invention to innovation to implementation. That time frame is a luxury that has already been squandered by decades of inaction and fossil fuel expansion. The reduction of GHGs is necessary immediately using existing appropriate (not high) technology, changing infrastructure, systemic transformation and control of demand.

Therein lies the problem with the Paris Agreement; it is a fantasy which lacks any actual plan of how to achieve the targets for emissions reductions. There are no mentions of GHG sources, not a single comment on fossil fuel use, nothing about how to stop the expansion of fracking, shale oil or explorations for oil and gas in the Arctic and Antarctic. Similarly, there are no means for enforcement. Article 15 on implementation and compliance establishes an expert committee that will be ‘non-adversarial and non-punitive’, which means that it has no teeth and can do nothing about non-compliance. Then, there is Article 28, which offers the withdrawal option without any sanctions. Everyone seems to have already conveniently forgotten how Canada backed out of the Kyoto Protocol in order to frack on a massive and environmentally catastrophic industrial scale.

What is the point of trusting the governments who sign up to this agreement with one hand while investing ever more in fossil fuel extraction, combustion and consumption with the other? These are the same governments who know the world already has proven fossil fuel reserves that exceed the amount that can be combusted by at least three times,[3] for an even chance of achieving 2C, but continue exploring for more. They are the same governments promoting 7 per cent growth rates and the proliferation of industrialisation and modern energy infrastructure including advanced fossil fuel technology (UN Resolution A/RES/70/1). So, they give us promises of 1.5C while constructing infrastructure and supporting production processes requiring massive fossil fuel expansion in an economic system built on mass conspicuous consumption and a throwaway fashion culture.

The divorce of economic and energy policy from the targets of Article 2 can only be seen as either total cynicism or total delusion on the part of the negotiators applauding in Paris. Perhaps they are all highly trained in the Orwellian art of doublethink. In any case, the aspirational targets bear no relationship at all to the reality of what governments, and their business partners, are actually doing today,[4] or the other treaties the same governments are simultaneously signing. The economic system is already committed to continue exploiting resources as fast as possible in the race for ever-increasing material and energy throughput. Just look at the European Community’s Horizon 20:20 goals and their promotion of growth and competition and the ongoing push for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Apparently, economic growth is the priority to be protected and promoted above all else.

The contradiction at the heart of the Paris Agreement is actually unsurprising because the powerful lobbying for growth as the solution to climate change has for some time been orchestrated by corporate business and financiers using the rhetoric of a green economy. As I have noted elsewhere (Spash, 2014), this has involved the combination of arguments for growth alleviating poverty with the necessity of environmental risk management, and ‘green’ technology promoted through trillions of dollars being directed towards ‘entrepreneurs’ (i.e. multinational corporations), to create a ‘new economy’. Technology and innovation are key to this position with its neo-Austrian economics and ‘free market’ rhetoric. Climate change policy must be crafted accordingly to serve the capital accumulating growth economy, and so the latter becomes the solution to (not the cause of) the former.

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Unfortunately, many environmental non-governmental organisations have bought into this illogical reasoning and justify their support as being pragmatic. Neoliberal language is rife across their reports and policy recommendations and their adoption of natural capital, ecosystems services, offsetting and market trading. These new environmental pragmatists believe, without justification, that the financialisation of Nature will help prevent its destruction. Thus, environmentalists promote carbon emissions trading but pay little attention to its dangers and failures (Spash, 2010). For example, Nat Keohane of the Environmental Defence Fund has noted on their website how they pushed in the corridors of Paris for ‘an opening for markets’. The right-wing government of New Zealand, leading an 18-country lobby, also had its negotiators pushing for the same international carbon markets. However, you will not find emissions trading, markets, cap and trade or offsets, mentioned in the doublespeak of the Agreement, but rather the term ‘internationally transferred mitigation outcomes’ (clause 108 and Article 6), something Keohane applauds.

Doublespeak and wording that is strategically ambiguous is the high point of international diplomacy in the Paris Agreement. This is what made the Agreement possible and why it is so meaningless. Do not look for the words oil, natural gas, coal or fracking because they do not merit even one single mention. Nor indeed is there anything about addressing the sources of human GHG emissions, or the structures that promote them. Consider something as fundamental as energy use. The one sentence that mentions energy appears in the preamble and merely acknowledges the need to promote ‘sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa’.

What the Paris Agreement tells is a bizarrely unreal story. Apparently, the cause of climate change is not fossil fuel combustion or energy sources but inadequate technology and the solution is sustainable development (i.e. economic growth and industrialisation) and poverty alleviation. As far as the current production and consumption systems are concerned, little needs to change. There are no elites consuming the vast majority of the world’s resources, no multinational corporations or fossil fuel industry needing to be controlled, no capital accumulating competitive systems promoting trade and fighting over resources and emitting vast amounts of GHGs through military expenditure and wars, and no governments expanding fossil fuel use and dependency.

The unreality of this document is only matched by the unreality of the praise given to it by the media and others. This is a sign of how much strategic ambiguity and doublespeak have now become an accepted way for international politics to be conducted and reported. People can even applaud stating that the whole UNFCCC has failed for over 20 years and the planet is headed well beyond 2C. The rhetorical flourish of successful agreement is meant to hide a total lack of substance. The Paris Agreement is at heart a document that consists of independent unilateral unenforceable targets but is being sold as a multi-lateral consensus with firm commitments.

In the final analysis, a simple test of the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement would have been a dramatic drop in the share price of the fossil fuel industry, which is loaded with toxic assets.

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That is, a serious agreement would have written-off all the fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burnt without heading way beyond the already exceed 2C target. This would have revealed the financial balance sheets that are bankrupt. Nothing happened to the stock market because the Paris Agreement is perceived by the fossil fuel industry, and financial markets, as no threat to business as usual, and possibly it is even a great opportunity for new financial instruments and ongoing economic exploitation of the planet, with trillions to come to the energy industry in subsidies for innovation and technology development.

In reality, the Paris Agreement is a compilation of nationally determined intended contradictions. The UNFCCC Secretariat advanced no plan of action and its latest Agreement is totally divorced from the operations of the current economic and political systems. Human-induced climate change can now conveniently slip off the political and media agenda until the time comes for the next major cop-out due in 2023 when a ‘stock-taking’ exercise is scheduled. By then few, if any, of the politicians responsible for this farce are likely to be in office, and neither they nor the bureaucrats and negotiators who have celebrated this great success will ever be held accountable. An acceleration of climate change impacts seems to be the only thing that will now alter the complacency of the global community.

 

Download the full paper: 2016-Spash-This-Changes-Nothing

 

[3] The excess of three times is based upon large conservative estimates of the available remaining budget, namely 1400 Gt of CO2, under a 50% chance of achieving 28C (Raupach et al., 2014, p. 874). IPCC (2013) calculations are much lower, but even these have been criticised as neither up-to-date (referencing 2011) nor adequately taking into account non-energy emissions which reduce the amount left for fossil fuels. Doing so leads Anderson (2015) to estimate the remaining budget for energy emissions over the period 2015–2100, at about 650 Gt of CO2 for a ‘likely’ (66%) chance of staying below 28C. On this basis, the excess of reserves is over 6 times the available budget. Going down to 1.58C and/or increasing the chance of achieving the target increase(s) the excess even further.
[4] The commitments already made to exploiting new fossil fuel sources by 2012 were estimated as leading to the release of 300 Gt CO2 equivalent between 2012 and 2050 (Meindertsma & Blok, 2012). This is being added to the existing excess of unburnable stocks for the 28C target (McGlade & Ekins, 2015); see also previous note.

 

[Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.]

The Dangers of Rebranding Prostitution as ‘Sex Work’

June 7, 2016

by Kate Banyard

 

In an extract from her new book, Pimp State, activist Kat Banyard argues that prostitution is sexual exploitation. Decriminalising this industry only legitimises the abuse of women.

‘Using the term “sex work” as if it was an adequate and appropriate shorthand serves a deeply political goal. ‘
‘Using the term “sex work” as if it was an adequate and appropriate shorthand serves a deeply political goal. ‘ Photograph: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

False Hope: The Core Strategy of 350

April 27, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

Hope 1

 

Bomb train protest events are good. They help to remind people of the looming threat. Some of the participants might even get involved in politics, where decisions are made. Good for them.

That said, while taking selfies and holding placards is good clean fun that builds camaraderie, it is not the same as getting involved in electing authentic leaders and fighting government corruption. That takes a lot of hard work and sustained commitment over years, even decades.

Hope 2

So protests are a good start, but the point of protest is to do the research, education, and organizing that lead to effective community action and changes in public policy. Symbolic protests that generate delusional expectations, however, are in the long run disempowering. When unrealistic demands go nowhere, protestors become frustrated, cynical, and disheartened.

Social movement entrepreneurs, i.e. 350, know this. Indeed, organizing designer protests and vanity arrests, while making unrealistic demands, is the MO of 350. While disempowering of its followers, it appeals to these pious poseurs by making them feel righteous and forceful, while not asking them to make any real sacrifices. Endless protests and other staged 350 events also dissipate the energy of its followers, leaving them worn out before the real work begins.

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The half-truth of the need to stop oil trains sets up 350 followers for the whole lie, i.e. “an end to fossil fuel development and an immediate transition to a renewable energy” that is absolutely infeasible—unless everyone is willing to stop driving cars, flying on planes, and heating their homes, while simultaneously growing all their own food and building their own housing from baked-mud bricks. For Wall Street NGOs, the nature of campaigns is to undermine movements.

The half-truth—whole lie strategy of 350, that promotes magical thinking like ending all fossil fuels is actually a textbook case of psychological warfare. As the core strategy of 350, the false hope of fossil-free renewable energy is complemented by the magical thinking of the end times of capitalism. This popular disinformation, drilled into the minds of 350 followers ad infinitum, is the core of 350 psywar that is essential to the privatization strategy of the financial elite.

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You can see it in play with the false hope message that ‘capitalism is dying’. Really? It’s flourishing like never before. Just look at all the executive pay raises and people evicted by greedy slumlords driving up rents with venture capital used for gentrification. A pervasive term from those that flog false hope is ‘late-stage capitalism’, distorting the fact that capitalism is in its prime–stronger than ever. Another phrase false hope agent provocateurs use about this fantasy is that capitalism is now ‘winding itself down from system-level harms’, as though it wasn’t turbo-charged on total control of government institutions and rolling in stolen U.S. Treasury funds.

Remaking Capitalism Tweet

One of the magical ideas false hope promotes is that capitalism is dying because there is ‘no more profit to extract’. Jesus, where do they come up with this stuff? Capitalists are profiting hand-over-fist on everything from food to water to housing to medicine to energy with no end in sight. Do they think false hope followers aren’t paying rent and utility bills, or having to choose between food and medicine on their meager paychecks or social security benefits?

Lastly, the false hope pipe dream of ‘thriving prospects for all’ while we ‘live in harmony’ after the death of capitalism makes me wonder if they are smoking crack. Of course, they are not; they are preying on the misery of those who are desperate or gullible enough to fall for the core message of false hope, in order for their Wall Street paymasters to plunder what little we have left.

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hope 6

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

Sakej Ward – Decolonizing the Colonizer

Real News Media

January 13 , 2016

In this speech, Sakej Ward talks about decolonization in relationship to the original people of the land you are living in. He argues that a central aspect of any process of change requires the correct identification of the terms we use to describe ourselves. Ward seeks to dispel the illusions and resulting mistaken relationships that arise from using common labels of Canadians such as “guests”, “newcomers”, “brothers”, or “settlers” that suggest a passivity or undeserved level of innocence. Incorrect labels lead to incorrect relationships.

Ward argues that all of these labels mask the true nature of Canadians; they are occupiers upon indigenous homelands. The labels guests, partners, brothers and newcomers are all pacifist revisionist ways of incorrectly re-constructing the relationship. It starts by ignoring 500 years of genocidal atrocities and refuses to hold Canadians to account for their injustices. The label settler is too historically and politically sterile. Canadians are truly occupiers on our homelands. They need to acknowledge and take responsibility for the colonial crimes that they inherited, they benefit from and continue to impose today if any kind of reconciliation is to occur.

Ward concludes by arguing that European descendants need to trace back their own roots in their own homelands and overcome the trauma and destruction caused by the imperial Roman system that colonized them.

 

[Sakej (James Ward) belongs to the wolf clan. He is Mi’kmaw (Mi’kmaq Nation) from the community of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick). He is the father of nine children, four grandchildren and a caregiver for one. He resides in Shxw’owhamel First Nation with his wife Melody Andrews and their children.]